Strokes of for­tune

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Asia - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

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

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