Miami swimming guide, from pool to pool
(Photo: mgiants / Flickr)
(Photo: mgiants / Flickr)
That’s because whether public or private, historic or state of the art, this sultry city’s swimming holes are among the most opulent and well executed in the world. My own poolside memories of Miami Beach, Brickell Key, and Coral Gables unspool like a personal movie montage. Glad I never leave home without my goggles.
Fountainebleau Miami Beach
The 2008 resurrection of architect Morris Lapidus’ 1954 masterpiece reminded people what a showcase a hotel—and a hotel pool—can be with the right amount of glitz and vision. The grounds actually contain multiple pools, and the biggest one (referencing Lapidus’ original bow-tie shaped pool), is so long it took me a minute to swim it from end to end. When I jumped out, the ocean looked so close that I wondered if I could hold my breath until I reached the waterline (I could). Not as daring as anything in “Goldfinger,” “Scarface,” or “The Sopranos”—all were shot here—but I did momentarily crash a $550/day Ultra Cabana after emerging from the Atlantic. (There are, count ‘em, six categories of cabanas available for daily rent.)
The Setai Miami Beach
If you know anything about Adrian Zecha, the founder of Amanresorts who also built the top-rated Setai, you know he likes his water features. The three pools that adorn this 40-story beachfront tower would satisfy any modern-day Goldilocks who needs a dip: each one is a different temperature. I’ve swum them all, but there’s a special allure to the pool closest to the intimate spa. (Note that day spa guests can purchase packages that afford all-day access to the Setai pools and private beach area.)
Raleigh Hotel, South Beach
To many Miami Beach aficionados, no pool setting beats the Raleigh’s. Esther Williams used to hang out here and dive off the high board. Now the high-diving board is a fountain, splashing into this ornate, swirling water sanctuary. The fancifully shaped swimming pool is surrounded by a wading area, and there’s a fun, nautical-looking pool house. Don’t miss the lounging area known as the “Oasis,” which is the perfect place to chill after a dip.
National Hotel, South Beach
The National’s black-tile-edged swimming pool is one of my absolute favorites in the world for its improbably long and skinny design. I just think of it as my private one-lane lap pool. The hotel is an Art Deco landmark dating from 1939; you can stay in the street-facing tower or in one of the low-rise Cabana Wing guest rooms that flank the pool. An equally elegant square pool sits between the long pool and the beach. Dry off in one of the hammocks that swing under lush Canary Island palms.
Ritz-Carlton South Beach
When I started coming to South Beach in the 90s, the area above 14th Street was sort of a wasteland. A lot of the beachfront hotels had yet to be renovated, and I used to crash the DiLido, a lesser-known Morris Lapidus effort, to swim my laps. That was before the Ritz-Carlton moved in in 2003 to resurrect this midcentury beauty, recreating the pool deck as a showplace with luxury cabanas and synchronized swimmers called the Aqualillies. Today guests lounge poolside at the DiLido Beach Club, where you can enjoy the Ceviche Duet and the pomegranate and pear salad at one of South Beach’s only oceanfront eateries.