It Takes A Village: A Dozen Properties (Almost) Big Enough to Be Independent Villages

See recent posts by Katherine Anne Beaven

During our travels we've stayed in the cutest, quaintest, and tiniest of hotels. And while we love the intimate and peaceful vibe that many smaller properties can offer, sometimes staying near the action just isn't enough. We want to be in the thick of it. That way we can to go into full-on relaxation (read: lazy) vacation mode and have everything we could ever want right at our fingertips. Why should you have to jump in a car (or even worse -- on a bus) just to meet a few people, see a show, or dance the night away? Luckily, these 12 massive village-style properties don't think you should; in fact, they are hoping you won't! Packed to the brim with communal conveniences like multiple restaurants, several pools, nightclubs, theaters, tons of activities, kids programs -- even grocery stores, pharmacies, and bowling alleys -- some of these places are so big they have on-site shuttles and maps to get you where you want to go amid sprawling grounds. And with enough rooms to house populations in the hundreds and thousands, they promise to be teeming with tons of potential new pals. It may take a village to create your perfect vacation -- but at these properties, it's worth it!

Grand Paladium Bavaro Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic

The 674-room Grand Palladium Bavaro is spread over spacious grounds (guests also have access to two sister properties) offering an incredible selection of 15 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. Walking shoes are recommended, but family-friendly amenities, lower prices than some neighboring properties, and renovated rooms are big draws. In 2014, the resort added 178 units — including a swim-up suite option overlooking the beach (a great pick for honeymooners). Kids and their parents will appreciate the outstanding kids’ club, but take note: the beach can get crowded.

Camping Village Roma, Italy

Camping Village Roma is a nearly 230,000-square-foot open campground with family-friendly facilities such as playgrounds and pools. Adults will likely appreciate the bar, nightclub, and hot tubs. With over 300 units consisting of tented camping and caravan spaces, and property features such as a supermarket, restaurant, laundry facilities, and ice cream shop, this resort feels like an outdoorsy village and some visitors choose to stay on the premises and skip the arduous journey into Rome proper all together. But even if it’s outdoorsy, this spot provides an option that is certainly a step above camping in the dirt.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, Orlando

The Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa is a private resort with multi-bedroom, condo-style suites convenient to Orlando‘s theme parks. Packaged as a family resort, the property has a wide range of amenities that would appeal to parents and children alike, from the spacious accommodations to the full-service spa. Even the amenities at Lake Buena Vista Resort have a strong family-friendly lean; there’s the adventurous “Pirate Plunge” pool and staySky Kids Club, which offers movie nights, face-painting, and more. Adults are treated well, too, with the hammock-lined Lani’s Luau poolside tiki bar, Frankie Farrell’s sports bar with 32 beers on tap, and a full-service spa offering facials, body wraps, massages, and pedicures. Adults can also get their fitness on at the 24-hour gym equipped with cardio and Cybex machines, while everyone in the family can play pool, air hockey, or arcade games in the game room. Rooms do come with kitchens, but Pizza Hut and grocery delivery are available, too.

Village at Breckenridge Resort, Colorado

This mid-range property is, as the name suggests, a veritable village, with a ski school, seasonal childcare center, and a mix of 240 hotel rooms and condo rentals in five different buildings. Its mountain lodge decor is typical for Breckenridge, but its indoor/outdoor pool is one of the largest you’ll find in the area (though the bar isn’t particularly high), and the outdoor whirlpools are located on an attractive redwood deck with mountain views. Guests also get access to the amenities — like double bowling lanes and movie screenings — at nearby One Ski Hill Place. Village at Breckenridge Resort‘s best feature, though, just might be its location right off of Main Street, across the plaza from the Quicksilver lift.

Hotel Laguna – Chia Laguna Resort, Sardinia

The top luxury resort in Chia, Hotel Laguna is the most stylish and elegant of the properties that make up Chia Laguna Resort. Hotel Laguna is ideal for those who not only want to have VIP access to the beach but also an array of features and activities such as a spa with a Turkish bath, night scuba diving, a gym, horse trekking, and sailing. Stays are half-board, with breakfast and dinner covered. Nightlife consists of bars, shows, and dancing. Homey, sophisticated rooms all have at least partial sea views. Other properties in the resort village include the family-friendly Chia Village and the more budget-focused (and beachside bungalow-esque) Baia Chia.

Villaggio Mare Si, Italy

Since the town of Follonica isn’t an easy walk away, it’s a good thing Villaggio Mare Si has a plethora of on-site activities and features for both adults and kids. Equipped with a kids’ club which plans daily activities, the village-like property also provides children with their own dedicated pool, an arcade and game room, and an open-air playground to keep them entertained. Adults can take advantage of the tennis courts or compete in soccer games, relax in the TV room, or peruse the sports shop. The hotel has a big pool with surrounding lounge chairs. While the village has two large dining areas for the restaurant, which serves Tuscan cuisine and wine, guests can also grab a slice from the pizzeria or self-cater from in-room kitchenettes. In addition to the sports store, the village has an on-site market where fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and packaged foods can be purchased. Raise a cup of bug juice as you watch the live nighttime entertainment!

Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort, Aruba

Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort, renovated in 2010, is the most sprawling of the five Divi properties on the island of Aruba. All 348 suites, decorated in understated island-style decor, appeal to families with king beds, queen-size pull-out sofas, modern bathrooms, and fully-equipped kitchens. Despite its name, the property is actually a short walk away from Druif Beach, located across the road. However, guests enjoy close proximity to tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, and a modern clubhouse, containing two restaurants with scenic views. All-inclusive packages include access to the restaurants and bars at the neighboring Divi Aruba and Tamarijn Aruba, as well as to the resorts’ activities and kids’ club. The Divi Village’s grounds are extremely expansive — be prepared to walk, or take advantage of the free shuttle service between resorts and the casino.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa

With ten pools, a sprawling water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the family-friendly Beaches is clearly the Turks and Caicos resort with the most features. But many of the rooms — especially in the old Caribbean Village – are downright dingy, and the romance factor is virtually non-existent. Still, an all-inclusive resort with this many amenities is enticing — unless it’s peace and quiet you’re after, as this spot is massive and yet full of people no matter where you turn.

Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

The Hilton Waikoloa Village is the largest and most family-friendly resort in Hawaii‘s Kailua-Kona area, and is often referred to as the “Disneyland“ of the Big Island. With 1,200 rooms, three large pool areas, extensive outdoor grounds, and a variety of on-site dining options, the Hilton Waikoloa is indeed a small village in and of itself, and a tram and canal boats help guests travel across the sprawling property. Each of the three towers on the property has a different style of room decor, but overall they feel the same: clean and generic. The biggest downsides? The property is showing its age, the restaurants are pricey (and mostly mediocre), and there’s no beach on the actual ocean — just a thin strip of sand on the man-made lagoon. Luckily Lagoon Tower rooms were renovated in 2012.

Villaggio Colostrai, Sardinia

Villagio Colostrai is a budget-friendly chain resort set up like a village with 148 airy, spacious (but extremely basic) guest rooms. The hotel has beautiful, manicured lawns and a white, sandy beach with a bar and lounge chairs with umbrellas for guests. There is a big outdoor pool and a children’s pool, and the restaurant serves a free breakfast buffet. A fee is imposed for access to the pool and recreation areas, as well as for beach chairs. The hotel has an all-inclusive package available that includes meals and drinks, but not coffee or custom cocktails. Guests report that the evening entertainment falls short, and can be repetitive.

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Bahamas

Stunning architecture, an exceptional water park, a famous casino, three beaches, 12 otherworldly pools, and 21 superb restaurants make the 3,400-room Atlantis Paradise Island a study in conspicuous consumption. No other resort, anywhere in the Bahamas — or even the Caribbean, can compete with its dining or attractions. The resort also features three beaches. Atlantis Beach is the renamed tail section of Paradise Island’s Cabbage Beach, which is the nicest stretch of sand in the Nassau area (the Riu Paradise Island resort also shares Cabbage Beach). But we warned: this massive hotel is not a tranquil place.

Hilton Hawaiian Village, Oahu

The largest resort in Hawaii is a veritable village, with five towers, five pools, 20 bars and restaurants, 90 shops, direct beach access, and a separate lagoon. The crowds can get big and the lines long. But for families and other Oahu vacationers looking for a self-contained resort with loads to do, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is a top choice.

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