There are 2 Cancuns: The Zona Hotelera in Isla Cancun, which is the mega-resort, mega-mall area that caters to mass tourism, and Ciudad Cancun, which is the original downtown area and where locals actually live and have their businesses. Thousands of spring breakers, honeymooners, old couples, families and young groups of friends flow into Cancun every year, making it one of the world’s top beach destinations. Its turquoise waters, beautiful stretches of sand, and night-long parties are a main draw here, but there’s a lot to do besides going to the beach. Cancun is the gateway to the breathtaking Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum (Coba is also nearby, but is less well-preserved). Even for those planning to spend most of their time in lounge chair, these centuries-old archaeological sites are well worth a visit.
If all you need is a beautiful beach and a self-contained megaresort close to the party area, you’ll probably have a great time in the Hotel Zone. Le Blanc Spa Resort is a luxurious adults-only choice directly on a heavenly white-sand beach, with amenities such as a gorgeous spa and 3 outdoor pools. The nearby Gran Caribe Real is also a nice choice, but caters more to families with suite-style rooms, a kids’ club, and a waterpark. If you’d prefer a more authentic experience and don’t mind being a 10-minute cab ride from the beach, consider Ciudad Cancun. Here, you’ll find cheaper, smaller hotels, and a wide array of traditional and international restaurants and shops. The Radisson Hotel Hacienda is a decent budget option, with clean, spacious rooms and a nice pool.
- Oyster.com Staff
A high-density, vertical city with tourists and locals from everywhere on the planet, New York delivers — no matter who you are or when you visit. But the holidays are a particularly nice time to head to the Big Apple, when the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, the holiday shops at Union Square, and the ice-skating rink in Central Park put the city in the holiday spirit. Lined with iconic museums, Central Park draws class field trips, jogging locals, and Hollywood film crews all year long. At Union Square, students take to the streets on skateboards and New York’s premier chefs seek out locally grown produce from the farmers’ market. Shoppers can splurge on Chanel, Prada, and Gucci along 5th Avenue, or venture deep into SoHo, the West Village, or the Lower East Side for insider boutiques, where one might glimpse New York’s acting elite. Meanwhile, art lovers can bask in the grand museums of the Upper East Side or preview up-and-coming imagery at Chelsea galleries.
Throughout the city, expect to pay a premium for cramped rooms — a cozy 200 square feet is about the norm. But remember that in New York, it’s not so much about the room as the location, location, location, instead. For old-world grandeur, Midtown East and the Upper East Side are home to the Waldorf-Astoria, the Peninsula, and the Pierre, an elegant, historic hotel across the street from Central Park, which offers a taste of grand old New York to those staying in any of its 189 small — but freshly renovated — guest rooms. Hip downtown spots include such notables as the Gramercy Park Hotel and the Soho Grand, where guests can find an authentic but accessible taste of the trendy downtown scene. And the hotel still attracts its fair share of celebrities. Of course, you’ll also find outposts of every major hotel franchise — from the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental up by Central Park to the more down-to-earth Hilton,Westin, and Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
By Oyster.com Staff
The small collection of mostly arid islands that make up the US Virgin Islands has long been a seafarers stomping ground — from the pirates of yore to today’s more abundant cruise ship hordes and the occasional yachtsman. And as they have for the past 400 years, people come to the islands mainly to drink, relax on the beach, and bargain shop — often, in just that order. Traveling to the islands, considered “insular areas” or “unincorporated territories” of the United States, is in many ways analogous to traveling within the US — citizens don’t need a passport, the US dollar is the official currency, and English is the official language. But a trip to the Virgin Islands still feels like a getaway with its laid-back atmosphere and sunny weather.
The islands’ hotels are largely concentrated on the 3 main islands – St. Thomas (the only island with an airport), St. John, and, to a lesser extent, St. Croix. Since the islands are so small, anywhere you stay will be within about a 30-minute drive from anywhere else on the island. Hotels range from the low-key, no-frills, family-owned spots, to all-inclusive mega-resorts, to unplugged, natural luxury, like at Caneel Bay, a historic sugar plantation turned top-notch hotel visited by the rich and famous (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have stayed here). Even with a quaint pool and rustic rooms that lack TVs and phones, Caneel’s attentive service and unparalleled setting make it one of the Caribbean’s best resorts. On neighboring St. Thomas, the Ritz-Carlton is also a luxe option, located only 5 minutes from Red Hook’s fun dining and yacht scene. And those traveling with kids (and on a tighter budget) may consider the Sugar Bay Resort and Spa – a clean, modern, family-oriented resort with a full-service spa, an excellent snorkeling beach and tons of kids’ activities.
By Oyster.com Staff
Park City is Utah’s version of Aspen, though most would argue that its more laid-back than its Colorado counterpart. Considered one of the best places in the world to ski, Park City attracts tons of skiers and snowboarders with its fresh powder. Celebrities also flock to Park City during the winter — some for the slopes, but many for the Sundance Film Festival in January.
There are actually 3 distinct ski resorts in Park City, with distinct reputations: Park City Mountain is known as the party spot, while Deer Valley is for the rich and famous, and The Canyons attracts numerous families, being home to the largest mountain in the area as well as more casual, family-friendly accommodations. Bear Hollow Village is a neighborhood-like resort in The Canyons, featuring 3-bedroom condos and 3- and 4-bedroom townhouses. The individually owned condos and townhouses vary in decor and modernity, but all feature fireplaces, washer/dryers, sleek kitchens, and often reasonable rates. The nearby Waldorf Astoria, on the other hand, is luxurious in every way, starting with the beautiful lobby — crystal chandeliers hang from the high beamed ceilings, antlers protrude from the walls (a must in Park City) and leather and dark-wood accents give a dramatic but warm feel.
Deer Valley is the ultra-luxe option in Park City. Sidewalks are heated, restaurants are tres chic, and ski valets are free (but snowboarding is prohibited on the mountain). The 170-room Stein Eriksen Lodge offers ski-in, ski-out access to Deer Valley Resort, and has a design style that could be described as “wilderness chic.” It’s popular among couples for its romantic spa, 2 restaurants and year-round outdoor pool. The nearbySt. Regis, complete with elegant rooms and gorgeous views, is one of the only properties in the area that compares.
By Oyster.com Staff
The city’s wonderful restaurants, fabulous shopping, hundreds of arts and culture venues, and world-class museums prove that Atlanta is one of the fastest-growing — and most exciting — destinations in the country. Home to the world’s largest aquarium, the new World of Coca-Cola, dozens of beautiful parks and the High Museum of Art, the hometown of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. is a gorgeous city that has made a name for itself in the new South. At the same time, Atlanta seamlessly exudes laid-back Southern charm and high-arts cultural appeal, both of which account for the millions of visitors that descend upon the city each year.
Hawaii’s second-largest island, Maui lives up to its slogan “Maui no ka ‘oi,” meaning “Maui is the best.” Its diverse natural landscape includes the most miles of swimmable beach of any Hawaiian island, the world’s largest dormant volcano, and plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts: There’s windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, road and mountain biking, and — along the state’s scenic Hana Highway — hiking trails, waterfalls, natural pools, and remote beaches. Maui is not only for the active and rugged, though; there’s plenty of opportunity for beach-, golf-, pool-, and spa-centric vacations along miles of beachfront development. READ MORE
For skiers and nature enthusiasts alike, there are very few places that compare to Jackson Hole. The low-lying valley, located near Wyoming’s western border and surrounded by the Teton Mountain Range, is the gateway to some of the nation’s most spectacular national parks, including Grand Teton, Yellowstone and the National Elk Reserve. The easily available hiking, biking, river rafting, camping and skiing attracts visitors here year-round. READ MORE
Hard Rock International recently opened a brand-spanking-new Hard Rock Hotel in the warm-weather getaway of Cancun. One of only 3 all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, the Cancun addition has more than 600 rooms, 5 restaurants, 5 bars, 12 stories, Rock Star Suites and, of course, an extensive collection of authentic music memorabilia.
By Oyster.com Staff
Some associate Boston largely with crooked old cobblestone streets, the American Revolution and New England clam chowder. And it’s got all that. But it’s also filled with sprawling convention centers, progressive universities and biotech research facilities. A forward-looking town with an eye on the past, Boston combines the charm of a New England harbor town with the conveniences and mindset of a bustling, modern metropolis. The fall is a particularly nice time to visit, when the leaves are changing and the weather is brisk without being brutal (and trust us, winter weather there can be brutal). READ MORE