Sometimes a short flight is all you have time for. And it would be a shame to not have a swim-up bar awaiting you at your destination, no matter how close by. Fortunately many American hotels offer drinks at the end of an easy swim, from Maui to Manhattan, and Sin City to South Carolina, which means you don’t have to splurge on an exotic vacation for the opportunity to order a cocktail without leaving the pool.
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Snug on Waila Beach and among plumeria trees, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea boasts three salt-water pools—one has a swim-up bar. Hop into the water at Serenity Pool (adults-only) on the resort’s southernmost edge and there are a few swim-up bars just a short lap away. With underwater music, bubble loungers (chaises built into the water), an infinity-edge, and lush tropical plants surrounding it, the view from the pool is chill.
Cocktail to try: The farm-to-glass Kula Lavender Mist, with vanilla-infused Maui Ocean Vodka and lavender syrup.
Encore Beach Club, Las Vegas, Nevada
At the 60,000-square-foot Encore Beach Club’s European pool, an elevated bar is tastefully built into the European-pool area, with columns, white curtains, and open walls, plus a ledge to swim up to. Cabanas (with flat-screen televisions and mini bars) and private bungalows (each with its own infinity-edge pool) encircling the pool are perfect places to chill after a swim and cocktail. (Be forewarned, however: the prices are steep, best suited for high rollers.) With topless sunbathing and DJs, it’s definitely a pool for adults.
Cocktail to try: Adult Lemonades are sold by the pitcher and in five fun flavors.
Room Mate Grace Hotel, New York City
Few people know about this 139-room boutique hotel—from a Spanish hotel chain—in Midtown but even fewer know about its toniest quality: the swim-up bar. Because it’s indoors the weather is never your enemy. Just like the hotel’s rooms (all have funky wallpaper and neutral-toned linens and furnishings) and common spaces, there is a minimalist aesthetic at the pool. Backlit with pink and purple, New York City’s only swim-up bar is as sleek and chic and, just like the city, never sleeps.
Cocktail to try: The Grace Cocktail, with St. Germain, lemon juice, sparkling wine, and Absolut pear vodka, is the namesake libation.
The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Tucson, Arizona
Not only does the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa have a swim-up bar—there is a swim-up grill too. Sabino’s Pool Bar & Grill, open during daytime hours only, serves poolside-friendly fare (think burgers, ice cream, smoothies, slushies, a mahi-mahi sandwich, and salmon salad). Yet there are also booze-infused fruity drinks. It’s one of five restaurants at the resort and perfect for water lovers. Simply swim up to the cobalt-blue tiled bar and grab a seat on an underwater stool.
Cocktail to try: Lounge Chair Lizard (Malibu Rum, coconut, pineapple, and banana liqueur) is perfect for sipping in your, well, lounge chair.
Tropicana Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
One of the Strip’s "Old Guard" hotels, Tropicana Las Vegas recently underwent a major makeover. Now, at the four-acre Tropicana Pool, you can swim up for a cocktail—and a hand of blackjack too (Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 pm). Waterfalls and connected lagoons, along with poolside cabanas, evoke a glitzy pool-friendly city on the opposite coast (South Beach).
Cocktail to try: Tropicana Swizzle (moonshine, pineapple juice, orange juice, agave nectar, and grenadine) transitions from day to night.
Hilton Anatole Dallas, Dallas, Texas
Tucked into the Dallas metropolis is this beauty of a hotel, fresh off a $125 million renovation, with glossy additions like a 27,000-cubic-foot, 100-foot-long sculpture suspended above a pool in the Atrium II area and a seven-acre sculpture park. The swim-up bar at one of the hotel’s three pools—as part of the 80,000-square-foot Verandah Club—is no exception.
Cocktail to try: Frozen Margarita to handle the Texas heat.
North Beach Plantation, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Although it touts a swim-up bar, North Beach Plantation houses a lot of other perks for water lovers, including a 7.5-acre white-sand beach island (between the Atlantic Ocean and White Point Swash) and a lazy river. At the three-acre pool area, which features a Caribbean theme, the swim-up bar is just a few swim strokes away.
Cocktail to try: Sip a Piña Colada from your raft or other floatation device.
Hotel BLUE, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Pretty Caribbean-blue tiles surround the pool at MIXX, the pool bar at Hotel BLUE. While swimming, they are your visual cue to pop up above the surface and order a drink from an underwater bar stool. On Sunday it’s all about Therapy pool parties—with DJs supplying the music—to help you forget the work-week is inching closer.
Cocktail to try: Voodoo Bucket, a bucket-sized rum punch, is perfect for groups.
Design Suites at Castle Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
At the former Playboy Hotel, Design Suites at Castle Beach is an alternative to party-heavy South Beach. The part-residential, part-hotel property is farther North along Collins Avenue but still in Miami Beach. Of the many spots to hang waterside at the hotel—including a brand-new Tiki bar (as part of the property-wide renovation in May)—is a swim-up bar (one of four bars at the hotel).
Cocktail to try: Mojito, a Miami favorite.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: Hotel Blue: Courtesy of Hotel Blue; Four Seasons Resort Maui: Courtesy of Don Riddle Images Hilton Anatole Dallas: Courtesy of Hilton Anatole Dallas; Tropicana-Las-Vegas: Courtesy of Tropicana Las Vegas Room Mate Grace Hotel: Courtesy of Room Mate Grace Hotel Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa: Courtesy of Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa