5 hot stays with cool pools

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Take a dip at these hotels and villas, all with truly wonderful waters for wading. Words Joe Shooman

1 The Crane, Barbados
Best for… Dramatic views
Where: Crane Beach, St Philip
Rates: From US$238
Info: + 1 246 423 6220; www.thecrane.com

The Caribbean’s first resort hotel opened back in 1887, and this extensive property’s combination of natural beauty, old-school architecture and up-to-the-minute technology continues to please. In total, the Crane has 252 suites and residences, just a few minutes away from Grantley Adams International Airport. It also has no fewer than five shared pools to choose from. The enormous cascading pool complex includes a Jacuzzi spa, kids’ paddling pool, cascading waterfall and whirlpool, all set against a spectacular Atlantic Ocean backdrop. Best of all, though, is the 1970s Doric column-surrounded cliff-edge Historic Pool. It overlooks Crane Beach, 15m up, and is adults-only. In addition, some of the rooms have their own private pools, which range from plunge pools with a view to infinity pools to huge penthouse pools with glorious garden decks.

2 Aruwai White H20 Resort, Guyana
Best for… Cocktails
Where: Baraca Island, Lower Mazaruni River, Bartica
Rates: From US$100
Info: +592 225 7517; www.aruwairesort.gy

How about a pool in the middle of a river? Aruwai is the only island resort in the whole country, a five-acre outcrop midstream in the majestic Mazaruni. It’s the height of tranquillity, surrounded by lush flora and flowing water, with a lovely little beach that’s perfect for bonfires and barbecues. There’s plenty to do, too, including cricket, volleyball, football, fishing and, of course, watersports – kayaking, pedal-boating and jet skis are all available. After all that exercise, you’ll have earned a spot at the swim-up bar where skilled mixologists will whip up something delicious from their extensive cocktail list – from punchy classics to gorgeous non-alcoholic mocktails. The food is also renowned, a mix of delicious local and international dishes (we advise the pepperpot). There’s also a kids’ pool where the young ones can splash to their hearts’ content, plus a Jacuzzi to massage those tired muscles.

3 La Pagerie, Martinique
Best for… Waterside wellness
Where: Ponte du Bout, Les Trois-Îlets
Rates: From US$130
Info: +596 660 530; www.hotel-lapagerie.com

La Pagerie is a 20-minute sea-shuttle ride from Fort-de-France, close to Ponte du Bout marina, the Creole Village, golf courses, casinos and some beautiful beaches, so there’s plenty to do. But it’s the hotel’s idyllic, tropical garden-surrounded pool that will have you returning here time and time again. Hit the Palm Bar for cocktails as soon as you arrive at La Pagerie and as you sip you can survey the 200-square-metre swimming pool. You may well be tempted to just dive straight in – which is encouraged, because the Palm Bar also has a swim-up side for the ultimate refreshment. You won’t have to move too far for even more pampering, either: massages, facials and other treatments are available at the poolside wellness area. Bliss.

4 Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa, St Lucia
Best for… Families
Where: Rodney Bay Village
Rates: From US$152
Info: +1 758 457 8006; www.baygardensresorts.com

The all-inclusive Bay Gardens Beach Resort is very popular with families. It has a lovely lagoon-type pool and Jacuzzi, ideal for lazy swims and relaxing. But, even better is the other ‘pool’ – only 100 paces away is the most beautiful stretch of beach where you’ll find the brilliant Splash Island Water Park. One of the largest outdoor water entertainment complexes in St Lucia, the park – open to anyone from age six and over 3.5ft tall – is a floating inflatable obstacle course, with trampolines, climbing walls, slides, swings and things to jump on, jump off and crawl through. It’s all supervised by the park’s certified lifeguards. Also on site at Bay Gardens is a Fitness Centre, two restaurants, the luxurious La Mer Spa and Salon, meeting rooms and a business centre.

5 Symbio Villa, BVI
Best for… Sunset magic
Where: Princess Quarters, Virgin Gorda
Rates: From US$4,200 per week
Info: +1 284 494 2446; www.smithsgore.com

Set within a private estate on Virgin Gorda, Symbio Villa was built to exist in harmony with its natural surroundings, its three levels nestled into a lush hillside. From its breezy porches you can enjoy a panoramic view of elegant yachts on the Sir Francis Drake Channel and beyond to the neighbouring islands. You’re also only minutes away from the Copper Mine, the Baths and world-renowned white-sand beaches of Virgin Gorda. The villa’s beautiful interior balances style, sophistication and convenience. It has two sumptuous bedrooms, divine outdoor showers, an enormous living room (great for socialising), a gym and an open-air lounge from where a wooden walkway leads out to one of the most spectacular private pools in the Caribbean. Set amid a profusion of Caribbean palms, bougainvillea and fragrant frangipani, and hemmed in by smooth boulders, the lagoon pool looks more like the work of Mother Nature. With its Zen-like feel, it’s the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and toast a beautiful Caribbean sunset, rum punch in hand.

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