The resort concept dates to the Roman Empire, when private baths were a customary retreat for the well-off seeking some R&R. Today, international resort destinations are all about fabulously lavish extras. According to January's Orbitz Insider Index, which forecasts travel trends, consumers are interested in hotels with amenities that go well beyond the basics. In resort-speak, this means it's no longer enough to have on-call butlers or a private infinity pool in your overwater bungalow. Such comforts are already ubiquitous among island getaways. To truly have an edge, a resort must up the luxury ante: Think flower petals sprinkled throughout your villa at turndown or an extensive menu—of pillows.
A TripAdvisor survey from last March found that 69 percent of travelers claim the beach is their preferred destination. To appeal to the wealthier strata of this demographic in an uncertain economy, the resort business is currently engaged in a veritable arms race over über-amenties. Who can fly in the freshest Kobe beef, carve their bathtubs out of granite slabs, and offer the most au courant yoga classes?
Herewith, a battle of the world's most spectacularly outrageous, exotically perk-laden island escapes, ranging from old-school favorites to ambitious newcomers. Contestants have been divided by region—the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas—and compete on the basis of their most over-the-top offerings.