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What Is a Resort?

By Eugene P.
Updated: May 23, 2024

A resort is a place used for relaxation, vacation or as a daytime getaway. While this can be a single building such as a hotel, it also can be an entire island or a ship at sea. One of the most desirable aspects of a resort is that visitors are freed from most daily responsibilities, which are usually taken care of by the facility's staff. Several activities are normally offered at resorts, including massages, meals, cosmetic treatments and live entertainment.

There are many types of resorts. Some cater to a certain audience, such as families or single adults, while others attempt to have a broader appeal. Depending on the philosophy behind the resort, the staff might strive to meet every need the guests have, allowing them to relax quietly. Alternately, some resorts might provide vigorous guided physical activities such as mountain climbing or hiking.

Different resorts often provide very different experiences. Some operate like a luxury hotel and give their clients a day or two of complete relaxation. Other resorts function like miniature cities, even providing long-term housing for those who want an extended stay. Larger locations can sometimes have entire shopping malls within their boundaries, complete with a selection of restaurants and other stores.

A resort also can be built around a single theme. This theme could be anything from a favorite movie to a historical time period. Resorts that are built around a specific theme usually offer activities and events that are somehow associated with it, such as horse riding lessons in a Western-themed ranch.

The actual location of the buildings also can be used to define some resorts. Ski or beach resorts are examples of this. Even though there might be many natural or manmade attractions in the immediate area, the resort itself is actually defined as the destination.

A collection of industry definitions has been established that allow a location to be uniformly classified as a resort. A proper resort, according to these standards, offers their patrons at least one signature amenity, which is defined as the main activity the visitors can enjoy. There also is the inclusion of at least five secondary experiences, such as spa offerings, sports activities and hiking trails that can be utilized. Finally, they should provide their guests with rooms for the night and offer some type of dining opportunity. These distinctions are used to tell which destinations are resorts, which are simply hotels, and which ones fall into neither category.

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Discussion Comments
By julies — On Aug 17, 2011

My husband and I visited a Sandals couples resort for our 10th wedding anniversary. This is the first time we had done something like this, so didn't really know what to expect.

From the moment we arrived, we felt like we were treated like royalty. It seemed like all of your needs were taken care of before you even thought about them.

It was the perfect way to relax and spend a few days not worrying about work, schedules, appointments and telephones. This is one vacation where we felt truly relaxed when it was over.

Although it can be hard to come back to reality when you get back home, it was well worth the time and money spent.

I have three kids and am used to having kids around all the time, but it was nice having a place to go without kids for a few days.

By John57 — On Aug 16, 2011

The most recent resort hotel I stayed at was Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. We were there in December when the entire hotel was decorated for Christmas. It was quite a spectacular site to see.

This hotel had been destroyed from recent floods, so it was newly renovated and remodeled. All of the indoor landscaping and huge Christmas trees were breathtaking.

There is also a canal of water that winds throughout the hotel and you can take a relaxing boat ride and enjoy the scenery.

This is a very large hotel and easy to get turned around in. Depending on where you want to go, you can also get quite a bit of exercise in. We were there for a convention for 3 days, and found that we never had to leave the hotel for anything.

By icecream17 — On Aug 15, 2011

@Latte31 - I had a friend that went to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas and she said that her and her family had a great time. They said that the resort had a water park that offered a bunch of pools along with a different water slides and a lazy river.

They also had a series of planned activities for children like pottery classes and movie screenings. She said that they had a game lounge and a teen club for older kids. She felt it was well worth it because her husband got to enjoy some golf while she enjoyed the spa. She said it was the best vacation she ever took.

I know that many of these Caribbean resorts offer special pricing during the month of September because that is the height of hurricane season where bookings are generally down.

By latte31 — On Aug 15, 2011

@SauteePan - I also think that the all inclusive resorts are wonderful because the vacation is prepaid so you really don’t have to worry about additional charges and can relax and enjoy your vacation. It is almost like being on a cruise. The only bad thing about these all inclusive resorts is that they usually don’t allow children so I guess this would not be an option for me because most of these resorts are for couples only.

I think on my next trip I really would like to go to a mountain resort and go skiing. I live in Florida and I would rather go to a resort that is totally different than what I already have here in Florida. I try to stay away from beachfront resorts because I actually live on the beach and want to see something different. I also don’t like the isolation that you feel from going to some of these resorts. Going to a Bora Bora resort sounds exotic but I know that after a few days, I would be bored. I prefer more active vacations.

By SauteePan — On Aug 14, 2011

I think that vacation resorts are great because aside from being relaxing there is usually a number of things you can do for entertainment. A lot of them offer spa treatments, golf, and activities like snorkeling and sailing.

Some even have options to swim with dolphins or participate in a zip line or go mountain biking. It really depends where you go because different resorts specialize in different activities. I know that resorts in Atlantic City are also popular for the gambling. A lot of people enjoy the unlimited gambling they have, but I would rather do something else.

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