Ah, the smell of chlorine, cocoa butter, peroxide and margarita in the air can only mean one thing: It’s pool season in Vegas. Now that Rehab (above), one of the biggest pool parties in the country, is open for another season at the Hard Rock , Sin City officially becomes Skin City. It’s the time of the year when the days in Vegas start to get as hot (literally and figuratively) as the nights.
This year, the Vegas ”watering hole” trends pick up where last season ended and it’s clear that pools aren’t just for swimming anymore. When you’re here this summer, keep an eye out as the topless trend goes wild, nightclubs expand their brands and stuff so much entertainment poolside, it’s like Ron Jeremy trying to fit into a Speedo.
LESS IS MORE
While European-style sunbathing is just code for topless tanning, the practice is more popular in Vegas each year. In fact, Googling “european style sunbathing” will return a Vegas-related site for eight of the top 10 results. There is some inherent class to the concept and just a few years ago in Vegas, going Euro meant you chilled next to the pool with a Barbara Taylor Bradford book and avoided tan lines in a relaxing atmosphere. Most of the progressive practitioners were Europeans, Australians and others from less-inhibited tan-line free societies.
Today it’s a different story. There are some places like the pool at Wynn where the more relaxed European-style can still be experienced, but the overall trend is to sex it up a notch and add some of that Vegas glitter with a hint of ‘Girls Gone Wild.’
At the big three, Bare (Mirage), Venus Pool Club (Caesars Palace) and Moorea Beach Club (Mandalay Bay), DJs pump the air full of dance grooves while VIPs lounge in private cabanas and order bottle service. If it sounds like a nightclub during the day, there’s a reason for that. The Light Group (Jet, Light) operates Bare and Pure Management Group (Pure, Social House) manages Venus.
Even Moorea Beach (above) turns into an ultra lounge at night. Today’s version is just a different definition of relaxation. Sure, the atmosphere is club-like, but the main selling point to these experiences is luxury, pampering and leisure. In addition to the toplessness, these three pools set the service standard at a VIP level.
Bare sets the stage before you even slip into (and subsequently out of) your bikini with the Bare Web site (pictured above). If you look in the top right corner, you can reserve a daybed right there. In year’s past that definitely would have been a tedious phone call. Then once you get there, you have your choice of any number of conveniences. There’s iced towels to cool off and chilled cucumbers to soothe the eyes, but I think real attention to detail is the appropriate ‘pitcher service.’ Mojitos and margaritas are served in special pitchers to keep the beverages chilled while cutting down on the tedious mixing that would be required in regular bottle service.
Venus also is in the poolside pampering business with some of the similar offerings but also offers massages and I’m more excited about the lobster sandwiches and ceviche that are available.
BRING A TAO
Joining the nightclub adult-themed pools this year is TAO Beach at the Venetian. Obviously from the creators of the TAO entertainment complex, the pool features European-style sunbathing and food from Wolfgang Puck Catering. Luxury cabanas feature plasma TVs, gaming consoles and a DVD library.
BEFORE REHAB WAS COOL
When I first heard people asking each other if they’re going to Rehab on Sunday, I thought it was kind of cool that there’s a thoughtful group of folks in Vegas that really care about the sobriety of others. And this was before the recent cool factor of celebrity rehab.
Then I figured out they were talking about the hedonistic festival of flesh that is the weekly world-renowned Sunday party at the Hard Rock pool.
From May to September, Rehab is one of the hottest tickets in town. It is so hot in fact, that even local ladies who usually enjoy deep discounts at local clubs only get $5 off the $20 ladies cover. Guys, local are otherwise are in for $30.
And regardless of your sex, the experience is worth every penny of the cover. The Hard Rock pool has one of the best layouts in town architecturally and then when you throw in the mass of glistening bodies and a few cocktails, that’s what summer in Vegas is all about.
This year, Akon helped kicked off the season in late April with a live concert. Live music will be a big part of the pool season this summer with a concert series on Fridays at Hard Rock. Mandalay Bay and others are also hosting poolside concerts on a regular basis.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Summering at The Palms is always a good time. With the Fantasy Tower, the Playboy Club, ghostbar, N9NE Steakhouse and the new Pearl Theater, the casino always has so much energy and it’s only natural for that excitement to leak into the pool area. With $40 million in renovations completed last year, the pool area (pictured) is a sprawling oasis of water, sand, booze and blackjack crowned with VIP cabanas.
And if you have the budget, you can stay at one of the suites in the Fantasy Tower that have an affinity pool where you can luxuriate and have your own pool party.
In the regular, clothing-not-optional pools, the biggest news this year is Mandalay Bay’s $30-million new addition opening in June. The main attraction will be the glassy and classy three-story poolside casino with a restaurant on the first floor, a climate-controlled casino on the second floor and luxury villas with an exclusive pool on the third level.
Green Valley Ranch has a sleek pool that is an updated take on the classic ’50s era Vegas pool with modern and sexy lines and plenty of space to chill. On the other side of the Valley, Red Rock has a big pool and a series of smaller pools like the one at Cherry that provide some interesting backdrops for party-induced conversations.
With all of the wet and wild pool action, just remember to wait 30 minutes after eating to jump back in if you want to avoid the cramp.