The amenities here are as lavish in execution as the hotel itself and may encourage you to put off visiting the theme parks as you linger in the lap of luxury with a masseuse and a poolside waiter at your beck and call. The lobby alone, featuring leather armchairs and today’s international newspapers on old-fashioned reading sticks, is an oasis of sophisticated repose.
Ninety-seven rooms in the Villa Wing have been set aside to give select guests that extra level of service and exclusivity. It’s essentially the same concept as that found on the “Concierge Level” at upscale business hotels. However, because the layout of the hotel makes it impossible to restrict access to the Club Level rooms and lounge area with elevators, the system here is slightly different.
The Club lounge is on the lobby level, just paces away from the Bar American. The entrance to the lounge shares space with the hotel’s ticket sales and auto rental counter. To gain admission to the private lounge, Club Level guests must use their room keys. Once inside, they are treated to the largest Club lounge of all the resort hotels. This one features free Internet access and a pool table along with more usual amenities. Those include out of town newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and DVDs (to watch there or take back to the DVD player in the room). There are also personal concierges on duty from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. to attend to guest needs.
There is a complimentary continental breakfast in the morning, beverages and snacks available throughout the day, light appetizers in the afternoon, free drinks from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., and dessert before bedtime (8:30 to 9:30 p.m.).
There are three pools, ranging from the intimate to the lavish. The Beach Pool is the most extensive and, to my mind, the most fun. You'll find it nestled behind the West Wing. At one end it simulates a beach, with the ankle deep water surrounded by soft white sand; at the other end the pool is deeper, although never more than five feet. It surrounds a replica of the old lighthouse that stands along the Ligurian coast near Portofino. This crumbling ruin hides a short but speedy water slide that is a favorite with kids.
Nearby, against walls that mimic ancient aqueducts, are two small secluded spa pools with hot bubbling water and warm waterfalls that provide a very nice shoulder massage. Also close at hand is a large, separate children's play area, with a pirate ship to climb in and over and a wading pool that is constantly spritzed by a trio of fountains. Campo Portofino, the children's program (described below), is close by.
There are a few "cabanas," gaily striped canvas tents with overhead fans, electricity, plasma TVs, and small refrigerators. These can be rented for $160 per day (and up) and provide a modicum of privacy and a touch of class for your poolside lounging. All cabana rentals come with bottled water and include a small selection of soft drinks and fruit. Club Level guests receive a $20 discount. Make your reservations at the Beach Pool hut, dial 41745 from your room, or speak with the concierge.
The Beach Pool is near the Splendido Pizzeria and has its own poolside bar, so it's a great place to have a relaxed al fresco meal. Because of its popularity with kids, however, it can get noisy; so adults in search of peace and quiet might want to head elsewhere.
The Villa Pool, just a few steps from the Beach Pool and separated from it by a wing of the hotel, is much more elegant. The atmosphere is one of regal gentility. It's easy to imagine that you have your own palazzo or that you are a movie mogul cutting deals along the Italian Riviera. The layout of the pool is crisply formal with stately palm trees lining its borders and, at one end, an elaborate fountain backed by a raised balustrade.
There are more cabanas here; these start at a mere $133 per day ($20 less for Club Level guests) and come with the same amenities. Reserve them just as you would a Beach Pool cabana.
There is a heated jacuzzi-like pool too, of course, and attendants are on hand to take food and drink orders at poolside. Just for fun, try out the immaculately groomed bocce ball courts; they make for a perfect no-cost date night. The official rules are posted nearby.
On peak-season Saturday nights there is a "Dive-In Movie" at the Beach Pool. A huge screen is set up at poolside so guests can watch while floating on rented rafts. The films are family fare of fairly recent vintage and never more racy than PG-13; the Harry Potter films are screened frequently.
A good place to go for some real privacy is the Hillside Pool tucked away at the end of the East Wing. Much smaller than the Beach Pool, it has the virtue of seclusion and quiet along with a view across the Bay.
Hours at the pools vary by season and occupancy. In summer, you will generally find the Beach Pool open 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily; the Villa Pool, 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and the Hillside Pool, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
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