The lazy river at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort // © 2016 Grand Wailea
Feature image (above): The Coliseum Pool at Pelican Hill is a perfect circle. // © 2016 The Resort at Pelican Hill
When traveling with children, there are a few hotel requisites that families look for, from on-site, kid-friendly eateries (to limit the need to go too far for a meal) to easy access to local sights. For many clans, a fantastic pool is a must, too — there may be no better vacation moment than when the kids are frolicking in the water while Mom and Dad enjoy the sun and a beverage on the sidelines.
Following are six family pools in the U.S. (not affiliated with major theme parks) that agents and avid travelers adore.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Ariz.
There are six pools at this luxury property, but none will wow the kids like Sonoran Splash Pool, a 6,000-square-foot oasis that boasts two waterslides and is designed specifically for children taller than 42 inches. Children shorter than that height are invited to play in the nearby zero-entry pool area. A sandbox full of Tonka trucks and typical beach toys is another entertainment option at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and seasonal add-ons include music and techno lights around the waterslides, plus “dive-in” movies.
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Kihei, Hawaii
There are waterslides at this Maui property, too, but an overwater rope swing, a swim-up bar and the world’s first water elevator are even bigger draws. Most of the action at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, though, goes down at Wailea Canyon Activity Pool, a veritable playground that consists of nine individual pools on six different levels connected by a lazy river. Waterfalls, an infant pool with a sandy bottom, hot tubs and caves are among other offerings. Don’t miss Fishpipe, a rotating barrel ride that emulated a waterslide, only inside a large, clear, spinning bubble.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, San Antonio
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa’s outdoor River Bluff Water Experience is multifaceted and impressive. Guests might float along a stone-lined, 1,100-foot-long lazy river or squirt their siblings at the kids’ pool, where multiple colorful and interactive water features stand. Older children will love the Water Tower, a platform that provides beautiful views of the resort’s surroundings and access to two 275-foot tube slides. The Pedernales River ride, which simulates whitewater rafting, is another hit. If the gang gets too waterlogged, take a break at Rivertop Poolside Grill, where regional San Antonio cuisine shines.
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach, Calif.
Incredible sunset views are one reason to visit the Newport Beach, Calif. The Resort at Pelican Hill, and its Coliseum Pool is another. A perfect circle measuring 136 feet in diameter, the pool is striking and unique. In fact, its shape required workers to lay its more than 1 million glass tiles by hand. Kids love to cross its width on rafts or in a race. Meanwhile, parents can take in the hotel’s golf course, the Pacific Ocean and the outline of Catalina Island — they’re all visible from the comfort of the water. If younger ones head to the on-site Camp Pelican, they can partake in supervised swimming at the kids’ club pool.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, Calif.
When families ponder a trip to greater Palm Springs, they’ll inevitably consider staying at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, which is known far and wide for its pool complex — what better place to beat the desert heat? Bask in the sun while cruising the 425-foot lazy river, relax on the sandy “beach” or keep cool in Splashtopia, a recently redesigned splash area. The central attraction is a pair of waterslides that curl down a faux rock mountain that also boasts a waterfall.
The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center, The Woodlands, Texas
Forest Oasis Waterscape at the Woodlands Resort & Conference Center has plenty to do in the water — a pair of towering waterslides, splash pads and underwater music included — but there are also treasure hunts, fire pits for build-your-own s’mores experiences and extra weekend entertainment, from snow-cone stations to organized games. Cool Water Cafe, a poolside eatery, offers smoothies, cocktails and casual eats.