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Poolside Paradise


All resort swimming pools are not created equal, and two destinations on opposite U.S. coasts offer newly refurbished sprawling pool areas that feature sublime lounging opportunities, posh private cabanas, swanky bar areas, and a generous dose of luxury.

Westin Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

For travelers seeking an exclusive beachfront getaway with a luxurious pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina’s newly renovated Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa offers a friendly helping of Southern hospitality, evoking a sense of casual East Coast elegance. Fresh from a $30 million upgrade, the 416-room beachfront resort, with nearly 10,000 square feet of outdoor event space, has been transformed with plenty of upscale touches.

Photo courtesy of the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort.

With year-round temperature traditionally in the 70s, the resort’s 75,000-square-foot courtyard features three landscaped pools and a whirlpool, all of which are family-friendly as well as upscale. The main resort pool is open to everyone and also has a designated lap lane for those looking to practice their form and endurance, while the smaller, more intimate “Round” pool is a haven for families and young swimmers. Late riser? That’s okay – more than 450 cushioned lounge chairs ensure that everyone gets a prime poolside location.

And who says you can’t swim in the rain? The outdoor heated, covered pool is ideal for rainy days, and for those looking to stay in the shade. When the sun in shining, guests can also stroll through the lush gardens situated between all three pools – and then relax in one of the resort’s outdoor heated whirlpools. Poolside food and beverage service is available, as the swimming area is located next to the resort’s Turtles Beach Bar and Grill.

Of course, Hilton Head Island also has more than 12 miles of pristine public beaches just over the sand dunes bordering the resort. Guests can saunter along on the flat sandbanks, wade in the surf, collect seashells, or even go for a bike ride on the hard-packed sand by the waves.

Westin Hilton Head Island has a robust selection of rooms and suites — more than 400 all of which have private balconies with seating, upgraded wireless Internet and the classic Westin “Heavenly” bed, as well as the “Heavenly” bath. Some specially appointed suites are designed for entertaining, such as the “VIP suite,” which features a king bed with an adjoining living room and a large, connecting balcony. This room also features a powder room and wet bar.

Photo courtesy of the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort.

Beyond the beach and pool, the resort offers six resort restaurants and Westin’s Heavenly spa, along with the 54 holes of championship golf and 14 tennis courts on site. And no worries, shop-a-holics, more than 150 stores and retail shops are just minutes away.

In keeping with the outdoor theme, the Westin recently introduced a luxury camping (aka “Glamping”) package during select times throughout the year. This package is suited for special occasions, such as vow renewals, anniversaries, honeymoons, or just a romantic getaway. The glamping experience includes an evening rental of the resort’s oversized luxe cabanas, complete with many comforts of home (such as TVs, mini-fridges, and movies), a personal fire pit for making smores, a high-powered telescope accompanied by a star-gazing map, and a flashlight for evening beach strolls.

Harrah’s Resort Southern California

A visit to Southern California is never complete without some quality time lounging VIP-style by a picture-perfect swimming pool. For those traveling to the West Coast and seeking a desert escape with a stunning, sun-drenched pool area, Harrah’s Resort Southern California is an ideal place to spend an afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Harrah’s Resort Southern California.

Located about 50 minutes from downtown San Diego and 30 minutes from Southern California’s craft beer and wine country, the resort features a sprawling deck, palm trees, waterfalls, and three stylish swimming pools, including a 400-foot “lazy river” that takes you through plenty of twists and turns. The pool, called “Dive,” boasts the only swim-up bar in Southern California, offering a full selection of homemade tropical cocktails. Dive is also home to the region’s popular “Dive Day Club,” which hosts special events during the year.

Several cozy and intimate Jacuzzi areas are tucked away around the area, and for guests seeking an even more exclusive experience, 21 generously sized poolside cabanas can be rented daily. They come complete with lounge chairs, flat-screen TVs, mini-refrigerators, couches, and other special amenities.

As part of its $160 million renovation, the resort recently debuted a brand new, luxuriously appointed 403-room, 21-story hotel, Tower North. The hotel now has a total of 1,065 rooms and nearly 150 suites. Overall, the resort features 891 non-smoking guest rooms and suites, and more than 10,703 square feet of non-smoking gaming space.

Photo courtesy of Harrah’s Resort Southern California.

Other recent renovations included the opening of The Events Center, a 53,221-square-foot, state-of-the-art convention and entertainment venue, and Corked, a wine and craft beer bar that offers live music.

The resort also features The Spa, along with a 59,000-square-foot casino with various dining options, including an Oyster Bar. In addition, the property’s signature fine-dining restaurant, Fiore, is a seven-time winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and offers guests a wide variety of selections from a seasonal menu, along with an expansive wine list featuring more than 120 wines.

To learn more about the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, click here. To learn more about Harrah’s Resort Southern California, click here.