Summer Guide: Swim Free or Die

Surefire advice on how to get wet without getting soaked.

All right, I’m not ashamed to admit it: I sneak into pools at fancy hotels—and I’ve never been caught. It’s a fine art, you see, and I’ll tell you right now, I’ve mastered it.

I started small: two-bit pools, some not much bigger than birdbaths, a Motel 6 here, a Best Western there. Cocky with success, I moved on to hit some of the best watering holes America has to offer: the Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua on Maui; a rooftop oasis at a Hyatt in Huntington Beach; an oval-shaped wonder at the Sheraton in Scottsdale; and, oh yes, that curvaceous cement pond at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. I still have wet dreams about swimming under that gorgeous fountain at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis.

Any sneak worth his salt knows it’s all about attitude, and that begins with a calm, confident stride through the hotel lobby. Make this your mantra: “I’ve paid good money for this place, and now I’m going to take a swim.”

This was exactly my frame of mind last summer when I put my pool-sneaking prowess to good use at the Four Seasons Hotel at First and Union. I’d heard on good authority it was the only outdoor hotel pool in Seattle, which it is, and I went for it.

I first moved across the lobby aisle, as fearless as the son of royalty, my bathing suit beneath my white Dockers. In a small bag were a paperback, sunscreen, a San Francisco Giants T-shirt. Note: Never bring a towel.

To the fourth floor I rose, happily noting that the elevator did not require a room card key. It got even better, for on the fourth floor, just outside the exercise room, there beckoned a cupboard flush with towels and—how perfect—an unlocked bathroom to change in.

The glass door that opened onto the pool was locked. No worries, for on a warm day I knew there’d be plenty of hotel guests (many paying $375, the lowest standard room rate during summer months) coming and going. And there were. So I just moved in with the flow.

The pool is just OK. It’s sort of a glorified lap pool, 45 feet long, about 15 feet wide, and four and a half feet at its deepest. Still, it more than did the trick. It was heated at a Goldilocks-pleasing 84 degrees. And the view is absolutely fabulous. From the chaise longues, I watched the Ferris wheel turn and the green and white ferries steam across the bay.

After a refreshing dip, a pool attendant took my order, the clubhouse and an iced tea, for which I thanked him nicely.

“Shall I charge it to your room, sir?” he asked.

“Why, no, I’ll pay with cash,” I quickly replied, a $20 and a kindly smile at the ready.

I left a generous tip, and I recommend that all pool-sneak wannabes do the same when swimming and sunbathing for free at expensive hotels.

All in all, a lovely afternoon. But next time, I think I’ll go with the Caesar salad.

econklin@seattleweekly.com

 
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