A Tale Of Two Las Vegas Luxe Pool Experiences
The best months for a trip to Las Vegas are April/May and September/October. Despite its desert setting, the winter months can be quite chilly. And the summer months are face-meltingly hot. These spring and fall windows are just right for enjoying the range of indulgent experiences this fantastic city has to offer, not least of which are poolside parties and decompression sessions.
Back in the ‘90s heyday, my two key spots were Mandalay Bay for its beach-like pool vibe and the Hard Rock Hotel for more of a 20-something party atmosphere. The “dayclub” concept hadn’t yet emerged, though the Hard Rock would have been an early version. As the Vegas pool scene is ever-changing, there are many new and revitalized players for 2022. On a recent trip, I visited two hotels and two pools that offer experiences at the extreme ends of the Vegas spectrum, though each is equally enjoyable and rewarding but for different reasons.
Tao Beach Dayclub at the Venetian Resort
The Las Vegas dayclub concept is said to have debuted at the Venetian Resort in 2007 with Tao Beach Dayclub. These new formats evolved from the nightclub scene, where various tiers of reserved tables (cabanas) with bottle service became new business and entertainment models. The Tao Group started a massive remodel on this venue in 2019, which was finally completed in early 2022.
The new Tao Beach is twice its original size at 47,000 square feet. The Bali-inspired venue is built around the DJ booth with a dance floor that extends into the main pool; 21 luxury cabanas, seven VIP cabanas with private pools and a maximum capacity of 3,000 people.
Honestly, my first Vegas dayclub experiences were underwhelming. The venues were tired; our reserved table had zero shade in once case, and they just weren’t luxury experiences. With the new Tao Beach, though, the remodel is just the beginning. Tao Group has transformed the full experience and set a new standard in what to expect from a Las Vegas dayclub. Indeed, what you pay for is not the cabana or the entertainment or the food. It’s the total experience and those pieces you take away in the form of memories, content and the stories you’ll share.
Starting with the talent, Tao Beach features some of the best DJs of the current era including Sofi Tucker, Fisher and Alesso, who played during my first experience. Since Alesso was also there for a wedding, he had his entire wedding party in tow and played an extended set with extra energy right through to closing. This including big hits like When I’m Gone (with Katy Perry), Let Me Go (with Alesso, Florida Georgia Line & watt) and Heroes (we could be). The crowd was 100-percent engaged, and the April weather was ideal.
Next, there are the facilities. VIP cabanas can run from $2,000 to $10,000 or more for a premier weekend, and these can accommodate up to 15 guests. Those with the private pool at the back of the venue offer optimal DJ viewing and maximum feel-good vibes. A bachelor party next to us was popping off champagne celebrations that, I was told, cost more than $10K per session. Whether letting loose or just chilling, the VIP cabanas include a lot of comfortable amenities with plenty of shade while also allowing you to dance under the sun while staying refreshed in the waist-deep plunge pool.
Finally, there’s the menu, which is completely over the top. It shares a lot with its sister restaurant, Tao Asian Bistro, with copious fish options including the biggest seafood tower I’ve ever had the pleasure to sample with sushi, crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters and more. The range of menu options and how they are presented are all part of that this luxury dayclub experience.
I found it ideal to stay at the Venetian Resort, as it’s an easy walk back and forth from the guest rooms to the Canal Shoppes, from where you access Tao Beach right next to the eponymous restaurant and nightclub. Other great bars and restaurants to visit on property include The Dorsey Cocktail Bar and Estiatorio Milos, which is Greek-inspired seafood flown in daily from the Mediterranean.
The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas
The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas exists at the opposite end of the spectrum from Tao Beach and the Venetian in terms of your Las Vegas resort and pool experience. Firstly, it is not a hotel-casino but rather a five-star luxury hotel that serves as respite from the craziness of The Strip and much of Las Vegas generally. You enter from valet on the ground floor and go immediately to the 23rd floor to check-in and access the guest rooms from a separate bank of exclusive elevators. It is quiet and refined in the spirit of the Waldorf brand (and, to be clear, the Mandarin Oriental, which preceded it).
The property itself is located across from the Shoppes at Crystals, which includes luxe brands such as Gucci, Tom Ford, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and HERMÈS. Indeed, with views from the Waldorf’s eighth-floor restaurant, Zen Kitchen, these signs beckon one to indulge in some designer shopping just a short stroll from the property. And in terms of being at the center of it all, this is perhaps the most desirable neighborhood on the The Strip today. The CityCenter complex also includes the Aria and Park MGM, which are walking distance for Lady Gaga shows, famed restaurants like Catch Las Vegas and The NoMad Library; and all the gaming you could need.
The Waldorf pool and spa are also located on the eighth floor, set amidst the colorful towers of glass and steel that make up CityCenter. There are three types of cabanas available for daily reservations, which cater to different guest profiles. There’s a Family Cabana ($300) located in a secluded family area; there’s an Upper Cabana ($300) at the far end of the main pool; and there’s an Adult Only Cabana ($350) in a secluded area with two pools, a plunge pool and two whirlpool baths. Each cabana can accommodate six guests and includes a stocked minibar with personalized service. It’s a Las Vegas oasis and an ideal way to spend a full day, where you can also pop into the spa for a treatment and get right back to it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also highlight the SkyBar, which is superb lounge atmosphere found on the Waldorf’s 23rd floor. There is arguably no better venue for a pre-party cocktail—I’d recommend the Spanish Trail—in preparation for whatever the evening has in store. SkyBar’s massive windows offer views of The Strip below with the Aria, Cosmopolitan, Paris, Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace seemingly close enough to touch. Be sure to reserve a table at the window to watch the sunset. If you’re wanting a light starter, sushi is a recent addition to the menu from Chef Katsunori Kawaguchi, and it is excellent.