The 177-room Hawks Cay Resort is an upscale, family-friendly property located in tiny Duck Key in the Florida Keys. A 2018 facelift brought an approachable upscale vibe and there’s a seemingly never-ending list of vacation amenities and activities, from a dolphin experience to a full spa to five swimming pools to paddleboarding on the manmade lagoon. Seven dining options are equally varied and high quality. Rooms and suites are contemporary coastal in design and have upscale amenities, outdoor spaces, glossy bathrooms. There’s also a selection of privately owned villas to rent with up to four bedrooms, full kitchens, and laundry facilities. It’s a two-hour drive to Miami International Airport, though many guests arrive by boat to the resort’s 85-slip marina. Note that there’s a daily resort fee and some of the activities cost extra. Couples seeking something a little bit cheaper may want to compare rates at Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection in Key Largo.
Paris Las Vegas is an upscale hotel and casino situated in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Its 2,916 spacious rooms have Baroque-inspired decor, plus iHome docks, large flat-screen TVs, and marble bathrooms. The huge property — including the casino — is meant to evoke an evening in Paris, complete with a massive Eiffel Tower that draws visitors from across Vegas. There are 14 restaurants that get positive reviews, including French, sushi, and Italian options. The huge pool has a laid-back vibe, and entertainment includes adult shows and live music. Other amenities include a spa, gym, and a shopping area with boutiques and cafes. Travelers wanting an on-Strip stay with a clubbier vibe and fun extras like a Flowrider surfing pool may want to check out Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino instead.
The 293-room NoMad Las Vegas is an upscale property along the Strip, situated on the upper floors of the old Monte Carlo Resort (the lower floors now belong to sister property, the Park MGM). Rooms and suites feature plush decor (think lots of velvet and dark wood), walk-in showers, and modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi and Smart TVs. Guests of the NoMad can access the facilities at the Park MGM, though the hotel has a few features uniquely its own. These include the NoMad Las Vegas pool, with Moroccan-inspired tiles, low seating, and weekend parties, plus the NoMad Bar, which offers snazzy drinks, live entertainment, and Sunday brunch. There’s also a restaurant, though it’s only open for dinner, and room service is available around the clock. Overall, it’s a great hotel within a hotel stay, though some past guests have complained of noise issues and the limited restaurant hours may be a downside for some. Also worth considering is The Cromwell Hotel Las Vegas, which offers similarly decorated rooms and more facilities at a lower price point.
Located along a lovely beach, the 40-room Sunset Key Cottages resort caters to the upscale traveler with elegant, homey cottages and high-end amenities. It is located on Sunset Key, a residential island off Key West, and is affiliated with the Margaritaville Key West Resort and Marina, with which it shares some features. The hotel itself has wonderful amenities, including a lovely zero-entry pool, a gorgeous (though somewhat rocky) beach with palm trees and clear, calm waters, and a pleasant spa. There is 24-hour free shuttle service to Key West, but the resort’s location, though idyllic and exclusive, might be somewhat inconvenient for travelers who want to be close to shops and restaurants. Couples seeking something a tad cheaper may want to compare rates at Le Mer Hotel and Dewey House at Southernmost Beach Resort.
Set on a sandy stretch of public beach in central Playa del Carmen, the upscale Thompson Beach House is a stylish property that primarily draws young couples and groups of friends. Its 27 rooms are spacious and chic, with mid-century decor, upscale amenities such as gourmet minibars and sateen-woven linens, and balconies — all with at least partial ocean views. C Grill, the hotel’s restaurant and beach lounge is a great spot for a bite or sunset drinks, while the pool offers plenty of space to relax, including serviced cabanas with daybeds and ceiling fans. Plus, guests staying at the Beach House have full access to sister property Thompson Playa del Carmen, located a couple of blocks away and featuring a swish rooftop pool, two rooftop restaurants that include Catch (of the NYC fame), and a hopping nightlife scene. Travelers wanting an affordable all-inclusive resort in the area should consider the Royal Hideaway Playacar, an adults-only luxury property along the beach.
Located right across the hopping Broadwalk from the beach, the 369-room, upscale Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort offers a fun, laid-back stay with multiple pools, a full entertainment program that includes great live bands nightly, and tons of on-site dining and drinking options. Rooms are contemporary and cute, with an ocean-inspired color palette, solid amenities, and balconies — most with at least partial ocean views. Families are well-catered to with an excellent kids’ club, a FlowRider Double surfing simulator, and family activities, but couples and groups of friends seeking some peace and quiet can head to the adults-only rooftop pool, complete with a bar offering happy hour and expansive ocean views. Travelers seeking something a tad more upscale may prefer The Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton.
The upscale, family-friendly Paradise Point Resort and Spa is set on a 44-acre island in Mission Bay, a short drive from downtown San Diego and SeaWorld. Housed in bungalows with private patios, the resort’s 462 rooms are spacious and stylish, with subtle nautical decor elements, sleek bathrooms with quartz finishes, and free Wi-Fi. Aside from a mile-long beach and a marina with water sports (for a fee), Paradise Point offers a slew of on-site activities, including five pools, a fitness center, tennis and basketball courts, and daily wellness classes. The spa is a highlight here, complete with private and couples’ massage rooms, saunas, steam rooms, and a courtyard. Food options are good and varied, but many guests find them overpriced. An obligatory resort fee, plus additional charges for some activities and steep parking rates, make some guests feel nickel and dimed. The nearby Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina is another good option in the same price point.
Open since 1980, the upscale Harrah’s Atlantic City is a massive hotel and casino located in the Marina District. The resort offers 2,590 rooms in five towers, as well as a slew of amenities, including 13 restaurants, four bars, many shops, and a fitness center. Unlike at other Atlantic City resorts, the casino is not the main draw here; rather, action is centered around the adults-only indoor pool, a glass-domed oasis with constant 82-degree temperatures and tropical plants. At night it becomes “The Pool After Dark,” a lively club scene with DJs and occasional celeb appearances. Other highlights include a full spa, entertainment such as jazz concerts and comedy shows, and a seasonal family-friendly pool. Rooms renovated in 2019 are spacious, well-equipped, and contemporary, while older units need renovations and a good scrub. Those looking to stay closer to the boardwalk may want to compare rates at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
The 347-room Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is an upscale property located across the street from a lovely beach and two blocks from Santa Monica Pier. Rooms are stylish and sunny and feature great amenities such as terry towels, Bluetooth radios, premium minibars, and large flat-screen TVs, plus furnished balconies — many of which offer beach views. Some units have private fire pits on the patio. Although rather narrow, the pool is a great spot for a relaxing day in the sun, while the fitness center is equipped with a wide array of cardio and strength-training machines. The hotel’s two restaurants offer good farm-to-table cuisine in casual spaces with outdoor seating. Travelers seeking an even more luxe stay may want to compare rates at Hotel Casa del Mar, which is right on the beach and features a spa.
Part of a sprawling five-hotel complex, the 676-room, family-friendly Riu Palace Punta Cana is an upscale all-inclusive resort set along a beautiful white-sand beach dotted with palm trees. The pool complex is stunning, complete with three large pools, a swim-up bar, and several whirlpools. Clean, spacious rooms feature free Wi-Fi, free minibars with liquor dispensers, coffeemakers, and furnished balconies. Food is good and varied, and the all-inclusive package covers all local and imported drinks, as well as non-motorized water sports, daily entertainment for all ages, and access to most amenities and a number of restaurants at neighboring sister properties. For something a tad more luxe, check out the Paradisus Punta Cana Resort, though its grounds aren’t as impressive.