Oyster Summer Awards: Best Hotels to Spend Your Glory Days

See recent posts by Hilary Walke

Wondering where to go for the best pool? What about the best luau? Or the best cocktail? Oyster to the rescue (as usual).

Best Pool Delano Hotel, Miami

The huge infinity pool -- also known as its "water salon" -- at the Delano is a South Beach attraction unto itself. Live DJs, tasty food and drink, posh cabanas, and bungalows make for a sceney but still relaxing retreat -- at least during the day, before the hordes of nonguests come to party. Music plays underwater, and an ornate silver table and chairs sit right in the pool. In front of the Philippe Starck-designed pool is a beautiful orchard of crisply manicured trees. A giant chessboard and huge mirror within the orchard, like the giant chair in the lobby, helps to create a surreal, Alice in Wonderland atmosphere.

Best Slide
Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, The Bahamas

The Leap of Faith The Leap of Faith slide offers the daring and adventurous a 60 ft. almost-vertical drop from the top of the world-famous and iconic Mayan Temple, propelling riders at a tremendous speed through a clear acrylic tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon. While the Leap of Faith may be enough for the day, the Atlantis has 18 total slides for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Best Rooftop
Gansevoort Park Avenue, New York

It’s new, it’s popular, and it’s the Gansevoort. The heated, outdoor rooftop pool is only a part of the impressive amount of space in which to party here. With the Plunge lounge that runs across the top floor of the hotel and out onto the pool deck along and the rooftop sundeck-cum-event space you’ll be staying here for a while. The free series of Sunday afternoon parties this season, inviting the biggest house and trance DJs to make the crowd go wild, is surely the it place to to be.

Best Beach
Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort, Costa Rica

Arenas del Mar is proof that staying at an eco-resort doesn’t mean roughing it: Its 38 contemporary rooms are among the nicest in Manuel Antonio and its public spaces embody rustic luxury. The property’s lush rainforest, two beautiful white-sand beaches on site — a rarity in the area — and diverse wildlife allow guests to truly connect with the nature that the resort’s design so painstakingly preserved. Arenas del Mar has the best beach access in Manuel Antonio: It’s under a five-minute golf cart ride to the sand, and the beaches are far superior to those at neighboring hotels.

Best Luau
Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort And Spa, Hawaii

One of the top powerhouse resorts on Kaanapali Beach, this Hyatt Regency has a luau like you’ve never seen. The sound of the conch, the beating of the drums, and the echoes of the Hawaiian chant signal the start of Hawaii’s most exciting Luau. “Drums of the Pacific” Polynesian Spectacular (a Tihati Production) takes you on a journey through the islands of Polynesia, complete with a traditional imu ceremony and the exotic flavors of native Hawaiian cuisine. It includes an all-you-can-eat buffet, a dessert bar and an open bar.

Best Swim-up Bar
Barcelo Bavaro Palace, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The large pool here is probably the most popular feature. Its swim-up bar and regular bar are the hub of the action here, with tons of lounge chairs and tables that were crowded with guests. Grab your swim suit and the drink menu, because you won’t leave the pool all day at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace.

Best Cocktail
Jimmy at The James, New York

Night of the Iguana: Herradura Silver Tequila, coconut purée, lime juice, Green Chartreuse, lime zest and fresh bay leaf.
Tequila and summer go hand in hand (literally). But buyer beware: this drink is not weak. Tested by Oyster editors themselves, Night of the Iguana is taste-approved but warned for caution. Cheers!

Best Pool Party
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Hard Rock is one of the most unapologetically hedonistic hotels in Las Vegas, which is a hard trophy to come by in this town. On Sunday, the Beach Club Pool hosts Rehab — a pool party so raucous, they turned it into its own reality TV show. The best DJs come to spin their hottest beats for the biggest partiers in town.

Best Golf Course
Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, Kauai, Hawaii

Next to two golf courses, including the Prince, Golf Digest’s No. 1 Hawaii course, Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is the place to stay for golf lovers. Two well-regarded courses are adjacent to the Westin Princeville. One, the Prince, has breathtaking views along Princeville’s cliffs. The second, Makai, a 27-hole monster, was renovated in 2009. The Prince Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. The golf carts equipped with GPS systems. See the best golf courses around the world >>

Best Balcony
The Ambrose, Los Angeles

One of the most environmentally focused hotels in Southern California, this fantastic, zen-like boutique comes close to reproducing the actual Santa Monica lifestyle. The balconies only encourage that lifestyle, with beautiful white lounge chairs, a set of table and chairs for socializing, and of course, plenty of space.

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