Swimming pools have always made summer feel special.
It might be the shallow inflatable type you messed about in as a child, the local pool where long hot teenage summers were spent chillin’ and relaxin’, or a full-size in-ground pool hidden away in a friend or family member’s back garden you could use when the mercury started to rise.
But pools aren’t just for kids. They’re big business for resorts trying to lure adults craving some sultry, sunny vibes.
Hotels, private beach clubs, resorts, and condo buildings increasingly compete to provide the most exquisite pool decks, shady cabanas with table service, and glorious infinity-edged pools, often showcasing incredible sweeping sunset vistas.
Florida—the Sunshine State—is gifted with a number of seriously sexy swimming pools. Here are five that you can dive right into this summer.
One of the newest attractions along the Northwest Emerald Coast is Hotel Effie, a luxury 5-star spa hotel in Miramar Beach. The property boasts not just a rooftop pool but also a top-notch lounge serving cocktails and fine wines. Visitors can spend the day soaking up the sun, reclining in the cabanas, and taking a refreshing swim in the pool, all while enjoying the views across Sandestin, the Gulf, and the Bay. But as the sun starts to set, the mood switches from “dip” to “sip” as the fine wines, champagne, and carefully-crafted cocktails start to flow. With cool tunes drifting on the evening breeze, you can rub shoulders with some of the many fashionistas preparing for a night out at any of the sparkling Emerald Coast’s hotspots.
Further south on Florida’s Gulf Coast lies the luxurious Sand Pearl Resort in Clearwater. The pool here is one of those zero-entry affairs where you can sit or lie in the shallow water, topping up your tan and watching the world go by. The lagoon-shaped pool is surrounded by cabanas kitted out with HD TVs so you can keep track of your stock portfolio or the baseball scores while reclining and sipping on specialty cocktails. And if all that pristine pool-side living gets to be too much, it is only a short walk to the private sandy beach and a dip in the salty water to sharpen your senses.
To make your day even more memorable, as the sun is just about to kiss the horizon, the hotel rings the Sunset Bell and guests gather on the pool deck to watch the fiery-red orb dip out of sight into the Gulf. Perfect.
Even away from the coast, pools are a mainstay of Florida life. In the entertainment and visitor mecca of Orlando, the recently refurbished Gaylord Palms Resort has taken pool life to a new level.
With a $158 million refurbishment recently completed, the Gaylord Palms Resort offers pool attractions for everyone of all ages and tastes. The highlight, perhaps, is the Cypress Springs Water Park – exclusively for guests of the hotel. There is a waterpark with slides, a zero-entry pool, hot tubs, and massage spas, fast-flowing river rapids, and a perpetual surfing wave called, of course, FlowRider.
And if all that fun and adrenaline-inducing action sounds a little too much, don’t worry because the Gaylord Palms has something for you in mind too. Part of the refurb was the completion of the South Beach Pool, inspired by the hipster hotspots in Miami and dotted with private cabanas for hire, each featuring sun-loungers, towel service, a fully-stocked mini refrigerator, and a flatscreen TV with surround sound to play your favorite tunes.
Alys Beach, Florida
If being amongst the “beautiful people” is high on your list of vacation musts, one of the most exclusive communities along the Florida Gulf Coast is undoubtedly Alys Beach.
Its architecture gives a nod to the Caribbean, and with its hidden courtyards, billowing linen curtains, and breezy walkways between the stunning alabaster-white homes, there is a little hint of Marrakech or Casablanca as well. The latest amenity, exclusively reserved for homeowners and permanent residents, is the breathtaking Beach Club.
This infinity pool with views of the Gulf catches the sun from early morning to sunset and is perhaps the most luxurious pool in Northwest Florida, if not the entire state. And while the three-story Beach Club offers homeowners easy access to the Gulf, with its stunning pools, day beds, lounges, bars, and sweeping views, I imagine many residents of Scenic Highway 30A’s most boujee community will be keeping their sandals and kitten heels sand-free.
No list of fabulous Florida pools could possibly ignore South Beach, Miami. The Fontainebleau, Shelborne, and Mondrian have all been attracting glamorous guests from around the world to their pools for years, but the one that has perhaps stood the test of time best is The Delano.
Originally, the concept of Studio 54 impresario Ian Schrage, the hotel continues to reinvent itself and is recognized as launching the latest craze in Miami, daylife – the sunlit equivalent of Miami’s famed nightlife.
During the day, hotel guests can exclusively unwind poolside. Classical music plays through underwater speakers and an ornate silver table and chairs are placed knee deep in the pool for an Instagram-worthy glass of champagne. The pool is surrounded by an orchard of manicured Ficus trees, and with its giant chessboard and huge mirror, it has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland feel.
On weekends, live DJs spin tunes and glamorous hosts and hostesses bring cocktails and tasty bites to your lounger or wade into the pool with champagne bottles to charge your glass as you chat with the beautiful people all around. The cabanas and private bungalows with their luxury service make the pool a scene, but it is still very relaxing — at least by day, when only hotel guests are allowed in.
When the sun goes down, it changes from pool to a lively bar vibe as Miami’s pretty young things and their older acquaintances crowd around the water’s edge to see and be seen.