Checking to see if your hotel has a pool is so last, well, whenever. These days, hotels around the world are stepping up their game by adding a variety of water park-like features, the sort that keep guests occupied, happy, on premises and, hopefully, purchasing more drinks from the bar.
Not necessarily a kid at heart? Hate slides? What you need is a float long a lazy river, basically the best hotel amenity ever dreamed up. These can be fairly simple to find, particularly in the best hotels in top destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas, or the Caribbean. Looking for something way above average? Here are five absolutely terrific specimens we'd be thrilled to float, right about now.
The nation's fourth largest city is hardly a tropical beach destination, but it sure as heck's got the weather down pat. Houston is, let's face it, pretty steamy for most of the year. Putting a massive lazy river on a rooftop pool deck in the heart of the city was a stroke of genius, but it's not only Texas-sized, it's also Texas-shaped—take a trip around the Lone Star State while staying cool. Bonus points for the infinity-edge hangout spot right around El Paso, with views of Discovery Green, a 12-acre park that's become a focal point within Houston's increasingly happening downtown.
Tucked into a nearly-secret corner of the Walt Disney World Resort (just behind Fort Wilderness, how's that for contrast), Four Seasons guests get the best of all possible worlds—a truly luxurious, highly exclusive hotel experience with extreme proximity to, oh, well, everything at Disney World. (It also hosts the best character breakfast, for adults dreading the experience—the food is fantastic and all-you-can-eat.) The hotel's private—and vast—water park and pool complex has to be seen to be believed, offering an astonishing amount of personal space while achieving the feat of being just about the best complex of its kind in the city. Best hotel in Orlando? Pretty much.
As if it wasn't enough that this Disney Vacation Club resort sits directly on the Pacific Ocean and as if it wasn't enough that this part of O'ahu gets a ton of daily sunshine, and—there's more!—as if it didn't have some of the loveliest swimming lagoons on the island (kid friendly, but fun for all ages), this gargantuan pleasure palace boasts a world-class water park right on premises, complete with a let's-all-jump-in-right-now lazy river. Aloha!
As swim in the Caribbean not enough for you? That's cool, because Atlantis—the mega-epic resort just outside of Nassau, The Bahamas and an easy flight from anywhere on the East Coast—boasts one of the most insanely extensive water parks (complete with aquarium) you'll ever find at a resort, anywhere. There's tons to do, but a major part of the park's charm comes from its mile-long river ride. That's right, a whole mile long.
This world-class ecopark on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula isn't a resort, but there's no disputing that it's natural inland waterways, underwater caves and ocean-adjacent swimmable lagoons are just about the greatest place of all time to kill a hot day in the tropics. Visitors from all over the world agree; the smart ones stay next door at the Occidental Xcaret, a 4-star all-inclusive where you can practically roll out of bed and into the park.