Texans know that summer is more than just a few short months. Pool season begins here before school is out and extends into football season.
Late Spring and early Fall are some of the best times to chill in the water, when temperatures are actually compatible with reading a book outside, sans sweltering in the sun. Many of us don’t have our own private pools, and community pools often lack the atmosphere we are seeking.
Due to popular demand, limited labor, and that notorious supply chain issue, home pool installation these days may not only break the budget but also take months to complete. Enter two great alternatives to enjoy a few hours of your precious downtime in the water, without needing to pack a carry-on, book a room, or hire a contractor. All you need to do is visit the websites of ResortPass and Swimply or download their apps to find the perfect pool.
ResortPass: The Way to Play
While a staycation implies overnight stays, Resort Pass is the ultimate “daycation.” Founded in 2016, ResortPass brings high-end resorts to guests who wish to enjoy a property’s amenities without the need for lodging. Now you can treat yourself to a day (or a few hours) of luxury before driving back home to resume your regularly scheduled obligations. Well-known establishments including The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Hyatt are all participating ResortPass partners.
Through the ResortPass website or app, key in your preferred city, state, or hotel along with the date you wish to visit. Starting at only $25 per person, per hour, you can choose from a large database of hotels and resorts where you can hang out at their pool and/ or spa, while soaking up a host of the same amenities traditionally available only to overnight guests.
JW Marriott Austin offers Cabana rentals, accommodating up to ten guests for five-hour blocks. Cabanas are ideal for small celebrations, from birthdays to bachelorette parties. This scenic venue in downtown Austin includes full access to the rooftop pool, bar service ($100 minimum), and complimentary Fiji water bottles to stay hydrated. Each cabana includes comfy furniture for lounging, a 12-foot ceiling fan (Big-Ass fan is actually the brand), wifi and speakers to stream music, and a 55” flat screen television for staying tuned in to your favorite ball games. With towels provided, all you really need to bring is sunscreen, a hat, and the desire to unwind. Whether you stick to your own party or mingle with others, this venue includes a balance of chill vibes and positive energy.
Consider the Hyatt Lost Pines in Bastrop (just outside of Austin), for a day pass to float down the lazy river and try out their two-story waterslide. Spa passes are booked separately for access to the private outdoor pool, men and women’s locker rooms, relaxation lounge, sauna, steam room and whirlpool. Parking and two beverages (alcoholic or regular) are also included in your spa day pass. Adult pool or lazy river cabanas accommodate up to eight people each, with rates based on date and occupancy.
ResortPass also offers the perfect way to sample some of the most luxurious wellness resorts and spas in the country. Austin’s Miraval Wellness Resort and Spa features an entire daycation experience with your Pass. Start the day early with complimentary valet parking, morning coffee and smoothies followed by a few group classes (fitness or culinary) and lunch (also included) onsite. Then wind down in two infinity pools with Hill Country views, full spa access (including steam room, sauna and hot tub), and a $175 resort credit that can go toward spa services or outdoor activities from paddleboarding to kayaking. An additional $75 credit can be used for wellbeing workshops or applied to the spa. Poolside food and non-alcoholic beverages are also included with your ResortPass fee, which does vary based on selected dates. You will likely stay just long enough to want to go back for an overnighter, but ResortPass makes this a very attractive alternative for locals wanting to soak up the ambiance of such fabulous havens no more than a short drive away. With locations throughout the United States and multiple countries, the ResortPass options are seemingly endless.
Swimply The Best:
The play on words is brilliant, with a hybrid of “simply” and “swim.” Even friends and family with swimming pools are not always available when you have time on your calendar to take a dip, and hosts often feel obligated to be present or entertain guests. Swimply has been described as the “AirBnB for Pools,” and that makes it a breeze to select, schedule, and enjoy your experience at locations not only in Texas but across the entire United States, Canada, and even Australia. Perhaps you are staying at a vacation rental without a pool. Swimply answers the call by giving travelers the best of both worlds. You can reserve your favorite lodging at one location and then find a second location to “Swimply” lounge in the water.
Only twenty years old in March 2020, founder Bunim Laskin pitched his idea to Shark Tank and got rejected. Now this multi-million dollar enterprise has taken off with listings of homeowners renting out their private pool spaces and amenities through Swimply. Guests enter their desired location, distance, date, timeframe, and number of guests. Additional filters include pool type (indoor/outdoor), water type (saltwater/ chlorine) and even a filter for “new pools only.” Instantly, all available pools meeting the criteria pop up with hourly rates (average rates from $25-$100/hr), distance from the address entered, and any other requirements such as hourly minimums. With many dog-friendly listings and a pet-friendly search filter, Swimply invites your water-loving pal to take the plunge or “swimply” hang out with you poolside.
We intentionally searched for a property close to home, to minimize travel time and allow just a few hours of relaxation on a Sunday afternoon before launching into the busy week. The hosts we encountered were very responsive, hospitable, accommodating, and welcoming on arrival. While some homeowners may choose to stay on the property (away from guests), others depart for their own off-site plans, while you enjoy their private oasis.
Many listings include complimentary towels, hot tubs, covered patios, outdoor grills, pool toys, and more. Examples of additional fee-based amenities include fire pits, pool heating (Hello, Fall!), and iced coolers. Wifi and Bluetooth connections allow for easy streaming of your own music apps, or opt for some peace and quiet in a beautiful backyard you didn’t have to create or maintain (other than leaving no trace as you depart). Restrooms are available and can be either detached or inside the home and easily accessed. If feeling more adventurous, search for properties that double as party venues, accommodating up to fifty people for hosting your own small event. One fun location even includes a putting green and a margarita machine. . . just BYOT (Tequila!). To that, we say “cheers” to extending the pool season and making a splash, with such infinite possibilities now at our fingertips.
Cover photo courtesy JW Marriott Austin
Dana Maass is a contributing writer, occupational therapist who lives with her husband Brian and dog Chester in Round Rock, TX. Also an AirBNB host, she is a lover of travel, food & wine, nature, fitness, theater, live music, and community service. Maass volunteers with Sacred Heart Community Clinic and co-facilitates the “Still Standing” amputee support group, through St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. Follow her on Instagram at dana_maass_adventures.