Oyster.com https://www.oyster.com Hotel Reviews and Photos Thu, 10 Aug 2023 18:05:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.3 185131813 The Best Hotels in Chicago https://www.oyster.com/articles/the-best-hotels-in-chicago/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/the-best-hotels-in-chicago/#respond Thu, 10 Aug 2023 18:05:13 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=546397 Having the right hotel in Chicago is the first step to making the most out of everything the Windy City offers. Whether it’s comfortable beds, location, great views, or affordable prices, these hotels all offer something special that makes them the best in Chicago.  The Langham If your idea of a memorable Chicago vacation involves…

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Having the right hotel in Chicago is the first step to making the most out of everything the Windy City offers. Whether it’s comfortable beds, location, great views, or affordable prices, these hotels all offer something special that makes them the best in Chicago. 

The Langham

Front entrance of The Langham with old pink cab out front.
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If your idea of a memorable Chicago vacation involves shopping and self-care, The Langham is the ideal place to stay. Located within walking distance of Michigan Avenue, nicknamed the Magnificent Mile, this hotel makes it easy to get to the city’s best shops and restaurants. 

The hotel boasts large, luxurious bathrooms with rain showers, a 67-foot-long indoor pool, a steam room, and a hot tub, plus fantastic views of both the Chicago river and the city.

The Westin Chicago River North

Aerial view of The Westin Chicago River North from across the river.
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The Westin Chicago River North is all about space and location. Offering incredible views of the city and the Chicago River, the hotel is situated just a couple of blocks away from the train station, making it easy to explore.

Inside the hotel, guests are treated to large, comfortable rooms. Head to the hotel’s 320 RiverBar restaurant for unbeatable views and service. 

The Pendry Chicago

Front entrance to the Pendry Chicago.
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As one of Chicago’s newest hotels, The Pendry Chicago provides a modern update to the historic Union Carbide and Carbon building. 

Rooms are spacious, beds are comfortable, and the black and white granite interior provides stunning examples of Art Deco architecture from a century ago.

The Pendry also sits just two blocks from the entrance to Millennium Park, making it an ideal location from which to enjoy some of Chicago’s best attractions.

The Peninsula Chicago

Exterior aerial view of The Peninsula Chicago.
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You’ve just gotten back from a long day of walking the Magnificent Mile. You’ve already eaten, and all you want to do is sit back, relax, and get some much-needed rest. The Peninsula Chicago has guests covered, as they can control temperature, curtains, lights, and interruptions all from the comfort of their bed. 

The bathrooms help handle that job as well, as they’re well-designed, spacious, and well-connected. If you’re in need of a good soak while watching a favorite show, you can do that here with televisions in the bathroom. 

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago

CHICAGO, USA - JUNE 28, 2013: People enter Ritz Carlton Hotel in Chicago. Ritz-Carlton is part of Marriott International and operates 84 luxury hotels worldwide.
Tupungato | Adobe Stock

If it’s stunning views in the lap of luxury that you want, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago is your hotel. Book a room on a high floor for incredible views of Lake Michigan.

The hotel even has its own private art collection with pieces inspired by local attractions. This five-star hotel is family-friendly―diminutive bathrobes are on offer for the kids, as is a candy cart that’s sure to delight.

RELATED: The Best Hotels in Savannah, Georgia

The Viceroy Chicago

View of Chicago from the pool level of the Viceroy Chicago
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When summer arrives in the Windy City, there aren’t many better places to be than on top of the Viceroy Chicago. This hotel offers the best rooftop pool in the city, situated 18 stories above the Chicago traffic. The pool is only open to hotel guests, helping to prevent overcrowding.

The poolside bar is open year-round, so even when it’s too cold for a swim, guests can always go up for a drink. The hotel also sits just minutes away from the Magnificent Mile, so it’s easy to enjoy a day of shopping and quality restaurants before coming back for a relaxing dip in the pool under the Chicago skyline.

The Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Front entrance of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago
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Situated in one of Chicago’s tallest and most historic buildings, The Waldorf Astoria sits just off the Gold Coast, providing some incredible views of Lake Michigan.

Separate showers, deep soaking tubs, private fireplaces, and a classic black-and-white décor make for one of the most romantic and welcoming atmospheres in the entire city.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Front entrance to the Chicago Athletic Association
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You won’t be bored at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, a historic property that’s converted old billiard rooms into giant game rooms featuring bocce and foosball, and more in a nightclub-type atmosphere.

Suites include working fireplaces for a cozy atmosphere, and the hotel’s location offers gorgeous views of both Millennium Park and Madison Street. If you’re in Chicago to catch a Bulls or Blackhawks game, the No. 20 bus goes from the hotel right to the United Center, making this spot perfect for sports fans.

Residence Inn Downtown Chicago Loop

Front entrance of the Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/Loop with taxis driving by in a blur
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Chicago is an incredibly convenient city to get around in, as long as you’re within the area known as the Loop. The Residence Inn Downtown Chicago Loop offers easy access to bus stops and CTA train stations.

Free breakfast, comfortable rooms, and plenty of business space make the Residence Inn a great budget-friendly option for a Chicago trip. 

The Freehand Chicago

Front entrance of the Freehand Chicago with people waiting for a cab from across the street
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For an even more affordable Chicago hotel, the Freehand Chicago is the perfect choice for groups. Book a bed in a dorm-style room or reserve a private quad room for your crew.

Don’t want to share? Private rooms still offer a great price for the area, and guests will enjoy colorful décor and a top-quality bar option with some of the most creative cocktails in the city. If you’re looking to maximize your budget for the shops and restaurants of Chicago, you’ll find plenty to love about this spot.

RELATED: Best Hotels With Jacuzzis in the Room

Crown Plaza Lombard Downers Grove

Front entrance of the Crowne Plaza Lombard Downers Grove, an IHG Hotel
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Most people who visit Chicago want to pay a premium to be in the city. If you’re willing to stay outside of the city and put in some driving, you can score some incredible deals on your hotel. The Crown Plaza Lombard Downers Grove is one of those options, where you’ll find four-star quality for a two-star price.

At the Crown Plaza, you’ll find a large swimming pool, spacious and comfortable rooms, luxurious bathrooms, and plenty of peace and quiet. 

Sonesta Rosemont Chicago

View of the front exterior of the Sonesta Chicago O'Hare Airport Rosemont
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Like the Crown Plaza, the Sonesta Rosemont Chicago offers some luxurious rooms at reasonable prices because you’re staying slightly outside the city. In this case, that can still put you close to some of the action, the hotel is near the Allstate Arena and Rivers Casino.

In the hotel itself, you’ll find spacious, comfortable rooms at a fraction of the cost of a downtown stay. You’re also right by the airport, so traveling in and out of the city couldn’t be much easier.

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The Best Hotels in Savannah, Georgia https://www.oyster.com/articles/the-best-hotels-in-savannah-georgia/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/the-best-hotels-in-savannah-georgia/#respond Thu, 10 Aug 2023 17:05:56 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=546332 Welcome to the charming city of Savannah, Georgia, where history weaves through cobblestone streets and warm Southern hospitality embraces every visitor.  Known for its romantic moss-draped oak trees, picturesque squares, charming southern architecture, and vibrant cultural and food scenes, Savannah is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern allure.…

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Welcome to the charming city of Savannah, Georgia, where history weaves through cobblestone streets and warm Southern hospitality embraces every visitor. 

Known for its romantic moss-draped oak trees, picturesque squares, charming southern architecture, and vibrant cultural and food scenes, Savannah is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern allure.

Whether you’re looking for a cheap Savannah hotel or a luxurious resort, these are the best hotels in Savannah, Georgia. 

Perry Lane Hotel

Front entrance to the Perry Lane Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Savannah with black BMW parked in the front.
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The Perry Lane Hotel redefines the Savannah experience by seamlessly blending sophistication and Southern hospitality. The hotel’s 167 individually-designed rooms offer a personalized touch that offers guests something different upon every visit. 

The hotel’s dining options include the Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market and a rooftop restaurant that draws inspiration from the city’s diverse culinary scene.

Bellwether House 

Front entrance to the Bellwether House
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The Bellwether House is a charming and intimate retreat nestled in a 160-year-old mansion. Indulge in the Mediterranean-style breakfasts, high tea, and champagne toasts that are offered to guests daily. With unlimited valet service and other delightful amenities, this historic haven truly pampers its guests.

Relax and rejuvenate in serene surroundings with onsite massages and breathtaking views from the terrace or garden. The 16 luxury rooms offer comfort and sanctuary, featuring deep-soaking clawfoot bathtubs and premium bedding. Experience a delightful dining journey at The Dining Room, where bold Indian flavors meet traditional Southern cooking.

Montage Palmetto Bluff 

Montage Palmetto Bluff
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Nestled on the scenic May River in South Carolina’s captivating Lowcountry, just moments away from Historic Savannah, GA, is the enchanting Montage Palmetto Bluff. This exceptional resort invites guests to unwind amidst its expansive 20,000-acre property, featuring a collection of spacious cottages, guestrooms, suites, and village homes. 

Here, diverse dining options, a riverfront marina, and a prestigious Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course await. At Montage Palmetto Bluff, the attentive and welcoming staff will ensure that every moment of your stay is truly unforgettable.

RELATED: The 9 Cutest Beach Towns in Florida

Hamilton-Turner Inn

Looking at the front entrance of the Hamilton-Turner Inn with trees on the left and right.
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The Hamilton-Turner Inn in Savannah’s Historic District is a charming getaway that’s one of the most romantic places to stay in Savannah. Set in a beautifully restored former private home, this iconic luxury hotel showcases French Empire-style architecture and exquisite interiors. 

With 17 uniquely designed guest rooms and suites that blend Southern charm with modern comforts, the Hamilton-Turner Inn offers a boutique experience that’s classic Savannah. 

JW Marriot Savannah Plant Riverside District

Aerial view of the front entrance of the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District with the sunset behind the building.
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Located in the heart of historic Savannah along the iconic riverfront, the AAA Four Diamond rated JW Marriot Savannah Plant Riverside District is one of the best splurge-worthy hotels in Savannah. 

As you step inside, you’ll be captivated by the chic architectural design, featuring modern maritime accents and sleek metalwork.

Olde Harbour Inn

Front entrance to the Olde Harbour Inn in Savannah GA
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Encounter the magic and charm of River Street when you stay at Olde Harbour Inn. The hotel offers a prime location directly on the Savannah River, providing easy access to downtown’s vibrant energy while still offering a peaceful and quiet retreat when you need it. Housed in a former warehouse, Olde Harbour Inn has been transformed into an all-suite property that exudes grandeur, luxury, and style.

Each suite is designed in an apartment-style layout with plenty of space to sit back and relax. As a guest, you’ll have the pleasure of indulging in daily receptions featuring complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres, allowing you to mingle with fellow travelers and experience the timeless charm of the property.

And for any supernatural fans out there, Olde Harbour Inn has a haunted reputation, where “Hank,” the resident ghost, is said to haunt the hotel. But don’t worry—he’s a friendly spirit known to bring the scent of cigar smoke along with him and cause some mild spooky shenanigans around the property. 

RELATED: The 6 Sexiest Cities in America

River Street Inn

Front entrance of the River Street Inn in Savannah GA
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The award-winning River Street Inn perfectly encapsulates Savannah’s historic charm and unique character. Housed in a meticulously restored 200-year-old cotton warehouse, this remarkable hotel overlooks the iconic Savannah River and the vibrant Historic River Street, seamlessly blending timeless warmth with upscale modern comforts.

As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by exposed brick walls, authentic fireplaces, and original heart pine floors that reflect the hotel’s historical significance. The past and present converge in this unique space, creating the perfect setting for an unforgettable journey through Savannah’s vibrant history. 

Andaz Savannah

View of the front entrance to and rest of the Andaz Savannah at dusk.
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Experience modern luxury and Southern hospitality at the Andaz Savannah. This contemporary boutique hotel in the heart of Savannah seamlessly blends rich history with artistic flair.

Stylishly curated guest rooms and suites offer plenty of space for guests to spread out. The Andaz Savannah features a prime location on Ellis Square— just steps from City Market and River Street.

The Drayton Hotel 

Front entrance to The Drayton Hotel in Savannah GA.
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Located in a 19th-century building in the heart of Savannah’s historic district, The Drayton Hotel features 50 luxury rooms and suites.

Guests will feel right at home while staying here, as each room has been thoughtfully designed with unique touches and design elements meant to embrace the building’s historical identity while creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. 

The Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection

Front entrance of The Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront in Savannah GA.
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Experience the vibrant spirit of Savannah’s riverfront at the Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection. This unique hotel offers a captivating blend of luxury and bohemian charm. 

Located on the scenic riverfront, the Bohemian Hotel boasts stylish rooms and suites with modern amenities and stunning river views. Indulge in exquisite dining experiences at the hotel’s signature restaurant, sip on handcrafted cocktails at the rooftop lounge, and immerse yourself in the city’s artistic culture.

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9 Amazing Tropical Destinations to Visit in the Fall https://www.oyster.com/articles/best-tropical-destinations-for-fall/ Tue, 08 Aug 2023 20:18:55 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=500296 There’s a lot to love about fall — comfortable temperatures, stunning foliage, and delicious treats, to name a few. However, not everyone loves pumpkin spice and leaf-peeping. While many folks head north in search of campfires and foliage, the rest of us can chase a never-ending summer filled with beaches, jungles, and waterfalls. For those…

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There are many things to love about fall — comfortable temperatures, stunning foliage, and delicious treats, to name a few. However, not everyone loves pumpkin spice and leaf-peeping. While many folks head north in search of campfires and foliage, the rest of us can chase a never-ending summer filled with beaches, jungles, and waterfalls. For those who prefer an ice-cold beer to a hot cider, and day at the beach instead of cozying up to a fire, here is our list of the best tropical destinations to visit during the fall.

1. Bahamas

Aerial of Bahamas Nassau
Jin | Adobe Stock

High season in the Bahamas begins around December, so getting in a trip during the fall shoulder season will likely bring benefits like lower rates and fewer people. Temperatures stay within the 80s — perfect for sunbathing on the beach or swimming in the gorgeous turquoise waters. However, it’s worth noting that this island nation sits within the hurricane belt and strong storms and heavy rain are possible until the beginning of November. 

Our Top Pick for a Bahamas Hotel: Melia Nassau Beach — All Inclusive

2. Aruba

beach walk Aruba
Ronald Manera | Adobe Stock

One of the many things we love about Aruba is that it’s a solid Caribbean island destination no matter the season. This is largely due to the fact that it lies outside the hurricane belt, meaning it doesn’t have a hurricane season. The fall months are a particularly great time to visit, thanks to a drop in the island’s trade winds and hot temperatures that hover in the upper 80s. Plus, it’s typically not too humid. For folks who aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to summer, Aruba has you covered. Stay here and you’ll be snorkeling, sunbathing, and sipping on sundowners all fall long.

Our Top Pick for an Aruba Hotel: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

3. Galapagos Islands

Two Blue-footed Boobies standing on a rocky outcrop at Elizabeth Bay off the coast of Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands.
Bill | Adobe Stock

This fall, make like the birds and head south as the temperatures cool off back home. The Galapagos Islands are a bucket-list destination and fall is one of the best times to visit. September, October, and November are the cool and dry season here, and temperatures fall in the high 70s and low 80s during the day and high 60s at night. Marine life tends to be more abundant during these months, thanks to a cold current that brings in more nutrient-dense waters. It’s an ideal time for birders who want to see large birds fishing for food or score an underwater peek of a Galapagos penguin. However, the high levels of plankton mean the water isn’t crystal clear and it can be a bit cold — you’ll probably want to wear a wetsuit to keep warm.

Our Top Pick for a Galapagos Islands Hotel: Hotel Fiesta

RELATED: 11 of the Best Nude Beaches in the U.S.

4. Puerto Rico

Beach travel Caribbean vacation landscape of Puerto Rico background. Isla Verde in San Juan, Latin America island.
Maridav | Adobe Stock

Looking for a tropical fall getaway that doesn’t require a passport or flight over the Pacific? Enter Puerto Rico. Again, you’ll have to be mindful of hurricane season, so it’s best to plan your trip for November. Take advantage of temps in the 80s by exploring the glorious food and drink scene in San Juan, admiring the lights at one of three bioluminescent bays (the world’s brightest is on the island of Vieques), and checking out outdoor art galleries. 

Our Top Pick for a Puerto Rico Hotel: Condado Vanderbilt Hotel

5. Costa Rica

brave girl stands in front of a mighty waterfall with her hands raised in the air; celebration of a successful climb over a waterfall; tropical waterfall in Costa Rica; hidden gems of costa rica
Jakub | Adobe Stock

Those seeking an eco-friendly fall adventure should look no further than Costa Rica, the global leader in sustainable tourism. Over 30 percent of the country is protected land, which is key considering Costa Rica contains five percent of the world’s biodiversity. They also manage to run on nearly 100 percent renewable energy. So, this fall, swap scarves for (biodegradable) sunscreen as you share the jungle with spider monkeys and sink your teeth into fresh tropical fruits like papaya and mango. You’ll have your pick of laying on the beach, exploring jungles, climbing volcanoes, or just chilling with a good view. It’s the wet season (a.k.a low season), so you can expect on-and-off rain showers throughout the day, plus temperatures in the mid-70s.

Our Top Pick for a Costa Rica Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

RELATED: The Best Things to Do in Costa Rica

6. Belize

Belize Cayes - Paradise beach on island caye Carrie Bow Cay Field Station, Caribbean Sea, Belize. Tropical destination.
Simon Dannhauer | Adobe Stock

Often overlooked for tropical staples like Mexico and Costa Rica, Belize is a gem patiently waiting its turn on the tourist track. What you’ll get here is a healthy dose of action, culture, and relaxation. Cave diving, snorkeling off the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, traipsing through the jungle, exploring Mayan ruins, and zoning out to the rhythm of waves on the beach are popular activities. Temperatures stay steadily in the 80s during the day and in the 70s at night. If you want to have the driest weather, book your trip for early November, as rainfall in September and October can reach double digits in inches.

Our Top Pick for a Belize Hotel: Portofino Beach Resort

7. Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas

The arch of Cabo San Lucas at Baja California, Mexico
dashagorbenko | Adobe Stock

As the temps start to cool down come fall, our neighbor to the south beckons with its warm climate and miles of beautiful coastline. The coastal regions of Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas stay hot during the autumn months, with temperatures in the low 90s and upper 80s, though you’re also likely to encounter occasional rain showers. Even with a little rain, it’s business as usual, and you can still spend your day at the beach, exploring ruins, snorkeling, surfing, or simply eating and drinking your way around town. The Pacific hurricane season ends in September, but continues through October on the east coast. Seaweed in the Riviera Maya also tends to be less prevalent in the fall months. Plus, hotels and flights are typically cheaper during the time, in part because of hurricane season, but also because these months are the calm before the influx of Mexico’s high season, which typically starts in December. Still, we recommend booking in advance for the best deals.

Our Top Pick for a Cabo San Lucas Hotel: Casa Dorada Los Cabos 

Our Top Pick for a Riviera Maya Hotel: Grand Velas Riviera Maya

RELATED: 7 Nude Travel Experiences to Add to Your Bucket List

8. Maldives

Water bungalow. Sunset on the islands of the Maldives. A place for dreams.
patma145 | Adobe Stock

Hopping over to Asia for a fall getaway might be a stretch for some people, but for those who can, the Maldives is a must-visit. Most hotels have an entire island to themselves and activities vary depending on where in the archipelago you stay, from diving with whale sharks and manta rays to cultural island visits and surfing. Temperatures in the fall tend to stay in the mid-80s during the day, followed by warm, but breezy, nights. Early fall is the low season (and also the rainiest), making it a great time to grab deals for a more affordable trip to this expensive destination. Just remember that the Maldives is a 100-percent Muslim country, and many of the hotel employees participate in Ramadan, which means they’ll be fasting while the sun is up and praying throughout the day. The latter can cause service disruptions and on-and-off opening hours.

Our Top Pick for a Maldives Hotel: Constance Moofushi

9. Bermuda

Sunrise at Horseshoe Bay beach in Bermuda
romylee | Adobe Stock

The Caribbean gets a lot of love in the fall and winter, but we’ve always had a soft spot for Bermuda. For starters, it’s just a two-hour flight from NYC. In addition to relaxing on the shores of Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach, you can also discover what lies beneath. Visitors can swim in underwater cave pools, snorkel in bright turquoise waters, or go cliff jumping in the lagoon. Golf is another option, as is wandering through the island’s botanical gardens. There’s no shortage of beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs, and good vibes here. It is high season, though, so be sure to book well in advance (or wait until November, when tourists aren’t flocking here in such large numbers).

Our Top Pick for a Bermuda Hotel: Cambridge Beaches

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The 12 Best Hotels with In-Room Jacuzzis https://www.oyster.com/articles/best-hotels-with-in-room-jacuzzis/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/best-hotels-with-in-room-jacuzzis/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2023 15:20:33 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=546312 It’s great to have a Jacuzzi in your hotel, but it can’t compare to having one in your room. On your next trip, treat yourself by booking a hotel room with an in-room hot tub for some private relaxation.  The Samaya Seminyak, Indonesia For a vacation that’s both the adventurous and luxurious plan a trip…

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It’s great to have a Jacuzzi in your hotel, but it can’t compare to having one in your room. On your next trip, treat yourself by booking a hotel room with an in-room hot tub for some private relaxation. 

The Samaya Seminyak, Indonesia

In room Jacuzzi at The Samaya Seminyak in Indonesia
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For a vacation that’s both the adventurous and luxurious plan a trip to the The Samaya Seminyak. This beachside resort complex awaits you half a world away in Southeast Asia on the Indonesian island of Bali. The four-star property consists of two villa complexes and sits near the southernmost tip of the island, close to the Indian Ocean.

Each villa comes with its own swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and outdoor lounge area. 

Recreational amenities include two outdoor swimming pools, while there are two restaurants and two lounges at which to dine and drink. The Samaya Seminyak also has a full-service spa.

Secret de Paris Hotel & Spa, France

In room jacuzzi at the Secret de Paris in Paris France
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For a romantic trip to Paris, book a room at the Secret de Paris Hotel & Spa. When you’re done exploring the nearby Eiffel Tour, Arc du Triomphe, and Louvre, a relaxing oasis awaits back at your hotel.

Unwind in the private hot tub in your room and then visit the in-house spa for a massage. 

Le Blanc Spa Resort, Mexico

In room jacuzzi at the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun in Mexico
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Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun, Mexico, an all-inclusive, adults-only resort. This luxury getaway is perfect for couples looking to enjoy tropical romantic getaways. 

The hotel offers three outdoor swimming pools, but if you don’t want to share, some rooms feature private Jacuzzis. 

Tortuga Bay Hotel, Dominican Republic

In room jacuzzi at the Tortuga Bay Hotel in the Dominican Republic
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Nestled on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic in Punta Cana, the Tortuga Bay Hotel is situated right on the ocean to set the scene for a relaxing, memorable getaway.

Whether you stay in a villa or in an ocean view or oceanfront suite, you’ll feel like you’re staying in a vacation home as you enjoy close access to Tortuga’s private beach. Tearing yourself away from your hotel room could be a challenge, as every room, from the junior suite to the four-bedroom villa, has a private balcony from which you can take in the sights and sounds along with your own private Jacuzzi in which you can unwind.

RELATED: The 10 Best Hotels in Rome, Italy

Hideaway at Royalton, St. Lucia

In room jacuzzi at the Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia
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The buildings of the all-inclusive, adults-only Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia sit in a beautiful valley surrounded by tree-topped hills on one side and the bright blue ocean on the other. 

The Hidewaway is a true escape—each guest room contains its own private Jacuzzi. Elsewhere on the property, you’ll find eight restaurants and 10 bars/lounges to maxmize the all-inclusive experience.

Iberostar Grand Rose Hotel, Jamaica

In room jacuzzi at the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Jamaica
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Popular with honeymooners and couples celebrating anniversaries, the five-star Iberostar Grand Rose Hall also all-inclusive and for adults only.. 

Enjoy the remarkable aerial view from your private balcony and then step inside and enjoy the private Jacuzzi that awaits you in your modern guest room that is decorated with a tropical twist. 

Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica

In room jacuzzi at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica
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Designed exclusively for couples, the Sandals Royal Caribbean is one of the most romantic hotels in Jamaica. Spacious suites feature in-room Jacuzzis and four poster beds.

The all-inclusive rate includes entertainment and live shows, plus meals and drinks at nine restaurants and five bars.

Yotel, New York

Room with terraces at the YOTEL New York Times Square
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You won’t find many hotels in Manhattan with in-room Jacuzzis, but suites at the the Yotel New York Times Square offers private terraces with hot tubs overlooking the New York City skyline.

A stay at the Yotel puts you in the heart of the action about a half mile from Times Square.

RELATED: The 6 Sexiest Cities in America

The Alexandrian, Virginia

Marble bathroom with marble whirlpool on the right in a suite at The Alexandrian in Virginia
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Ideally situated in the Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, the aptly named The Alexandrian puts you just a few blocks from the Potomac River and within easy walking distance to numerous boutique shops and restaurants. The hotel’s prime location also is just a 10-minute drive from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

After a day’s worth of adventuring, walking and enjoying the area, you’ll be ready to slip into a marble whirlpool tub to decompress (available in the hotel’s luxurious suites).

Grand Bohemian, Florida

In room jacuzzi at the Grand Bohemian Orlando
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Located about 10 and 20 minutes away by car from Universal Studios and Disney World, respectively, the Grand Bohemian Orlando is a great choice for those looking to explore multiple theme parks in Orlando. 

After a day of walking and standing in line for rides, you’ll be happy to return to a suite with a private Jacuzzi. 

RELATED: The 6 Most Amazing, Surprisingly Affordable Beach Destinations

Rio’s All-Suite Hotel and Casino, Nevada

In room jacuzzi at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
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Rio’s All-Suite Hotel and Casino offers Las Vegas visitors easy access to The Strip plus a place to relax and recharge at the end of the day.

Suites at the Rio feature incredible views, fireplaces, separate living areas, and private Jacuzzis. 

Villa La Valencia Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa, Mexico

In room spa tub at the Villa La Valencia Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa in Mexico
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Located right where the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean, Villa La Valencia Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa offers five-star luxury in a stunning setting. There are four pools for swimming and floating, as well as a lazy river that meanders through the palm trees. 

For a private soak, book a room with an indoor spa tub.

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The 10 Best Hotels in Rome, Italy https://www.oyster.com/articles/best-hotels-in-rome/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/best-hotels-in-rome/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2023 15:18:08 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=546260 Buongiorno, and welcome to the eternal city of Rome, where ancient wonders of the past intertwine with modern delights. Rome is a tapestry of timeless allure, inviting visitors to step back in time and marvel at the wonders of rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, and tantalizing cuisine. As you embark on a journey through the city’s…

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Buongiorno, and welcome to the eternal city of Rome, where ancient wonders of the past intertwine with modern delights. Rome is a tapestry of timeless allure, inviting visitors to step back in time and marvel at the wonders of rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, and tantalizing cuisine.

As you embark on a journey through the city’s endless labyrinthine of streets, finding the perfect hotel becomes paramount. That is why we’ve curated a selection of the best hotels in Rome—with options for every budget.

Whether you’re seeking a luxurious retreat or a boutique getaway, our handpicked selection of hotels will exceed your expectations and ensure that every moment spent in the eternal city is nothing short of extraordinary. 

Baglioni Hotel Regina 

Front entrance of the Baglioni Hotel Regina at night
SmarterTravel Hotels

The Baglioni Hotel Regina offers the perfect blend of timeless elegance and modern features. This gorgeous Arto Deco hotel is nestled in the heart of Rome, just steps from Via Veneto, placing you at the epicenter of the city’s vibrant energy and rich history. 

Indulge in a sanctuary of relaxation at the hotel’s tranquil spa, where rejuvenating massages, invigorating body treatments, and blissful facials await. The on-site restaurant, Brunello, tantalizes your taste buds with mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing the freshest local ingredients expertly paired with an extensive selection of fine wines.

With impeccable service and attention to detail, the Baglioni Hotel Regina affords a truly extraordinary stay. 

Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel

Exerior of the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel during sunset
SmarterTravel Hotels

Become a part of living history with a stay at the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel. Immerse yourself in the splendor of ancient Rome within this crescent-shaped palazzo, nestled in the picturesque Piazza della Repubblica. Located in the enviable city center, noteworthy sites such as Via Veneto, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps are all within walking distance. This hotel showcases 19th-century marble architecture with rooms suspended over the ruins of the ancient Baths of Diocletian. 

Indulge in a rich experience with an array of exceptional amenities. Pamper yourself with luxurious treatments at the spa, prioritize your wellness and fitness at the state-of-the-art health club, or take a refreshing dip in the seasonal outdoor pool, basking in the summer sunshine while savoring moments of tranquility and peace amidst the dynamic city energy. 

RELATED: Best Hotels With Jacuzzis in the Room

QC Termeroma Spa & Resort

Front entrance to the QC Termeroma Spa & Resort
SmarterTravel Hotels

Escape to the serene countryside just outside of Rome with a stay at the QC Termeroma Spa & Resort. Located in the heart of the enchanting Oasi di Porto natural park, this idyllic retreat offers a seamless blend of tranquility and a central location. 

Let your senses come alive with the aromas of rose gardens nestled under the shade of centuries-old trees, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the serene countryside landscape. 

This country-chic hotel is situated within a historic estate. It oozes magic and romantic charm, offering relaxing spas, thermal centers, and gourmet dining experiences where you can rejuvenate your mind and body. Every moment at the QC Termeroma Spa & Resort invites you to find inner peace and serenity. 

NH Collection Roma Fori Imperiali 

Interior entrance of the NH Collection Roma Fori Imperiali
SmarterTravel Hotels

Indulge in a truly intimate and captivating stay at the NH Collection Roma Fori Imperiali, nestled alongside the awe-inspiring Imperial Forums, Rome’s renowned archaeological treasures. This small boutique hotel boasts 42 tastefully designed rooms, ensuring an exclusive and personalized experience for every guest.

During your stay, you’ll immerse yourself in the charm of this small-scale hotel, where every detail has been meticulously coordinated to create an ambiance of luxury and relaxation. Discover the hidden gem of the Secret View Rooftop Cocktail Bar, where handcrafted cocktails await, accompanied by breathtaking panoramic views of Rome. Savor each sip as you take in the enchanting cityscape, feeling as though you’ve stumbled upon a well-kept secret.

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DOM Hotel

Historic luxury room at the DOM Hotel
SmarterTravel Hotels

The DOM Hotel invites you to make yourself at home in its intimate, five-star property. Nestled within a 17th-century palace-turned-Claretian monastery, this exquisite hotel offers an exclusive experience with only 18 individually furnished rooms and suites, each offering direct views over the historic Via Giulia.

Step into a world of refined luxury as you make yourself at home in this hidden gem. The DOM Hotel embraces its rich heritage, seamlessly blending historic charm with modern comforts. Whether you unwind in your room’s elegant surroundings or explore the vibrant city just beyond your doorstep, the DOM Hotel promises a harmonious fusion of history, comfort, and style.

Palazzo Dama

Exterior of the Palazzo Dama
SmarterTravel Hotels

Set just adjacent to the renowned Piazza del Popolo, the Palazzo Dama presents a unique opportunity to indulge in the timeless allure of Rome within the refined setting of an Italian-style villa. Once the esteemed residence of the noble Italian Malaspina family, this distinguished 5-star hotel seamlessly blends historic grandeur with modern sophistication.

Step into a world of refined elegance as you enter the thoughtfully designed rooms and suites, each an embodiment of refined comfort and style. Adorned with carefully curated collections of rare art and design elements, the spaces exude a sense of history and timeless beauty. 

NH Collection Roma Palazzo Cinquecento 

Front exterior of the NH Collection Roma Palazzo Cinquecento
SmarterTravel Hotels

Set amidst elegant gardens and Roman ruins, the luxurious NH Collection Roma Palazzo Cinquecento offers a serene oasis in the heart of the city. The hotel boasts a charming and relaxing atmosphere, creating peaecful atmosphere for guests to unwind in after a long day of sightseeing and exploring. 

Each room is designed as a warm, contemporary haven from the city, featuring notable touches of classic Italian ornamentation with views of the gardens and Roman ruins. Unwind with a refreshing rain effect shower or soak away tired muscles in the deep-set baths, sip on rich espresso from the in-room Lavazza machines, or embark on a gourmet journey at the hotel restaurant.

Elizabeth Unique Hotel 

Front exterior of the Elizabeth Unique Hotel
SmarterTravel Hotels

As the name suggests, the Elizabeth Unique Hotel offers a unique stay during your trip to Rome. The hotel boasts a cosmopolitan air and entices guests with its trendy atmosphere and design.

Guests can marvel at the beautiful views from their terrace and take advantage of complimentary amenities such as concierge services, in-room espresso makers, and bathrooms that feature deep-soaking tubs and rainfall showers. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy local cuisine at the Bar Bacharach & Bistro, which features a tastefully designed bar/lounge. 

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Maalot Roma 

Interior lounge area at the Maalot Roma
SmarterTravel Hotels

The Maalot Roma Hotel is ideal for guests who want to savor the best that Rome has to offer. With iconic attractions like the Trevi Fountain and the fashionable Via Condotti just a leisurely stroll away, this hotel is a magnet for travelers seeking the perfect balance of relaxation and exploration.

Housed in the former home of the renowned opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, this intimate boutique hotel exudes flawless white-glove service seamlessly paired with an authentic Italian experience. It’s the perfect blend of timeless elegance with a hint of contemporary gusto.

Hotel Eden 

Front and side exterior of the Hotel Eden - Dorchester Collection
SmarterTravel Hotels

The iconic Hotel Eden prides itself in offering an authentic Roman experience mixed with modern sophistication.

The spacious and airy rooms feature high ceilings and tall windows and beautiful city views.

A meal at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, La Terrazza, where Chef Fabio Ciervo utilises local ingredients, will be one of the highlights of your stay.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Best All-Inclusive Resort Brands https://www.oyster.com/articles/the-ultimate-cheat-sheet-for-all-inclusive-brands/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/the-ultimate-cheat-sheet-for-all-inclusive-brands/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2023 20:00:00 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/56632-the-ultimate-cheat-sheet-for-all-inclusive-brands/ Location, style, and budget are the three most important factors for an all-inclusive resort. Easy enough. But wait! You’ve found several options that fit your criteria, and you notice that one hotel charges for internet access and water sports. At the same time, its competitor down the beach offers free Wi-Fi and unlimited scuba diving.…

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Location, style, and budget are the three most important factors for an all-inclusive resort. Easy enough. But wait! You’ve found several options that fit your criteria, and you notice that one hotel charges for internet access and water sports. At the same time, its competitor down the beach offers free Wi-Fi and unlimited scuba diving. Or maybe you realize that some resorts on your list require cheesy plastic bracelets and complicated reservation systems at their restaurants. Still, others are mercifully wristband-free and have no or minimal reservation policies. Is this the sort of all-inclusive with booming music on the beach and people getting blitzed before noon, or a couples-only, no-kids-allowed resort that’s overly sexed-up to an awkward degree? Researching the intricacies and distinctions of major all-inclusive brands can feel as complex as charting your own nautical course to reach the destination. Enter Oyster’s handy road map to major all-inclusive brands, where we break down their overall vibe and distinguishing characteristics.

The Brand: Sandals Resorts

View of 2 builds at Sandals Grenada with balconies and pools
Sandals Resort in Grenada | Sandals

Sandals Resorts Locations

Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Grenada

Sandals Resorts Scene

Upscale couples-only resorts with signature romantic touches — fire pits, gazebos, and swinging chairs overlooking the ocean.

Sandals Resorts Rooms

Various budgets and preferences are catered to with different room types and service categories, but all include extra-wide king beds, pillow menus, rainfall showers, and bathrobes. Couples searching for serious just-us time could splurge on the brand’s signature Love Nest suites, which come with private pools, 24-hour room service, and butlers.

Sandals Resorts Features

Pick a Sandals, any Sandals, and you won’t lack things to do (and neither will your partner). Every location features multiple pools, excellent Red Lane spas, weekly beach parties, diving centers with PADI training and certification, unlimited water sports — sailing, glass-bottom boat tours, water-skiing, kneeboarding, tubing, snorkeling — and drinking and dining spots that number in the double digits. There are a combined 162 restaurants across Sandals’ 15 resorts. (Don’t worry, each resort has its culinary concierge to assist with reservations and dietary issues.)

Sandals Resorts Details

Private airport transfers, gratuity, unlimited premium liquor, and resort-wide Wi-Fi — even on the beach — are all included.

Our Top Pick for a Sandals Resort: Sandals Grenada Resort & Spa

The 225-room Sandals Grenada Resort & Spa is spread over a sprawling 17-acre property on the southwestern tip of Grenada. And with five pools, a lovely spa and fitness center, numerous activities, and ten restaurants, couples won’t be at a loss for things to do.

The Brand: Beaches Resorts

Aerial view of Beaches Turks & Caicos
Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos | Turks & Caicos

Beaches Resorts Locations

Turks & Caicos and Jamaica

Beaches Resorts Scene

Designed for families with kids and teens, these sprawling properties offer water parks, kids’ camps, teen hangouts and nightclubs, XBOX game garages, and even Scratch DJ Academy programs. Beaches partners with Sesame Street, so stage shows and sing-alongs with Grover and Abby Cadabby are on the docket.

Beaches Resorts Rooms

Rooms can accommodate any family or group size (more than 40 different room types at Beaches Turks & Caicos), but all feature coffee machines with 100 percent Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, stocked minibars, plasma TVs, and free Wi-Fi.

Beaches Resorts Features

Peace and quiet may be hard to come by (parents could try the Red Lane spas or a candlelit dinner), but just about anything else you can imagine can be found here, and just about all of it is free with the all-inclusive rates. All Beaches have loads of pools, restaurants, and bars, plus free fitness classes, land activities, and water sports, including kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, and unlimited scuba diving.

Beaches Resorts Details

Airport transfers, taxes, gratuity, and access to spa facilities are all included (spa treatments are an additional charge).

Our Top Pick for a Beaches Resort: Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa

At Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, a family-friendly all-inclusive in Turks & Caicos, guests can challenge themselves to eat at all 19 restaurants, drink at all 12 bars, and relax at all six pools before their vacation is over. There’s also a sprawling water park, shopping center, and spa complex for guests.

The Brand: Zoetry

Aerial view of Zoetry Agua Punta Cana withthe mountains in the background
Zoetry Agua Resort in Punta Cana | Zoetry

Zoetry Locations

Mexico, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Curacao, and Jamaica

Zoetry Scene

Peaceful, pristine luxury boutique resorts with a wellness bent. Zoetry Agua Punta Cana technically accepts guests of all ages, but its non-discounted rates for children and lack of kid-friendly amenities mean that almost all guests are couples.

Zoetry Rooms

Gorgeous rooms feature upscale beach decor, balconies or terraces, satellite TVs, and sexy bathrooms with Bulgari toiletries and rainfall showers. Fully stocked minibars are refreshed at least once daily, bottles of champagne and fruit plates are delivered daily, and room service is available 24 hours.

Zoetry Features

Zoetry lacks the loud music of typical all-inclusive, but not the robust activities offerings: yoga, meditation, classes (cooking, cigar-rolling, cocktail-making, and more) are available to guests — once they can extract themselves from the beaches and pools, that is. The all-inclusive rates cover unlimited top-shelf liquor, craft cocktails, and tasty a la carte meals (featuring organic options) at the hotels’ health-oriented restaurants.

Zoetry Details

Gratuity, three-times-daily housekeeping, 24-hour laundry service, and unlimited worldwide calling are all included.

Our Top Pick for a Zoetry Resort: Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

The 96-room Zoetry Agua Punta Cana is one of the most luxurious and tranquil all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, period. It offers an uncrowded white-sand beach, spacious suites with butler service, a long pristine pool, and one of the area’s best spas. Guests also get a free 20-minute massage and free horseback riding on the beach.

The Brand: Secrets Resorts

Aerial view from the water of Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera in Cancun | Secrets

Secrets Resorts Locations

Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic

Secrets Resorts Scene

Vast, luxurious adult-only resorts popular for weddings and honeymoons, each with its own laundry list of property features.

Secrets Resorts Rooms

Upscale in-room features like rainfall showers, well-stocked minibars, and furnished balconies or terraces are de rigueur at these resorts. So are “secret boxes,” two-door compartments that allow guests to pick up their room service deliveries (available 24/7) without having to open the door and compromise their privacy, even for a second. Most rooms have whirlpools for two people.

Secrets Resorts Features

These high-end all-inclusive have enough features to make leaving their premises virtually unnecessary. Things like expansive spas, gourmet restaurants, and secluded beaches (with food and drink service available here and at the pools) are all aimed squarely at adults and centered around romance and relaxation.

Secrets Resorts Details

Meals and drinks are included in the room rates for all guests, so all properties are wristband-free. Gratuities and taxes are included, and some activities, like scuba diving and fishing, cost extra.

Our Top Pick for a Secrets Resort: Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun

Located on the Riviera Maya, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun is a romantic, adults-only resort on a private white-sand beach lined with sunbeds, cabanas, and palapas. Its pool complex sprawls over 86,000 square feet, with swim-up bars in many of its 13 pools (one, an infinity pool with panoramic ocean views). Several shallow pools feature tables, chairs, lounges, and hammocks set in the water. Meanwhile, a stunning spa offers couples’ treatments in private outdoor cabanas on the beach. In addition to the buffet, a wide range of high-quality dining options are available, including Japanese teppanyaki, French cuisine, a wine cellar with over 200 different vintages, and, for an extra charge, romantic dinners for two on the beach.

The Brand: Couples Resorts

View of lounge chairs around the jacuzzi with a building in the background
Couples Swept Away | Couples Resorts Negril

Couples Resorts Locations

Jamaica (Negril and Ocho Rios)

Couples Resorts Scene

These mellow, family-run properties are reserved exclusively for couples, so their focus is on romance, relaxation, and adult features, like private candlelit beachfront dinners and adorable banners across room doors announcing honeymoons or anniversary statuses. Guests are more likely to be found sipping Red Stripes and daiquiris on the beach and breezing through light reads than boozing and partying hard.

Couples Resorts Rooms

Elegant, breezy, and modern, with ceiling fans, air-conditioning, balconies with either ocean or garden views, and free Wi-Fi. Free minibars are restocked based on guests’ specifications (minibars come standard with ginger ale, grapefruit soda, and Red Stripe; guests can request red, white, and sparkling wine and full-size bottles of vodka, gin, whiskey, and Appleton Special Rum for no additional cost).

Couples Resorts Features

Couples resorts don’t just dish out free meals and drinks; rather, guests enjoy free unlimited golf, free motorized and non-motorized water sports (even scuba diving), and free excursions, including glass-bottom boat tours and sunset catamaran cruises with beer and rum punch. Also free are fitness classes like water aerobics and yoga, and tennis lessons, plus nightly entertainment. Perhaps it’s not all top-notch — for instance, the nightly live sets can be a little cheesy, and the “free” golf requires guests to hire a caddy on their dime. Still, with so much free stuff, there’s little room for complaint. Most Jamaican Couples resorts have a dedicated nude section; at Couples Tower Isle, it’s the resort’s namesake island, a small rocky refuge about a one-minute boat ride from the mainland. It’s a cool little spot with a small pool, a little beach, and a swim-up bar — but guests must be willing to bear it all to experience it. The island’s policy is not clothing optional — it’s clothing prohibited, which might be disappointing for guests who prefer to keep things covered.

Couples Resorts Details

Couples resorts have a no-tipping policy, though there are a few instances where it is suggested. For example, caddy fees at the golf course are mandatory, and tipping the airport shuttle driver per bag is customary.

Our Top Pick for a Couples Resort: Couples Swept Away and Couples Negril

With four Couples options between Ocho Rios and Negril, it’s tough to figure out why one might be better. Couples Swept Away has the famed Seven Mile Beach location, while Couples Negril sits just north on the somewhat quieter sands of Bloody Bay — but this may be a plus for those guests looking for a mellower beach vibe.

The Brand: Sunscape

Aerial view of the Sunscape Cove Montego Bay Resort And Spa
Sunscape Cove Montego Bay Resort And Spa | Sunscape

Sunscape Locations

Jamaica, Curacao, Mexico, and Dominican Republic

Sunscape Scene

Crowded mega-resorts that are high on kid count and low on local personality. For families looking for mid-range to upper-middle-range beach vacations, Sunscapes can prove solid picks.

Sunscape Rooms

Expect terraces or balconies and flat-screen TVs with cable; minibars are refreshed every few days instead of daily.

Sunscape Features

These resorts offer typical all-inclusive experiences for the Caribbean, with multiple pools (at least one with the requisite swim-up bar) and ample games and sports (snorkeling and rock climbing, among others). The Explorer’s Club provides supervised indoor and outdoor activities for younger kids, and Core Zone Teens Clubs offers video games, karaoke, and organized socials. Food and drinks are on hand 24 hours a day, though what’s available and when can be confusing, and the food quality might be lacking to some. Reservations at the a la carte restaurants are not required. Unlike some luxury all-inclusive on this list, food and beverage service is not offered at the pools or beaches.

Sunscape Details

All taxes and gratuities are included; no wristbands.

Our Top Pick for a Sunscape Resort: Sunscape Splash Montego Bay

Located right on the beach, close to Montego Bay’s highlights, Sunscape Splash packs a big value. Resort features include four pools, three restaurants, a fitness center, a spa, a beauty salon, and a spectacular pirate-themed aquatic park. Though not ultra-luxe, the property offers an affordable vacation with a beautiful Caribbean Sea backdrop.

The Brand: Paradisus by Melia

Aerial view of The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana Resort looking down at 2 pools and red roofed buildings
The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana Resort | Paradisus by Melia

Paradisus by Melia Locations

Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, and Costa Rica

Paradisus by Melia Scene

Most of Paradisus by Melia’s nine luxury resorts are kid-friendly and suitable for romantics. Separate sections for families (called Family Concierge) and adults (called Royal Service) give the resort broad appeal for all luxury travelers. Couples will find that the well-behaved little ones here are hardly ever a bother. Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla in Mexico and Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa in Cuba are fully dedicated to adults. Paradisus Playa del Carmen is emphatically for families.

Paradisus by Melia Rooms

Rooms are across-the-board luxe, though the adult-only Royal Service suites tend to come with higher-end amenities, such as whirlpools. All rooms have 50-inch flat-screen TVs, balconies or terraces, Nespresso coffee machines, minibars, Thierry Mugler toiletries, free Wi-Fi, and 24-hour room service.

Paradisus by Melia Features

Features here span from the expected (tequila and wine tastings, free non-motorized water sports like kayaking and snorkeling) to the above-and-beyond (elaborate spas and pools, impressive international buffets, and a la carte restaurants).

Paradisus by Melia Details

Tipping is not mandatory, but tax is not included.

Our Top Pick for a Paradisus by Melia Resort: The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real

With less than 200 suites, The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, the family-friendly section of Paradisus Palma Real, has a serene environment, a top-notch spa, yoga, and a seemingly never-ending pool area. Guests also get free access to the services, facilities, and restaurants next door Palma Real — particularly the beach area, which this property lacks.

The Brand: Barcelo Hotels & Resorts

Aerial view of Barceló Maya Palace
Barceló Maya Palace in Mexico | Barcelo Hotels & Resorts

Barcelo Hotels & Resorts Locations

All-inclusive locations throughout Mexico, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Barcelo Hotels & Resorts

Not all Barcelos are all-inclusive resorts. However, the Spain-based hotel group is still a major player in the market, with more than a dozen all-inclusive venues in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. The smaller Barcelo Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana is for adults only. Still, the other locations have broad appeal and massive acreage that allow families, partiers, and couples to mingle seamlessly.

Barcelo Hotels & Resorts Rooms

Stocked minibars, coffee machines, and bathrobes are all standard amenities. Room service is available 24 hours; it’s free for guests staying in Premiere Rooms but comes at a cost in standard rooms.

Barcelo Hotels & Resorts Features

The usual suspects are in full force: large pools, tons of eating and drinking options, fitness centers, theaters, tennis and basketball courts, mini-golf courses, soccer fields, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and activities like dance classes and water games. Some offer 24-hour casinos and nightclubs. All locations have a spa, but all-inclusive guests generally don’t get access to the spa’s facilities without paying for treatment. Though Barcelos are slightly generic-style resorts best suited for the masses, they encourage culturally immersive experiences. For example, at the two sister properties in Punta Cana — the aforementioned adult-only Barcelo Bavaro Beach and the family-friendly Barcelo Bavaro Palace — guests can take excursions to local rum factories or learn bachata, a traditional Dominican dance.

Barcelo Hotels & Resorts Details

Almost all services at the hotel are covered, including all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day), unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), daily activities, and non-motorized water sports. Taxes and gratuity are covered in the rates.

Our Top Pick for a Barcelo Hotel: Barcelo Maya Palace

Guests staying at the high-end Barcelo Maya Palace (15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Riviera Maya) can use all the facilities at its sister properties, the Barcelo Maya Colonial and the Barcelo Maya Caribe. Still, the reverse is not true, which makes Barcelo Maya Palace feel more serene and exclusive.

The Brand: Dreams

Aerial view of Dreams Macao Beach Punta Cana with the beach and ocean in the background
Dreams Resort at Macao Beach Punta Cana | Dreams

Dreams Locations

Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Dominican Republic

Dreams Scene

Laid-back all-inclusive that appeals to all types of travelers.

Dreams Rooms

Nearly all upscale rooms feature balconies or terraces, with daily refreshed minibars, free 24-hour room service, and daily housekeeping.

Dreams Features

Notable among Dreams’ expected features are its food and drink programs — many of the gourmet dining options are a la carte restaurants that don’t require reservations, don’t usually have long wait times for dinner, and serve surprisingly good and varied food. Bars serve name-brand liquor and local and international beers — a perk that’s hard to find at most all-inclusive hotels. And in addition to the 24-hour room service, guests can order meals and drinks via beach and pool service.

Dreams Details

No wristbands here. All Dreams guests are on the all-inclusive program, which covers taxes and gratuity, Wi-Fi and calling, kids’ and teen clubs, daily activities, and nightly entertainment.

Our Top Pick for a Dreams Resort: Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa

Situated on a white-sand beach, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa is a lovely upscale all-inclusive property in Bavaro. It offers a laundry list of features, such as water sports, daily and nightly entertainment, and numerous kid-friendly amenities. But the Dreams goes above and beyond with one of the largest pools in the D.R. (it never feels crowded).

The Brand: Breathless Resorts & Spas

Aerial view of Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa
Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa | Breathless Resorts & Spas

Breathless Resorts Locations

Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica

Breathless Resorts Scene

Adult-only all-suite properties are so massive that guests rarely feel overwhelmed by crowds. Guests looking for a party can certainly find one at these resorts’ many bars, lounges, and theaters with nightly entertainment.

Breathless Resorts Rooms

All Breathless rooms are sleek and stylish suites designed with couples in mind; floor plans are open, beds are comfy, bathrooms feature large showers and double vanities, and balconies are decked out with private whirlpools. Room service is 24 hours, and minibars are restocked every day.

Breathless Resorts Features

The breadth of features on hand here is truly, well, breathtaking (most are included in the rates). Pristine pools (which include swim-up bars, whirlpools, and lazy rivers), tennis courts, water sports such as snorkeling and sailing, and daily dance, workout, and Spanish classes are among the offerings. Food and drink service is available on the sandy beaches, as well as by the pools.

Breathless Resorts Details

Rates include everything from the food and alcohol to the water sports and themed pool parties, plus taxes and gratuities.

Our Top Pick for a Breathless Resort: Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa 

The Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa is massive, so guests rarely feel overwhelmed by crowds. Common spaces are calm with earth-toned decor and teak accents, while rooms are decorated with bright geometric patterns. Shady walkways and manicured lawns weave throughout the resort’s restaurants, bars, shops, and pools, and a lazy river also snakes through the grounds. Rates include everything from the food and alcohol to the water sports and themed pool parties.

The Brand: Club Med

Club Med property in Thailand | Club Med

Club Med Locations 

Caribbean, Mexico, Italy, France, Portugal, Turkey, Brazil, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Mauritius, Maldives, Japan, Malaysia, China, and Thailand

Club Med Scene

One of the most recognizable and long-lasting brands in the all-inclusive chain game, Club Med began as slightly hedonistic adult-only properties, but most locations have made the family-friendly switch and now allow all ages.

Club Med Rooms

Oyster’s reporters have consistently noted that Club Med rooms are somewhat on the small side (true at the Marrakech, Guadeloupe, and Turks & Caicos locations that we’ve reviewed), but they’re generally tastefully decorated and well-equipped; all rooms in all resorts have free Wi-Fi.

Club Med Features

Almost all of the expected all-inclusive features are present and accounted for, plus a heavy emphasis on activities. Club Med’s all-inclusive package allows guests to try exciting sports like waterskiing, archery, and wakeboarding or even enjoy circus activities like tightrope walking and swinging on a life-size flying trapeze. These activities would be expensive elsewhere and add value to Club Med’s rates. Tamer activities include yoga, golf, tennis, beach volleyball, snorkeling, and guided walks.

Club Med Details

Gratuities and tips included.

The Brand: Riu Hotels & Resorts

Aerial view of RIU in Ocho Rios
RIU in Ocho Rios Jamaica | Riu Hotels & Resorts

Riu Locations

Bahamas, Aruba, St. Martin, Panama, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Morocco, Mauritius, Bulgaria, Turkey, Sri Lanka

Riu Scene

With nearly 70 all-inclusive locations worldwide, Riu resorts range from outdated and bland to super-stylish and modern. Most provide lively and somewhat alcohol-fueled atmospheres for couples, spring breakers, and — except the chain’s nine adult-only locations — families.

Riu Rooms

Some resorts’ rooms include Riu trademarks, such as stocked minibars with liquor dispensers (restocked daily) and 24-hour room service (both free).

Riu Features

Hotel offerings vary from location to location, but rarely do they exceed the realm of what’s expected for the all-inclusive category. It’s safe to expect a mega pool (or three), diverse entertainment day and night, group fitness classes, and non-motorized water-sports equipment like stand-up paddle boards, snorkel gear, and kayaks (some locations offer one free scuba lesson in the pool). Locations with on-site casinos and nightclubs permit guests free entry.

Riu Details

Rates cover breakfast, lunch, dinner (buffets and a la carte), and drinks, plus taxes and gratuities. Most (50) of Riu’s all-inclusive resorts are 24-hour all-inclusive, so food and alcohol are available around the clock. Wristbands required.

Our Top Pick for a Riu Hotel: Hotel Riu Ocho Rios

With more services and entertainment than some U.S. towns, this massive all-inclusive resort feels like a city unto itself. Amenities include seven restaurants, an enormous private beach, and two large pools. In-room facilities are also excellent, including daily-stocked minibars, liquor dispensers, and private balconies, many with ocean views.

Pricing for Hotel Riu Ocho Rios

The Brand: Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos

Aerial view from the ocean of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana | Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos

All-inclusive locations throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic

Hard Rock Scene

Fun and upscale rock-n-roll-themed mega-resorts with a little (actually, a lot) for everybody: rowdy college kids, romantics, and families.

Hard Rock Rooms

Huge, stylish rooms with double-jetted bathtubs, free liquor dispensers, and 24-hour room service. Hard Rock’s “The Sound of Your Stay” program offers free music-related loaners, including guitars (full electric “menu”), headphones, and amps.

Hard Rock Features

Hard Rocks are very popular with couples and friend groups, but they’re surprisingly family-friendly, thanks to many great amenities for kids of all ages, such as kids’ clubs, signature family suites, kiddy pools, and kid-friendly menus. And speaking of the restaurants, many all-inclusive have multiple dining options that look and feel the same and serve strangely similar dishes, but this is not the case at Hard Rock. Here, the staggering assortment of restaurants — from all-you-can-eat buffets to international a la carte options to grab-and-go places — have individualized menus, custom decor, and consistently good food. Restaurants do not take reservations, but with so many dining options, they’re not even necessary.

Hard Rock Details

Tipping is not mandatory, but tax (20 percent) is not included.

Our Top Pick for a Hard Rock Hotel: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana

With 1,790 rooms, 13 pools and restaurants, 23 bars, an 18-hole golf course, 65,000 square feet of meeting space, a massive spa and fitness center, and the Dominican Republic’s largest casino, the word huge doesn’t even seem big enough to describe the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. But the Hard Rock isn’t all about size — the massive luxury property is one of the nicest all-inclusive in Punta Cana.

The Brand: Excellence Resorts

Aerial view of Finest Playa Mujeres by The Excellence Collection's pool with the beach and ocean in the distance
Finest Playa Mujeres in Mexico | Excellence Resorts

Excellence Resorts Locations

Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic

Excellence Resorts Scene

Luxurious, adult-only resorts that achieve an upscale feel without the least bit of pretension. Their excellent service helps with this immensely; upon arrival, prompt porters will whisk away luggage, and guests are handed a glass of Champagne. Excellences are popular for weddings (there are a few key spots on the beach for ceremonies), so it’s not just honeymooners here but also partiers in celebration mode.

Excellence Resorts Rooms

Elegant, contemporary suites with private balconies and an array of modern amenities, like flat-screen TVs, iPod-docking radios, and free Wi-Fi (though some guests complain it’s unreliable). Marble bathrooms are large and have separate jetted tubs and two-person rainfall showers, as well as double vanities and separate toilet rooms. Stocked minibars have beer, wine, and liquor plus snacks, and 24-hour room service is available at no extra charge. Excellence Club guests get premium minibars, Bulgari toiletries, and Nespresso machines.

Excellence Resorts Features

These luxury resorts on beautiful beachfront grounds offer tropical vacations with activities, dining options, and pools. The massive, meandering pools (Excellence El Carmen has a whopping 23) never feel too crowded, and at night, guests can choose from several high-end restaurants before hitting one of the many bars. Food and beverages, as is entertainment, are especially good for an all-inclusive resort. Since restaurant reservations are unnecessary, it’s easy to be flexible depending on the mood. Dining options constantly evolve and include various gourmet and casual (mostly gourmet, given the crowd).

Excellence Resorts Details

All meals, snacks, and alcoholic drinks — even premium brands – are included in the price. Taxes and tips are technically included, but tipping is quite common. Golf, spa treatments, and use of business facilities are available for extra fees.

Our Top Pick for an Excellence Resort: Excellence Playa Mujeres

Set in a private resort community north of Cancun, the Excellence Playa Mujeres is an adults-only all-inclusive property with lots to keep guests occupied: seven swimming pools, a high-end spa, a theater for nightly entertainment, fitness classes, Spanish lessons, and non-motorized water sports. Ten buffet and a la carte restaurants serve various cuisines such as Italian, Asian, Mexican, and Indian, plus 11 bars offering premium alcohol and 24-hour room service. Rooms are modern and luxurious and have big whirlpool tubs; all have balconies, some with ocean views. Visitors can also upgrade to one of the swim-up suites and rooftop terrace suites with plunge pools.

The Brand: Iberostar

Aerial view of the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall
Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Jamaica | Iberostar

Iberostar Locations

All-inclusive locations in Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Spain, the Canary Islands, Morocco, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Brazil, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Cuba

Iberostar Scene

With 71 all-inclusive locations throughout Africa, Europe, and the Americas — all beachfront — it’s tough to sum up the vibe at each one. Amenities at Iberostar Premium and Premium Gold locations run the gamut from family-focused kids’ clubs, teen clubs, and pools to adult-friendly nighttime entertainment and clubs. Iberostar’s upmarket Grand Collection hotels are for adults only.

Iberostar Rooms

Except for Iberostar’s nine Cuban resorts, in-room Wi-Fi is free. Grand Collection suites have personalized butler service, pillow menus, and special room scents.

Iberostar Features

Those who wish to take advantage of the all-inclusive amenities at Iberostar will be busy. The resorts don’t simply dole out free food and drinks at their pool bars, snack counters, global buffets, and specialty sit-down restaurants; rather, guests enjoy free non-motorized water sports (kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing); free fitness activities at the hotels’ gyms, pools, and beaches led by certified instructors (yoga, pilates, Zumba, spinning, TRX workouts, kickboxing); and even a free round of golf at Grand Collection properties.

Iberostar Details

Taxes and gratuities are covered by the all-inclusive rates.

Our Top Pick for an Iberostar Resort: Iberostar Grand Rose Hall

The best of the three Iberostar resorts in Montego Bay, Iberostar Grand Rose Hall is an all-suite hotel with top-notch decor, food, and amenities. While some elements remain shared with the lesser Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites — like the spa, fitness center, casino, nightclub, and shops — guests at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall get the pick of the litter with free access to all three resorts’ restaurants, bars, pools, and beaches

The Brand: Royalton

Aerial view of the Royalton CHIC Punta Cana from the ocean
Royalton CHIC in Punta Cana | Royalton

Royalton Locations

Cuba, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Mexico

Royalton Scene

Busy mega-resorts with great pools and lots of all-inclusive perks (especially for their upgraded Diamond Club guests). Some Royalton locations have sections exclusively for adults, and others are adult-only.

Royalton Rooms

Room style ranges from classic colonial (like at Cuba’s Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa) to contemporary and understated (as seen at the Dominican Republic’s Royalton Punta Cana Resort & Casino). Paying extra for Diamond Club room categories unlocks a slew of extra amenities and services, like pillow menus, nightly turndowns, free late checkout, and a separate dedicated butler team (who can provide property tours, unpack and pack belongings, iron clothing, and arrange birthday or anniversary celebrations).

Royalton Features

Nicely maintained beaches are a given, and Diamond Club members typically have access to exclusive beach space with a private bar and lounge area. On the food front, Royalton’s straightforward all-inclusive package happily lacks the many restrictions and reservations required at competing hotels. Instead, there’s unlimited reservation-free dining plus 24-hour (but occasionally slow) room service.

Royalton Details

Royalton’s all-inclusive rates cover most taxes, though prepare for additional exit taxes and reef taxes, depending on the location. Gratuity is included, but you should still tip the staff like at all resorts. Rates include 24-hour food and drink (Diamond Clubbers get the top-shelf stuff), ample organized activities, non-motorized water sports, resort-wide Wi-Fi, and select international calling.

Our Top Pick for a Royalton Resort: CHIC by Royalton Luxury Resorts

Many all-inclusive properties advertise that they have multiple a la carte options but have one large room divided into several smaller “restaurants.” This is not the case at CHIC by Royalton Luxury Resorts in Punta Cana, where each restaurant is thoughtfully designed and feels like a standalone establishment. Other noteworthy features include ultra-modern rooms, an on-site spa, a beautiful pool, and beach facilities.

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USA Travel Bucket List: 50 Places to Visit Before You Die https://www.oyster.com/articles/usa-travel-bucket-list-places-to-visit-before-you-die/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/usa-travel-bucket-list-places-to-visit-before-you-die/#respond Tue, 25 Jul 2023 18:54:09 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=500280 While we’re often daydreaming of beaches in the Maldives and vineyards in Tuscany, there are plenty of amazing destinations in our own backyard. To help you with your bucket list, we’ve rounded up 50 places you must visit in the United States before you die — in no particular order. 1. New York City One…

The post USA Travel Bucket List: 50 Places to Visit Before You Die appeared first on Oyster.com.


While we’re often daydreaming of beaches in the Maldives and vineyards in Tuscany, there are plenty of amazing destinations in our own backyard. To help you with your bucket list, we’ve rounded up 50 places you must visit in the United States before you die — in no particular order.

1. New York City

Central Park aerial view, Manhattan, New York; Park is surrounded

One of the most-visited places in the world, New York City has numerous attractions, a multicultural population, and something for all types of travelers. Tourists should be sure to fit in a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square. Central Park offers a respite from the crowds, museums are impressive, and a show on Broadway followed by a slice of pizza is an ideal night out.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Majestic Vista of the Grand Canyon at Dusk

The second-most popular national park in the U.S., the Grand Canyon in Arizona wows with its Colorado River-formed canyon, which stretches 277 miles long and over a mile deep. Visitors can see the park from scenic lookout points, via a stunning helicopter ride, during whitewater rafting, while riding a mule, or by hiking down and back.

3. Disney World, Florida

Orlando, FL, USA - November 5 2022 : Magic Kingdom Park. The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

One of the most magical places for people of all ages, the massive Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has four fun theme parks. Magic Kingdom has the breathtaking Cinderella Castle and nightly fireworks shows, while Epcot allows park-goers to travel around the globe by showcasing 11 different countries — think a pagoda in Japan, a biergarten in Germany, and Eiffel Tower views in France.

 4. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Jackson square

Vibrant, historic, and downright fun, New Orleans is a popular city throughout the year. While most people know about the city’s rambunctious Mardi Gras celebrations, NOLA also offers world-class jazz music, delicious Creole and Cajun cuisines, art galleries, ghost tours, and notable buildings such as the 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral. The French Quarter is best explored with a coffee and beignet or a frozen cocktail in hand.

5. San Antonio Missions, Texas

The Alamo in San Antonio Texas during golden sunset. Historic Texas Mission and battle site in the Texas Revolution against Mexico

Sure, you probably know about The Alamo in San Antonio, but it’s actually one of five Spanish missions found across the city. The oldest is Mission Espada, which was built in 1690; original frescoes are still visible inside Mission Concepcion; and the largest is Mission San José. Visitors can bike or drive between the missions, and park rangers provide free tours.

6. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls

While we’d argue that Niagara Falls is more impressive from the Canadian side, you can still witness the three stunning waterfalls without a passport. Head to Prospect Point in Niagara Falls State Park for a stellar vantage point, or consider a Maid of the Mist boat tour for a more up-close-and-personal view. Also worth a visit is Cave of the Winds, which is set behind Bridal Veil Falls and offers visitors a sensational view of the falls, often accompanied by a beautiful rainbow.

7. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate, San Francisco, California, USA.

Opened in 1937, the famous Golden Gate Bridge is an orange-colored suspension bridge that impresses with its main span of 4,200 feet and a total height of 746 feet. It connects San Francisco to Marin County, where the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has hiking, historical attractions, and lovely vistas of the bridge and San Francisco. After snapping a photo on land, travelers can bike or walk across the bridge for more picturesque views.

8. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains, autumn sunrise Tennessee

Both a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most frequented national park in America. The gorgeous park is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, and it has tons of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and water tubing. Fall also offers striking foliage.

9. Washington, D.C.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is a must-visit for anyone who wants to see where the government is run. From the White House to the Capitol to the Supreme Court Building, all three branches of government are found here, in addition to historical monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and World War II Memorial. Visitors can also spend hours touring the various Smithsonian museums within the National Mall.

10. Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

a bison grazes near the steaming old faithful geyser in yellowstone national park

One of the most well-known geological features in the country, Old Faithful, is a cone geyser within Yellowstone National Park. It was discovered in 1870 and got its name from its frequent and generally predictable eruptions, which occur about every 60 to 110 minutes. An average eruption is 130 to 140 feet high, expelling 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water (depending on the length of the eruption).

Related: The 6 Best National Parks for Winter Wildlife Spotting

11. South Beach, Miami

Miami Florida USA

South Beach is Miami‘s trendy hot spot, home to one of the prettiest beaches in America, gorgeous Art Deco architecture, tasty Cuban fare, and popular nightlife spots. A Latin American influence pervades the city at large, and in South Beach, tourists can shop at fancy boutiques, eat cheap Cuban sandwiches, and lounge at posh beach clubs. A beachside boardwalk is great for strolling or biking and, of course, people-watching.

12. The Narrows, Zion National Park

Orange glow hits the canyon walls in The Narrows of Zion National Park

Within Utah’s Zion National Park, The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. It’s the park’s most popular hike due to its striking setting within a gorge, where the river acts as the trail. Hikers must wade in water that varies from ankle- to waist-deep. It’s particularly pleasant in the hot summer months, but visitors should stay on top of weather conditions, as it’s known for dangerous flash flooding.

13. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Cityscape view in Santa Fe, New Mexico mountains of road street through community neighborhood with green plants summer and adobe traditional houses

Surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe is a charming artsy town with a strong Native American influence. Pueblo-style architecture, a central plaza where vendors sell various handicrafts, and historic sights such as Loretto Chapel give the city a unique feel, plus there’s plenty to keep busy throughout the year. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and restaurants serving New Mexican cuisine are additional highlights.

14. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Bixby Creek Bridge Big Sur California

Whether you choose to drive the entire 659 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway or just a fraction thereof, you’ll be rewarded with sensational vistas. Certain routes can be done in a day, but we recommend taking your time by starting in San Francisco and slowly making your way to Orange County. The best views are arguably in Big Sur, where you’ll find rugged cliffs against the ocean on one side and redwood forests on the other.

15. Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Just outside of Washington, D.C., is Arlington National Cemetery, which spans 624 acres and houses the graves of 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families. The graves of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis are frequently visited, as is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is a monument dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains haven’t been identified. The moving Changing of the Guard can be witnessed every 30 or 60 minutes while the cemetery is open, depending on the time of year.

16. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee, December 6, 2022: Broadway Street on a rainy night.

Even those who don’t love country music will likely be enamored with Nashville, Tennessee. Excellent restaurants and hip bars make for a thriving nightlife scene, and the live music — much of which is country — on Broadway is not to be missed. Top attractions include Centennial Park for its full-size replica of Greece’s Parthenon, the Grand Ole Opry concert hall, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

17. Freedom Trail, Boston

Freedom Trail in Boston

Boston played a large part in America’s independence, and the city’s Freedom Trail passes through 16 historically significant locations. The two-and-a-half-mile trail takes visitors to Boston Common (America’s oldest public park), the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s House, and the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship that acts as a museum today).

18. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Purple sunset and rising moon in Joshua Tree National Park, USA

Located in southern California, east of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is a dreamy destination known for its distinctive-looking namesake trees, big boulders that are ideal for rock climbing, and stellar stargazing opportunities. Visitors can drive through, hike around, camp, or ride horseback through the desert landscape.

19. Road to Hana, Maui

Road to Hana: The Hana Highway turns to cross a one lane bridge beside a waterfall on the north coast of Maui.

The top attraction in Maui on TripAdvisor, the Road to Hana (Hana Highway) is a 64.4-mile drive that connects Kahului, where the airport is located, to the town of Hana on Maui’s more rugged east coast. The drive is not for the faint of heart, as it has over 600 switchbacks and 56 one-lane bridges, but the speed limit never surpasses 25 miles per hour. Travelers who hit the road are rewarded with spectacular lush greenery, stunning black-sand beaches, multiple waterfalls, and spots to buy banana bread.

20. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado

Red Rocks at sunrise, near Denver Colorado

Located about a 30-minute drive outside of Denver, the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an open-air concert and entertainment venue. The entire theater, including the seating, was built into the red rocks, which make for a phenomenal acoustic experience. Tourists can run up and down the steps in the morning and see big-name acts at night. Past performers include The Beatles, U2, Coldplay, and John Denver.

Related: Maui vs. Kauai: Which Hawaiian Island Is Better for You?

21. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

amazing sundown at horseshoe bend, arizona

Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River takes a horseshoe-shaped bend in Glen Canyon. Visitors to Horseshoe Bend have skyrocketed since it gained recognition through Instagram. It’s easily accessible, as travelers can hike a one-and-a-half-mile round-trip trail from a parking lot off the highway.

22. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, USA cityscape on the river and walkway.

The capital of Texas, Austin, is a hip, youthful city where low-frills barbecue joints and big-name tech corporations coexist. From stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Austin to topless sunbathing at Barton Springs Pool, there are a lot of ways to beat the daytime heat. Nights can be spent at upscale restaurants, Sixth Street bars with live music, or watching bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Buy a University of Texas T-shirt and some cowboy boots while you’re there.

23. Space Needle, Seattle

Amazing View of Seattle From Far Away with mountain tops on the horizon

An iconic landmark in Seattle, the Space Needle is an observation tower that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. With its antenna, it rises 604 feet, allowing for panoramic views of Seattle and the surrounding water. A 100-million-dollar renovation included the creation of the Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor. A cafe and wine bar entice visitors to linger.

24. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

American flag waiving in front of Mount Rushmore

Located in South Dakota, this famous landmark depicts four American presidents carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore. Constructed between 1927 and 1941, the sculpture features the 60-foot heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

25. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension at Sunrise, Hot Air Balloons

Every year since 1972, Albuquerque hosts the International Balloon Fiesta, in which the sky is filled with colorful hot air balloons. For nine days in October, families and friends gather to watch the largest balloon festival in the world.

26. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park (the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world)

Another top attraction (and the most-photographed) within Yellowstone National Park is the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the United States, measuring 370 feet in diameter. It’s best viewed from above, as the spring has vibrant bands of rainbow colors.

27. Griffith Observatory, California

Los Angeles Griffith Observatory sunset

Situated on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory is a popular observatory with free admission. It has stellar views of the Hollywood Sign and Los Angeles, and visitors can use telescopes, the planetarium, various events, and a cafe.

28. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Biker on the Going-to-the-Sun Road with mountain background, Glacier National Park, Montana

Completed in 1932, Going-to-the-Sun Road is a two-lane highway that allows visitors to traverse the 50-mile width of Glacier National Park. Various scenic lookouts and noteworthy hikes can be found off the road, and it crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Due to weather conditions, it generally doesn’t open until late June or early July.

29. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Skyline

Whether for a bachelorette party, Celine Dion concert, or business conference, there’s a good chance you’ve at least thought about going to Las Vegas. Sin City is renowned for its world-class casinos, nightlife, and celebrity-chef-helmed restaurants, not to mention rowdy pool parties with famous DJs. It’s not all debauchery, though, and many kid-friendly activities dot the city.

30. Acadia National Park, Maine

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse at sunset. Bass Harbor Head Light is a lighthouse located within Acadia National Park, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay

Maine‘s beauty is undeniable, and that’s perhaps best displayed at Acadia National Park. Located near Bar Harbor, the 47,000-acre park sits along the coast and offers ample wildlife, such as moose and peregrine falcons, beaches, lush forests, and granite ridges formed by glaciers. While summer is a popular time to visit, the fall foliage makes for great autumn hiking.

Related: Top 9 Las Vegas Hotels on the Strip for Every Type of Traveler

31. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Girls on vacation hiking trip. Friends standing next to Thor's Hammer hoodoo on top of mountain looking at beautiful view. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA

Located a four-hour drive south of Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon is a national park best known for having the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular rock columns) in the world. The park was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2019 due to the great nighttime visibility and many astronomy-related programs on offer.

32. Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Liberty Bell old symbol of American freedom in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Often considered a symbol of America’s independence, the iconic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was ordered by Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751. It was previously housed in Independence Hall, the building where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. It has since been moved to the Liberty Bell Center within the Independence National Historical Park.

33. Charleston, South Carolina

Broad Street Panorama in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The 1670-founded Charleston is South Carolina’s oldest city, Today, it offers a lovely mix of old-fashioned Southern charm and contemporary style. Cobblestone streets filled with horse-drawn carriages and striking mansions can be found in its well-preserved Historic District, while notable wartime places, like Fort Sumter and Patriots Point, sit nearby. Cute boutique shops and traditional Southern comfort food appeal to visitors, as does Folly Beach, located a 25-minute drive south of the city.

34. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park

Hot springs may conjure images of Iceland or Costa Rica, but the aptly named city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers U.S. travelers ample opportunities to soak in naturally heated springs. The town is located in the Ouachita Mountains, about one hour from Little Rock. Bathhouse Row has several bathhouse options, including places for coed or gender-segregated experiences. A few dispensers around the city let people obtain cold spring water straight from the mountain.

35. Redwood National and State Parks, California

Hiker in Sequoia National Park, California, USA

Roughly equidistant from Portland and San Francisco, the Redwood National and State Parks encompass 139,000 acres and three state parks. Visitors here will find stunning redwood trees, which are some of the largest, tallest, and oldest trees in the world. On average, redwoods live between 500 and 700 years, and a typical redwood here measures 300 feet tall and 16 to 20 feet in diameter.

36. Oahu, Hawaii

Beautiful day at world famous and popular snorkeling spot Hanauma bay in Honolulu on Oahu, Hawaii

The most popular of the Hawaiian islands, Oahu provides picture-perfect beaches, hiking opportunities, and the conveniences of a city — think budget-friendly hotels, chain restaurants, and an international eatery. Top attractions include Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Diamond Head — a dormant volcano crater that can be hiked — and North Shore, a beach with huge waves that make it a frequent host of international surfing competitions in the winter. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is also worth a visit.

37. Alaska

Girl watching Aurora borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska

The 49th state of Alaska is stunning, with greenery-filled forests, tons of wildlife (think bears, humpback whales, and moose), and massive glaciers. However, it’s not the easiest place to explore, as even the capital of Juneau has no roads leading out of the city. Arguably the best way to see Alaska is on a cruise, stopping at ports like Ketchikan, which has a strong native culture and renowned salmon fishing.

38. Sonoma, California

Sunset at Sonoma California patchwork vineyard at harvest. Vista of Sonoma Valley wine country, with patches of yellow and green vines in autumn. Sunbeams shine on mountains and valleys.

While we love Napa Valley in California, Sonoma provides a slightly less touristy wine-country experience. Sonoma is set among beautiful rolling hills, and many of the over 400 wineries within Sonoma County have a laid-back atmosphere that will put visitors at ease. Like Napa, Sonoma has tons of top-notch restaurants, relaxing spas, bike rentals, and charming bed-and-breakfasts to choose from.

39. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Man on hilltop viewing Crater Lake with full moon

A four-hour drive south of Portland, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is 183,224 acres and home to America’s deepest lake. Crater Lake, a caldera formed by the eruption of Mount Mazama volcano, is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point and has a striking deep blue hue. Swimming and fishing are permitted, plus park-goers can hike, bike, ski, and stargaze.

40. Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico

Located 90 minutes north of Santa Fe, Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site. An active Native American community resides on Taos Pueblo lands, both within the Pueblo and in surrounding areas. The present buildings, which are made of adobe, are believed to have been constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D. Guided tours are available of the site.

Related: Best Destinations for Adult-Only Vacations

41. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope canyon, Arizona

Another Instagram darling, Antelope Canyon, is a magnificent, awe-inspiring slot canyon near Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone. It’s located on Navajo tribal lands, and the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons can only be accessed with a guide licensed by the tribe.

42. Minnesota Lakes

Yellow canoe on shore of beautiful lake with island in northern Minnesota at dawn

Minnesota is considered the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” though it actually has nearly 12,000, and many are fantastic spots for a summer vacation. Whether you choose to dip your toes in the chilly Lake Superior — one of the Great Lakes — or go full-on swimming in Mille Lacs Lake (which is large but shallow), there’s a lake in Minnesota for you.

43. Arches National Park, Utah

Jubilation at Delicate Arch, Moab Utah

Just outside of Moab is Arches National Park, famous for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches — the largest concentration of them on Earth. The most photographed is the 52-foot-tall, freestanding Delicate Arch, plus the park has many other striking geological formations.

44. Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY, USA - October 25, 2017: The exterior of Churchill Downs while it was closed to the public and under construction. A gift shop is open and tours of the inside are available.

Since 1865, the Kentucky Derby horse race has been taking place at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Women wear elaborate hats, while gentlemen don seersucker suits in pastel hues. Visitors come to watch the 20 three-year-old Thoroughbred horses race 1.25 miles — often with a mint julep in hand.

45. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island view from Fort Mackinac in Michigan

Located in Michigan’s Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is a charming 1780-founded island with a population of just around 1,000 (though it sees many tourists during its peak season). A majority of the island is a state park, which has forests, wildlife, and hiking trails. The use of motor vehicles has been outlawed here since 1898, so expect to ride around on bikes or in horse-drawn carriages and buggies.

46. Santa Monica, California

View of Santa Monica beach and Pacific Coast highway in southern California.

Santa Monica sits due west of Los Angeles, and the town lures travelers with its postcard-worthy beach, pier with amusement park rides, and boulevard lined by shops and eateries. A 22-mile paved bike trail is a great way to see the city, plus the famous Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym dating back to the 1930s, is not to be missed.

47. Space Center, Houston

HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA - JUNE 9, 2018: The NASA Space Shuttle Independence and NASA 905 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Independence Plaza, Space Center Houston, Texas.

The Space Center in Houston is the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and home of NASA Mission Control and astronaut training. It allows visitors to view more than 400 space artifacts, as well as traveling and permanent exhibits related to space travel.

48. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Picture Lake Reflection of Mount Shuksan

About a 90-minute drive from Denver is Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, which attracts millions of visitors each year with its 355 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives to more than 12,000 feet in elevation, and over 50 lakes and streams for fishing. Year-round activities abound, and travelers can either camp within the park or stay at a nearby hotel such as the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for “The Shining”).

49. Fenway Park, Boston

Fenway Park - home of the Boston Red Sox - BOSTON , MASSACHUSETTS

Long considered America’s pastime, baseball is something every U.S. citizen and traveler should witness at least once. There are 30 Major League Baseball teams, and while Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium in New York, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles are all suitable spots, we love Fenway Park in Boston for its easy-to-reach location. Plus, the many die-hard Red Sox fans make for a fun experience.

50. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island Sail Boats San Francisco California

Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is a fascinating tourist attraction that was developed as a Civil War fortress, followed by a military prison and federal prison (until 1963). Ferries shuttle visitors to the island, where guided tours showcase the complex history of the site and its prison.

How many destinations can you check off the list? Find out down below:

USA Travel Bucket List Checklist

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12 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Aruba https://www.oyster.com/articles/12-things-you-should-know-before-traveling-to-aruba/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/12-things-you-should-know-before-traveling-to-aruba/#respond Tue, 18 Jul 2023 14:00:00 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/57651-12-things-you-should-know-before-traveling-to-aruba/ Year-round sunny weather, white-sand beaches, friendly locals, and tasty international cuisine are a few of the reasons we love Aruba. In addition to picture-perfect beaches, the clear water that rings the island is perfect for snorkeling and wreck diving. And while visiting Aruba is pretty easy, there are some things you should know before you…

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Year-round sunny weather, white-sand beaches, friendly locals, and tasty international cuisine are a few of the reasons we love Aruba. In addition to picture-perfect beaches, the clear water that rings the island is perfect for snorkeling and wreck diving. And while visiting Aruba is pretty easy, there are some things you should know before you get on the plane (No, visiting Flamingo Beach in Aruba isn’t as easy as you think). We’re covering everything from when to go to Aruba to whether you need a visa, the best beach resorts, and what must-do experiences you need to book while traveling to Aruba. Read on for our 12 essential tips on how to have the best Aruba vacation.

1. Aruba is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean.

Colorful sign spelling out "Aruba"

We’ve spent countless months traveling across the Caribbean and Mexico and are constantly asked about safety in the region’s many beach-filled destinations. The truth is that there are risks to travelers whenever they go anywhere, whether it’s to New York City, Europe, or the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the legacy of colonialism, economies that depend strictly on tourism, and deeply rooted inequality have caused some Caribbean islands to have higher crime rates than other parts of the world. When you add sub-par infrastructure to the mix, the situation is often only exacerbated.

Aruba, though, is one of the safest exceptions to many of the problems that plague other Caribbean islands. Year after year, Aruba consistently ranks as one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean, with low rates of both violent and petty crime. Of course, you should exercise common sense and guard yourself against problems that plague tourists anywhere (theft of valuables and the like).

Part of the reason may be that Aruba lives up to its moniker of “One Happy Island.” And that slogan’s not superficial — it has a basis in economics. We spoke to a local at the Brickell Bay Beach Club & Spa about all the smiles we saw here while visiting, and they explained that the majority of the island’s residents are middle class, which isn’t always the case in Caribbean resort destinations. In Aruba, this controls the cost of living and social classism, reducing inequality and offering a more level of quality of life throughout the island.

2. You need a passport, but you don’t need a visa to enter Aruba.

Traveling to Aruba doesn’t require a pre-arranged visa for U.S., Canadian, or E.U. member citizens. The same goes for China and many of Aruba’s nearby neighbors like Mexico and Colombia. All you have to do is hand your passport over to the immigration officer upon arrival, and you’ll receive a free visa stamp that’s valid for 30 days. For those who fall in love with Aruba and want to extend their stay, it’s important to note that tourist visits are capped at a strictly-enforced 180 days per year.

RELATED: The Best Things to Do in Costa Rica

It’s not only the sun, sand, and relaxation that bring travelers to Aruba—some come to try their luck in the casinos. Gambling is legal in Aruba and is such a popular pastime here that all major resorts have their own in-house casinos in addition to the standalone spots dotting the island. Several casinos are open from noon until the wee hours of the morning, while others keep the games going 24 hours a day. For a taste of something local, try your hand at a game of Caribbean stud poker.

The Crystal Casino at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is one of the classiest places to gamble in Aruba—it sparkles with Austrian crystal chandeliers, gold-leaf columns, Spanish mirrors, and Italian marble and brass. Open 24/7, this almost 15,000-square-foot (1,394-square-meter) parlor features over 370 slot machines, as well as tables for roulette, craps, blackjack, Caribbean stud poker, and Texas hold ’em. The Stellaris Casino at Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is the largest on the island, open 24/7, and includes 26 gaming tables and over 500 slot machines.

4. Does Aruba get hit by hurricanes? No (generally speaking).

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is, “What Caribbean islands don’t get hit by hurricanes?” The true answer is that there is no one island that’s free of hurricane danger, but Aruba comes pretty close. In fact, Aruba is to the south of the Caribbean hurricane zone — where the majority of destructive storms develop. That means booking a trip to Aruba is a safer bet than islands in more central Caribbean spots, like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.

Aerial from Eagle beach on Aruba

While this probably won’t impact most travelers to Aruba, it’s a good thing to know for anyone planning a spring break getaway or family trip. Aruba is home to plenty of bars and casinos, and anyone who is at least 18 years old can enter them, get served alcohol, and throw down a bet.

6. You can drink tap water in Aruba.

While some tropical destinations may have you questioning whether it’s safe to drink the water, you can confidently gulp down the H2O in Aruba. In fact, Aruba has some of the cleanest water in the world. The island is a veteran of the desalination process and has been creating excellent drinking water using this method since 1932. That being said, travelers can leave bottled water and purifying pills at home. Instead, opt for a refillable bottle and fill it up from the tap in your room to help keep this island free of more single-use plastics.

RELATED: The Most Important Things to Know Before Going to Orlando

7. The best time to visit Aruba is January through September — but hotel prices vary seasonally.

Unlike many Caribbean islands, Aruba’s climate is significantly drier because it’s far outside the steamy hurricane belt (as mentioned above). The landscape here is arid, with brittle shrubs, cacti, and trademark divi-divi trees as far as the eye can see. For anyone who doesn’t feel like they are on vacation without a collection of palm trees swaying in the wind, don’t fret — much like the desert oasis of Palm Springs, Aruba is also home to its fair share of palm trees. This also means that the climate is much milder than your typical humid and steamy tropical island.

So when is the best time to visit Aruba? You could almost head here at any time of year and find nearly perfect weather. January through March are peak season, with warm temperatures and clear skies, though you’ll pay far more for your hotel when you visit at this time of year. While the rest of the Caribbean frets over hurricanes during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, Aruba actually continues to enjoy great weather. Yes, you’ll see a few stray showers here and there, but April through September is a great time to visit and sees far cheaper hotel rates than peak season. October through December brings the highest amount of precipitation, so if you’re hoping for the sunniest skies possible, avoid this time of year.

8. You won’t have to go far to find the best beaches in Aruba.

Aruba is justifiably famous for its beaches — blazing white sand, tranquil blue sea, and perfect breezes make them some of the best in the Caribbean. Whether you’re seeking out Flamingo Beach, the buzz of Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, or one of the many lesser-known beaches in northern Aruba, the perfect beach is here for you. You’ll also find a number of big Aruba beach resorts and boutique hotels posted up right on the sand. Aruba’s climate happens to make beachgoing particularly pleasant as well. Those near-constant trade winds we told you about mean that you never get too hot and sweaty, even when temperatures reach 80 degrees. The island is a mere 866 miles from the equator (roughly the length of the California coastline), and while these cooling winds can feel blissful on the beach, they can also hide exactly how much heat you’re soaking in from the sun. The sun is strong, so be sure to bring plenty of eco-friendly sunscreen with a higher SPF, plus light cover-ups like a sarong or thin long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, and a hat for optimum protection. Tip: Don’t forget to slather the tops of your feet with sunscreen — nobody likes sandal-shaped tan lines.

9. You don’t have to speak the local language in Aruba.

Palm Beach in Aruba in the Caribbean

Aruba sits just north of the coast of South America, near the islands of Curacao and Bonaire, making up the Netherlands Antilles. Like its neighboring islands, it’s also small. At approximately 74 square miles, Aruba is about the same size as Brooklyn. Luckily, it never feels crowded, though locals do mention they have an ever-growing number of expats who find their paradise here and never leave. Plus, That smaller size yields a sense of community around the island. It also makes getting around to different beaches, sites, and restaurants a breeze. Getting by is relatively easy for most tourists here as well. While Papiamento, a Creole language rooted in Dutch, English, Spanish, African, Portuguese, and French (among a few other languages), is the official mother tongue of Aruba, you don’t need to learn it. English is widely spoken, especially in tourist resorts, so there’s no need to worry about communication mishaps while on vacation.

10. From Flamingo Beach to Arikok National Park and wreck diving, Aruba has a lot to experience.

While there are plenty of people who come to Aruba to take it easy on the beach, others find their happy place among the destination’s several other activities. Aruba is one of the world’s best places to go kitesurfing and windsurfing, thanks to the constant trade winds, but there are a ton of other heart-pumping activities to take part in, too. Jump in a kayak and paddle through the mangroves, try your hand at deep-sea fishing, swim in the rock pools, or hop in a jeep for a bumpy off-roading adventure through the gorgeous Arikok National Park (you can also get out and hike around the photogenic landscape). There’s plenty going on underwater in Aruba as well, and the island is a prime destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Wreck diving is particularly spectacular in Aruba.

Other ways to see the island include horseback riding along the coast, taking a walking tour of Oranjestad’s renovated monument homes, and visiting local rum shops. Check out the local crafts at Cosecha or head over to Zeerover’s, located in the quiet, mostly locals-only area of Savaneta. Here, you can nosh on simple plates of fried fish while watching fishermen bring in the catch off the back docks.

If you’re looking for Flamingo Beach in Aruba, you’ll need to head offshore, as it’s part of the Renaissance Aruba Casino & Resort‘s private island. If you’re a guest at the resort, visiting Flamingo Beach is free. However, if you’re not staying at the resort, you’ll only be able to see Flamingo Beach if the resort has lower-than-normal occupancy and you’re willing to shell out a hefty per-person fee. So if you want a guaranteed date with the flamingos of Flamingo Beach, book a stay at the Renaissance Aruba.

RELATED: 5 of the Biggest Hotels in the World

11. Aruba is expensive, though you can pay in U.S. dollars or local currency.

There’s no way around it: Aruba is expensive. That’s true for many Caribbean islands, where much of the produce, food, and other goods are imported from elsewhere and where hotel rooms come at a premium. You can expect to spend at least $60 per person, per day, on food, and decent hotels will rarely be cheaper than $200 a night (and far higher in the January to March peak season). You can offset these costs by eating local fish and shopping at supermarkets for breakfast or lunch instead of shelling out for fancy morning meals. Alcohol is likewise not particularly cheap, though it will come cheaper in supermarkets than at restaurants and bars. While Aruba does have its own currency, the florin, travelers can also pay for most things at most places in U.S. dollars. For example, when you dine out, you’ll often be asked which currency you prefer to pay in, and most vendors accept American bills.

12. You don’t have to rent a car in Aruba (but you can if you want to).

Pink car in front of pink building in Oranjestad, Aruba

The bus system is pretty solid on the island, with a major line running up and down the main beaches. While you won’t find Uber or other ride-sharing companies in Aruba (all taxis are government-regulated), it’s fairly easy to flag down a taxi, especially in popular tourist areas. If you don’t mind the exercise, it’s also possible to walk in Aruba. For example, you can walk the entire length of Palm Beach in about 20 minutes—just be sure to cover yourself from the sun, wear comfy sneakers, and carry water.

If you want the freedom to explore all the island offers, we recommend renting a car, at least for a few days. We’ll give you the good news first: Aruba drives on the same side of the road as the U.S., so any anxious drivers need not panic about learning to navigate a vehicle in the opposite lane. It’s also worth noting that Aruba may have different road rules than you’re used to, such as no turning on red. Some people find the street signs a bit confusing, so you may want to study up before you head down. If you are planning on checking out the Arikok National Park on a self-drive tour, we recommend a jeep, as it can get pretty bumpy.

Where to Stay in Aruba for Any Kind of Traveler: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is an upscale hotel located directly on Palm Beach. The contemporary property offers several restaurant options, a large casino, a luxe spa, and two outdoor pools — including a swim-up bar

Where to Stay in Aruba for Adults Only: Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort Aruba

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort is an adults-only property at the southern end of Eagle Beach. Guest rooms are expertly decorated with luxurious decor and higher-end amenities such as iHome systems, charging docks, minibars, and built-in TVs in bathroom mirrors. The real focal point of the hotel is the beachfront space. Grab a chair and enjoy the view.

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How to Tell If You’re Ready for Your First Swingers’ Resort https://www.oyster.com/articles/how-to-tell-if-youre-ready-for-your-first-swingers-resort/ Thu, 06 Jul 2023 19:00:00 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/?p=472380 They say you never forget your first time. A swingers’ resort isn’t the type of place that anyone and everyone can thrive or survive in, so it’s worth taking the time to decide if you’re actually ready to take the plunge. Chances are, you’re curious about the lifestyle, and that’s exactly what it is for…

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They say you never forget your first time. A swingers’ resort isn’t the type of place that anyone and everyone can thrive or survive in, so it’s worth taking the time to decide if you’re actually ready to take the plunge. Chances are, you’re curious about the lifestyle, and that’s exactly what it is for most folks who visit these spots — a lifestyle choice. Most guests at swinger resorts are repeat visitors, and many know each other from previous encounters at the same or other similar properties. But don’t worry — they’re welcoming to newcomers. Think you’re ready to check out your first swingers’ resort? Here are a few things singles and couples should consider before booking a stay at a swingers’ resort.

Outdoor lounge and pool area at Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort
Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort

Understanding and operating within the laws of consent are requirements for anyone visiting a swingers’ resort. While it’s usually a given that everyone is there to have a little fun, it doesn’t mean you can go around touching people without their approval. It’s even common for people to ask for permission before putting their hand on your back.

2. Your mind is open to the experience.

Take some time to think about whether you’re simply curious about the experience or are truly open to being immersed in the environment of a swingers’ resort. Nothing is expected of anyone at a swingers’ resort, but people will likely assume you are there to have fun. How will you handle someone approaching or hitting on you? The open-minded atmosphere breeds a lot of situations you might not be used to, and you’ll need to be accepting of couples and hook-ups of all types.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Las Vegas’ Sexiest Topless Pools

3. You’re ready to be in an environment full of public sex and nudity.

Jamaica Hedonism II

Thinking you want to be in a sex-forward environment and actually being in a sex-forward environment can be quite different. You have to be comfortable with multiple sex acts and nudity happening all around at almost all times. You also have to be open to seeing intimate moments (and possibly being asked to join in) without harsh judgment. Couples and singles go to swingers’ resorts to feel free and uninhibited, so be sure you’re ready to witness the scene without causing a scene.

4. You can keep a secret.

As previously mentioned, not all swingers go public with their lifestyle. Some go as far as to tell their family and friends that they’re staying at a different resort, usually a neighboring property. Sometimes, they’ll even visit their cover resort and take pictures to post on social media. It’s not so much that you need to keep what happens at the swingers’ resort under wraps, but it’s good practice to keep the identities of who you do them with a secret.

RELATED: The Most Important Things To Know Before Going to Orlando

5. You’ve had a conversation with your partner.

Dining area at Temptation Grand Miches Resort
Temptation Grand Miches Resort

Obviously, we wouldn’t expect anyone to book a surprise getaway to a swingers’ resort without talking to their significant other first, but it’s worth having the conversation about what swinging means to each other, what you’re looking to get out of it, how important the experience is to everyone, and what you imagine it to be like. It’s a big decision for a couple, as swinging will definitely impact your relationship — for better or for worse. All parties must be on board for it to be a happy, fun, and successful trip.

6. Everyone has agreed to a set of rules and boundaries.

Before heading out, you should have a defined set of rules and boundaries. Things can happen quickly and unexpectedly at a swingers’ resort (that’s half the fun!), so it’s good to know what you and your partner or partners are comfortable with beforehand. How far are you willing to go with a different partner? How many new partners can someone have? Do all partners need to be present while swinging, or can one go off and have an individual experience? Will you exchange contact information with anyone? Don’t worry — if you arrive and are feeling a little loose, you can always revisit these boundaries and adjust accordingly, but it’s best to have some guidelines in place so that there are no crossed wires or upsets.

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7. There’s a solid line of communication in your relationship.

Indoor hot tub and lounge area at Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort
Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort

One thing that most swingers have in common (besides swinging, of course) is outstanding intra-relationship communication — about swinging and otherwise. If you and your partner or partners can’t communicate wants, needs, and concerns clearly and compassionately, chances are, you aren’t ready to hit the swingers’ circuit. Emotions and jealousy can run high, especially during your first rodeo, and solid communication is the only way you’ll survive.

8. No one in the relationship feels pressured to go swinging.

They are several types of swingers, and no one in your relationship should feel forced to go swinging if they aren’t feeling it. Some folks go to swingers’ resorts without any intention of swinging; they just like the free vibes, lack of judgment, and thrill of having sex in public. Meanwhile, for other couples, only one partner does the swinging. You have to find the dynamic that works best for your relationship.

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5 of The Biggest Hotels in The World https://www.oyster.com/articles/largest-hotels-in-the-world/ https://www.oyster.com/articles/largest-hotels-in-the-world/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2023 12:45:00 +0000 https://www.oyster.com/59443-the-6-largest-hotels-in-the-world/ Travelers look into many different factors when choosing the perfect hotel for an upcoming vacation. Some like the quaint and intimate feel of a B&B, while others look for obscure and unique options like a castle in Ireland or a tree house in Big Sur. For those travelers whose idea of the perfect stay includes…

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Travelers look into many different factors when choosing the perfect hotel for an upcoming vacation. Some like the quaint and intimate feel of a B&B, while others look for obscure and unique options like a castle in Ireland or a tree house in Big Sur. For those travelers whose idea of the perfect stay includes over-the-top resorts with thousands of rooms, various pools, and sometimes their own shopping mall, we’ve got you covered. Here are five of the largest hotel complexes around the world.

1. First World Hotel, Pahang, Malaysia

Aerial view of the 1. First World Hotel, Pahang, Malaysia

Located in the Genting Highlands of Malaysia, the First World Hotel is the largest hotel in the world, with 7,351 rooms between two towers. The hotel was the first in Southeast Asia to launch an e-kiosk and express check-in and now features a lifestyle mall with a variety of retail shops and restaurants. The property received the Guinness world record for the largest hotel first in 2006 but lost the title from 2008 to 2015 to the Venetian in Las Vegas. It regained the title after adding an extra 1,233 rooms.

2. The Venetian and the Palazzo, Las Vegas

Exterior and canals at The Venetian and the Palazzo, Las Vegas

Even though it lost the title of the largest hotel in the world after seven years, the Venetian and Palazzo complex doesn’t lack in extravagance. The sister resorts boast an impressive 7,092 rooms between the two, as well as over 40 restaurants, a world-class spa with over 90 treatment rooms, and 10 pools to choose from, varying in exclusivity and luxury. The standard guest rooms, which start at 650 and 720 square feet, respectively, are among the largest along the Strip, adding to the luxurious experience each visitor has.

RELATED: Top 9 Las Vegas Hotels on the Strip for Every Type of Traveler

3. The MGM Grand Las Vegas

Exterior of The MGM Grand Las Vegas

What was the largest hotel from 1993 to 2006 (with over 6,800 rooms) still provides one of the most extravagant and fun experiences one can imagine. With multiple restaurants by star chefs, a 6.5-acre pool complex with five bars and a lazy river, and a spa and fitness center, guests won’t be lacking in amenities. For those looking to party all day and night, the MGM Grand is home to the Wet Republic pool party and Hakkasan nightclub. With multiple shows every night and a sprawling casino, visitors will never be lacking entertainment.

4. City Center, Las Vegas

View from a distance of City Center, Las Vegas

Comprising the Aria, Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, Vdara, Veer Towers, and Crystals, this complex has over 6,500 rooms. The Aria is the center of the complex with 4,004 guest rooms, 16 restaurants, seven bars, five pools, a spa, a fitness center, and a large casino. The Waldorf Astoria (formally the Mandarin Oriental) is a smaller luxury hotel with a spa, two restaurants, and a pool, making it ideal for those looking for a more serene Vegas experience. The last of the three major hotels in the complex is the Vdara. Like Waldorf,  the Vdara lacks a casino, making it peaceful, but due to the fact that all rooms are suite-style with kitchenettes, there are no restaurants on the premises.

5. The Londoner, Macao

The Londoner, Macao

The three towers that make up the Londoner opened in 2012 and are home to multiple hotel brands, including Conrad, Sheraton, St. Regis, and Holiday Inn. Between the four hotels, there are 6,000 guest rooms and suites. There are a plethora of dining and shopping options within the complex, and each of the hotels has its own pool and spa. There are music and acrobatic shows to choose from each day, as well as kid-friendly activities. At the center of it is 17,000 square meters of gaming space.

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