Having a pool in your hotel is always a great perk when traveling in the summer, but there are many other seasonal hotel amenities that can make a trip special. Part of our job here at Oyster is to experience the property in full, and we never miss a chance to make the most of our visit. We've done everything you can imagine, from zip-lining in a snowstorm to bird-watching binoculars in hand -- all for the sake of a complete review. These are our favorite summer amenities and where to find them.
Loaner bikes: Paradise Point, San Diego
The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.
Plenty of hotels offer loaner bikes for guests to use during their stay, but few are located on a 44-acre private island where the best way to explore is on two wheels. Sea World San Diego and Pacific Beach’s shopping and dining are just a short bike ride away – so leave the car in the hotel’s parking lot and enjoy the sea breeze in your hair.
Barbecue grills: Castle Kiahuna Plantation Beach Bungalows, Kauai
A barbecue is a great alternative to indoor dining on a warm night.
Eating hotel food three meals a day for a week can get a bit monotonous, no matter how good the dining options are. That’s why having a barbecue grill where guests can make their own food always comes in handy. The Castle Kiahuna Plantation features 155 condos with full kitchens, as well as an outdoor barbeque. Grilled mahi-mahi anyone?
Al fresco movie nights: Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort, Miami
Few things are as fun as watching a movie under the stars.
Movie nights are a great way to spend some family time together -- and if they’re under the stars and come with free popcorn, we can’t think of a better plan for some quality time with the kids. The Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort offers a huge assortment of kid-centered activities (include outdoor movie nights), but that doesn’t mean parents can’t have some fun too: The beach is clean and sandy (and offers water sports), there are wine-tasting evenings, and the spa offers a good selection of relaxing treatments.
Fire pits: Fairmont Battery Wharf Boston
Who said fire pits are only for roasting s'mores slopeside?
One of the first things that comes to mind when we think of fire pits is a cold night in a mountaintop hotel roasting s’mores after a long day of skiing. While that is one of the most fun winter activities, sitting by a bonfire on a warm summer night with a drink in hand is no less appealing. The Fairmont’s Aragosta Bar and Bistro has outdoor seating complete with fire pits, making it a great spot both for dinner or nightcaps. Pack a light sweater in case the breeze from the marina gets a little chilly.
Surf lessons: Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica
Catching waves is way more fun than sweating in a fitness center.
A long walk on the beach is the perfect way to start the day, but if you're looking for some more intense muscle toning, a surf lesson is a more rigorous option. The Shutters on the Beach offers two-hour private or group lessons for $150, and they are available for all skill levels. The rate includes wetsuits and longboards. Guests can also take free yoga classes on the beach every Thursday morning, or rent one of the hotel's Adeline Adeline for Kate Spade beach cruisers to explore Santa Monica for $10 an hour or $25 for a full day.
Outdoor yoga classes: Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa County
Breathe in the smell of pine trees as you practice your yoga asanas.
The Calistoga Ranch is an exclusive hotel located in a secluded spot surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Everything here is about relaxation and luxury, and getting back in touch with nature is an important part of the experience. Many of the activities involve the outdoors, but one of the best amenities here is the yoga deck, where guests can take yoga classes amid the sound of birds and the smell of pine trees. Poolside, sunrise, sunset and vineyard yoga are also available. Ditch the fitness center – outdoor wellness classes are here for the summer.
Water sports: Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin
Paddle around the lake for a one-of-a-kind Austin experience.
Canoeing, kayaking and even paddle boarding are available at many beach resorts, but practicing water sports in a lake can involve long drives to the nearest body of water and trying to find your way through winding dirt roads to the boat house only to find that all the boats have been rented out for the day. Staying in a lakeside hotel that offers water sports is probably a safer bet, and the Lake Austin Spa Retreat is a true wellness destination, with a wonderful spa, as well as tons of water activities, including water walk and stretch, sculling, nautical noodles, kayak outings, deep water training, and hydro-bikes.
Archery: Montage Deer Valley, Park City
Practice your archery skills with the stunning mountains as a backdrop.
Archery ranges are a rare hotel amenity to begin with, but a range outdoors, in a gorgeous valley surrounded by mountains, as stunning as the Montage Deer Valley’s is even hard to come by. Grab your bow and arrows, head to the Grand Lawn and take aim for the most fun activity (in our opinion!) in the hotel’s entertainment program. Guests have access to myriad other summer activities as well, including disc golf, hikes, bocce ball and fly-fishing.
Hiking trails: Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, Santa Fe
Follow one of the hotel's nature trail and discover Santa Fe's striking landscape.
Santa Fe’s scenery is a gorgeous mix of mountains and desert, and outdoor activities abound. There are many hiking and biking trails a short drive from the Santa Fe Plaza, but guests of the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado don’t even need to leave the property to discover all the area has to offer. This luxurious property sits in a secluded spot a few miles north of Santa Fe, with great views of Sangre de Cristo Mountains and a nature trail that guests can explore on their own.