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8 hotel pool day passes for safely soaking up the sun again

May 16, 2021
9 min read
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Pre-pandemic, many hotels hopped on the trend of offering non-guest passes, offering access to their pools, fitness centers and amenities like free Wi-Fi — making them a smart option for travelers and locals alike looking to squeeze in a few hours of R&R (or find a more scenic office space). While this option disappeared for most of 2020, the offering is slowly starting to make its way back to hotels.

“Day passes allow guests to experience the property’s amenities without requiring the normal time commitment of an overnight stay,” says Brad Mills, hotel manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. “As locals and travelers strive to maximize their personal time, but still enjoy luxurious and relaxing experiences, the ‘daycation’ is a perfect alternative.”

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Offering day passes can also have benefits for the hotel that go beyond the price of a pass, like free publicity through social media posts — and the chance to earn your business down the road. “(Hotels) hope that business travelers taking advantage of their facilities will consider staying with them on a future visit, versus a property with no pool or less impressive offerings,” says AJ Perry, founder of Think Travel.

If you have travel plans coming up, from Miami to Chicago to L.A., here’s where you can grab a day pass and relax for a few hours.

Related: 9 beautiful hotel pools across the US

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile (Chicago)

(Photo courtesy of the Hotel InterContinental Chicago, Magnificent Mile)
(Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile)

Escape winter’s grasp on the Windy City by temporarily checking in to this historic Michigan Avenue hotel, where a day pass ($27.50) grants you access to one of Chicago’s oldest pools as well as a trilevel fitness center with Pelotons, Finnish saunas and weights. Built in 1929, the heated, junior Olympic indoor pool on the 14th floor features a terra cotta fountain of Neptune and elegant stained-glass windows, rendering an afternoon spent reading, working (thanks to free Wi-Fi) or relaxing here a Gatsby-like experience. Poolside cocktail service will resume soon; try the Hemingway daiquiri from the “Adult Swim” menu.

Related: 5 drives from Chicago every traveler will love

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (Dana Point, California)

(Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)
(Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

Take advantage of this oceanside hotel’s coveted beachfront, two heated pools and hot tub with a new day pass ($150 per adult) that lets even non-guests soak up the California sunshine. As a meetings-focused property, it caters to business travelers with free Wi-Fi, poolside dining, discounts on food and beverages and complimentary valet parking for those looking to WFP (work from pool). During winter and spring, the poolside vibe is laid-back, the sound of waves punctuated only by acoustic melodies. Pick your perch, from day beds to loungers, and order the pulled Jidori chicken salad from the poolside cafe — or take advantage of beach butler service (included in the day pass), with beach chair and umbrella set-up, to catch a wave before catching your flight.

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Related: Review: A seaside room at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

La Cantera Resort & Spa (San Antonio)

(Photo courtesy of La Cantera)
(Photo courtesy of La Cantera)

Spending time in nature may be just what you need after 2020 — and there’s no better way to reap the benefits (without losing Wi-Fi) than spending a few hours at this hotel’s Topaz pool, overlooking the glorious landscape that is Texas Hill Country. A day pass ($65) scores you a spot at the adults-only, infinity-edge pool (plus access to three others on the property), hot tubs, a tennis court, poolside food and beverage service and an upgraded fitness center with daily classes — as well as free Wi-Fi and parking. Enjoy a Painkiller cocktail served in a whole pineapple from one of the partially submerged lounge chairs.

Related: Want to work from a hotel? Make sure it has these 7 things

The Gates Hotel South Beach (Miami Beach, Florida)

(Photo courtesy of Gates South Beach)
(Photo courtesy of Gates South Beach)

You can use your Hilton Honors points to enjoy the pool life at this DoubleTree by Hilton property. But even if you’re not a guest, you can buy a day pass ($30) for access to its outdoor pool, hot tub and poolside food and beverage service. Inspired by the hotel’s original iteration as Motel Ankara in the '50s, the pool has a Miami art deco vibe and is the only one in town with a view of Collins Canal. With a vibe that’s mostly relaxing (day passes include free yoga classes Thursday, Friday and Sunday), the pool is a bit more energetic on weekends thanks to DJs, salsa dancing lessons and killer mojitos from the Banana Bungalow bar. Passes are available at resortpass.com.

Related: Yes, you can pull off a laid-back Miami vacation — here’s how to do it

Andaz West Hollywood (West Hollywood, California)

(Photo courtesy of The Andaz West Hollywood)
(Photo courtesy of The Andaz West Hollywood)

The price of a day pass varies by the day and the season (starting at $35), but no matter when you pop in for some R&R — and a little poolside working if you must — you’re guaranteed top-notch views of the Sunset Strip, Downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills from the highest rooftop pool in L.A. This hotel grants day-pass holders access to its pool, food and beverage service and free Wi-Fi, with the option to add on a couch, cabana, drinks and more for an additional fee. Thanks to its central location, it’s easy for those staying around Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to slip in for the afternoon.

Related: Rock of Ages: A review of the Andaz West Hollywood

Marriott Marquis Houston (Houston)

(Photo courtesy of The Marriott Marquis Houston)
(Photo courtesy of The Marriott Marquis Houston)

Nothing says vacation, or staycation, like jumping into the one-of-a-kind, Texas-shaped lazy river atop this hotel connected to the city’s convention center. With a day pass ($65, available Monday through Thursday), you get access to the entire sixth-floor terrace, which has a heated infinity pool, hot tub and poolside service in addition to the river, and can sneak in a workout at the fitness center overlooking downtown. Cool off with a minty Terrace tea from the High Dive bar, served in a whole pineapple.

Related: How I’m earning Marriott Platinum status in 2021 in as little as 5 nights

The Don CeSar (St. Pete Beach, Florida)

(Photo courtesy of The Don Cesar)
(Photo courtesy of The Don CeSar)

At the iconic Pink Palace, as this 1920s hotel is known, two large outdoor heated pools steps from St. Pete Beach are the centerpiece — and the non-guest day pass (from $75 for adults) grants you the chance to bask in all of their glory. You’ll also get access to the fitness center and complimentary classes, a steam room, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, private beach access with loungers and umbrella rentals, poolside lunch and classic frozen drinks from the new Beacon Pool Bar & Lookout. Spread out the property’s signature pink-striped towels and settle in early for a good spot; you can grab a coffee at Uncle Andy’s Market before taking advantage of poolside free Wi-Fi, starting at 8 a.m.

Related: 7 Florida hotels that feel like the Caribbean

Mountain Shadows Resort (Paradise Valley, Arizona)

The Mountain Shadows Resort. (Photo courtesy of Mark Boisclair Photography)
The Mountain Shadows Resort. (Photo courtesy of Mark Boisclair Photography)

Two sparkling 75-foot pools offer dramatic (and completely Instagrammable) views of Camelback Mountain at this quiet Paradise Valley resort, with midcentury-inspired architecture and a relaxed vibe. Rent a cabana for a day (from $196, excluding Saturdays) and get your sweat on in the tricked-out fitness studio, which offers daily classes like boot camp and reformer Pilates, before heading out to lounge poolside. Your cabana also includes bottle service, drinks, light bites and a flat-screen TV — in case you need to keep an eye on the stock market or catch a big game as you lounge.

Related: 17 of the best hotel gyms in the world

Featured image by (Photo by Clair Ward/Unsplash)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023