12 hotels with the best lazy rivers to beat the heat and float away
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Sometimes a hotel is simply a “home base” where you can recharge after a long day spent exploring your chosen destination. Other times, the hotel is the destination, or at least part of the destination.
Rather than a launchpad for pursuits beyond the lobby doors, some hotels serve as a literal jumping-off point into a long, meandering lazy river where you can float until your fingers and toes prune (or until the lifeguard tells you it’s time to get out).
There are hotels with lazy rivers on the West Coast, the East Coast and everywhere in between. TPG found the best of the best to make sure your next vacation is a splash.
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Westin Kierland Resort & Spa — Scottsdale, Arizona
Like a mirage in the desert, the Adventure Water Park at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa will quench your thirst for fun and relaxation. Guests have access to two pools (including one for adults only), a 110-foot-long waterslide, a FlowRider surf simulator and a 900-foot-long lazy river.
The best way to experience this lazy river is on your own private island. Yes, really.
The Tommy Bahama Relaxation Reef is located on a private cove in the lazy river and is designed for groups of up to 12. This island cove comes outfitted with lawn chairs, a daybed, an umbrella, a dining table and, of course, specially reserved tubes for your group. There’s also a larger private area for groups of up to 20.
That type of luxury comes at a price ($250 food and beverage minimum, plus the $550 rental fee), but it’s even doable on a budget if you split it with a few friends or family members. There is also ample complimentary seating throughout the park. Cabana and premium seating rentals are also available.
Room rates here average around $500 or 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa — Lost Pines, Texas
Located just 30 minutes east of Austin in Texas Hill Country, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa lets you get away from it all without getting too far away from it all.
The resort spans 405 acres of pristine countryside and, yes, there are plenty of pine trees among the foliage. Crooked River Waterpark is where you will find the resort’s 1,000-foot-long lazy river, which winds around waterfalls and shady trees and connects to many other features of the water park.
From the lazy river, you can access a zero-entry pool with a sandy beach, an adults-only pool, a float-up bar, shaded seating areas and a waterslide.
Room rates average around $300 or 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
The Grove Resort & Water Park — Orlando
The Grove Resort & Water Park is surrounded by the orange groves of Central Florida and is located only 10 minutes from what Central Florida is now best known for – Walt Disney World.
Accommodations at this condo-style property feature all the comforts of home in addition to a massive water park that you surely don’t have in your backyard. The Surfari Water Park has a huge main pool, two waterslides, a dual FlowRider surf simulator, a kids splash pool and a 695-foot-long winding lazy river. Tubes are provided and life jackets are available to rent for $5.
Rates average around $250 per night.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa — San Antonio
Similar in styling to Lost Pines but on 300 acres of secluded ranch land in the San Antonio area, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa is a family-friendly spot to go for a bike ride, hit the hiking trails or float along a lazy river.
The resort is home to a 5-acre water park with a lazy river designed to mimic an authentic river tubing experience. The 950-foot-long Ramblin’ River is lined on both sides by shady trees and the bottom is painted black so it looks more like a river than a pool.
Also at the water park, guests can surf on a FlowRider simulator, cruise down a two-story waterslide, splash in the kiddie pool or cool off in the various pools, including one with a zero-entry beach area.
Room rates average around $300 or 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts — Orlando
There’s no shortage of amazing pools at Disney World, but Stormalong Bay — the pool complex shared by Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort — offers something that no other Disney World hotel pool does: a lazy river.
All told, Stormalong Bay encompasses 3 acres of water park fun. In addition to the slow-flowing lazy river, there are hot tubs, a whirlpool, a 230-foot-long waterslide, a shipwreck-themed kids splash pool (with a smaller waterslide) and multiple pools, including one with a kid-friendly sandy play area.
Room rates at either of these two resorts start at around $700 per night.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa — Kauai, Hawaii
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a beautiful beachfront property on Kauai’s south shore and one of TPG’s favorite award redemption hotels. Though this hotel is located mere steps from the Hawaiian surf, the beach is better suited to surfing than swimming.
Instead, plan to spend your day at the hotel’s water playground, which has multilevel pools, a 150-foot waterslide, a sandy saltwater lagoon and, you guessed it, a lazy river. It doesn’t go in a true loop, but we’ll let that pass because of the waterslide, lagoon and more.
Room rates average around $800 or 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
Marriott Marquis Houston – Houston
The Marriott Marquis Houston is located smack-dab in the middle of downtown Houston and bills itself as an “urban resort experience.” The hotel’s 530-foot-long lazy river may not be as large as what you’d find at more expansive resorts, but it’s certainly the only one that allows you to float across the entire state of Texas in under 30 minutes.
You may not notice it while floating along, but from above you can see that the hotel’s sixth-floor rooftop lazy river is shaped like the Lone Star State.
A hot tub, infinity pool and plenty of lounge chairs surround the geographically accurate waterway, or you can retreat to a cluster of cabanas and covered areas available for rental.
Room rates average around $300 or can be redeemed for around 44,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa — Kapolei, Hawaii
At the intersection of a traditional Hawaiian vacation and a Disney theme park vacation, you’ll find Aulani.
Just like at the Disney parks, there are characters to meet, Mickey-shaped waffles to eat and more than enough activities to fill your day. But, like any good visit to Hawaii, there are also opportunities to kick back and take in the tropical scenery on the beach or at the pool.
Aulani doesn’t have just one pool. There’s an infinity pool overlooking the beach, two splash zones for kids, a family pool with a slide, a private saltwater snorkeling reef, four whirlpool spas and the Waikolohe Stream lazy river with two waterslides and water features that will soak you (if you aren’t already).
Room rates average around $800 per night, though you may save money by renting Disney Vacation Club points.
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa — Bonita Springs, Florida
The Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa is located near the beach, but is not technically a beachfront hotel. The resort runs a daily boat ride to nearby Pelican Landing, a semiprivate island with beach access for hotel guests, but you don’t have to island-hop to get your swim on.
This Gulf Coast resort is home to a 3-acre water park with five waterslides, multiple swimming pools with areas for adults and families, a hot tub and a 900-foot-long lazy river. The water park is designed so that you can glide down one of the waterslides and keep on floating along the lazy river when you hit the bottom.
Room rates average around $300 or 17,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
MGM Grand Las Vegas — Las Vegas
Anyone who has been to Las Vegas knows how easy it is to become so enthralled with what’s inside the hotels and casinos that you forget what day it is. But it’s worth stepping outside the MGM Grand to chill out at the hotel’s 6-acre pool complex.
Among the crystal-clear pools, you’ll find four swimming pools, three hot tubs and a quarter-mile-long lazy river. There’s not much along the lazy river to shade you from the relentless Vegas sun, but there are pool chairs with umbrellas scattered throughout the complex, or you can rent a cabana or daybed for the day.
Room rates average around $125 per night.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort — Orlando
If you immediately think the best Universal Orlando hotel amenities are at the higher-priced hotels, think again. There’s only one hotel at Universal with a lazy river and that hotel is Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, one of two resorts (along with Universal’s Aventura Hotel) in the Prime Value category, only one step up from the park’s least-expensive hotels.
The entire property is themed to look like a retro Florida beach resort, and that includes the two pools. One has a slide built into a tall, white dive tower and the other has a lazy river surrounded by palm trees, waterfalls and colorful vintage-style pool umbrellas.
The resort does not provide tubes for the lazy river; you can float without one, bring your own or they are available for purchase at a small shop near the entrance. Kids also have access to complimentary life jackets.
Room rates average around $160 per night.
Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center — Aurora, Colorado
Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center is located only 30 minutes from Denver and, like all Gaylord properties, is built under a glass atrium that brings the outdoors in. Within one of those atriums, guests will find an indoor/outdoor water park called Arapahoe Springs.
Both the indoor and outdoor sections are open year-round, with some features, including the outdoor lazy river, only open seasonally. There are also indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, two indoor waterslides and one outdoor waterslide.
Room rates average around $400 or 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
When you stay at a hotel with a lazy river, you don’t have to leave the property to visit a water park and you have the added bonus of not having to pay extra to get in (though in most cases the hotel is probably recouping that in the resort fee).
Hotel pools are a dime a dozen. Hotel lazy rivers are where it’s at.
Featured photo courtesy of Hyatt Lost Pines.
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