Sneaking into the Best Pools in Phoenix

Over the weekend, we celebrated the official start of summer by visiting (and sneaking into) a few of the Valley's finest hotel pools in hopes of cooling off from the 110-degree weather. 

We came across some pretty kick-ass cement ponds in the process reserved for "resort guests only," and some not-so-nice security guards.

See where we succeeded and failed to get into some greater Phoenix's best resort pools, plus a few tips on how to enjoy their refreshing, chlorinated greatness ... without being a guest.

The Rules
The hotels we chose to infiltrate had to meet two criteria: 
a. each property had to have at least a 4-star rating
b. the average weekend rate had to exceed $100 per night. 

The Disguise

It's important to note that in order to successfully sneak into a pool, you have to dress the part -- flip-flops, swimming attire, etc. But it's also important to properly accessorize.

​On our Saturday excursion, we packed a Publix supermarket reusable tote with a book, headphones, Moleskin writing pad, Trader Joe's mixed nuts, water jug, sunglasses, and white, hotel-looking towel to give off the impression that we were on "vacation," and ready to relax.

The Hotels

Valley Ho
6850 East Main Street
(480) 248-2000
Average Rating: 4.5
July Weekend Rate: Approx. $133 to $399 per night
Sneak-in-ability: Not Good

Sneaking onto the property, easy--we walked through an open gate near the Trader Vic's parking lot. Finding the pool was also a breeze, we simply followed Britney (Spears), bitch; we could hear "Till the World Ends" from our car nearly two blocks away. 

But when we reached the Valley Ho pool area after following the sounds overproduced radio pop, we quickly realized cracking security wasn't going to be easy.

First, we tried walking in with a group of people, but security asked to see our yellow wristband--we didn't have one. Then, we tried sneaking in through an opening near an ice machine by the back bar, but that didn't work either. 

After about a half hour of trying to infiltrate the Valley Ho pool party, we gave up and watched the pretty folks rage from the stairwell.

Tip: Guys, try bulking up at the gym, and getting a tribal tattoo if you want in. Ladies, wear a two-piece, and show off your Playboy Bunny belly ring. Frat bros, and sorority girls jump to the front of the line.

The W Hotel
7277 East Camelback Road
(480) 970-2100

Average Rating: 4 Stars
July Weekend Rate: Approx. $169 to $539 per night
Sneak-in-ability: Not Good

The W Hotel brand is one our favorites, and after sneaking into a couple 'round the country, we've established that the best way to get past security undetected is using the fake phone call technique.

On Saturday, we held an iPhone to our ear and had a one-way conversation with ourselves as we walked passed the doorman that held the front door open for us. Inside the lobby, and still on our mobile, we noticed a dude manning the velvet rope separating WET, the hotel's pool beach-themed pool area, and us--there was no getting passed him.

Quick thinking resulted in following a couple into the room-key-accessed elevator, and pushing the second floor button. As soon as the doors opened, we followed the music to the pool deck. As we approached the gate, a woman wearing a barely-there green bikini, stilettos, and an incredibly poor blonde dye job pushed through the gate from inside the pool area. We tried rushing to the gate before it locked shut, however did not make it through. 

Tip: Replace the tote bag with a Prada beach bag, and flip-flops with Louis Vuitton boat shoes, and maybe buy your way into the most exclusive party on Camelback.

The Phoenician
6000 East Camelback Road
(480) 941-8200

Average Rating: 4.5 Stars
July Weekend Rate: Approx. $206-960
Sneak-in-ability: High

We parked in the underground "self-parking" garage, and walked up the ramp towards the main driveway. To the right, the hotel, to the left, a gate with a sign that read, "resort guests only in pool areas." We played the illiterate card, pushed the gate open, and discovered paradise in the middle of the desert.

We made it, finally a pool we could jump into and cool off in. Our prop tote worked, and we set up shop next to a couple from Chicago. We talked about deep-dish pizza, and the brutal summer heat in Arizona.

A pool attendant even asked if we were thirsty, or needed an extra towel. At last, we felt welcome somewhere, and quite frankly, a little guilty that we weren't dropping a car payment to enjoy the facilities. We only stayed for a little while, left a Jackalope Ranch sticker on the table, and got out before raising any suspicion.

Tip: Respect the place, act like you belong there, and swim at your own risk.

Arizona Biltmore
2400 East Missouri Avenue
(602) 955-6600

Average Rating: 4.5 stars
July Weekend Rate: $159-499
Sneak-in-ability: High

It's been called the "Jewel of the Desert," and Arizona's Grand Dame. Naturally, this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired property had to be included on our list of places to sneak into.

It's easy to get lost at the 39-acre property, so after we found ourselves walking around in circles for 20-minutes, we mustered up the courage to ask a hotel employee for directions to the pool. In a bizarre twist of events, said employee asked if we wanted a picture of the bird he found struggling to fly.

After setting his avian friend down in a flowerbed, our guide walked us to the pool, and pushed the gate open for us. We found shade under two palm trees, and listened to our iPod for a short while before helping ourselves to complimentary water in a paper cup.

The pool at the Biltmore was packed with kids playing Marco Polo, and other dumb water games. Our head started to hurt, so we packed our bag, and decided to exercise the mind a bit with a game of lawn chess.

Tip: Act natural. And by natural, we mean like a millionaire on vacation at one of the nicest hotels in the world. No one will question you at the Biltmore.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Twitter and Facebook

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Victor Gonzalez
Contact: Victor Gonzalez