I’m a sucker for a good hotel pool. Give my family a pool with waterfalls and a kids’ splash area, and we’re in heaven! To compile this list of the best pools for children, I spoke to three Travel Mamas who are experts in the hotel and travel industries: Laura van Hoff of Juicy Hotels (a booking site that allows you to search for hotels by amenities and activities), Theresa Jorgensen of SixSuitcaseTravel (a travel resource website for larger families), and Amie O’Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino (a worldwide guide of the best family-friendly hotels and resorts). I couldn’t help but include a couple of my family’s favorites, too. Now, let’s dive in!
Rope swing at the Grand Wailea, Maui (Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea)
Best Pool for Toddlers and Little Kids
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
For a splashing good time for toddlers and preschoolers, you can’t beat the Hyatt Regency Maui’s Keiki Lagoon. This children’s pool features leaping water fountains, a twisting waterslide and an island center where tots can play with sand toys. My family whiled away many happy vacation hours at this pool when my daughter was nearing age two and I’ve been dreaming about returning ever since.
Hyatt Regency Maui’s Keiki Lagoon (Photo by Colleen Lanin)
Best Pool for Big Kids
Tabacon Grand Spa and Thermal Resort
Arenal, Costa Rica
Laura van Hoff of Juicy Hotels asked her teenage sons where they would go if they were to return to any destination solely for its pool. Both replied, “That’s easy, Tabacon Springs!” Costa Rica’s Tabacon Springs is intimate and relaxed. Laura loves its “thermal pool, heated by natural springs in a tropical setting.” She said, “It’s got a waterslide, but not a fancy American waterslide. It’s more simple, but boy is it fun!” Laura recommends this pool for bigger kids since it might be too toasty for tiny tots. She said, “It’s like a big, hot Jacuzzi.”
Pools at Tabacon Grand Spa and Thermal Resort (Photo courtesy of Tabacon Resort)
Best Pool for Wacky Fun
SixSuitcaseTravel’s Theresa Jorgensen recommends the water park at the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando for non-stop fun for big families. With seven slides and flumes, and easy access zero-entry, there is something here for children of any age. A 400-gallon tank spills water on splashers throughout the day but the highlight is when kids are “slimed” at 4:45 pm daily.
The daily “sliming” at the Nickelodeon Hotel pool in Orlando, Florida (Photo by Theresa Jorgensen)
Most Unique Pool
The Atlantis Resort
Paradise Island, The Bahamas
This sprawling pool complex is resplendent with waterslides, one of which sends swimmers through a shark tank in a see-through tube! Atlantis recently added a children’s water play area with a Mayan-themed play structure featuring multiple slides, cargo nets, rope bridges, water cannons, and fountains. My husband and I stayed at the Atlantis once without the kids and we can’t wait to bring them with us next time!
View of the Atlantis Resort’s pools and aquariums (Photo by Colleen Lanin)
Best Oceanside Pool
Four Seasons Punta Mita
Punta Mita, Mexico
The “Nuna” pool is the centerpiece of the Four Seasons resort in Punta Mita, Mexico. It is a free-form infinity edge pool with views of Puerto Vallerta’s horseshoe-shaped Banderas Bay. Amie O’Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino said, “The illusion is that the pool extends right into the ocean, particularly at sunset—it’s truly breathtaking.” The pool also offers shallow splashing areas for young children.
Four Seasons “Nuna” pool at Punta Mita, Mexico (Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons)
Best Lazy River
Laura loves the Azul Sensatori in Cancun, Mexico for its lazy river, which encircles the property. Swim-up suites have lazy river access just steps from the door. Children will love the splash park and kids’ pool with waterslide. If they tire of the water, there’s a playground, Azulitos Kid’s Club, and Breeze Teen Club.
The Azul Sensatori lazy river pool in Cancun, Mexico (Photo courtesy of Azul Sensatori)
Best Pool with a View
Le Case del Borgo
Le Case del Borgo has a voluminous pool in an idyllic setting surrounded by the rolling green Tuscan landscape. Amie said, “I’m a view person and love pools surrounded by sensational scenery. I can be by the pool there and still know and appreciate that I’m enjoying Italy.”
Pool at Le Case del Borgo, Tuscany (Photo courtesy of Ciao Bambino)
Kona Village Resort
The Big Island, Hawaii
Often cited by guidebooks as the most authentically-Hawaiian hotel, Kona Village has thatched-roof bungalows and two great pools, one for babies and toddlers. It is Hawaii’s only almost-all-inclusive resort. Laura said, “This is my number one favorite hotel for families in the entire world!” She loves the spirit of Aloha exuded by the staff. Her kids love that they can order their own tasty non-alcoholic drinks from the poolside bar, like the “Cookie Monster” and the “Big Bird.”
The Bora Bora Pool at the Kona Village Resort (Photo courtesy of Kona Village Resort)
Most International Pool
Ciragan Palace Kempinki Istanbul
Amie promises a dip in the pool at Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, is one you won’t soon forget. It is situated along the Bosphorous Straight, the channel of water that divides Europe and Asia, and this pool provides stunning views of both continents.
The infinity pool at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul along the Bosphorous Straight (Photo courtesy of Ciragan Palace)
Most Popular Pool
No list of fabulous pools would be complete without including the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui. Laura said, “The pool that I hear about over and over again that people love is the Grand Wailea pool.” The water complex at the Grand Wailea offers multiple swim-up bars, is adjacent to the beach, offers a Tarzan-like rope swing, and even has a water elevator for easy access to its numerous waterslides.
The water elevator at the Grand Wailea, Maui (Photo courtesy of the Grand Wailea)
More about our panel of pool experts:
Laura van Hoff, Creator of Juicy Hotels
Laura hand-picked over 1,500 of the 111,000 accommodations in the Juicy Hotels database based on her tireless scouring of travel magazines and newspaper reviews, as well as her own experiences. Laura is a mom of two boys (ages14 and 15). She said, “I love researching travel, planning travel, doing travel. There’s nothing about travel that I don’t love!”
Theresa Jorgensen, Creator of SixSuitcaseTravel
SixSuitcaseTravel is a resource website that helps families of five to eight members find hotels that fit their needs by listing pools, room size, breakfast type and family-friendly amenities. Theresa has four children (a 15-year-old son, 11-year-old twin fraternal daughters, and a seven-year-old daughter). About hotel pools, Theresa said, “As a parent I love the free entertainment and the tiring-out-the-kids aspect. (My) kids love hotel pools because they’re not as crowded as public pools and they can swim for hours.”
Amie O’Shaughnessy, Founder of Ciao Bambino
Amie started Ciao Bambino as a planning service for family travel to Italy in 2004. Over time, she built a list of family-friendly options tried and tested by hundreds of families. In 2007 Ciao Bambino transitioned into an online self-service guide to family-friendly properties. Amie is a mom of one son (age six). As a pool-lover, she said, “Hotel pools are the perfect venue for everyone in a family to enjoy themselves. Kids are entertained for hours and parents have that rare opportunity to truly relax.”
What is your favorite hotel pool? Let us know in the comments!