Check In and Check 'Em Out
Sure, a hotel can just be the place you lay your head at night while on vacation. But, it can also be a travel experience in its own right. From the world's largest water park to an igloo village made of ice and snow, check out these extreme resorts.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Dells, the water park capital of the world, is home to over 20 waterparks -- and Wilderness Territory resort, located in the Dells, is the worlds largest. Wilderness Territory covers 600 acres and is home to 8 different water parks and over 1,000 guest rooms. Don a bathing suit and take on the 100 outdoor waterslides, 10 pools and 2 lazy rivers. This much fun isn't restricted only to summer -- Wilderness is also home to 4 indoor water parks open year-round. The indoor wave pool is the biggest in the country, covering over 15,000 square feet and cooling off over 700 swimmers at a time.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Ski Dubai channels the snowy spirits of the Swiss Alps in the middle of the Dubai desert. Sandblasted ski bunnies access this winter playground via the lobby of the Kempinski Hotel. The massive dome that keeps the cool air in and the hot air out is as tall as a 25-story building. Fifty thousand pounds of artificial snow are generated each day to cover the 5 mountainous trails that feature 200-foot drops and even a quarter pipe for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. It also houses the world's only indoor black-diamond trail.
Oak Hill, West Virginia
Ace Adventure is North America's largest adventure resort. Spanning over 1,500 acres of West Virginia wilderness, it's located near 2 of the most powerful rivers in the northeast; rafters will delight in the whitewater found on the Gauley and the New Rivers. Adrenaline junkies can fill their days kayaking, riding ATVs, rock climbing, horseback riding, swimming, mountain biking and zip lining. Guests can also choose from 27 hotel-style cabins, 27 rustic houses and 30 different kinds of tents on Ace's campgrounds.
The Nickelodeon Family Suites
Built in 2005, the Nick Hotel is a giant 24-acre playground designed just for kids. There's a modified outdoor basketball court, kiddie pool table with specially sized cues and even a kids-only salon where your little one can get a tattoo (temporary, of course.) The live shows, mini golf course, 39-game arcade and an outdoor lagoon with 7 waterslides will thrill even the most discerning pint-sized travelers.
Star Island in the Bahamas is a remote 35-acre island in the heart of the Caribbean -- it's also home to the world's first totally off-the-grid, eco-friendly island resort. Star stands for "sustainable terrain and resources" and that means this luxury resort will power itself without using outside money or resources. Footprints in the sugary sand will be the only ones you leave; carbon footprints of Star Island guests will be virtually nonexistent. Each of the 44 private bungalows has its own separate solar-, wind- or hydro-power source. The resort is also home to a high-end spa and fitness center and all the food served is pesticide-free and locally grown.
Miami Beach, Florida
The historic Fontainebleu Hotel is the largest resort on the Eastern seaboard and holds the record for having the most expensive hotel renovation in the country. In its earlier days, the Fontainebleu was a respite for the country's hottest stars, including Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley and the Rat Pack. The 2005 $1-billion facelift expanded the hotel to almost 3 times its former size -- $21 million went to renovating the outdoor pool area. Additionally, there are now 11 restaurants serving first-class meals and wines from all over the world.
Located a mile above sea level in the Swiss Alps, this resort is made entirely out of freezing snow and ice. The entire village is freshly constructed every December and entertains skiers and snowboarders until April, when the spring air melts the 14 igloos. A snowy tunnel system links these igloos to protect guests from harsh winter nights. There's no running water, no electricity and -- you guessed it -- no heat. Guests keep warm with specialized sleeping bags provided by the warm staff. Without a kitchen, the menu is limited, but the cheese fondue and mulled wine are favorites.
Genting City of Entertainment
Genting Highlands, Malaysia
This resort truly is a City of Entertainment, and it holds the title of being the largest resort on the planet. Located 6,000 feet above sea level in the Genting Highlands of Malaysia, the Genting Resort spans over 10,000 acres and is accessed by helicopter, winding roadways or cable car. Upon arrival, choose from 6 different high-rise hotels including the First World Hotel, which holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest hotel in the world. After check-in, visit the 90-plus restaurants, 75-store shopping center, 32-lane bowling alley and 2 theme parks.