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‘Pooling’ Their Resources

Resorts Look To Drive Additional Business With Enhanced Outdoor Options

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Steve Pike
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There was a time – not long ago – that a hotel pool was a luxury. Most were little more than rectangular bathtubs with a few chairs, perhaps a diving board, and a sign that said, “No Lifeguard on Duty."

But as the destination hotel/resort industry has grown larger, so have pool deck, pool area and pool amenities. Some properties, such as the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, have turned their pool areas into full blown water parks. Other Florida resorts, such as the Boca Raton Resort & Club and Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, each have FlowRider surf simulators that provide guests the opportunities to Hang Ten without all the inherent danger.

In addition to the FlowRider, on the main beach-level surrounding its expansive pool area, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort features 24 cabanas, each with flat-screen TVs, mini-refrigerators, locking safes and ceiling fans.

"Having a unique pool and pool deck is imperative to help drive and create hotel business,” said Simon Sorpresi, complex managing director at SLS South Beach and Shore Club South Beach. “It can serve as a private pool for hotel guests during the day and transform into a flexible event space by night, or vice versa. Whether it's utilized for corporate meeting groups, a ticketed party or event, or a wedding venue, the options are endless.”

Many hotel guests, Sorpresi said, choose a resort based on its pool amenities. Depending on the hotel's key demographic, it's important to make a pool versatile for guests of all types and ages.
Shore Club South Beach, for example, and its two elevated infinity edge pools are some of South Beach's more illustrious pool scenes, but they also cater to families with expansive space, massive daybeds and beachfront proximity.

“Our business guests appreciate Shore Club's quiet alcoves, garden-like shaded areas,” Sorpresi said. “At SLS South Beach, we have a private hotel pool for guests. Hosting a well-known artist/performer or offering an elevated pool menu by a celebrated chef is what sets hotel pools apart from the others."

In Orlando, the pool deck at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is almost legendary. Located along 1,000 feet of white sandy beach of private Lake Windsong, the free-flowing lagoon pool features 12 waterfalls, heated and non-heated pools, two whirlpools, Water Slide Tower Pavilion, children’s Rock Climbing Stations, interactive Water Jet Splash Zone, rope bridge, walking paths and expansive, wrap-around sun decks.

Meanwhile, the W Miami’s WET Deck has three pools consisting of a reflection pool, hot tub and a lap pool, and make up the longest pool complex in the United States. The three combined measure 300 feet in length and hold 300,000 gallons of water. The square hot tub is one of the largest in the world and can hold up to 80 guests. “We have endless options for our guests,’’ said Gregory Polino, general manager of W Miami.

While most guests don’t make decisions to stay at a hotel based on the food and beverage operations, Polino said, the “overall experience” of their stay is what captures them.

“No doubt, F&B sits at the center of that at W Miami,” Polino said. “If you’re developing a restaurant in a pool deck and ‘bar-centric’ isn’t the terminology you’re using, you’re already behind. That’s where you’re making the most money. At a large majority of our hotels, the food cost is lower than the beverage cost. The right talent and menu selection makes everything come together."

InterContinental in Downtown Miami takes advantage of the beautiful bay views to activate the pool deck and bring special programming to guests and locals. Aside from outdoor dining by the pool and Happy Hour, the hotel has been featuring Salsa Nights, whereby the pool deck is transformed into Old Havana and guests Salsa dance Miami style while sipping on mojitos and rolling Cuban Cigars.

“We think of the InterContinental Miami as a portal to the New Miami – that means showcasing the best our urban core has to offer when it comes to food and entertainment, and arts and culture,” said hotel General Manager Robert Hill. “Whether it’s Salsa Nights on our rooftop pool, a wine and tapas centered happy hour or a family-friendly barbecue series, we have programming fit for everyone.”

Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort has several pool areas, with each designed for the audience it serves. For instance, the lazy river has chaises, daybeds, and hanging pod chairs surrounding it.

The splash zone area has little tee-pees for kids and chaises for the parents/older set. The adult pool has chaise lounges and a few daybed style chaises. At the Oasis pool and Explorer pool, different complimentary amenities are regularly served, including a taste of guacamole with a chip, a mini strawberry smoothie, frozen grapes, or sunglasses cleaning.

"A guest's pool experience can be enhanced through personalized service and interactions with employees, each of which we strive to offer to our guests,” said Chad Bengston, director of recreation at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. “We seek to remember our guests by name, and remember their preferences. Four Seasons Orlando also offers a variety of specialty cocktails, ‘mocktails' and poolside menu options that fit all dietary preferences.”

Extravagant pool decks and amenities, of course, aren’t limited to Sunbelt states such as Florida and Texas. The outdoor pool at Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado, for example, is an all-season heated pool (generally kept between 90 and 93 degrees) that features a terrace, as well as a cabana. The pool’s slope-side location provides unobstructed views of the adjacent ski lifts and Rocky Mountain scenery.

“The year-round accessibility entices our guests to come stay with us and experience all the fun and adventure that the Rocky Mountains have to offer not only during ski season, but during the summer months as well,” said John Quigley, the resort’s director of marketing and sales. “In fact, because we’ve found the pool area is so important to our guests’ satisfaction, we recently added two spa pools to give visitors more ways to relax after a long day of skiing, hiking or even just enjoying a day at the spa.”

Arapaho Springs, Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center’s pool and lazy river complex, features multiple indoor and outdoor pools complete with three water slides and other interactive water features – a total of 22,000-square-feet of aquatic experiences – as well as sunbathing decks and tasty food and beverage options.

“The pool area at Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center is a huge draw for travelers because it allows for both indoor and outdoor aquatic experiences year-round,” said Rick Medwedeff, general manager of Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Denver. “Being in Colorado, there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to outdoor heated pools, especially paired with the added bonus of having three water slides and a lazy river for a higher entertainment value. Additionally, the pool area serves as versatile space for Gaylord Rockies to offer other unique activities such as drive-in movies, SummerFest pool parties and pool-side meetings that elevate our guests’ experiences.”
Steve Pike
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than ...
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