Sometimes you want the people watching and social scene of a lively pool. Other times, you’re not in the mood for screaming, splashing children, or preening. If you just want to float freely and alone, or with a special friend, that’s when it’s worth upgrading to a room with its own private pool (and, of course, a view). Here are nine worth fantasizing about—swimsuits often optional.
Santorini is the most vertical of island paradises, with the appeal lying in bohemian hotels in cliff-top villages far above the island’s famous caldera and the Mediterranean flowing around it. The Grace is one of the full-service places to stay, and also one of the most water-fully blissful. All the honeymoon suites, and most of the others, have dreamy white-walled plunge pools, a distillation of the colors of the Greek Isle, and particularly epic views at sunset.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The Resort at Pedregal
Fully recovered from last fall’s Hurricane Odile, which devestated Cabo, each of the guest rooms, suites and casitas at the stylish Pedregal have Pacific-view plunge pools on their terraces or balconies. Their infinity edges beg you to rest your arms on them, along with perhaps a margarita or a Corona, and gaze out over the Pacific. But before you get to the lounging, get your blood flowing by surfing the nearby at world famous Zipper's Beach.
Mountain biking among the Atlas Mountains with this hotel's expert guides is one reason to stay at the recently opened Palais Namaskar in the lush Palmeraie district of Morocco’s famous Red City. There are also the oasis-like rooms, reached by following a walkway lined with bougainvillea. Each room comes with its own private, heated swimming pools that float inside separate ornamental pools, fragrant with orange blossoms and jasmine. Want more soaking? The bedroom has a freestanding bathtub.
Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
After kayaking the fanciful sea caves of the Andaman Sea, cooling off in a pool at this hotel isn’t hard. The Royal Beach Villa at Phulay Bay is the big splurge for water aficionados: It has a long, infinity-edge swimming pool with hydro-jets overlooking gumdrop-like limestone cliffs rising up from the Andaman Sea. In the more accessible room category, the Reserve Pool Villas have pools (between 200 and 500 square-feet) overlooking gardens. And as for the standard villas, you might not do laps, but you can still have a languid soak. The Jacuzzis in each of them are sized just-right for an afternoon of gazing at lush gardens and the sea below.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Swimming is serious business at the Banyan Tree resort, located in its own 590-acre wildlife reserve, about a half hour north of some excellent kayaking and fly-fishing in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and Tulum. Each of the 118 villas has a personal pool. Not just a splash-around plunge pool—a proper 323 sqare-foot swimming pool, that unspools along the length of the villa, big enough to swim laps. Adjacent to each swimming pool is a Jacuzzi lined in sapphire blue mosaic tiles to reflect the sky above.
Cottage 7, Jamaica Inn
The old-world Jamaica Inn is already arguably the most romantic resort on the island, but its top room—the 2,000-square-foot, seafront Cottage 7—clinches the deal. Twenty-foot glass doors open onto a private veranda with a 16-foot-long infinity pool, which is suspended over the Caribbean Sea. A second deck is set up for lounging or dining, and a staircase that leads down to a private cove in the sea for further aquatic indulgence.
Cliff Suite at Curtain Bluff
Scuba diving and water skiing are included in the room rates, and the aquamarine Caribbean Sea is seemingly a part of your room. The heated, eight-by-eight-foot soaking pool in this romantic suite, one of Curtain Bluff’s premium rooms, is situated just so the iridescent blue seems to extends straight from this watery corner of the (super-private) terrace and out into the sea down below. If you float toward the edge, your view can take in the powdery white sand of Grace Bay Beach.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Lodge
It’ll be just you, the elephants, and zebras at one of the finest watering holes in the Okavango Delta. Except those animals won’t be drinking from them—the villas here come with small, cooling plunge pools situated on an elevated platform, safely above the animals’ reach. Reopened after a renovation last fall, Sandibe has not only beautiful design but also exclusive traversing rights through a wildlife-rich stretch of land adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve.
Hotel Le Toiny
Tiny St. Barth packs in activities from windsurfing and deep-sea fishing to kite surfing and water skiing, but it’s also a romantic paradise. The most amatory and secluded hotel on the island? Le Toiny, which has just 15 freestanding villa suites, each with own heated, 12-by-20-foot private pool. The pools are made of lava stone, situated to have dreamy views over Caribbean, and softly lit with underwater lights for after you’ve savored the last seconds of sunset.