The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne claims not one, but two roomy pools. As the adults-only crowd tries not to get a brain freeze from veteran bartender Geno Marron’s frozen mojitos at the tranquility pool, families frolic in the other, whose zero-depth entry is designed like a shoreline. The only catch is both are exclusive to hotel guests. No worries, just book the Summer Beach Package starting at $269 per night, or party like the islanders, aka Key Rats, at Dune Oceanfront Burger Lounge, whose weekly deejays and monthly themed parties involving hookahs, and belly and flamenco dancers, welcome anyone and everyone in flip flops. (455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne; 305-365-4500; ritzcarlton.com.)
There’s no American pool as pretty as the Raleigh’s, a trait once chronicled in the famed pages of Life magazine in 1947. Its iconic Baroque design, with a magnificent diving board and pool house, has drawn legendary performers from Desi Arnaz to Esther Williams to the Beach Boys. And come Art Basel, just try to score a table in its sea grape-canopied garden, which will be even more difficult this year now that chef Michael Schwartz has set up shop in the terrace restaurant. Snack on his smoked fish dip and savory shrimp toast, after selecting the perfect chaise surrounded by dozens of white orchids. (1775 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-534-6300; raleighhotel.com.)
Here’s an insider nugget even the most seasoned spa goers might not know: W Fort Lauderdale’s Bliss Spa is the only one among its fleet to offer poolside services. What could be more heavenly than 1) Sinking into a daybed around its duo of infinity pools dubbed WET East and WET West, 2) Ordering a pitcher of mojitos customized with tropical fruit or, 3) Being massaged with freshly grated ginger and essential oils? A sweet, summer bonus, the on-site braid bar’s stylists—trained by none other than celeb hair guru Ted Gibson—fashion fishtail and milkmaid looks that are the perfect accessory for the hotel’s Sublime parties that take place every Sunday afternoon. (401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 954-414-8200; wfortlauderdalehotel.com.) The Biltmore pool is so astoundingly large that experienced swimmers get a little winded when they attempt its longer length. Being an all-inclusive resort as well, there’s always something going on around this famous focal point. Whether it’s live bossa nova or cigar smoke wafting through its cozy seating clusters denotes if it’s Sunday or Thursday, respectively. Veev mojitos are made fresh to order, which becomes a challenge when they’re half-priced on Sunday afternoons. Best prepare for a full day of fun by slathering on Hampton Sun supercharged sunscreen from the hotel boutique. (1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables; 855-311-6903; biltmorehotel.com.)
Kids aren’t usually the first thing that come to mind when thinking about the ultra-luxe Acqualina. But the resort, in fact, bends over backwards for tykes and teens alike. With two family-friendly pools heated to a constant 88 degrees, its award-winning AcquaMarine Children’s Program’s eco-educational activities enrich as well as entertain through poolside scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, arts and crafts, and even microscopes. As the brood buzzes around with Miami Vice mocktails and Rice Krispies treats, among the rotating complimentary perks, mom and dad can chill in a cabana with ESPA massages. (17875 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach; 305-918-8000; acqualinaresort.com.)
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With a sophisticated take on spring break for grown-ups, SLS Hotel brought the nonstop Los Angeles party to South Beach last year, recharging the island’s pool scene to boot. Its lineup of weekly events around a duo of pools can be heard thumping far down the beach path day and night. Need a vitamin D fix? Hyde Beach hosts daytime soirees: Pool House on Saturdays and J’Adore on Sundays, where revelers customize Bloody Marys from a convenient mobile cart. And because a beach partier can’t live by cocktails alone, grilled lobsters and skirt steaks are there for the savoring, served with a side of bossa nova by Brazilian singer Clara Telles and her band. (1701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-674-1701; slshotels.com.)