September 19, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
After reading CNN’s own list of great hotel pools, we decided to put our heads together and write up our thoughts on the matter. Who has the 10 best hotel pools in the world? To truly know, you’ll have to visit yourself and see. But these are certainly our favorites.
With the simple application of basic mathematics, the Banyan Tree has figured out how to improve upon the tried and true concept of the private pool: By giving its two-bedroom suites two private pools – and what a sight they are. That’s the kind of thinking I can get behind.
9. Le Palais de la Mediterranee, France
Le Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice rolls in at number 9 with its incredible 3rd floor indoor/outdoor pool. Just feet from a sun terrace with a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean, this is a pool that was tailor-made for lounging. If to you a vacation means leaning back, lowering your sunglasses over your eyes and relaxing the afternoon away, then this is the hotel for you.
8. The Berkeley, London
While some other pools may be more spectacular, as you’ll see in a moment, none offer the same level of comfort year-round as The Berkeley rooftop pool in London. The heated pool features a wonderful open-air swimming experience in the summer, but unlike most hotels, when it gets a bit colder, you don’t have to take the party inside. The Berkeley instead rolls out its retractable roof, and you can now enjoy the comfort of a perfectly climate-controlled rooftop pool in winter.
7. Villa d’Este, Italy
The pool at Villa d’Este on Lake Como would make Archimedes blush. Floating above the very lake that the Villa rests against, the pool features a built-in Jacuzzi and fantastic view of the surrounding mountains. It’s like swimming in the lake just inches below your feet, but it’s always the perfect temperature.
6. Blue Palace Resort and Spa, Crete
The Blue Palace Resort and Spa is truly deserving of its sixth place finish, and really if we were fair it’d be on this list twice. The aptly-named Blue Palace is renowned for the private pools that come standard with most of their rooms and suites. With pools up to 40 sq. meters in size for just you and your companion(s), there couldn’t be a more private or luxurious swimming experience. And if that weren’t enough, the Blue Palace is famous for its unique Grecian Thalassotherapy, which combines the relaxing powers of a world-class massage with water-cleansing rituals guaranteed to revitalize your body.
5. The Library Koh Samui, Thailand
In this case, the picture speaks for itself. The Library Koh Samui is built around the innovative concept that a vacation is about relaxation and people should be allowed to free their minds from stress by engaging in the simple pleasures of cracking open a book and enjoying the company of their family or friends. They’ve also turned their pool red - which is both surreal and strangely captivating, like green ketchup or a fish riding a bicycle.
4. Rawi Warin Resort and Spa, Thailand
The 1000 sq. meter infinity edge pool at Rawi Warin looks as if the water is fading into the ocean, with only little beach umbrellas poking above the water line to let you know that it doesn’t go on forever. The illusion is compelling and gorgeous. As if that weren’t enough, Rawi Warin also has Asia’s first ocean swimming pool, extending 100 meters into the water and allowing you to swim with the fishes in an entirely literal way.
3. Palazzo Sasso, Italy
The Palazzo Sasso has one of the more innovative designs for a hotel pool we’ve ever seen. Situated on the edge of a cliff 1000 feet above sea level, the pool at Palazzo Sasso offers underwater windows with a view of the sea below, thus discovering the heretofore unknown condition of subaqueous vertigo. But seriously, it is the single most impressive thing I’ve seen at the bottom of a pool.
Atlantis the Palm Dubai may just be the best thing ever. If you got all the things together in one place, and made me pick, I’d say, “I want that thing. It looks like the best thing.” So what is this thing I’m so excited about? Well, it just might be a standard luxurious hotel pool, only it’s attached to a full water park! I don’t bandy about with exclamation points lightly, but this seems to be worth one. If you, like me, have ever thought, “wow, this vacation is really relaxing, but what I’d really like is to go launching out of a ziggurat at high speeds into a pool of water,” then this is the destination for you. And even more than that, much of the hotel is themed around this aquatic experience. There are underwater mazes, a four-and-a-half hectare dolphin habitat, and something they just call Aquaventure.
Occasionally, a feat of engineering comes along that’s so remarkable, you have to doff your hat to the architects of its design. The Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool in Singapore is more like what would result if Leonardo da Vinci were in the hotel business. Resting 200 meters above the ground in the Sands SkyPark, the Infinity Pool is as breathtaking as it is surreal – the edge of the pool seems to fade into the horizon itself. Swimmers are greeted with a panoramic vista unequaled anywhere. Without a doubt, the Infinity is the coolest hotel pool we’ve ever seen and not just for the breeze.
So throw on your swim trunks and book a room at any of these amazing hotels (maybe in the other order), and soon you'll be enjoying the sun by some of the most amazing pools in the world.
September 16, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
Hello, Sir or Madam. Welcome to my little corner of the internet. You’ve probably come because you Googled something like “luxury hotels + minotaur” or “best hotel in Crete + part 2 of a series of real-life destinations that will spark the imagination and transport you to another world.” You didn’t? Well, in any case, do have a seat; and, if you’ll let me, I’d love to tell you a bit about another destination as well known for its fantasy as its reality. Check out Part 1 here.
Part 2 - Crete
What do you call someone from Crete? A Cretin? Cretacious? Creatine? Well, four thousand years ago, it was the Minoans who called it home. Besides having the most powerful mercantile fleet in the Mediterranean, the Minoans are most well-known for their namesake, King Minos. As the stories tell it, Minos was beholden to the legendary Minotaur who lived in a vast labyrinth and demanded a sacrifice of 14 young men and women every nine years. For decades, the king complied, until the hero Theseus promised to slay the Minotaur. As much a ladies’ man as beast-slayer, Theseus killed the minotaur and survived only with help from his lover, Ariadne, who provided him with a ball of string he used to track his path through the maze. Theseus returned home in triumph, but unfortunately for his father, raised the black sails that indicate he had died on the voyage, and his father threw himself from a cliff in anguish before Theseus reached the port. Little did we know the whole story was just an allegory for calling your family.
Not surprisingly, modern-day Crete is better known for its beaches than its endless mazes. Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, the coastal waters are as blue as the summer sky. And while your journey to Crete is unlikely to involve slaying a legendary beast, you might vanquish a few canapés as you enjoy the pristine waters and unequaled service at Elounda, one of the world’s most exclusive beach resorts. While you’re there, make a trip to Knossos to check out the ruins of the 1000-room palace that was the site of the myth of the Minotaur. Just remember to raise your white sail on the return home.