By Mark Chesnut
Not all hotel swimming pools are created equal. Some exude a decidedly cool ambiance. Some have great views. While others are architectural wonders, where swimming seems almost like a gravity-defying act. Here are a few choice places to get wet when you’re on the road.
Among the California hotels with noteworthy places for a dip is the Beverly Hilton. Its famed Aqua Star Pool is the largest pool in Beverly Hills, and has played host to fashion shoots and celebrities for decades. Back in the 1950s, film star and swimmer extraordinaire Esther Williams officially inaugurated the pool by swimming through white gardenias. Today it’s still a place to see and be seen. Further north is Auberge du Soleil, in California’s Wine Country, where the vibe is luxurious yet relaxed.
Desert-bound travelers might want to dip a toe into the trendy, retro-chic pool at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. Eight poolside cabanas come equipped with well-stocked refrigerators and a misting system to keep guests cool. During the month of September, the property has drink specials including banana daiquiris and treats made with 10 Cane rum, to provide liquid refreshment.
In Texas, one of the best places to soak in a hip vibe is the Hotel ZaZa Dallas, where a DJ creates a lounge-like ambiance, making it not only a great place to sun but also a hopping after-dark nightlife venue.
Meetings and conventions are a big deal at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, one of Central Florida’s top business hotels. But it’s easy to forget about work when you’re floating down the resort’s lazy river outdoor pool, a heated body of water surrounded by lush flora and waterfalls.
For some of the most exciting hotel pool experiences, head across the Pacific. In China, you can swim laps at the Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong, in a rooftop pool that extends beyond the building itself, with a glass bottom providing dramatic views below. And guests at the Marina Bay Sands, a 2,500-room property in Singapore, can make use of the Sands SkyPark, an oasis that stretches across three 55-story towers, with an infinity swimming pool that’s billed as the world’s largest outdoor pool at that height—or, perhaps we should say, altitude.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He’s not good at synchronized swimming.