Las Vegas has been called the new Ibiza, though in typical Vegas fashion, hotel casinos have taken the daytime electronic dance music scene and amplified it—with 32,000-watt subwoofers and custom lasers, resident DJs, and cabanas with private infinity pools and beds. Add in beaches, swim-up gambling, and models as waiters, and it’s safe to say that Vegas pools have never been cooler.
With nearly 40 million visitors hitting the Strip in 2012, no wonder hotels are devoting pool real estate to pay-to-play mega venues. This also means that the Vegas pendulum has swung back to a decidedly grown-up scene. Still, we’ve identified swimming pools where kids are welcome, as well as some oases that are free or blissfully serene. Here’s our roundup:
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The largest of Cosmopolitan’s pool areas, the multilevel Boulevard Pool has an unobstructed view of the Strip below. Big shareable daybeds give cover from the sun, and you can hang out in the wading pool, play ping-pong and foosball, or belly up to one of three bars. The pool springs to life at twilight, when either Dive In movies play on the 65-foot screen or the Set Your Life to Music concert series brings live performances. At Bubbles and Brunch, roving waiters serve items like blue claw crab Benedict with Creole hollandaise, and guests sip champagne while DJs spin until 6 p.m.
Liquid at Aria
Aria Resort & Casino
The modern Tahitian vibe at Liquid is less frantic than higher-volume dayclubs, and its 16,000 square feet qualifies as intimate, so you can enjoy a good mix of local DJs and the industry’s A-listers without battling a throng of crazed dancers. Eight cabanas are each outfitted with flat-screen TVs, a private pool, two daybeds, and a fridge. Handcrafted wicker daybeds and lounges surround the pool. Order from Light Group executive chef Brian Massie’s menu poolside or at Liquid’s own restaurant.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Break out your best swimsuit for this Sunday institution: three acres of beautiful people downing bottle service and signature cocktails around the 50 Tahitian-style cabanas and along the man-made sandy beaches and lazy river. The raucous party—which originated the dayclub concept in Vegas in 2003—shows no signs of slowing down. In 2012, Hard Rock introduced Summer Camp Fridays, another reason to start the weekend early. If Paradise Beach (which hosts Rehab) is too intense, hotel guests can migrate to Nirvana Beach. Breathe Pool is even more private—right above Nirvana with views of the Strip.
If a gyrating crowd of thousands isn’t your thing, you’ll likely appreciate the scene at the garden pool area that the Bellagio has transformed into its Cypress Premier Lounges. Sedate and private, this is all paid seating and includes a personal host, infused water, smoothie shots, Evian misters, and chilled towels. Order food, drinks, and poolside massages from a menu. For extra privacy, reserve a cabana at one of the four other pools—it comes with Wi-Fi, HDTV, a fully stocked refrigerator, and pool rafts.
Mandarin Oriental Pools
Few know that they can gain entry to one of the Strip’s most rarefied spaces with the rental of a cabana—for a relatively low price, compared with others around town. On the eighth floor, the sleek pool deck has fabulous views over CityCenter with two pools, two Jacuzzis, and one intimate plunge pool. The vibe is serene, if not downright hushed, and attendants circulate to clean sunglasses and distribute mini-smoothies and frozen fruit. Inside the cabanas: a bottle of Moët Ice champagne, fresh fruit, sun care products, Oshibori towels, a 42” flat-panel TV, PlayStation 3, and pitchers of iced tea and lemonade.
Palms Casino Resort Pool
The crowd at the Palms is young, thirsty, ready to party—and happy to get sticky during regular “champagne showers.” The party goes on seven days a week around two big pools, 27 cabanas, three large bars, and on seven lily pads in the water. Weekends are even wilder: the “Ditch Friday” party (pictured) encourages guests to do just that, with live Friday performances by Busta Rhymes, Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and a live blackjack pit, open on the deck on weekends. Heraea serves poolside food like piquillo pepper poppers and retro drinks like the Cîroc Coconut frozen cocktail.
Otherwise known as the ultra-pool at MGM Grand, Wet Republic packs thousands of revelers into two saltwater pools, plus lounges, daybeds, cabanas, and bungalows. The pool has been overhauled as part of the hotel-wide “Grand Renovation.” An expanded DJ booth sits under massive new LED displays with special effects, and the marble bar now stretches for 95 feet. Order pitchers of summer drinks like mojitos, all served in the crisp blue and white venue by models—Wet Republic doesn’t hire; it holds casting calls.
Encore Beach Club
Encore Las Vegas
White wicker and wood, and brilliant red drapery punctuate this lush, three-tiered pool complex. Patrons lounge on oversize lily pads and dance under shower poles—and those who splurge enjoy private bungalows overlooking the Strip, with private dipping pools, showers, and AC. Daybeds have private safes for stashing your things, and the 26 cabanas are outfitted with refrigerators and flat-screen televisions.
Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis
Classical landscaping, Roman statues, and a flowing 18-foot waterfall make this oasis fittingly palatial. Its 44 cabanas are spread around eight distinctly different pools (a separate private pool serves the highest-profile guests). The only pool complex on the Strip with swim-up blackjack, it’s also one of the few that welcomes families. There’s a separate adult-only Venus Pool Club. Just wander the pools until you find one that fits.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Marquee is at the forefront of the electronic dance music and daytime lounge scene. Grammy-nominated DJ Kaskade will be in residence during summer 2013, supported by massive 32,000-watt subwoofers and lasers. As a result, the two-pool deck, with multiple bars and a gaming area, is an adult party zone. Book a cabana and your guests can escape the heat in private infinity pools.