Where pool meets the sea
Massage or facial? Beach walk or bike ride? Snorkel or scuba? A vacation can bring with it plenty of head-scratching choices, but when it comes to the age-old debate of pool versus ocean, some luxury hotels and resorts give guests the best of both worlds. Following are 13 of our favorites.
AYANA Resort and Spa BALI
All told, AYANA Resort and Spa BALI and its neighboring sister resort, RIMBA Jimbaran BALI, comprise a whopping 12 swimming pools. Each one is decidedly spectacular, but when it comes to front-row views of the Indian Ocean, AYANA’s cliffside Ocean Beach Pool can’t be beat. Dive in early to snag a spot for sunset, and bring your cocktail from the adjacent Rock Bar Bali.
Bahia Vik—José Ignacio, Uruguay
Like everything else you’ll find in Uruguay’s famously bohemian beach town—from rustic restaurants to chic boutiques—Bahia Vik is elegant in its simplicity (outside, anyway) and lets José Ignacio’s coastal tableau do all the talking. Chaise longues hover over its pool on sleek, wooden platforms—the perfect perch for enjoying unending Atlantic views.
Photo: Joseph Montezinos
The Breakers—Palm Beach, Florida
Throughout its 100-plus-year history, no expense has been spared in making The Breakers—the sprawling, Henry Flagler–built South Florida resort—a playground for America’s rich and famous. That includes its jaw-dropping Beach Club, complete with four picture-perfect pools, plus restaurants, bars, and plush bungalows. But even the resort’s architects likely would agree—there’s no sight more stunning than the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic sparkling under the Florida sun just a few sandy steps away.
Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc—Antibes, France
In 1914, when hotelier Antoine Sella built into its rock cliffs a heated infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean, Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc was already a popular winter retreat. Since then, thanks to its heart-stopping views of the French Riviera and white-glove service provided by thoughtful attendants, the hotel’s—and its pool’s—place among the world’s most glamorous hotels has been set in stone.
InterContinental Sydney Double Bay—Sydney, Australia
When it comes to water views in Sydney, mainstays such as Manly, Bondi, and Kirribilli probably come to mind. But that’s only if you haven’t yet checked in to the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay, a light-filled, 140-room boutique hotel tucked away in one of the city’s loveliest leafy enclaves. Want proof? Just head to the hotel’s impossibly cool rooftop pool for million-dollar views of Sydney Harbour, complete with swanky sailboats and hillside homes.
La Casa Que Canta—Zihuatanejo, Mexico
So spectacular is the sky-high infinity pool at La Casa Que Canta that producers of the 1994 drama When a Man Loves a Woman chose it as the backdrop for one of the movie’s most iconic scenes. But you don’t have to be a movie star to feel like one as you gaze at the Pacific from the pool’s edge. Bonus: Follow a steep set of stairs down several flights, where you can take a dip in a second, saltwater pool or feel a cool spray from the picturesque Pacific.
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa—Amalfi Coast
Few places in the world possess a coastline as iconic as that of Amalfi, and Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa’s infinity pool—built into the cliff of Monte San Pancrazio—offers what are arguably the best views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and its surrounding coves and hill towns. La dolce vita, indeed.
One&Only Palmilla—Los Cabos, Mexico
When famous friends George Clooney, Cindy Crawford, and Rande Gerber need to get away, One&Only Palmilla is reportedly where they like to go. And with two infinity pools overlooking Los Cabos’s famously windswept seascape and a prime position on one of the area’s only swimmable beaches, it’s really no wonder why.
Peter Island Resort & Spa—British Virgin Islands
What’s the only thing better than soaking up Caribbean sunshine and sea views from a dazzling, clifftop infinity pool? Having that swim spot all to yourself. Guests staying in Falcon’s Nest Villa at Peter Island Resort & Spa in the BVIs will have just that, plus private butler service for a never-ending supply of frosty, homemade piña coladas and other treats. If you think the daytime views from the pool are dramatic, just wait until sunset, when the sky—and sea—really get fired up.
The Silo—Cape Town, South Africa
The Silo arrived to much fanfare when it opened, in March, thanks equally to its architectural heritage, its playfully designed interiors, and a certain high-profile neighbor—the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa—that’s set to arrive in September. But for an eyeful of art, guests needn’t wait until the museum opens. Simply head upstairs to the Silo’s rooftop pool for 360-degree views that include Table Mountain, downtown Cape Town, and the sapphire-blue expanse of the southern Atlantic.
Soneva Jani—Noonu Atoll, Maldives
At Soneva Jani—the new, all-villa overwater resort in its own private lagoon on the Noonu Atoll of the Maldives—space in the resort’s oceanview swimming pools is never in short supply. That’s because each villa at the resort is outfitted with its own private pool, giving guests the sensation of being suspended above the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, which stretches as far as the eye can see.
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Princeville
St. Regis Princeville—Kauai, Hawaii
Few settings are as magnificent as where mountains meet water, and perhaps no place on earth does it quite like Hawaii. Happily for guests at the St. Regis Princeville, on Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” views from the resort’s 5,000-square-foot cerulean pool include Kauai’s famously lush mountains just across a brilliant-blue Hanalei Bay.
Travaasa Hana—Maui, Hawaii
Make the twisting, winding, and sometimes harrowing drive along the Hana Highway to Travaasa Hana, at Maui’s easternmost end, and you might arrive feeling like you’re the last living soul on earth. And after you’ve donned your swimsuit, slipped below the wide pool’s placid surface, and opened your eyes at the other end to sweeping views of the rugged Pacific coastline, you won’t want it any other way.
by Lindsay Lambert Day. Originally published in Architectural Digest.