Make a splash

Where to swim in style

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - BRIAN JOHN­STON

HO­TEL FASANO, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL When you have a Philippe Starck-de­signed, 1 1960s-vibe ho­tel, a lo­ca­tion on Ipamema Beach and a rooftop pool fre­quented by Brazil­ian models and fash­ion de­sign­ers, you know you’re in swim­ming heaven. Flop your way roof-wards in com­pli­men­tary Hava­ianas and gaze to­wards Christ the Re­deemer and down on Ipamema’s jig­gling vol­ley­ball play­ers and glam­orous poseurs on rollerblades. De­signer sun­nies and skimpy swimwear are de rigeur in this cos­mopoli­tan blue oasis. The su­perla­tive white-mar­ble in­fin­ity pool comes into its own at night, when bossa-nova rhythms play, coastal lights twin­kle, and guests emerge for a dip. Bar­tenders con­jure up cock­tails, in­clud­ing a no­table wa­ter­melon mar­tini whose colours im­i­tate the sump­tu­ous sun­sets. More: fasano.com.br.

W HO­TEL, HONG KONG, CHINA The W Ho­tel calls its recreation area Get Wet: a good start on the sex­i­ness scale. In this 76th-floor pool, you swim through the sky, while 211m be­low lies Hong Kong har­bour. Those with a head for heights can bob in the in­fin­ity-edge jacuzzi, eye­balling clouds as traf­fic hums far be­low. Com­pli­men­tary wi-fi ac­cess makes lap­tops the pool­side ac­ces­sory of choice. The mo­saic wall back­ing the ter­race, a col­li­sion of but­ter­flies and seashells, is like some­thing dreamed up by Sal­vador Dali, and seems to change colour as the day pro­gresses. Sun­set is the per­fect time, when it glows with a pink tinge as the cock­tail shak­ers start to rat­tle. More: w-hongkong.com.

1 HO­TEL SOUTH BEACH, MI­AMI BEACH, US Al­most-fa­mous peo­ple, models wear­ing too lit­tle and bling-cov­ered babes grav­i­tate to this naughty ho­tel on the sands. Yes, it’s adults only. And yes, your ca­bana by the ocean­front pool comes with TV and PlayS­ta­tion. The sands are hot, the clien­tele cool. Ice cubes in mo­ji­tos tin­kle. If your idea of pool per­fec­tion in­volves a party, then party on. The best pool (there are three) is the rooftop in­fin­ity pool, which merges with sea and sky to pro­vide sun-soaked views of bliss­ful blue­ness. Wal­low in the Jacuzzi, or kick back on white daybeds. Palm trees — not sure how they got there — rus­tle in the breeze against a bil­low­ing back­drop of sun­set-tinged clouds. More: 1ho­tels.com/south-beach.

MURANOM RE­SORT, MAR­RAKESH, MOROCCO Blue not cool enough? Head down a stonef flagged av­enue from this Moor­ish-style ho­tel, where a chan­nel of wa­ter gur­gles Ara­bian style, to ar­rive at a blood-red pool, set among tan­ger­ine and palm trees, and edged with stylish red-and-white so­fas. Magic at night, when the pool glows ruby red, and breezes stir the silken lounge tents. If you want to rock the kas­bah, be pool­side for Sun­day brunch, when a DJ spins mu­sic from an is­land in the mid­dle of the wa­ter, and a hip crowd gos­sips and tip­ples. A mix of vodka, straw­berry liqueur, ba­nana and co­conut milk is the cock­tail of choice, but it might be so yes­ter­day by the time you ar­rive. More: mu­ra­nomar­rakech.com.

LA SIRENUSE, POSITANO, ITALY If it were any­where else, there’d be noth­ing re­mark­able about this nar­row rec­tan­gle of a pool. Place it on a ter­race that clings to the cliff in Positano on the Amalfi Coast, how­ever, and you have a seag­ull’s perch from which to gaze over ver­tig­i­nous rooftops and church domes, cupped be­tween mighty cliffs and gaz­ing out onto a Mediterranean that laps the coast in pea­cock shades. Slum­ber be­neath a para­sol be­neath swathes of gar­ish bougainvil­lea, and suck in the scent of pot­ted le­mon trees. As the sun sets like a Ve­su­vius erup­tion over off­shore is­lands, or­der up a bucket of cham­pagne and gaze un­til the sea turns sil­ver and lamps are lit, send­ing golden shim­mers across the swim­ming pool. More: sirenuse.it.

GRAND HY­ATT, BEI­JING, CHINA The set­ting and scenery so in­trin­sic to great pools is lack­ing in city ho­tels, but this huge sub­ter­ranean swim­ming pool solves the prob­lem by cre­at­ing its own land­scape, com­plete with pseudo-Egyp­tian col­umns, fake palm trees, wa­ter­falls and rock caves that make you feel as if you’ve swum into an In­di­ana Jones movie set. None of it makes sense and all of it is OTT, but you can’t help but be se­duced. Kick back on a teak lounge and get a foot mas­sage, lis­ten to “birds” chirp from the plas­tic jun­gle, then float on your back and ad­mire the ceil­ing, which changes through­out the day and oc­ca­sion­ally twin­kles with stars. Pure aquatic es­capism. More: bei­jing.grand.hy­att.com.

CROWNE PLAZA ST PETER’S, ROME, ITALY If you like your beauty un­der­stated, this pool proves that not all glam­orous swim­ming holes be­long to five-star bou­tique ho­tels. It’s even more sur­pris­ing in Rome, where most ho­tel swim­ming pools are pud­dle-sized. A big slab of blue, a row of white para­sols, a gen­er­ous swathe of lawn on which white loungers are lined up: it’s enough to have the min­i­mal­ist moan­ing in plea­sure. In the evenings, ci­cadas chirp and pink-and­blue light­en­ing turns the pool­side gar­dens into a shim­mer­ing sum­mer oasis in the heart of the city. Cy­press trees whis­per and laven­der bushes cast a heady per­fume. In win­ter, when the pool is closed, there’s another in­doors, as well as a Turk­ish bath. More: crowne­plaza.com.

THET STAN­DARD DOWN­TOWN, LOS AN­GE­LES, US Noth­ing stan­dard about this wacky rooftop pool with its views over down­town L.A. The grass is red AstroTurf, the fur­ni­ture red plas­tic, the pool­side wa­terbeds gen­tly vi­brate. Pot­ted hedges are trimmed into an­i­mal shapes. Yeah baby, it’s back to 1960s Austin Pow­ers ter­ri­tory, when faux was fun and plas­tic was the lat­est, great­est thing. A great ho­tel pool is where guests want to be, and this one is a so­cial mag­net. Kick back on your lilo and watch Hol­ly­wood clas­sics screen on the wall of the ad­ja­cent build­ing. Hit the dance floor when the DJ starts spin­ning the vinyl. If skinny-dip­ping is your thing, wait un­til af­ter mid­night, when the mar­ti­nis have kicked in. More: stan­dard­ho­tels.com/losan­ge­les.

FOUR SEA­SONS AT THE BOSPHO­RUS, ISTANBUL, TURKEY In­fin­ity pools, can­tilevered pools, pools on rooftops: as ho­tels strive to outdo each other, some­times the tra­di­tional rec­tan­gle does it best. Hob­ble across the hot white flag­stones, down the shal­low steps and into the cool wa­ters at this Ot­toman-era palace for one of the world’s best views afloat. Fer­ries and cargo ships ply the Bospho­rus; be­yond them the minarets of the old city soar. Pool­side tents draped in red and white cur­tains make you feel like a pasha as you lounge. Close by is a glut­tony-in­duc­ing mezze bar. In win­ter, re­treat to a mo­saic-lined in­door pool where mu­sic plays un­der­wa­ter, as if mer­maids are singing. More: foursea­sons.com/bospho­rus.

FOUR SEA­SONS SA­FARI LODGE, SERENGETI, TAN­ZA­NIA If you care to cool off in a pool while eye­balling ele­phants — and why wouldn’t you — then plunge into the hill­side in­fin­ity wa­ters at this bush re­sort. A gen­uine water­hole di­rectly be­low gets reg­u­lar vis­its by ele­phants, ze­bras and other wildlife, al­low­ing you a sa­fari with­out the dust and bumpy roads. Every­one has their own plunge pool at the luxe re­sort, but the main in­fin­ity swim­ming pool is the spot to be from late af­ter­noon, when wine corks pop, iced tow­els are pressed against hot necks and the gar­dens start to hum with grasshop­pers. The ele­phants are so close you can hear their ears flap­ping, and sa­vanna re­cedes to a smudge of blue moun­tains. More: foursea­sons.com/serengeti.

La Sirenuse, Positano, Italy, top; W Ho­tel, Hong Kong, above left; Four Sea­sons at the Bospho­rus, Istanbul, Turkey, above right; Four Sea­sons Sa­fari Lodge, Serengeti, Tan­za­nia, be­low

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