The Check-In: April 29, 2023

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

These U.S. hotel pools make a splash

In the summer, almost every guest wants their hotel to have air conditioning and a pool. And while an A/C unit can’t offer much of a wow factor, it’s great when the pool area features something out-of-the-ordinary, like a lazy river in a surprising shape or an aquarium where swimmers are separated from sharks by just a piece of glass. Here are some of the fun hotel pools you can dive into across the United States:

Marriott Marquis in Houston, Texas

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the lazy rivers. At the Marriott Marquis in Houston, the Altitude Rooftop & Pool on the sixth floor has an infinity pool with sweeping views of downtown, a whirlpool, and the pièce de résistance: a one-of-a-kind Texas-shaped lazy river. It takes about 15 minutes to go around, and there are water cannons and waterfalls to check out along the way. The lazy river is 3.6 feet deep, holds 140,000 gallons, and would be 510 feet long if straightened out. In the summer months, the hotel offers pool parties and other events on the rooftop, with DJs playing on the weekends.

A Texas-shaped lazy river

Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga, California

This Napa Valley resort has not one, not two, not even three, but four thermal geysers on its property, all of which feed the hotel’s two restorative pools. Visitors have been flocking to this spot since the 19th century, wanting to soak up the benefits of natural thermal pools. The Main Pool — also known as just “The Pool” — is an Olympic-sized mineral pool that was built in 1913. The temperature is always between 92 and a toasty 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Swimmers can use floats and noodles provided by the hotel, and curl up by the fireplace inside the poolside cabana lounge. There is also the Adult Pool, which is a lot smaller and also cooler than The Pool. Both are open until midnight, so guests can swim under the stars.

The Pool at Indian Springs Resort

The Governor’s Pool in Nashville, Tennessee

You’ll want to be in this pool from 9 to 5. The Governor’s Pool at the White Limozeen is inspired by Dolly Parton, and there’s nothing subtle about it; the entire area is an over-the-top celebration of all things pink and kitsch. The pool — which yes, has a giant pink sculpture of Dolly in the corner — offers gorgeous views of the city skyline, and is just a few steps away from the White Limozeen bar (named after Parton’s 1989 album and song of the same title). If it gets too warm outside, guests can slip into the bar and relax on one of the velvet couches illuminated by crystal chandeliers.

A few things to note: The Governor’s Pool is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The pool is also an extension of the bar, so even though both are inside The Graduate Hotel, it is not considered a property amenity and reservations are required.

The Governor's Pool in Nashville

TWA Hotel in Queens, New York

The ’60s are alive and swinging at the TWA Hotel. Located at John F. Kennedy International Airport, this hotel is all about evoking nostalgia and reveling in retro vibes. The lobby of the hotel is inside the TWA Flight Center, which dates back to 1962, while the Connie Cocktail Lounge is on the tarmac in an old Lockeed Constellation. The rooftop infinity pool and adjacent observation deck have runway views — the planes are right there — and are both open year-round, with the water heated to 95 degrees in the winter. The TWA Hotel boasts that the pool’s water is highly filtered and purified every 30 minutes.

For a few hours in the morning, it’s open swim for hotel guests, but later, anyone who wants to take a dip (including non-hotel guests) has to make a reservation for 1 hour and 45 minutes of pool time.

The view from the TWA Hotel pool

Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

At this classic Las Vegas hotel, there are card sharks inside the casino and real sharks outside. The centerpiece of the Golden Nugget’s Tank pool complex is a 200,000-gallon shark tank aquarium, home to five different species of shark, including tiger sharks and black-tipped sharks, stingrays, and exotic fish. For a little extra thrill, there is also a three-story enclosed water slide that goes right through the tank. Those who want to learn more about the sharks can sign up for a weekly behind-the-scenes tour with the marine biologists who take care of them. If lounging is more your thing, you can hang out in the heated pool that encircles the tank, or rent one of the 17 private cabanas.

The Tank pool at the Golden Nugget

Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, California

If it’s luxury you’re after, you’ll find it at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. There are four pools on the opulent property, with the biggest draw being the main pool. It’s family-friendly, with an underwater sound system, poolside bar, and cabanas sporting dedicated servers, fresh fruit, snacks, gelato, sparkling water, and televisions. Kids will adore the separate pool with a white sand play area, bringing the beach to the hotel. One pool is just for adults, and if you book one of the signature poolside rooms, you can access the area via hidden terraces. All of the pools are spacious, sparkling, and the perfect 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

The main pool at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The mineral hot springs pool at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is one of the hottest in Colorado, and the world’s largest — it’s as long as two city blocks. People have been drawn to the thermal spring water here since 1888, with the Yampah Spring producing water at 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Before it makes its way to the resort’s two pools, it’s cooled down to 104 degrees for the Therapy Pool (similar to a hot tub) and between 90 and 93 degrees (bathtub temperature) for the huge main pool. That’s not all — at the Sopris Splash Zone, there’s a splash pad, water play area, and the Shoshone Chutes, an open-air tube ride reminiscent of riding down the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. Day passes are available for people who want to check out the pools but aren’t staying at the resort.

The Shoshone Chutes

Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui in Wailea, Hawaii

The hardest decision you’ll have to make at the Wailea Beach Resort is which pool to dip into first. There are three distinct pools: the NALU Adventure Pool with four water slides (including the longest one in Maui, at 325 feet); the adults-only Maluhia Pool, which has floating cabanas and unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean; and the brand-new Olakino oasis, which offers guests a peaceful wellness experience.

The wellness program, which takes place around an infinity-edge saline pool, is based on four pillars: La’i (tranquil, harmony), Ala (awaken), Konea (restored), and A’o (to acquire knowledge). Every four days, the schedule changes, and offerings might include floating yoga, aquatic sound baths, acupuncture, and living tea ceremonies. Through it all, guests receive personalized service and are treated to wellness shots and Hawaiian shave ice. This is an experience that has to be booked in advance; limited spaces are available.

The view from the Olakino pool

Travel news round-up

There are lots of travel-related gadgets and gizmos that promise to make life easier, but with suitcase space at a premium, you don’t want to throw something into your bag that isn’t absolutely necessary. Condé Nast Traveler‘s Megan DuBois recently tested several of these tools, and put together a guide to items that really are helpful to travelers. The best part? All are under $50. A phone charging passport holder makes perfect sense to pack, as does this universal adapter. One noteworthy suggestion is the Yogasleep Rohm portable white noise sound machine, which can block out loud street noises you might hear during trips to a big city. It’s just 3.5 inches in diameter, so even if you’re only bringing a carry-on, it’ll fit.

The Southwest holiday debacle ended up costing the airline even into the new year, the company announced Thursday. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the airline canceled more than 16,000 flights, leaving passengers stranded in airports across the country.  Altogether, the airline lost $159 million from January through March. Southwest President and CEO Bob Jordan said that looking ahead, he expects to see “solid profits” for the rest of 2023 because demand for travel is high and “we also continue to expect our network to be roughly restored to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.”

A Southwest plane in flight

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

The Chicago Blues Festival is a celebration of the genre’s past, present, and future, taking place this year from June 8-11 in Millennium Park. Blues culture started in Chicago, so it’s fitting that this is the world’s largest free blues festival. Headliners for 2023 are Los Lobos, Blind Boys of Alabama with Bobby Rush, and Mud Morganfield. Looking to elevate its culinary options, the festival is also introducing Wally’s BBQ Pit, with barbecue staples and specialty drinks catered by Millennium Hall. Those who can’t make it can catch a livestream of performances on YouTube.

The Chicago Blues Festival crowd

April 29, 2023 April 29, 2023 Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel. These U.S. hotel pools make a splash In the summer, almost every guest wants their hotel to have air conditioning and a pool. And while an A/C unit can’t offer much of a wow factor, it’s great when…

April 29, 2023 April 29, 2023 Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel. These U.S. hotel pools make a splash In the summer, almost every guest wants their hotel to have air conditioning and a pool. And while an A/C unit can’t offer much of a wow factor, it’s great when…