Las Vegas is hot. In summer, it’s scorching.
Sure, you can hunker down in an air-conditioned casino, but it’s hard to make your money last.
Why not embrace the heat? The resorts certainly have.
Hotels across the valley have poured millions of dollars into pools and outdoor spaces that defy the imagination. Like most things here, Las Vegas has a pool for every mood.
The south end of the Strip can be a salvation for people looking for a tropical retreat. Mandalay Bay’s “beach” is an oasis in the desert. Spanning 11 acres, it features three pools, 2,700 tons of real sand, a 1.6-million-gallon wave pool, a lazy river and 100 cabanas, day beds, bungalows and private villas that can be rented.
It’s a perfect place for kids, and most days there’ll be plenty, splashing, shouting and roaming around the palm trees. If you’re visiting, just remember to bring an inner tube. You can buy one on site, but they’re expensive.
Mandalay Bay also offers an adult-only European-style pool – that means bikini tops are optional – for those who want to escape the blow-up rafts and squeals. And from May through September, the Beach Concert Series brings top musical acts to the shore. Who needs the Caribbean?
Also a favourite among kids and adults, both local and visiting, is the Golden Nugget’s Shark Tank pool, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with ocean creatures. Glide 30-feet down an enclosed waterslide that twists through the resort’s award-winning aquarium.
Maintained by the hotel’s Life Sciences Department, it features 300 animals from around the world, including six species of sharks and rays. It’s an amazing experience to come face to face the giant predators as you soak in a day of sun.
There’s also a two-story infinity pool for hotel guests ages 16 and older.
On the downside, the pool area is small and can get crowded, but if you head out early, seats usually are available. On the upside, the use of lounge chairs is free.
For a summer dip that’s a little more high-end, try Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods Oasis. With six pools spread across 5 acres, the retreat offers something for everyone. There are small fountains for kids to splash in, a lap pool for serious swimmers, a magnificent 18-foot waterfall, an in-pool blackjack table and all sorts of nooks and crannies for couples looking for some privacy. Spring brings live DJs and go-go dancers.
Set amidst stunning Roman sculptures and architecture, this is one of Las Vegas’ more luxurious swim spots. It’s also a great people-watching venue. The pool is for hotel guests only, but if you buy a treatment at Caesars’ spa, Qua, you’ll get free use of the pool all day.
Down the Strip, the Cosmopolitan pool offers even more. It goes beyond a mere place to dip and splash. It has game tables — both the Las Vegas version and the all-ages-friendly type — music, food and stunning views of the Strip.
The main Boulevard Pool features a large lounge area with billiards, football and ping-pong tables. There’s also a bar and several TVs so guests can watch big games. It was among the hottest places to be during the World Cup soccer championships, where international visitors cheered their favourites’ goals and ribbed one another about which team would win.
At night, the Boulevard Pool doubles as a concert venue for national and international acts. Staff drain much of the pool’s water to make room for up to 3,000 concert-goers who want to cool their toes while enjoying the music. Upcoming concerts are scheduled to feature Jurassic 5 with Dilated Peoples, Iggy Azalea and Interpol. Just remember, because of its location among the Strip’s crowded hotels and attractions, the pool area can get fairly shady during the afternoon. Serious sunbathers should go early in the day to catch the best rays.
One of my favourite dip spots is the Flamingo. Its tropical pool area is loaded with exotic plants and wildlife and offers a double punch for people with kids: one section specifically for children and families, another for adults. Kids can splash down waterslides and cool off in a shaded grotto with flamingos grazing nearby, while adults can party hard.
The Flamingo Beach Club is the kiddie pool; the GO Pool is for adults only. If you aren’t a hotel guest, there’s an admission charge, but women typically get in free. And while the GO Pool has the feel of Las Vegas’ exclusive pool parties, it is more forgiving than many of the other pool day clubs – both in terms of punch to your wallet and selection as to who can get in. A good number of Las Vegas poolside hot spots charge expensive entrance fees, have strict dress codes and turn some people away.