One of the best amenities a hotel can have is an amazing pool, whether it’s a sky-high pool with a fantastic view or a sleek-looking infinity-edged option that’s ideal for relaxing. But some properties go above and beyond with outrageous pools that are destinations unto themselves. In time for pool season, our Forbes Travel Guide editors scoured the globe to come up with a list of 12 of the best places to take a dip. From one of the world’s largest wave pools in Macau to a luxurious swimming spot that puts you amid the rainforest in Bali, you’ll want to add these hotels to your itinerary as the weather starts to heat up.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Warning to those with vertigo: The Singapore hotel’s nearly 500-foot-long outdoor infinity-edged pool will leave you dizzy. One of the world’s largest infinity pools, the 57th-floor Sands SkyPark sits on top of Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Marina Bay Sands’ futuristic three towers. The cruise-ship-inspired SkyPark is so big that you could fit three football fields in its space. Muster up your courage to swim to the edge and take in gorgeous city and bay views.
Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Las Vegas
You’ll find debaucherous pools at these Las Vegas sister hotels. Among Four-Star Encore and Wynn’s six pools, the most scandalous are the two European (code for topless) options. Swimwear is required at Encore Beach Club, but this hedonistic haven is the real party spot. During the day, scantily clad masses cool off in the three pools, relax on white lily-pad-like loungers, play blackjack or craps in the gaming pavilion, or dance throughout the 60,000-square-foot deck while hot DJs such as David Guetta (a headliner for the season’s opening weekend on April 5) spin. Watch all of the action from one of the exclusive bungalows, a celebrity favorite that comes with its own security, waitstaff, bathroom, TV and, some, a private infinity pool.
The Joule, Dallas
You can’t miss the swimming spot at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Joule—the cantilevered pool hangs eight feet beyond the edge of the Dallas hotel’s façade. On the far end, a glass wall gives you the illusion of swimming off the ledge and onto the street 10 stories below. If the daring design, courtesy of style star and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Adam Tihany, is too much for you, warm up to the 39-foot-long heated pool by kicking back in the surrounding sunbeds or bungalows.
Catch some waves at the rooftop pool at the Galaxy Macau complex, open to guests of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Banyan Tree Macau and Four-Stars Galaxy Hotel and Hotel Okura Macau. It’s the world’s largest wave pool, measuring more than 43,000 square feet and pumping out waves as high as five feet. To give you more perspective on the size of the massive Skytop Wave Pool: The surrounding 21,500-square-foot beach is filled with 350 tons of white sand. The Macau pool just keeps getting better, too: Lush tropical gardens are in the works for 2015.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong’s pool. And you practically are—perched on the 118th floor of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hong Kong hotel, the indoor oasis is the highest pool in the world. The sky-high location affords fantastic views of Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbour from floor-to-ceiling windows, though your eyes will be drawn to the ceiling. Above the 66-foot-long lap pool, 144 LED screens show everything from a sunny beach scene with palm trees to life under the sea.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii
Dive into Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s King’s Pond and you’ll be surrounded by more than 3,500 fish. Made of lava rock, the 1.8-million-gallon free-form pool is like an outdoor aquarium—keep your eyes peeled for longtime resident Kainalu, an exotic spotted eagle ray. For a closer look at the marine life, use the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s snorkeling equipment and waterproof fish ID cards. Or check out the fish circus; the Hawaii hotel’s marine scientists train the sea creatures to do everything from swim through hoops to play underwater soccer.
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Coast
The grounds of Italian-inspired The Resort at Pelican Hill are beautiful, but nothing tops the Coliseum Pool. Boasting a 136-foot diameter and 380,000 gallons of water, it’s one of the world’s largest circular pools. Vaulted arches, terraced decks, corniced columns and palm trees circle the saltwater pool, whose bottom is covered with 1.1 million hand-cut glass mosaic tiles. After a dip in the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s pool, bask in the Orange County sunshine with a scoop of housemade gelato on a nearby chaise lounge.
The Biltmore, Miami
At Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Biltmore, bigger is better. One of the largest pools in the U.S., the 23,000-square-foot structure holds 750,000 gallons of water. The 1926 pool also has a rich history: Between 1920 and 1942, crowds huddled there to watch synchronized swimmers, alligator wrestlers, high divers and more. Before he was famous, Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller was a swimming instructor at the Miami pool. Tip: Visit on Thursdays for Cigars Under the Stars. Post-swim, smoke a hand-rolled cigar poolside with live music and drinks.
Hanging Gardens Ubud, Bali
This Bali hotel’s split-level stunner puts you in the midst of the rainforest. The infinity pool’s layered curves are designed to mimic the terraced rice paddies native to the Ubud landscape. Sit on the stone bench on the lower level to feel the spray of the waterfall from the tier above. At night, reserve the pool for a romantic dinner on a floating wooden deck decorated with drapes and illuminated by frangipani candles with only the sounds of the jungle as your soundtrack.
The Library, Koh Samui
You’ll do a double take upon seeing the cherry-red water in the sexy pool at the otherwise minimalist Koh Samui hotel. But it’s just an illusion—orange, yellow and dark red mosaic tiles make the water appear crimson. Surrounded by red daybeds and oversized black beanbag chairs, the eye-catching 66-by-39-foot pool stands out from Chaweng Beach’s azure waves that are just beyond the wooden deck.
The Raleigh, Miami
This pool debuted when the Miami hotel opened in 1940, but its modernist and Art Deco design is timeless. The one-of-a-kind scalloped-edged pool is so chic, it’s served as a venue for runway shows for Chanel, Escada and Donna Karan. While we love the design, it has other perks, too: The 160-by-90-foot pool is more than seven feet deep (most hotel pools are pretty shallow), and you can order a poolside meal from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz’s namesake restaurant.
The St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet
To soak in the most glamorous pool, you’ll have to travel to Tibet. The St. Regis Lhasa Resort dazzles with liquid-gold waters. The secret isn’t dye; the 2,422-square-foot pool is lined with 24-karat gold leaves that are set in place with crystals. Plunge into the heated saltwater pool for an indulgent soak and you’ll also get a glimpse of the Himalaya Palace and the luxury hotel’s own lake.
Photos Courtesy of Timothy Hursley, Barbara Kraft, Eric Laignel, Galaxy Macau, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, Four Seasons, The Irvine Company Resort Properties, The Biltmore, Hanging Gardens Ubud, The Library, Nikolas Koenig and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide