Monday 14 November 2011

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My Kids Five Favorite Hotel Pools

It's pretty hard to catch me sitting around a pool. On the list of places that I like to spend time, poolside ranks neatly between doing housework and excavating sewer pipes. This is despite the fact that my rock hard abs and chiseled body sometimes get me mistaken for one of the Jersey Shore hardbodies (although more frequently it's my grammar that has people making that assumption).  Fortunately for me, my wife (or as I like to call her, "L-Wow") has the same aversion to the pool, so when we travel together it's a simple matter of remembering to pack our swimsuits, and then never placing ourselves in a situation where we have to use them.

When we travel with our kids though, it's not always an option to keep my Speedo in my suitcase. Outside of the hotel mini-bar, a pool is one of the main attractions for my kids when it comes to choosing a place to spend a few nights. Actually if a hotel only has one pool, it's odds of meeting my children's approval are pretty slim. It seems to take multiple pools, at least one waterslide, and attendants who can keep the smoothies coming faster than we can drink them. With that criteria in mind, here are five of my kids favorite hotel pools:

#5) Rio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Please note that the title of this post was "Kids Favorite" not "Kid Friendly". Look, I know that people don't come to Las Vegas to hang around a bunch of unruly children. I fully believe in keeping my kids out of the path of the people who come to Las Vegas to party, but in all fairness, none of the party people are up before noon.  We spend the morning enjoying the five pools which are all set to different temperatures, and the sandy beach area that runs between them. This is the only pool on the list that doesn't have a waterslide, but it's also the only one that has a poolside Starbucks. Sounds like a fair trade-off to me.

#4) Hyatt Grand Cypress, Orlando, Florida
This could be the most impressive of all the pool layouts, as there are four or five pools that are all connected by a channel that runs through a cave type area, which also houses the hot tubs. Swimming between the pools is lots of fun, but this pool is so overrun by a party crowd that it's really hard to relax and not worry about what kind of things your kids are going to see. At one point I was swimming with my son, and we saw a eight or nine year old boy climb to the outside of the rope bridge and get ready to jump into the pool, which was nowhere near deep enough to ensure safety. While he was preparing to jump, a lady came by and yelled at him to get back on the bridge and asked where his mother was. I commented to my son that it was a good thing an adult showed up in time to stop the boy, and only after my son looked at me blankly for a couple of minutes did I realize that I'm a so-called adult, and I probably should have said something.

#3) Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii
This may be my one exception to the pool > ocean rule. There's a few pools at the Hilton, but the kid's pools (aka the pools with the waterslides) are pretty small and get very crowded. Meanwhile there's a giant lagoon about a hundred yards away from the pool that's actually warmer than the pool itself. The only downside is that the wi-fi is much stronger at the pool than the lagoon. Because that's what's really important when you're on a beach in Hawaii.

#2) Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona
2.5 acres of pools. That's a lot of water. The nice part is that all the pools are together, so the parents can just stake out a spot and supervise the entire area without having to move around. They also have a very well organized pool program here, with coordinated activities going on throughout the day. Of course my kids favorite place is the three story waterslide where they will clock you with a radar gun to let you know how fast you came down. You'd figure this would be a great kids activity, but what it really leads to is all the Dads trying to outdo each other, and some serious tsunami waves at the bottom of the slide.

#1) Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Arizona
This place has so many pools that we didn't even find the best one until the last day. We were using the pool closest to the casitas where we were staying, which was almost always empty and constantly had jack rabbits coming up to the fence just in case anyone had brought a pocketful of carrots to the pool with them. We thought we'd found the big pool when we went for the dive-in movie one night (kudos to the Fairmont for having a great setup for the movies by the pool) but on the last day we wandered a little further and found another pool with dueling waterslides. Completing the trifecta, this pool had lightning quick food service and the best smoothies I've ever tasted. They should have had a radar gun to tell me how fast I was downing those things.

I'll give an honorable mention to the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim (because it's really cool to be swimming while looking at Disneyland), the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (because I kind of feel like we owe them), and the Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton (technically it's not their pool, it's a waterpark attached to the mall, but my kids were too young to remember it anyways). I'll also promise a future first place ranking to any pool that actually does confuse me with a member of the Jersey Shore.