When 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 us, it's not necessarily the number of rooms that makes a hotel qualify as a megaresort: It's the scale of the property, and the range of features available. 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, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls

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.

Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino

Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino Rating: 5.0 Pearls

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.

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls

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.

Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas

Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas Rating: 4.0 Pearls

A 4,004-room mega-resort, Aria stands as the shiny centerpiece of the $11 billion City Center, opened in December 2009. Everything at Aria is done on a grand scale, from the soaring ceilings to the 16 restaurants, and not at the expense of good service, either. And the design, while whimsical and creative, aims for refinement and class rather than Vegas kitsch, creating a lovely luxury hotel -- and one that's still affordable.

Half Moon, a RockResort

Half Moon, a RockResort Rating: 4.5 Pearls

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.

Casa De Campo

Casa De Campo Rating: 5.0 Pearls

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.

Terranea Resort

Terranea Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls

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.

The Resort at Fisher Island Club

The Resort at Fisher Island Club Rating: 5.0 Pearls

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.

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