Photo: InterContinental Hong Kong
This post originally appeared at Departures.The Skypark pool atop the Marina Bay Sands hotel, in Singapore, might be one of the most magnificent pools on earth: It’s an infinity-edged oasis 650 feet above ground with a mind-blowing view of the city’s skyline. It’s part of a massive rooftop entertainment platform perched atop three skyscrapers
While it may vie for the most dramatic, this high-altitude hot spot is now one of many built in major metropolises. These days pools are popping up on top of skyscrapers from New York to Sydney and everywhere in between, often with bars and restaurants that help transform the pool deck into a social scene all its own.
“In densely populated cities where space is at a such a premium, if you want to build something new and innovative, the only place to go is up,” says Thompson Toronto project architect Rob Cadeau, who turned the hotel’s rooftop into a gathering place by designing a bar adjacent to the pool area. Other designers have used increasingly dramatic effects—infinity edges, cantilevered pool tanks, see-through flooring—in order to distinguish and gain international attention for their offerings.
“Every time someone does something new, someone else has to up the ante,” says Cadeau. “In the future, we’re going to see even more acrobatic engineering on rooftops, features that will stretch our perception of the pool edge, the height and the sensations you experience once you’re swimming.”
The trend to create entertainment hubs above the hectic urban bustle started a decade ago in New York, where 35 hotels now feature a rooftop bar, many of which have pools. Boutique properties like the Soho House were the first to get in on the action, and other hotels followed suit, from Hotel Frasano’s Phillipe Starck–designed rooftop pool in Rio de Janeiro to the Joule in Dallas, where part of the pool hangs off the building.
Eventually the laws of physics may keep designers from pushing the envelope any further. In the meantime—the sky’s the limit.
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This story was originally published by Departures.
This Phillipe Starck--designed rooftop pool deck is a feast for the eyes, from dramatic views of Ipanema beach and Two Brothers mountain to Starck's sculptural installation of ear-shaped mirrors. Naturally even the guests are worth a glance: Madonna, Kevin Spacey and P. Diddy have all been spotted poolside.
To help loungers stay cool as the people-watching heats up, the bar mixes specialty caipirinhas and freshly squeezed tropical juices. The hotel recently opened a Vichy shower room adjacent to the pool, which offers body wraps, massages and after-sun treatments by Spa Fasano and renowned Brazilian spa therapist Renata de Abreu. fasano.com.br.
When movie mogul Tim Headington, who has bankrolled such films as Martin Scorsese's The Departed and The Aviator, built a pool on the tenth-floor rooftop of his downtown Dallas hotel, he opted for a little Hollywood-style drama, extending the pool eight feet out and over the side of the building, complete with an aquarium-like glass wall at the end overlooking the street.
On warmer weekends The Joule hosts parties on the pool deck, which is complete with cabanas and a menu from the Charlie Palmer restaurant downstairs. Not outrageous enough? The poolside loungers can request an SPF application from the onsite tanning butler. thejouledallas.com.
In a city with no shortage of IMAX-worthy hotel views, the one from the InterContinental demands a mention. Visitors can take in views of Victoria Harbour and nearby Hong Kong Island from one of three temperature-controlled infinity spa pools on the third floor pool terrace, which is open to all guests.
Guests rotate between hot, warm and cold plunges on the 30,000-square-foot deck while a butler lingers nearby with a selection of beverages and facials mists. For those who need further relaxing after their swim, the feng shui--based Ancient Rituals of the Orient treatment at I-Spa, located steps from the pool, is guaranteed to do the trick.
The hotel also has a Presidential Suite and a CEO suite (pictured here), which both have a private swimming pool and jacuzzi. hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com.
This indoor pool stands a dizzying 1,500 feet above the street, offering a bird's-eye view of Hong Kong Island. It also features 144 LED screens installed in the ceiling that display video and images, a hot and cold plunge area and an outdoor Jacuzzi.
The pool shares the floor with OZONE, the highest bar in the world (rivaled only by at.mosphere in Dubai's Burj Khalifa). Head over to check out the space-age decor and take part in the drinking and dancing.ritzcarlton.com/hongkong.
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