10 great places built for making a splash
Updated 8/11/2006 12:35 PM ET
Looking for a cool dip before the summer is out? No, we mean really, really cool. Jason Harper, a luxury travel trend-watcher for more than a decade and now executive editor of concierge.com, a website affiliated with Condé Nast Traveler, directs Ron Schoolmeester for USA TODAY to hotels nationwide with the hippest swimming pools.
The Raleigh Miami
"Things change so quickly in Miami — but the Raleigh's pool is 100% classic," Harper says. "These are the same waters where Esther Williams paddled about in the 1950s." Sandwiched between the ocean and the Art Deco high-rise building, the pool has a scalloped design and famous waterfall that are unmistakable. 305-534-6300; raleighhotel.com
"Pools by the beach are one thing, but sitting in a pool at 7,000 feet in the mountains is simply incomparable," Harper says. Amangani is on the edge of a butte in the grand splendor of Jackson Hole. While being catered to by the staff — there are two staffers for every guest — visitors are likely to see deer or elk feeding nearby. "There's nothing like being at this heated pool in the middle of winter, surrounded by snow. "877-734-7333;
Four Seasons Hualalai
Ka'upulehu, Hawaii (Big Island)
If you're on the splendid Kona Coast, you might wonder why you'd need a pool amid all the natural wonder (and stellar beaches). But the King's Pond at the Four Seasons is a freshwater and seawater pool carved out of lava rock. And it's right next to the sea. "The property actually stocks the pool with tons of vividly colored fish, and gives the guests snorkel gear. It's the next best thing to diving in the ocean, but you don't have to worry about strong currents. Or, you know, sharks." 800-819-5053;fourseasons.com/hualalai/
Beverly Hills Hotel
Beverly Hills, Calif.
"The kind of place you'd expect to find George Hamilton sunning himself," Harper says. "When people imagine a Hollywood pool, they're imagining the Pink Palace." The classic hotel, located on Sunset Boulevard, is often host to big Hollywood parties. "The palms around the pool give off a sense of privacy, but it's the cabanas where the real action takes place. There's more backstage jostling for the best cabana placement than you'd see on an episode of Desperate Housewives." 800-283-8885; thebeverlyhillshotel.com
It doesn't get more Vegas than this. Mandalay Bay calls its pool a beach and carted in the sand to prove it. The 11-acre expanse includes a wave pool that produces swells big enough to bodyboard on. And just when you think you've seen it all, he suggests you head to the Moorea Beach Club — the exclusive adult section. "You have to pay a cover to get in — but guests will get better service, good cocktails and the chance to partake in what the resort refers to as 'European bathing' " (i.e., tops optional). 877-632-7800; mandalaybay.com
New York City
The 45-foot roof deck pool with 360-degree views has become the place that defines the Meatpacking District, the hottest neighborhood in the city. "A see-and-be-seen setting," Harper says. "During the day, bathing beauties take advantage of the free paperbacks and the DJ music piped underwater." 877-426-7386; hotelgansevoort.com
Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
This 4-acre pool is heaven for children and a haven for adults. The heat of the Sonoran Desert is quenched with a lazy river and slide, and a massive center fountain. "It's got many of the Vegas elements without any of Vegas' R-rated antics," Harper says. A bonus: No charge for inner tubes. Outdoor movies are shown on Friday nights until Sept. 1. 800-835-6206;desertridgeresort.com
Palm Beach, Fla.
This storied resort has been around for more than a century, but the two main pools are sparkling new after a $15 million renovation. The 2,200-square-foot Relaxation infinity pool is adults-only and outlaws cellphones; the slightly larger Activity pool welcomes the kids. "This is a classic resort pool experience. The Breakers know their clientele, who return year after year, generation after generation," Harper says. 888-273-2537; thebreakers.com
Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur, Calif.
California's Big Sur coastline is known as a dramatically beautiful drive, but it's hard to find a place to take a timeout on the narrow roads. The cliffside Post Ranch Inn and its circular, infinity "basking" pool is the perfect answer. It's kept at an invigorating 104 degrees and is too small for laps. But lean over its western edge to get a thrilling look at the Pacific Ocean. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a better poolside view in the entire world," Harper says. 800-527-2200; postranchinn.com
In summer, the best place to escape Boston's humidity is The Colonnade's rooftop pool, 11 stories high. "Expect lots of poolside champagne," Harper says. "And Red Sox and Patriots players mixing it up with the Virgin Atlantic flight attendants who stay there. It's a great scene — if you can get in." 800-962-3030; colonnadehotel.com
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