Neither a Las Vegas pool with a shark tank in the center nor one with views of the best beach in the Caribbean could keep the rooftop pool of The Westin Austin Downtown from being crowned Travel Agent’s 2017 “Coolest Pool of the World.”
In this voting-based competition, we selected 32 pools, most of which were included in the more than 60 “Cool Pool of The Week” columns we’ve run on www.travelagentcentral.com since the series was launched toward the end of 2015. The column highlights either a single pool or a collection of pools from chic, trendy resorts that we think are great pitches for your clients — particularly for Millennials. In NCAA March Madness bracket fashion, we pitted two hotels’ pools against each other round by round.
The Westin Austin Downtown’s rooftop pool took home the championship by beating Turks and Caicos’ The Somerset on Grace Bay in the finals. While the latter garnered 22,090 tallies, the former’s deep fan base managed to register a whopping 26,008 votes. The combined 48,098 votes are especially high when you consider voting for the final showdown was only open for four days.
Here’s a look at what makes the rooftop pool at The Westin Austin Downtown, and the other pools on our list, so special:
The Westin Austin Downtown
Azul, which is said to be Austin’s highest rooftop pool and bar, is the newest addition to The Westin Austin Downtown. It opened to the public about a year ago. For 2017, Azul is re-emerging with an entirely renovated space, providing increased seating capacity, cabanas and a brand new food and drink concept.
With views of downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake, and the surrounding area, Azul also has daily happy hours, DJs, live music each weekend, and monthly parties and events.
Highlights of the new drink menu include a full selection of hand-crafted draft cocktails (available by the glass or pitcher), a daytime drink menu with edible cocktails; and nighttime offerings like sunset-themed cocktails or wines by the glass.
A brand new food menu will consist of refreshing and sharable offerings that fit into three categories: “Bites,” which include Tajin spiced Edamame and Texas peach sorbet; “Bowls,” such as Austin Acai Bowl and the Poke Bowl; and “Bentos,” for those who crave Mexican offerings, such as roasted salsa, guacamole and ceviche.
The bar / pool has luxurious cabanas, a fire pit and 180-degree views of Texas’ capital city. Azul is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 3 - 9 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. On Fridays and Saturdays the pool is reserved for hotel guests.
The Westin Austin Downtown also has a variety of rooftop programing, from a wellness package with yoga classes overlooking the city to “Guitar Rockstar,” which includes rooftop guitar lessons with a local band, an in-room guitar, exclusive VIP access to famous venues and historic blues clubs and more. Also, guests have the opportunity to play on stage at a local music venue with a live band.
The Somerset on Grace Bay
The centerpiece of The Somerset on Grace Bay is the resort’s pool experience, comprising a reverse current lap pool that leads to its zero-entry, infinity-edge pool. The latter gives way to ocean views of Grace Bay, considered by many to have the best beach in the Caribbean. A collection of padded lounge chairs with umbrellas are available to relax on while taking in the view of the pools and the beach.
The reverse current lap pool at The Somerset on Grace Bay leads to a zero-entry, infinity-edge pool.
The lap pool, which at 138 feet is the longest in Turks and Caicos, has an underwater sound system and shallow children’s area separated toward the end by a gentle waterfall.
HONORABLE MENTION: THE REST OF THE BEST
There are no losers here. The following 30 pools all have something special that may win your clients over.
Hilton at Resorts World Bimini
Millennials looking for a cool pool while vacationing in the Bahamas have two stylish options to choose from at the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini hotel. The property is home to both a rooftop infinity pool and a wrap-around lazy river pool. Those taking advantage of the rooftop pool can sip Bahama Mamas and other signature cocktails from Monkey Business, the new poolside bar, which has underwater seating and cocktail tables in the pool. The pool affords sweeping island views. The 305-room luxury hotel is set on a 750 acre beachfront complex, marina and casino on the Bahamian Out Island of North Bimini.
Hilton at Resorts World Bimini has both a rooftop infinity pool (pictured) and a wrap-around lazy river pool.
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort in St. Maarten is home to a stylish Swim Out Pool and the modern-chic Edge Pool, which is perched on a cliff on the southernmost point of the island, featuring its own manmade beach providing extraordinary views of the infinite horizon over Maho Bay.
The Edge Pool, Travel Agent’s personal favorite at this hotel, uses silica-based sand to line the bottom of the pool, which has a cleansing filtration system, while loungers and umbrellas line the beach.
Sonesta Ocean Point Edge Pool affords extraordinary views from its cliffside perch.
The four-foot deep pool is just the thing for a refreshing dip and the sunsets here are incredible. After dark, the party is just getting started as fire pits take over the scene and illuminate along the edge, creating a dramatic and inviting atmosphere.
Guests staying at the luxurious, over-the-top Jade Mountain resort in St. Lucia won’t have to venture far to find the best pool on the property. It’s in their room. Each of the more than two dozen suites at this hotel comes with an infinity pool that begins from the bed, which is netted to protect guests from mosquitoes, and extends to the front of the living room with perhaps one of the best views you’ll ever see at a Caribbean hotel.
Looking out from the edge of your pool, you can see the pride of St. Lucia: the Pitons, two gigantic, gorgeous green twin mountains. To the right is more ocean, which looks like a painting when the sun goes down.
The bottom line is that you can be in this pool, drinking a cold beer or a rum on the rocks, looking out at a real-life mountain. Enough said.
Langara, The Penthouse at Sandy Cove Barbados
Millennials and other clients looking for a high-end, private pool scene in Barbados should consider Langara, The Penthouse At Sandy Cove Barbados. The penthouse, which recently joined the Blue Sky Luxury portfolio, is private – as is its pool.
Langara’s private chef can throw a barbecue party on the pool deck and the penthouse’s private butler can custom-make cocktails and pass the hors-d’oeuvres as guests take in the view. For dancing, the Blue Sky Luxury “Concierge Can” team will assist with booking a band, steel or otherwise, or an island DJ.
The Golden Nugget Las Vegas
If there was ever a pool that fits the definition of cool, it’s one that has a shark tank(!) smack in the middle of it. Yes, “The Tank,” the signature pool of the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, houses a 200,000-gallon shark aquarium as its centerpiece. And if that isn’t cool enough, the aquarium surrounds a waterslide that allows adventurous guests to speed through it. The three-story complex is home to five species of sharks and various game fish. Weekly “Shark Tank Tours” are available on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m.
“The Tank” pool at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas has a built-in shark aquarium with a waterslide that allows guests to slide safely through it.
At H20 at The Tank, guests can sip on signature mixed and frozen cocktails while cooling down at the pool or warming up at the fire pit.
French Leave Resort
French Leave Resort’s freshwater pool overlooks one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque harbors, Cupid’s Cay, in Eleuthera, The Bahamas. The pool provides sweeping views of the waters, and is a great place for viewing sunrises and sunsets. Guests can also unwind and relax with delicious poolside dining options, ranging from lobster salads, pan seared ahi tuna, and grouper wraps to inventive cocktails and the Bahamian lemonade, “Switcha.”
French Leave Resort’s freshwater pool ovelooks scenic Cupid’s Cay, Eleuthera.
The villa pool at Casa Palopo might have a simple layout, but its views of three active volcanoes along Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan are anything but ordinary. Casa Palopo is home to just nine rooms. Seven of them are located in one building, but the two-bedroom villa in the hills is where you will find the property’s most stunning pool.
Casa Palopo’s villa pool looks out over Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan and the three active volcanoes beyond.
The infinity pool gives you the impression that the water is cascading into the lake, although it really flows down to a lower level where two helipads make it possible for guests to take a helicopter to and from Guatemala City. Renting the villa also comes with butler service, and a personal chef can be arranged.
Royal Hideaway Playacar Resort
Anyone heading to the Riviera Maya, Mexico, may wish to cool off at Royal Hideaway Playacar Resort’s beachside infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The pool’s location and design blends in with the horizon, making it appear to have an endless and uninterrupted view of the water across all vantage points. Agents should note that dedicated areas can be reserved for poolside private events, such as cocktail parties or private dinners.
The pool has an adjacent standalone bar from which poolside service, including drinks and food service, is provided to all clients. They also have an extensive cocktail list and provide tailor-made cocktails upon request.
Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
The best part of Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort’s stylish main infinity pool is its location on a cliff facing Charlotte Amalie Harbor on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Looking down from the pool guests can see the island’s historic fort, which was built when the island was settled in the 1600s. Across the way, they can also see Hassel Island.
The main infinity pool at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort affords views of Hassel Island and has a swim-up bar.
Historical Note: We were told that when St. Thomas was a popular place for pirates to invade, islanders on St. Thomas and Hassel Island would trap boats in the harbor with a set of chains that cut across the two islands.
Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa
Millennials planning a trip to French Polynesia and looking for a solid dip-worthy pool should check out the elegant pool at Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa. This chic pool is on the atoll of Rangiroa — the second-largest atoll in the world — in Tahiti.
While taking a swim in this pool, Millennials can take in views of the Rangiroa lagoon, which is the second largest in the world. If you stand far enough back in the pool, it’s hard to tell where the pool ends and the lagoon begins as the colors of each practically blend together.
The Four Seasons Resort Maui
The coolest part of the Four Seasons Resort Maui’s Serenity Pool is its underwater music feature. This chic, adults-only pool, which is open for a dip from dusk to dawn, actually consists of two saltwater pools and has whirlpools, six luxury cabanas, four bubble loungers and swim-up bars.
Wynn Las Vegas
The Encore Beach Club at the Wynn Las Vegas is popular perhaps for the scene it creates. Known for lively parties with headlining DJs, it also offers 40-foot palm trees surrounding three-tiered pools and 26 cabanas with views of the Las Vegas Strip. The Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas has eight bungalows complete with private bathrooms, infinity dipping pools and climate control systems. Guests can also try their luck at blackjack in the gaming pavilion.
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
From afar, it’s hard to tell where the infinity pool ends and the ocean begins at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa. Located on one of the best stretches of beach in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, JW Marriott Cancun has some of the best views from its infinity pool.
At the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, casual observers may be hard pressed to determine where the infinity pool ends and the ocean begins.
What’s better than one pool? Two pools.
Once the sun begins to set behind the property, head over to the JW Spa, home to an indoor lap pool that overlooks the Nichupte lagoon. Advise your clients that this is the best spot to watch the sunset.
You can take your pick of the pools at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas: create your own waves or swim in a top optional pool. The Beach at Mandalay Bay is an 11-acre tropical water environment comprising a sand-and-surf beach, lazy river, four pools and a jogging track.It provides a recreation and relaxation experience for resort guests. The wave pool creates up to six-foot waves that splash down on 2,700 tons of real California sand.
Overlooking the Beach at Mandalay Bay is Moorea Beach Club, an upscale, “toptional” adult pool experience. Catering to adults 21 years of age or older, this exclusive outdoor environment provides high-energy music, poolside massage services and personalized attendants — all within a sophisticated and relaxed environment.
The “Nude Pool” at Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica, should attract Millennials who dare to get bare. This famous 280-room, adults-only, clothing-optional, all-inclusive beach resort was created as a haven where guests can feel comfortable and at ease being exactly who they are. That’s why Hedonism II has a no-clothes-allowed “Nude” side and a clothing-optional “Prude” side. Though the resort offers three freshwater pools and three cold plunge pools, the Nude Pool is by far the most fun.
The Palms Turks and Caicos
At the heart of the The Palms Turks and Caicos resort lies a gorgeous infinity pool with undisturbed ocean views. The design revolves around wooden decking and an array of sun pods fitted with white parasols, together with a “hot tub island” in the center of this cool pool.
Guests can expect perks such as cold towels, fresh fruit and refreshing lavender spray to cool off when temperatures sore. Additionally, they can choose to sit poolside at the conventional bar with the additional facility of a sunset dining terrace surrounded by a relaxing waterfall and garden.
At night, guests can gather around the fire pit at Plunge next to the pool while sipping cocktails, or indulge in “moonbathing,” in which they can relax in one of the lounge chairs under the night stars while undergoing mini spa treatments and after-dinner cocktails.
The Waldorf Astoria Park City
Millennials and others seeking a stylish pool during their next ski vacation to Park City, UT, should look into the Waldorf Astoria Park City. The hotel’s pool offers views of the mountains and is heated for year-round use, so it remains open throughout the ski season. The expansive deck provides cabanas, lounge chairs and multiple hot tubs. Every evening throughout the year, the hotel offers s’mores around the fire pit.
The pool deck area has luxurious cabanas for rent, with pool attendants to cater to guest’s food and beverage needs. The deck area also includes lounge chairs as well as table space and fire pits.
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel
Whether your clients are visiting St. Moritz, Switzerland, for a summer getaway by the lake or looking to hit the challenging slopes for a winter ski getaway, the pool at the famous Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is dip worthy for every season. Travel Agent recently returned from a stay at this luxurious hotel, which is also arguably the most famous landmark in St. Moritz, and spent plenty of time in the hotel’s heated, indoor/outdoor pool.
The massive pool is separated by a thin, glass door. Guests swimming in the indoor portion of the heated pool can get a breath of fresh air by simply hitting the black button on the glass door, which rises to give them access to the incredible outdoor pool area.
The indoor area is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, providing panoramic mountain views of St. Moritz from just about every spot in the water. Another cool touch is the rock formations at the main entrance of the pool. Guests are encouraged to climb the extremely safe rocks and take a plunge into the deep, heated water.
AC Hotel Guadalajara
Perched on the 12th floor of the AC Hotel Guadalajara, Mexico, is the AC Pool. It offers impressive views of Old Town / Downtown Guadalajara on one side and those of Andares — the upscale, modern new area of Guadalajara — on the other.
The heated infinity-edge pool is reportedly the only elevated pool in the city. It is open all day, from 6 a.m. for a quick start to the day to a relaxing evening swim until closing at 11 p.m. European style, clean, modern lines and wood flooring make up the design of the pool area. Also, music is played all day to create a peaceful environment.
Grand Velas Los Cabos
Grand Velas Los Cabos’ three infinity pools are all set at different temperatures to suit both clients looking for a cold, refreshing dip and those looking for a warm plunge. The pools are tiered with five feet separating each level. Rows of loungers were designed with unevenness between them, so that every space is in the front row, unobstructed.
Within the pools, replica islands were created with palm trees. There are also sunbathing areas on the pool area’s wooden decks.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai
Got Millennials looking to take a dip at Dubai’s newest and trendiest resort? Tell them about the recently opened Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai. Comprising a nearly 50-foot-long lap pool and bubble pool, both with great views of the Arabian Gulf and the sunset every afternoon, this area is exclusively reserved for hotel guests.
Clients can spend the day relaxing by the poolside on individual sun loungers, beds and cabanas, with music humming from hidden speakers. They can dine on innovative dishes prepared by the culinary team of Nikki Beach Dubai.
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
Clients heading to the Cayman Islands this winter and beyond should check out one of the freshest pools in the Caribbean at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.
One of Travel Agent’s favorite hotels on the island, The Westin recently poured $6 million into its pool and new pool deck as part of an overall two-phase, $50 million renovation. In fact, we were among the first travel media to tour the pool as the first phase of the renovation was just completed. We loved how sexy this pool looked at night — lit up as guests mingled along the chic patio area nearby, sipping cocktails from the pool area’s main bar, which includes a swim-up component.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas overlooks the heart of the Strip from the East Deck, and comes with a multi-level, open-air environment that presents unobstructed sight lines in all directions. Upbeat music, combined with intimately spaced lounge chairs and daybeds creates a communal atmosphere and vibrant social scene. In the summer, Boulevard Pool becomes the ultimate concert venue.
Beginning May 29, The Boulevard Pool will also screen “Dive In Movies,” which transforms the resort’s 65-foot digital marquee into a colossal movie screen. Guests can take a dip or lounge poolside while sipping specialty cocktails and munching on snacks under the stars.
Sandals Emerald Bay
There is actually a choice of three pools at Sandals Emerald Bay. Covering more than an acre, one pool will entice guests with a whirlpool, swim-up bar, a fire pit and complimentary poolside cabanas. Straw-roofed Balinese gazebos, each containing two comfortable beds are dotted around the gardens, on the beach and around the pool. Clients can spend the day in the shade and be pampered by a “Cabana Butler,” who’ll deliver cold towels, suntan oils, a morning fruit platter and continental breakfast, lunch and fresh drinks.
You’ve heard of over-the-water suites, but what about over-the-water swimming pools? Set in a wooden deck above the lagoon, Baros Maldives has one of the first such pools in Maldives. The infinity pool is set to the curve of the resort’s signature Lime Restaurant’s wooden deck and affords an impressive view of the lagoon.
JW Marriott Santo Domingo
The pool at JW Marriott Santo Domingo’s Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar in the Dominican Republic was one of the first Travel Agent ever featured as part of our “The Cool Pool of the Week” series.
The ice cube-shaped rooftop infinity pool at the lounge beckons Millennial clients in particular to take a dip while overlooking the beautiful city of Santo Domingo. But be careful of what you do underwater, as the glass surrounding the pool is see-through. Think of an aquarium, but replace the fish with A-list travelers.
The Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar has a glass floor terrace rising 101 feet above the city. For those who fear heights, it can be a little scary to walk on, but it is definitely something worth experiencing at least once.
Sandals LaSource Grenada
Anyone looking for a swanky pool at an all-inclusive in Grenada should check out the freshwater pool at Sandals LaSource Grenada. There are actually an array of cool pools here, mostly found in the Skypool Suites category, but the main, freshwater pool located in the Italian Village at Sandals LaSource Grenada is considered the hotel’s best overall pool.
The freshwater pool in the Italian Village is considered the coolest of the many cool pools at Sandals La Source Grenada.
This pool is set on the beach and overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Amenities include pool-side bar service, curtained cabanas that are included in the cost of stay and an adjacent Jacuzzi. But its most spectacular feature, a really sexy lounging area with fire pit, truly comes alive at night.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
The 3,364-square-foot H2Oasis, the adults-only swimming pool at Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, sports a unique shape that provides a long strip of water conducive to taking uninterrupted laps while still offering pockets of open areas on either side for those travelers who just want to soak in one spot.
With no distracting children in sight, Millennials can put their feet up in the serenity of a stylish cabana with poolside service so they don’t ever have to leave.
Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa
If your clients’ definition of “cool” is stunning mountain views, then the Miramonte Pool at Miramonte Resort in Southern California has the pool for them. It is open to all guests and includes five newly renovated cabanas available for daily rental. Here, guests can also indulge in a garden-inspired cocktail made with fresh citrus fruits and herbs grown on site. Among its other attributes, the Well Spa has saline pools.The Miramonte recently joined Hilton’s Curio Collection.
Southern California’s Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa has five newly renovated cabanas that can be rented on a daily basis.
Baoase Luxury Resort
Millennials and other lifestyle-seeking clients heading to Curacao may want to cool down by taking a dip in the stylish main pool at Baoase Luxury Resort. The main pool here is roughly 1,000 square feet. This infinity saltwater pool has a Jacuzzi in the center of the pool.
The five Ocean Front Villas surrounding the main pool have direct access to the pool from their patio. The garden and view of the Caribbean Sea gives the pool a unique ambiance.
If clients would like to rent out the main pool for an event, they will have to buy out the entire resort, because it is public domain for resort guests.
The main pool also has a pool bar where people can sit, but there is no service there. The closest bar to the main pool is the restaurant bar, which is just a few steps away. This bar is open-air and fully equipped, next to the beach, and is a nice spot to start (or finish) your evening with a sparkling cocktail or your favorite drink.