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Ten Favorite Pools in Metro Phoenix

IWhile this weekend might be your last chance to enjoy the cool weather, it's also time to start scoping out your go-to spots for when things really heat up. 

Pool hopping is as much of a summer sport in Phoenix as people watching in the air-conditioned shopping centers. 

So get out a notebook and grab your bikini (and your wallet). Here are our ten favorite pools in the Valley

10. Arizona Grand Resort
The Pointe at South Mountain wasn't too shabby, but $52 mil can buy some killer upgrades and an awful lot of water. That's why the remodeled luxury hotel, now called the Arizona Grand Resort, was a shoe-in for one of our favorite pools in town.  There's an eight-story tower with three water slides, a huge wave pool with waterfalls, and a faux river perfect for inner tubing. Order a frozen margarita at the swim-up bar or relax in the 25-person hot tub while the little ones play beach volleyball in the kid-friendly Wild Cat Springs. The only downside is that Oasis Park is for resort guests only, so you'll have to sneak in, splurge for a romantic local getaway, or schmooze your way into a company freebie.

9. Sanctuary Resort & Spa
It's not the biggest pool in town, and it's not even the flashiest (you won't find any fountains or water slides at this serene spot), but there are still three good reasons why the pool at Sanctuary on Camelback is our favorite place for a swim: palm trees, clear water, and Camelback Mountain (Sanctuary also claims its pool has the biggest infinity edge in the state). People come from all over the country to stay at this stylish Paradise Valley enclave, but we're thrilled that we can go there anytime we want -- when we can scrounge up the cash, that is.

8. Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa
The architects and designers of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale who designed the swim-up bar located in one of the ritzy resort's many posh pools deserve a huge pat on the back. Thanks to them, we can swim and drink (and swim and drink some more). Patrons of the resort (or anyone crafty enough to sneak in) can toss back a few adult beverages and handcrafted cocktails at the swim-up bar tucked away far from the kiddy-laden beach area without a care in the world. 

7. Firesky Resort
The luxurious lounge-like lobby of the FireSky in Scottsdale makes for one of Old Town's best people-watching spots -- especially people in bikinis and board shorts. The elegant outdoor lounge offers the chance to drink a precision cocktail or two underneath the stars -- or even with them, as celebs have been known to frequent the bar while staying at the resort. 

6. The Hotel Valley Ho
The Valley Ho started encouraging bathing beauties to languish poolside in 1956, when it was the glamorous resort of choice for Hollywood celebutantes and Scottsdale's high society. Not much has changed in that regard, as any trip to their beautifully redone pool can attest -- gorgeous ladies in Pucci swimsuits, protecting their eyes from the glare of the paparazzi flash by the newest oversized sunglasses, fresh from Kitson in L.A. Not to worry, there are loads of boys, too, in their Viktor and Rolf swim trunks and flip-flops from Jeffrey. Hidden behind those huge frames, it's hard to tell -- movie star? Model? Millionaire? Not that it matters much, we're only passing through. We'll leave the languishing to the lovelies.

5. The Buttes Resort
Landscaped rocks and cascading waterfalls are the hallmarks of any good resort pool, but The Buttes sets itself apart with the best poolside bar in the area. The aptly named Thirsty Cactus dishes quick bites, burgers, and ice-cold cocktails, so you won't have to leave the comfort of the warm water to grab another margarita. The pool itself is a snaking river with craggy rock formations and native plants lining the shore. The small pocket of air behind the crystal-clear waterfall is a perfect spot to steal a kiss, while the slide is popular with kids on summer break. There are also four secluded hot tubs hidden on the mountainside. You could almost picture yourself in the midst of a tropical island getaway, if it weren't for the bright streetlights and sounds of the nearby I-10 freeway and Tempe Diablo Stadium. Our suggestion? Down a couple of those frosty poolside margs, and the twinkling city lights will look like stars in no time.

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4. Clarendon Hotel
If you're just looking to swim in some treated water, any hotel pool in the Valley will do. But if you're looking for a bona fide swimming experience -- complete with multi-sensory special effects -- then the Clarendon's pool is the only place to go. This boutique hotel's got the most impressive pool area in town, "The Oasis." In addition to being a work of art, complete with a 20-foot-tall glass water wall and a Sicis Italian mural with platinum and gold accents, the pool is state of the art. It features underwater speakers, water jet massagers, a jacuzzi that accommodates more than 50 people, and bubbling fountains. At night, the pool looks particularly majestic, as nearly a thousand stars become illuminated on the pool bottom. If that doesn't sound hedonistic enough for you, there's also a bar inside that serves fine wine and offers free Wi-Fi, so you can surf the Net for naughty pictures. But we have a feeling that the pool will get your undivided attention.

3. The W Scottsdale
Posh doesn't even begin to describe the indoor/outdoor lounges located next to the W Scottsdale's second-floor WET Deck, which features lavish brown and white couches, Mediterranean-inspired décor, and a fully stocked bar armed with a classy staff tending to whatever boozy need may arise. Waterfalls are located throughout the place, rippling water at just the right volume for conversation among well-heeled types. Across the pool from Shade Lounge is the W's Sunset Beach, consisting of a white-sand landscape occupied by cabanas and daybeds, as well as color-changing lights and blazing fire pits encased in onyx marble. Good luck trying to sneak in, as the doormen at the W are particularly vigilant when it comes to stopping freeloaders.

2. Arizona Biltmore
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. A pool and your money are soon parted at this luxury resort, where non-paying guests will sigh contentedly as your stress and cash quietly drain away under the swaying palms. Spy tanning celebrities, cut in front of children waiting for the 92-foot water slide, or swim up to the bar for an $8 piña colada -- the choice is yours.

1. Spanish Fly
There are plenty of pools in Scottsdale,  but smack dab in the middle of Old Town sits Spanish Fly, which features an oasis-like swimming pool encompassing most of the outdoor patio. Where other Scottsdale beach bars boast paltry wading pools, Spanish Fly -- formerly the home of upscale Polynesia place Drift -- trumps 'em all. The proprietors exchanged tiki shtick for chic couches, posh cabanas, and a glimmering waterfall. As its name portends, the joint also serves Mexican-style nosh, but be sure to wait an hour after eating before taking a dip.

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