Sometimes, bigger is better: Oyster's all-time favorite megaresorts
A lot of travelers look for peace and quiet when they go on vacation -- rustic getaways, secluded island retreats, and romantic beach escapes. And we love the special, intimate properties that deliver that kind of experience. But sometimes, you want the razzle-dazzle of an over-the-top, stuffed-to-the-gills megaresort, where extras like fantastic restaurants, cool pools, golf courses, beaches, entertainment, or water parks are never far away. For an elaborate, ultra-convenient, don't-make-me-work-for-it vacation, consider staying at one of Oyster's all-time favorite megaresorts.
Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa, Maui
The beautifully designed, 780-room Grand Wailea is awe-inspiring in its scale: It's got the best pool in Hawaii, one of the top U.S. spas, and a prime location on one of the best U.S. beaches. Opulence marks every feature -- from the luxe rooms to the massive gym -- creating a Disneyland-like vibe. Be sure to explore the fantastic 25,700-square-foot Wailea Canyon Activity Pool complex, with four water slides, a lazy river pool, a rope swing, multi-level volcano, whitewater rapids, caves, and a swim-up bar.
The Palazzo, Las Vegas
Big, elaborate, and packed with the kind of luxuries you see at the Bellagio and the Wynn, the Palazzo has some of the best and biggest standard rooms on The Strip. Its world-class spa, seven pools, busy casino, and name-brand fine dining all connect to its sister property, the Venetian, via an haute couture mall. Less theme-y than many Vegas hotels, but right at the top of the list in terms of glitz and extravagance.
Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
The D.R.’s classiest, most famous resort since 1974, Casa de Campo’s massive, 7,000-acre property comes with three world-class golf courses, an on-site horse stable, an immaculate beach, a luxurious spa, 20 restaurants, and even a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean villa. The rooms are a bit outdated, but this place is excellent for families, honeymooners, and anyone who loves variety.
Half Moon, Jamaica
Drawing everyone from Queen Elizabeth to 50 Cent, Half Moon strives for timeless, understated luxury (even at the swim-up bar). Stretching over 400 acres (including two miles of beach and multiple swimming pools), the 400-room resort offers attentive service, quality cuisine, and seemingly limitless activities, ranging from its own golf course to horseback riding.
Terranea Resort, Los Angeles area
One of just a few true mega-resorts in Southern California, the 100-acre, 582-room Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a range of features that's unrivaled among Los-Angeles-area properties, including a top-tier spa, nine holes of golf, five restaurants, three pools, and gorgeous, manicured grounds. Plus, it opened in June 2009, so the rooms and facilities still sparkle.
Atlantis Paradise Resort, Bahamas
- Average Price: $349/night
- Pearls: Rating: 4
- Location: Bahamas
Stunning architecture, an exceptional water park, a famous casino, three beaches, 11 otherworldly pools, and 21 superb restaurants make the 4,000-room Atlantis a study in conspicuous consumption. No other resort, anywhere in the Caribbean, can compete with its dining or attractions. But we warned: this is not a tranquil place.
Fisher Island Hotel and Resort, Miami
Although the Fisher Island Hotel is a mere 45 rooms, its access to the world-class features by the boatload -- a top-notch tennis center, one of the best 9-hole golf courses in the country, two marinas, and a 22,000-square-foot spa -- earns it a spot on this list in our minds. It's located among homes of the super-rich on a lush, private island that's a 10-minute ferry ride from the Miami mainland, and its rich in history and charm make it a great choice for couples and families looking for something special.