March Madness is here again, and with it our annual Coolest Hotel Pool in the World contest. We've crowned this year's grand champion: the TRS Yucatan, which defeated the Texas-shaped lazy river at the Marriott Marquis Houston in the final round.
Thank you to all who participated in this year's contest! Below is a look at the winner and the rest of the contenders:
Winner: TRS Yucatan Hotel
The TRS Yucatan Hotel’s Helios Beach Club has a three-tier infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean sea. It has in-pool lounge chairs, surrounding Bali beds and a poolside bar serving up premium spirits. For cocktails and fresh Mediterranean food, the Ibiza-style beach club Helios is just steps away.
Runner-up: Marriott Marquis Houston
For a truly out-of-this-world experience, head on down to Texas, where the space-themed Marriott Marquis Houston is home to a lazy river that’s truly Texas-sized – and Texas-shaped! This July is a particularly good time for spaceflight buffs to visit, since the hotel is offering a special “Mission to the Moon” package to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.
Sanctuary Cap Cana
Sanctuary Cap Cana just added a new, “escapist-style” pool as part of its grand reopening after the resort closed to undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation. The vibe here aims for that of a cliffside Spanish colonial town, but there’s still plenty of high-energy things to check out and do: foam parties and water aerobics are among the daily activities here, and it also provides quick access to a swim-up bar and the 20-acre, adults-only resort’s four other pools. For those who just want to chill, though, there are still complimentary loungers with shady umbrellas available upon request.
Timbers Kauai - Ocean Club & Residences at Hōkūala
Timbers Kauai - Ocean Club & Residences at Hōkūala, a new private residential club which opened this past June on Kauai’s picturesque southeast coast, offers two amazing, unobstructed views: the Pacific Ocean to one side and the Hau’pu mountain range on the other. The oceanfront infinity-edge swimming pool is a particularly great spot to soak up the scenery here.
Hotel Xcaret Mexico
The rooftop pool and bar is the crown jewel of the adults-only Casa Fuego section of Hotel Xcaret Mexico. In addition to a view over the property’s cenotes, caves and playones, the pool has a clear glass swim-through bridge arcing over the path below between the pool’s two sections. Best of all, the bridge automatically snaps a picture every time a guest swims through, which makes for a great Instagram post. It’s also quite private, as only Casa Fuego guests are allowed in.
Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa
The majestic Arenal Volcano is more than just the view from Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa’s swimming pool – the volcano’s magma also heats the thermal spring water that fills the pool. The main pool also has a waterslide and a swim-up bar under a giant palapa, where guests can enjoy tropical drinks like Coco Loco’s served out of a whole coconut while spotting local wildlife roaming the property grounds.
Archer Austin Hotel
The pool at Archer Austin Hotel shows true Texas pride with a star-shaped design on the bottom. Its grandest feature, though, is the pool deck fireplace, which measures a whopping 18 feet with a firebox that occupies more than half of it. It’s adjacent to a seasonal pool bar which, along with seating areas and cabanas with day beds, makes for a wonderful semi-private al fresco experience.
Casa Palopó in Lake Atitlán, set in the heart of the Guatemalan highlands, sports a pool with breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes and twinkling lights from neighboring Mayan towns. Since the hotel has only nine rooms, it’s a great spot for a private getaway.
St. Lucia’s Jade Mountain has three Galaxy Infinity Pool Sanctuaries, grand accommodations with a bedroom, living area and infinity pool in one open-concept living space. With 15-foot ceilings, a location on the resort’s southwest corner and the fourth wall open to the outside, the views of the twin Piton mountains and Caribbean sea are unrivaled.
Zemi Beach House
Zemi Beach House’s signature oceanfront infinity pool stuns with an underwater window facing the white sand beach of Anguilla’s Shoal Bay East and the Atlantic Ocean. Guests can rent a picnic basket or walk over to one of the property’s three bars for poolside cocktails.
Breathless Montego Bay
Breathless Montego Bay is home to the only rooftop pool in all of Jamaica, which means it’s the place to capture 360-degree, unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains and Montego Bay, taking your social media pics to new heights. Guests at the pool can enjoy unlimited premium wines, spirits and beers alongside hand-crafted cocktails from the pool-side Altitude Rooftop Bar at no additional cost.
The Hollywood Roosevelt
For a taste of Old Hollywood glamour, check out the heated outdoor Tropicana Pool at The Hollywood Roosevelt. It’s the only place in the world guests can swim over a million-dollar work of art, a mural painted by the acclaimed David Hockney that looks better than ever following a two-week restoration project this past spring. Both the hotel and the Tropicana Pool have been designated Historic-Cultural Monuments by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, which recognizes and protects the city’s most cherished and significant historical resources.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa and Casino
The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa and Casino is home to an 8,000-square-foot, multi-level pool complex that spans three tiers and includes two hot tub whirlpools secluded in quiet corners of the tropical garden setting, plus waterfalls and a three-story water slide. It’s all set within a beachfront oasis filled with palm trees and lush vegetation.
Sonesta Ocean Point
The adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point’s Edge Pool is well-named: the private, man-made beach pool is perched cliffside, seamlessly blending into the horizon. The silica-based sand lining the pool supports loungers and umbrellas lining the water’s edge, and pool service means guests don’t have to get up to enjoy a signature cocktail.
Hoshinoya Taketomi Island
This one’s for the stargazers – there is little electricity on Taketomi Island to protect the environment, which means that the night sky over the main pool at the Hoshinoya hotel is filled with stars, and sometimes even the Milky Way. For those who don’t fancy a night swim, the pool is also a relaxing spot to enjoy the sunrise and sunset and, since it is heated, it is open throughout the year.
The Sundaze - A Floating Pool at the Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club
The Sundaze - A Floating Pool at the Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club offers a similar duality: a pool floating atop the Kennebunk River, just upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. The Sundaze Pool is built on a floating barge that’s docked all season long at the Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club, offering guests panoramic views of the water, nature, lobster boats and the hotel’s lively bar. The yellow-striped deck chairs and flamingo floats add to the festive feel.
Occidental at Xcaret Destination
The adults-only saltwater swimming pool at Occidental at Xcaret Destination has a truly unique design: the architecture mirrors that of the surrounding coastline, as though it were created by the sea itself. In fact, the pool is only separated from the ocean by a natural rock formation, and, since it’s at the very tip of the resort, the sea views are practically never-ending.
Westin Austin Downtown
Westin Downtown Austin’s Azul, our Coolest Hotel Pool of 2017, is refusing to rest on its laurels – in fact, the hotel has updated the pool concept with a new menu of upscale cocktails and bites. Since it’s the highest rooftop pool and bar in Austin, this is the spot to take in views of the downtown, Lady Bird Lake and surrounding area. This pool is also where guests can take in the Mermaids Above Austin experience, in which guests are taught the ways of the water by real mermaids. The package includes hair and makeup, a custom tail guests can keep and an underwater photographer.
The Joule in Dallas
Another Texas contender is the pool at The Joule hotel in Dallas. This one comes with a unique design, courtesy of Adam D. Tihany: the eight-foot, glass-front pool is cantilevered out over the street, giving guests the sensation of swimming suspended in air while overlooking the hustle of downtown and Main Street below. For more timid guests, the neighboring patio has a number of cabanas to enjoy the views without the vertigo.
The main swimming pool at Bali’s Capella Ubud, called The Cistern, offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the Keliki Valley. Named after the water reservoir of the old camp site, The Cistern pays homage to that history with a reservoir-shaped design. Fun fact: the pool is made of marine-grade steel plates each weighing 100 kilograms and, due to the land terracing, each slab of steel plate had to be transported and carried by hand to the site.
Hotel El Ganzo
The rooftop infinity pool at the Hotel El Ganzo sets the tone with an eclectic music mix that often includes original work produced at the Underground Studio. It’s also illuminated after dark, which, along with the Bali daybeds dotting the perimeter and available cocktails, provides a memorable ambiance for nighttime socializing.
There are rooftop views and then there are rooftop views – the rooftop infinity pool at the adults-only Hotel Mousai has the advantage of being on top of a hotel tower that’s also on top of a mountain, meaning that the vista out over Puerto Vallarta’s Bay of Banderas is spectacular. Since, along with sister property Garza Blanca, the Hotel Mousai is set on an 85-acre, private nature reserve, there’s also plenty of natural scenery to take in from these lofty heights. The nearby bar also serves cocktails and light snacks.
W Hotel Panama
Located in the heart of Panama City, the infinity-edge pool at the W Hotel Panama offers up-close views of the city skyline and the chance to watch ships pass through the Panama Canal. Guests can also enjoy a drink from the poolside bar and unwind on an assortment of deck chairs and sofas.
Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa
Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa’s main pool shows many faces depending on the time of day. At sunrise, the long, winding infinity pool provides a spot for a morning tan; in the midday, you’ll often find families here, either taking part in a number of activities or enjoying the pool’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean. In the evening, though, it’s pure relaxation: with its own sit-down bar, the pool is the perfect place to take in a Los Cabos sunset.
Oyster Bay Beach Resort
Set just above a coral reef and overlooking the Oyster Bay Marina, Oyster Bay Beach Resort’s infinity pool is a relaxing gem in St. Maarten. With views of St. Barths just across the water, it’s also a good spot to enjoy the sights while indulging in a snack from the nearby Infinity Restaurant.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman has an expansive pool that was designed in the shape of Grand Cayman. This fun spot provides plentiful floats and tubes for water lounging – the perfect way to enjoy the Jimmy Buffet lifestyle.
Viceroy Los Cabos
At the newly opened Viceroy Los Cabos, the pool experience is a futuristic dreamscape. Case in point: Nidito, the resort’s beach club, where guests can either relax under a next-like, latticed roof or take a dip in the ellipse-shaped pool. Food and drinks can be delivered no matter where guests are; good bets are the Baja fish tacos, Mezcal cocktails and agua fresca.
W Punta de Mita
The ultra-chic W Punta de Mita just rolled out a new pool of its own: a thermometer-shaped, adults-only space steps away from the glittering ocean, where guests can watch surfers practicing their hang ten, or just enjoy the West Coast sunsets. An entirely clear ocean-facing wall adds to the views and provides the perfect spot for underwater selfies. Guests can also take advantage of a whirlpool Jacuzzi, private cabanas with rooftop sun decks, or, for a delicious bite, get the catch of the day delivered right to their beach chair from the next-door Salero restaurant (also new!).
Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen
Set on Playa del Carmen’s world-famous Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen has a rooftop area is complete with a sleek infinity pool that boasts incredible views of the coastline and the city. Chic furnishings complement contemporary art, setting the tone for an exclusive poolside getaway. There is also a bar serving cocktails and a restaurant offering traditional Mexican snacks.