Strokes of fortune
AMAN TOKYO, JAPAN
No list of best pools would be complete without featuring an Amanresorts property. They always have a smallish inventory of suites and villas but are colossal in architectural scale, stark in design, and happily free of swim-up bars and gimmicky touches. Most are in classic Asian resort settings amid jungles or gardens, by beaches or perched on clifftops. But let’s dip into the group’s latest and more unusual urban offering, at the 84-room Aman Tokyo, located near the Ginza shopping precinct and Imperial Palace, and lauding it over the Japanese capital. The hotel occupies the top six storeys of the glassy 40storey Otemachi Building and swimmers will find themselves 34 floors up, immersed in a cool 30m-long black basalt-lined rectangle and surrounded by tall windows with crossbeams that reflect in the water like the bold lines of a Mondrian painting. Apparently the pool has been precisely positioned so, when at water level, swimmers’ eyes skim over the Tokyo skyline to effortlessly view what lies beyond, including the prospect of a glimpse of Mount Fuji’s cone on a clear day, just under 100km away as the snow crane flies. More: amanresorts.com.
THE MULIA, BALI, INDONESIA
This 30ha beachfront Nusa Dua property has swimming options aplenty across its three tiers of linked accommodation, but the most eye-catching feature is the Oasis Pool fronting the all-suite, butler-attended Mulia wing (dine in The Lounge for lovely views across the pool to the Indian Ocean). This expanse is flanked by facing rows of towering stone statues of stylised Balinese women balancing water trays on their heads. Three on each side stand in the sand, the others almost appear to be walking on water; each carrier holds her cargo aloft by one arm, reminiscent of village women transporting food or temple offerings. The pattern in the pool tiles forms an intertwined motif that is repeated over and over and looks woven in texture like a carpet, but this detail is almost overshadowed by the Lost City of Atlantis-style grandeur. At the Ocean Pool by the 526-room Mulia Resort wing (great for families), water carriers holding colanderlike trays also become fountains while in a serried row equally lofty statues are slightly bowed, their hands clasped around lotus-shaped lanterns that glimmer at night and cast golden reflections in the pool. Stupendous. More: themulia.com.
PARK HYATT SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
First, an admission. I discover this pool on my last morning in Siem Reap, the busy gateway city to Angkor Wat. I have been swimming early each morning in the lap pool tucked in a garden off the hotel’s courtyard. Then a staff member shows me the turquoise-tiled free-form pool that winds like a lagoon for about 37sq m around the entryway to the wellness spa. There’s a parade of fantail palms and tiny isles are planted with palms and pink fran- gipanis; waterfall jets gush from the mouth of squatting frog statues. This is an oasis-like space on level one, just high enough to be protected from the thrum of traffic. Cushioned and bolstered cabanas are private and invite siesta lolling. One portion of the pool, edged with monumental columns, is roofed, which is a bonus in summer heat, and flows under a low humpbacked bridge to the open-air water. It’s not a place for laps (back to that garden pool for more serious strokes) but for cooling off, per- haps with a poolside drink or snack ordered from the hotel’s Glasshouse Deli Patisserie, which rustles up such wonders as ice cream-filled macaron “sandwiches”. More: siemreap.park.hyatt.com.
MARINA BAY SANDS, SINGAPORE
This cloud-colliding pool on the 57th-floor rooftop of Singapore’s most photographed hotel is as much a tourist attraction as it is a cooling spot for a splash. From certain angles, the 146m infinity edge seems to meld with the sky in a seamless, shimmering blue, which surely is a scary prospect for parents. But little ones will not go whooshing off the side in their water wings, thanks to a series of safety ledges. Its fame as the world’s highest (and longest elevated) infinity pool is not about the swimming, as exhilarating as it may be, or the scary engineering statistics, but the preposterous nature of it all, stuck up there atop the 150m-long Sands SkyPark, which links a threetower integrated hotel, office space, residential and casino complex. Marina Bay Sands Hotel features 2560 guestrooms and the complex has the space-agey look of Skypad Apartments in Orbit City, home to the characters from The Jetsons, that irresistible long-running telly carton series launched in the ’60s. If George Jetson were to zoom past in his hovercraft while I sipped a Singapore Sling, I would scarcely be surprised. More: marinabaysands.com.
Pools at the Aman Tokyo, top; Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, middle left; Mulia Bali, middle right; and Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Cambodia, above