The Beauty of Turning Four
Do you remember turning four? I don’t. I do, however, know that I had a birthday party at Pizza Hut and the photos my mom has are proof that I was *so excited*. I’m equally excited that Your Oyster has now turned four. Not four years old, mind you, but four newsletters in. That’s pretty good! As we get further and further into our groove, we’ll continue to refine and improve what this newsletter is and what it can be. If you have any suggestions, let us know via the digital suggestion box at the bottom of the newsletter.
As always, I’d like to remind you that Your Oyster is built on submissions from you. YOU! If you’ve had a great travel experience that you can’t wait to share, send it over so we can include it in a future newsletter. It won’t take more than five minutes of your time and you’ll get to experience the joy of helping another traveler discover a place/meal/hotel/activity that changed your life. Specifically, if you have a great food or shopping experience to share, we’d love to hear about it.
As my partner-in-crime Lauren Lexton says, “You know you have one, now’s the time to send it in…”
Stay. St. Lucia. The Liveable Chocolate Factory.
Where: St. Lucia
What makes it special: We’re all used to getting a piece of chocolate on our pillows at some hotels, but how about a chocolate bar made from cacao beans that were grown on the resort itself? That’s what you can expect from luxury island hideaway Jade Mountain, which launched its chocolate making program in 2010. The resort estate grows three different types of cacao and they’re more than happy to show guests the entire bean-to-bar process in their very own Chocolate Lab. They offer chocolate making classes, chocolate spa experiences, and all kinds of chocolate-inspired experiences to hit your sweet tooth hard. To add to the allure, the rooms at Jade Mountain are incredible, partly due to the fact that they don’t have four walls. Each room has at least one open wall for you to enjoy as you lounge in your private infinity pool and gaze out over the Caribbean. Hyper-local chocolate and a direct view of the Pitons? That’s an evening fit for a Caribbean Queen.
In your own words: “This place feels like an episode ofThe Bachelor come to life. Butler service, estate-grown chocolate, and the wall-less rooms are hard to beat. Just be careful about taking home chocolate bars as souvenirs — the weather in St. Lucia gets hot enough to turn your bounty into a melted mess.”
Submitted by: Jason Kessler. Best O’Hare traveling tip: “If you’re flying through Terminals 1 or 3, stop at Garrett Popcorn and get the Garrett Mix, a delicious blend of cheese corn and caramel corn.”
Would your butcher/baker/candlestick maker love Your Oyster? You bet. Send them a link to Your Oyster by clicking here!
Museum. Japan. Open-Air Art Meets Architecture Without the Crowds.
What: The Enoura Observatory
Where: Odawara, Japan
What makes it special: Calling this a museum might not be all that accurate. It’s titled as an observatory and that’s exactly what artist Hiroshi Sugamoto built on the cliffs of Sagai Bay, about two hours from Tokyo. Old temple gates, significant stones from around Japan, a tea house, performance spaces, and other architectural elements are placed around the grounds to give you curated glimpses of the sea, sky, and land. If it’s a museum, think of the only exhibit as the experience of being there. The observatory also comes with a bonus: it limits entry so you’re not fighting to enjoy the landscape amidst hundreds of selfie-takers. Some of Japan’s more popular attractions (**cough** Kyoto’s bamboo forest **cough**) are already overrun by tourists, so exclusive access is a major boon. Tickets are sold two months in advance, so plan that trip to Japan and get ready to walk through living art.
In your own words: “There is, by design, no designated route to view the installation and nothing is labeled or numbered. You just wonder around, take in the vistas, and observe.”
Submitted by: Cliff Meyer. Best quote from Cliff’s email to Your Oyster: “It is amazing when you are retired how the time slips away.”
Photo by Jane S. Richardson
Hike. California. Nearly Pristine Golden State Beauty Plus Pie.
What makes it special: Forget about your phone. Don’t even say the word “glamping.” You’re at Mineral King because you don’t want to think about how many unread emails you have. This gorgeous, pristine valley is 7,400 ft. above ground with granite mountaintops that reach 11,000 ft. into the sky. At 7.5 miles long and a mile wide, it would be very easy to think of this land as yours and yours alone as you hike along. Walt Disney thought it was his. In fact, he wanted to turn it into a ski resort. Luckily, he was turned away. The valley is only open from May until October and the camping sites are first-come, first-served. Solitude is a major draw here. If you’re not into camping, Silver City Resort is the only formal accommodations for miles and save room for pie at the “resort.” It’s the perfect bite to end a day of hiking in the jaw-dropping California wilderness.
In your own words: “Only open Spring to Fall, the hiking is splendid. Eat pie, Hike, Eat Pie, Have a campfire, look at the stars. Repeat.”
Submitted by: Anna Keeper. Favorite desert lodging: The Oasis at Death Valley.
One last pearl: After over a year of getting through red tape, Southwest is finally testing out flights to Hawaii. Just this week, they completed their first round-trip long-range test from Oakland to Maui and soon enough, they’ll be flying out of four California airports: San Diego, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose to four island stops (Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island) in addition to inter-island flights. Low-cost aloha can’t come soon enough!
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Your Oyster is written by Jason Kessler. Got a question or comment for the Your Oyster editorial team? Send a message by clicking here.