April 12, 2024

5 hotel pools, perfect for swimmers

Michele Heisler, 61, is an avid swimmer and spends 45 minutes three times a week in a local 25-meter pool. But swimming while traveling can be a challenge. “Most hotel pools are too small or too crowded,” she says.

When Ms. Heisler, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, came across a photo of the hotel pool of her dreams while planning a trip to Chicago. At the Intercontinental Hotel, the 80-foot swimming pool, built in 1929, is one of the oldest in Chicago and surrounded by Greek-inspired marble decorations. “You feel like you are swimming in an ancient Greek temple. It’s a magical experience,” said Ms. Heisler, who has stayed at the Intercontinental four times in the past 10 years because of the pool.

Even at a resort, swimming laps often means traveling strange and often short distances while watching out for cannonballing kids in water that feels like a hot tub. Finding a hotel pool big enough for lap swimming in a big city is even trickier. But they exist. Here are six hotel pools that are at least 25 meters long and offer plenty of space for lap swimming, as well as a first-class atmosphere; some are open to non-overnight visitors. Most are open all day, but the early morning hours are the best for lap swimming, hotel representatives say.

The institution: The south tower of the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile hotel was originally a private athletic club, complete with this indoor pool, which was home to famed Olympic swimmer and actor Johnny Weissmuller, who broke records at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics.

The pool, on the hotel’s 14th floor, is “an architectural marvel complete with spectator seating and turrets” decorated with Spanish Majolica tiles, according to Christopher Cawley, the hotel’s general manager. It has four swimming lanes. Lounge chairs surround the pool and there is a newly renovated multi-level fitness center nearby.

Opening hours: Weekdays 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; weekends 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are no times specifically reserved for lap swimming.

Pool temperature: 84 degrees

Public access: Non-guests can purchase a resort pass online to use the pool and fitness facilities through Resort Pass, a platform that partners with hotels across the United States to offer day passes for access to exclusive amenities. Prices vary depending on the season, currently an adult day pass costs $40.

The institution: When the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown opened in 2016, it included this 80-foot indoor pool, as well as the rest of the hotel’s interior, designed by interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg, originally from Canada.

The pool area features stone-clad columns, wooden screens and a bespoke scratched plaster finish on the walls to enhance the soothing tranquility of the space. “When you close your eyes, you feel like you are transported to the French Riviera,” says Thomas Carreras, general manager of the hotel. He calls it a ‘sanctuary’. There is a mix of seating, from lounge chairs with fluffy white towels to comfortable loveseats with oversized cushions. The pool is located on the third floor of the hotel, along with the fitness center and spa. There is one designated lap track.

Opening hours: 6am to 8pm

Pool temperature: 83 to 85 degrees

Public access: The pool is open to hotel guests and members of Club 27, the hotel’s private wellness club.

The institution: The W Miami is located in the IconBrickell complex and condominium development in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, which was built in 2008; the W opened in 2016. Hotel guests and building residents can use the complex’s outdoor pools, including a reflection pool, hot tub and lap pool. The pool, which overlooks Biscayne Bay and has an infinity edge, is 200 feet long, 40 feet longer than an Olympic-sized pool, making it somewhat baffling to swimmers used to more standardized lengths.

The design of the pools was inspired by French designer Phillip Starck, whose company designed the complex’s communal areas and residences. It’s intended as a “spooky, urban-chic version of the Champs-Élysées,” with the pool acting as an avenue instead of concrete, says Arianna Calcaterra, the hotel’s marketing director.

Gail Gensler, 63, who lives in a condominium apartment in the complex, swims there twice a week once the pool opens, often at dawn. “It’s really beautiful when you see the sun rising over the bay and you’re exercising,” she said.

The pool is located on a 2-acre resort-style pool deck. There are also lounge pools and cabanas, as well as a poolside restaurant serving food and drinks.

Opening hours: Guests can swim laps as early as sunrise. Pool service, including towels and lifeguards, is offered from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Food service is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m

Pool temperature: 78 to 82 degrees in spring and fall and 76 to 78 degrees in winter.

Guest access: The swimming pool is managed by IconBrickell, the developer of the complex. Hotel guests have access together with residents of the complex.

The institution: Built in 2021, the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans’ 75-foot outdoor pool overlooks the Mississippi River, and the mosaic-lined pool has a gentle crescent curve to reflect the curve of the river.

The swimming pool, on the fifth floor of the hotel, is no less than 9.5 meters deep over its entire length and has underwater lighting and music. There are two designated lap tracks. It is surrounded by chaise lounges, a separate hot tub and four cabanas that can be rented daily. A fitness center and spa are located on the same floor. There is also a pool bar serving cocktails and food.

Opening hours: 7am to 10pm

Pool temperature: 84 degrees.

Guest access: The swimming pool is used by both hotel guests and residents of the accommodation.

The institution: Built in June 2022 when Conrad Nashville opened, this outdoor pool is 80 feet long and is located on the hotel’s third-floor rooftop terrace.

As you swim, enjoy views of Nashville, including Vanderbilt University, says Eumi Koh, the hotel’s general manager. Food and drinks are available at the pool from May to October, but the pool is open all year round. There are approximately 30 lounge chairs, all equipped with parasols, as well as sunbeds and dining tables and chairs. Three cabanas can be reserved. There are no lap lanes with ropes.

Opening hours: Sunrise to sunset. The food and beverage service is available Monday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm

Pool temperature: 85 to 89 degrees

Guest access: The swimming pool is only for hotel guests.

The institution: The 75-foot indoor pool, located on the ground floor of the Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter, just across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati, was renovated in 2020. Windows running the length of the pool provide natural lighting, so “you don’t have to feel like you’re swimming in a cave,” says Shawnna Dunaway, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “It’s very open and light.”

She said the pool is especially attractive to the hotel’s many business guests, who can “get the full workout of a full-length pool.” There are also sun loungers around the pool and a fitness center nearby. There are no lane dividers.

Pool temperature: 84 degrees.

Opening hours: 7am to 10pm

Guest access: Only hotel guests can use the swimming pool.


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