Bellagio’s mild mannered Mediterranean valley. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

When daytime temperatures soar to 100 degrees in Nevada, the crowds at the Las Vegas pool swimming scene soar, too. I sampled a couple of the casino’s splashy settings during an August visit to the Strip and what I found in some cases surprised me.

Natural sunlight is rare inside the Strip’s mega-casinos, though the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, the St. Mark’s Square at The Venetian, and the Paris Las Vegas have each painted pleasant partly-sunny, realistic-looking blue sky ceilings above gamers and shoppers (with no need for sunscreen). Otherwise the tropical walkway from the Mirage’s lobby to the gaming floor is under a domed skylight, but that’s quickly shaded by the high-rise of hotel rooms beside it to the west.

So on a sizzling summer day I set out to swim at a few of the prettier posh ponds in town.

Soliel Las Vegas Pool at Paris Las Vegas

I began with Soliel Las Vegas Pool at Paris Las Vegas, which I found a couple of stories above the gaming floor. The stately setting was easily accessible because the pool deck was only a few yards from the same elevator bank that serves the hotel room tower. It was therefore quick and easy to get to and from the hotel room to the pool without dripping across any gaming spaces or commercial corridors.

The pleasant pool Soleil at Paris Las Vegas. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

French-style, flower-covered wrought-iron archways, huge planters, topiary hedges and private French villas border the expansive, two-acre pool, Jacuzzis and concrete deck which sat just below the restaurant level of the adjacent Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower. I would say the pool was in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, but for some of the morning it’s partly in the shadow of the huge hotel towers. I noticed late in the day, as the sun set behind the Bellagio Casino Hotel on the other side of the deck across the street, Paris pool guests re-positioned their chairs and towels in order to catch the last rays of the day.

There were plenty of towels, private cabanas, an attentive wait staff for Café du Parc bar, and a large flowered frame for staging photos with the Eiffel Tower in the background – suitable for social media sharing. It was a simple, pleasant, and convenient experience. C’est si bon!

Bellagio’s Heated, Year-Round Pools

Speaking of Bellagio across the street, the swimming pool setting there is similarly subtle, but literally one story below ground level between hotel high-rises in a tree-filled Mediterranean valley of its own. Nothing is near anything at the massive Bellagio, so it takes some traversing from the towers and tiptoeing through the conference and retail corridor to dip your toe in the water. (By the way, Bellagio’s bottom-patterned pool had the warmest water of any I sampled – it’s heated to 80-degrees and opened year-round.)

The pool café, with its cool water misters, was busy with conference-goers in business suits and skirts, and there were daybeds and cabanas spread throughout the five courtyard pools and Jacuzzis of varying size.

The Bellagio pools open at 5 a.m. in the summer. Early-morning, exercise-seeking lap swimmers will love the super extra-long central swimming pool. La vita e bella!

Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace

A true Roman Holiday at Caesars Palace. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

I found the undisputed, jaw-dropping epic emperor of swimming pool settings to be the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace – which is adjacent to Bellagio and across from Paris.

The outsized Roman architecture surrounding (and even sometimes in) the seven different adjacent pools is visually staggering as it the glamorous people watching. (I noticed a bride wearing her veil taking selfies with her maid of honor in the iconic and playful Temple Pool.) The iconic Temple Pool is a circular work of art surrounded by statues and waterfalls with fountains and two-story, columned, covered altar in the middle. One can’t help but feel like Caesar himself resting there and surveying the luxury.

A celebratory selfie at Caesars Palace pools. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

The next most noticeable element was the swim-up blackjack tables in the Fortuna Pool area just at the end of the Neptune Pool and in front of a bar with a bank of frozen drink dispensers spinning and serving. The rectangular Neptune Pool has a mosaic pattern on the bottom and is great for lap swimming in stately surrounds.

The Neptune Pool with swim up black jack at the far end’s Fortuna pool. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

The Venus pool is no longer “European topless” but is for adults only and maintains its international vibe with “Cove Beach Takeover” themed parties such as Havana Fridays, Middle Eastern Shisha, and DJ’s spinning world music.

The iconic tower in the Temple Pool. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

The Jupiter Pool is for family fun, but is no less fanciful; and the Apollo Pool is casual and chill (the pool water in each of them was chilly, by the way.)

Luxurious daybeds, cabanas and Qua Spa poolside services are all available for an extra fee, and the attentive pool deck goddesses will even adjust your chaise lounge umbrella accordingly.

There is a Bacchus Pool for invited guests and celebrities.

The entrance to the Garden of the Gods Oasis Pools. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

If you go to one swimming pool in Las Vegas, the Garden of the Gods Oasis Pool at Caesars Palace should be the one. It’s seasonal, but free for hotel guests and only $20 for others.

Beach Club in the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas

I thought I’d seen it all until, in a combination of the interest of journalism and curiosity about what my college-age son Harrison and his friends were doing, I popped up the Strip to catch an afternoon pool party that they’d ditched me for at “EBC,” the Beach Club in the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

EBC: Encore Beach Club’s day party. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

I should have known I was barking up the wrong tree when the EBC doorman looked my 52-year-old self over and asked me, “Are you sure you’re not looking for our resort pool, sir? It’s right over there. The Beach Club pool is more like a concert.”

I gave him a tight grin and proceeded to wait in a long line of half-dressed, international millennials who were willing to shell out $60 to get in but not connected enough to get preferred access past the VIP velvet rope.

After a steamy half-hour wait I was both wanded with a metal detector and patted down before being allowed into the open air pool deck (as the paramedics were wheeling someone out). The air was the only thing “open” about the place as there were throngs of people covering every inch of the pool, the deck and the cabanas and balconies surrounding the pool area.

DJ’s known as the “Chain Smokers” pumping music from a stage to the crowds of young people in and around the pool swilling bottle service or coiffing $45 cocktails in the sun.

As I stood, at my age, in the masses surveying the scene, I invoked the name of Dante Alighieri and wondered which level of his “inferno” this would be? Instead of a layer of hell I was longing for the Garden of the Gods.

But next stop? Marshmello at The Palms KAOS day club pool party, of course!

Michael Patrick Shiels is a radio host and travel blogger. Follow his adventures at Contact Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels at [email protected] 

Michael Patrick Shiels

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