10 Splash-worthy Swimming Pools in Asia
From dizzying vistas in the clouds to tropical oceanside idylls, T+L picks 10 eye-popping new swimming pools that will turn your next hotel stay from memorable to unforgettable. By Naomi Lindt
1 Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
It figures that the Ritz-Carlton would return to Hong Kong with a splash: from its perch on the top floor of the city’s tallest building, the 118-story International Commerce Centre (ICC), the new hotel’s 20-meter indoor lap pool offers jaw-dropping views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island’s famed skyline. Flanked by floor-to-ceiling glass on one side and rose-engraved white sandstone on the other, the contemporary design includes blue pool tiles and sleek gray-and-white loungers—both in the pool and out. The view here isn’t just horizontal: 144 LED screens installed on the ceiling and back wall display tranquil images of the sky and prancing butterflies.
T+L Tip Indulge in a nocturnal soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi. ritzcarlton.com; doubles from HK$4,500.
2 Sky Wave Pool, Galaxy Macau
Details about Macau’s newest luxury property—a 2,200-room casino complex that houses three hotels, including an all-suite Banyan Tree and Hotel Okura—and its record-busting pool remained a tightly held secret until the hotel opened last month. But what is known is that the rooftop Sky Wave Pool is the largest of its kind at 4,000 square meters, with waves higher than 1.5 meters as well as 150 meters of sandy shoreline thanks to 350 tons of white sand. Prepare to be wowed. galaxymacau.com; doubles from MOP1,500.
3 Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
This might just be the best spot in Malaysia’s capital to admire the city’s silvery, scalloped Petronas Towers. Located on the 33rd floor alongside a wall of windows, the oblong, 143-square-meter lap pool offers a front-row seat for optimal tower adulation—the view must be seen to be believed. After sunset, the pool area transforms into one of the city’s most popular lounges, the SkyBar, where DJ’s spin on a nightly basis, but the crowds usually don’t show up till after 8 p.m. for those who prefer a tranquil swim.
T+L Tip Seeing the towers light up around dusk is magical, and even more so with a lychee-rose martini in hand. shangri-la.com; doubles from RM349.
4 Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali
The newest arrival to Uluwatu is the Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali’s largest pool-villa resort. The Indian Ocean sprawls out before the property in its full, mesmerizing beauty, either from the villas’ private plunge pools—at 10 meters long, the island’s largest—or the main L-shaped, 300-square-meter pool, lined with blue ceramic tiles and edged by angular limestone towers. The nightly lighting at 6 p.m. of the pool’s gas torches is a sight to behold; afterward, watch the sun melt into the ocean.
T+L Tip Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., try a complimentary “cooling” massage: a gentle rubdown that incorporates cold-water spritzes and a refreshing eye mask. banyantree.com; doubles from US$413.
5 St. Regis Lhasa
Sitting 3,650 meters above sea level, this petite square spa pool measures just 10 meters across, but what it lacks in dimensions it more than makes up for in materials: its tiles are plated with 24-karat gold leaf. Inspired by the gilded rooftop of Lhasa’s Potala Palace and lined with dramatic oak-wood columns, it’s a highlight of the St. Regis Lhasa’s Iridium Spa, with an illuminated base and heated fresh water kept at a welcoming 28 to 32 degrees Celsius—perfect for soaking in your opulent environment.
T+L Tip Note the painting of a flying black-and-white dragon by French artist Christian de Lambedère—a reminder that you’re on top of the world. starwood.com/stregis; doubles from RMB2,150.
6 Shangri-La Boracay
Framed by palm and ficus trees, thatched cabanas and spouting-fish fountains, this free-form bathing beauty is so sexy it was one of the locations for this year’s Sports Illustrated’s iconic swimsuit issue. The pool’s expansive lagoon-blue saltwater abuts Banyugan Beach and its azure Sulu Sea, offering a seamless panorama in countless shades of blue. Dedon lounge chairs scattered on islands around the pool’s six pockets offer optimal privacy, but you might be tempted to spend all day in the water thanks to the submerged daybeds.
T+L Tip Hungry? Nibble on one of the legendary brick oven-baked pizzas from the pool’s Cielo restaurant—the four-cheese is a favorite. shangri-la.com; doubles from P17,000.
7 Anantara Kihavah Villas, Maldives
The latest luxury digs in the swoon-worthy Maldives, the three-month-old Anantara Kihavah Villas lays claim to the islands’ longest swimming pool. The rectangular, purple-and-blue-tiled 49-meter stunner is edged by decades-old curving coconut palms and faces the crystal-clear, otherworldly cerulean lagoon of the Baa Atoll. A row of waterfront lounge chairs offers the perfect spot for a sundowner—if you’re lucky, you might even glimpse some frolicking dolphins.
T+L Tip Personal butlers are on hand to provide fresh drinks, fruit skewers, cold towels and five-minute massages; they’ll even keep your sunglasses sparkling clean. khavah-maldives.anantara.com; doubles from US$1,170.
8 Alila Villas Uluwatu
Built onto a cliff along Bali’s wild, southern tip near the famed Uluwatu surf spot, it’s practically impossible not to be rewarded with awe-inspiring panoramas at the Alila Villas Uluwatu. Each of the 84 villas comes with private, rectangular saltwater pools (the smallest is 117 square meters) that overlook the aquamarine Indian Ocean, while the Olympic-size infinity pool, tiled in shimmering blue, is 100 meters above sea level and boasts even-more commanding vistas. Pool guests are treated to a picnic hamper with chilled water, sunscreen, tanning oil, face-spray freshener and an iPod.
T+L Tip Complimentary chilled tropical fruit is served in the mornings, but the real treat is the afternoon sorbet in flavors like raspberry, white chocolate and tamarillo. alilahotels.com; doubles from US$520.
9 Sheraton Nha Trang
At 25 meters above sea level and with an infinity edge that appears to blend right into the Nha Trang Bay, the new Sheraton’s aquatic digs make guests feel as though they’re swimming straight out to the horizon. The 21-meter pool boasts dramatic views of the bay and its outlying islands from its location on a sixth-floor roof deck alongside the hotel’s main tower. The smart overwater steel-and-wood loungers let you read a book while dangling your toes in the water and staying cool; there’s also a separate plunge pool with a bar.
T+L Tip In addition to kid-friendly mini-pools, there’s a supervised play area where you can drop the little ones off for a few hours. starwoodhotels.com; doubles from US$128.
10 Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Grand gestures prevail throughout Singapore’s much-hyped mega casino–resort, but perhaps no single element impresses as much as the pool. At a height of 200 meters, three interconnected outdoor infinity pools stretch across a trio of 55-story towers, the equivalent of about three Olympic-size pools. If you need to catch your breath—and with these bird’s-eye views of the expansive cityscape, you will—hunker down in one of the many chill-out lounging areas with a signature cocktail. The Hot Deck features muddled peaches, tequila and ginger.
T+L Tip Fend off the mid-afternoon heat with complimentary cucumber eye masks and bottles of Evian Face Mist. marinabaysands.com; doubles from S$379.