by Jennifer Ammon

It was another killer day in Miami, 94 degrees in the shade, and I was sticky wet hot and didn't want to go to the sticky wet lukewarm ocean to take a saltwater bath. What else could I do to cool off but open the fridge, let the white cold air pour onto me, grab a beer, suck it down, then have another one? Well, I could go to the bathroom.

As it was for Einstein, Isaac Newton and Deepak Chopra, this was where I came up with some of my most brilliant notions. I would watch TV. Ah, summertime, when laziness was a virtue. I turned on the ceiling fan, cranked up the air conditioner and watched a great movie called The Swimmer, with Burt Lancaster.

Beefy Burt decides to go swimming from pool to pool on a weird nostalgic journey home (at one pool, he crashes a groovy '60s party that had me looking for Mrs. Robinson). Obviously, Burt wasn't only brawn; he had brains. What a fabulous idea! I was resolved to go pool hopping like Burt. I'd go swimming from one beautiful water hole to the next (who knew what chic parties I could crash?).

The Venetian Pool
A Very Classy Quarry

First we'll hop over to the Venetian Pool (shown above) in the beautiful city of Coral Gables. The Venetian Pool isn't just a swimming pool -- in fact, it's more like a really classy quarry. Once an ugly ducking rock pit, it was transformed into a swan in 1924 to what was then called the Venetian Casino; during its heyday, Tarzan and Esther Williams swam there. A major restoration of the pool was completed in 1989 and the Venetian Pool is now one of the world's loveliest swimming holes.

The first thing you notice here are the Venetian-styled buildings that look as though they're from another era. Then there's the flora: palm trees, Hibiscus, Poinciana, Bougainvillea and banyan envelop the area, and you feel like you're on a desert island in the middle of a Mediterranean paradise -- in fact, there is an island here! There are also waterfalls, a Spanish fountain, vine-covered loggias and a great cobblestone bridge that you can swim under.

In addition to all this, the Venetian Pool is the pool to go to when you're too hot to trot. The 820,000 gallon pool is fed with clear cool spring water daily, and I do mean cool. Oooh, how refreshing it is!

Time to go, gotta go explore the coral rock caves!

The Venetian Pool is located at 2701 DeSoto Boulevard, Coral Gables, Florida 33134. Admission is $8 for adults/$4.00 for children April through October, and $5.00 for adults/$2.00 for children November through March. Telephone: 305/460-5356 or 305/460-5306. Website:

The Pool at the Biltmore Hotel
A Plus-Sized Beauty

Driving up to the Biltmore Hotel, a coral-orange jewel perched against a blue sky in Coral Gables, you feel a sense of awe. Diving into the hotel's XXL-size pool, you feel a sense of Ahhhh.

The Biltmore Hotel has a truly grand pool, elegant and huge. Measuring almost 22,000 square feet and holding 600,000 gallons of water, it is the largest hotel pool in the Continental U.S. This is the pool to go to when you want your space. It's also the place to go for serious swimming.

But while you're doing laps (long, long laps), there's still plenty of scenery to take in between gulps of air. Old World charm surrounds the pool (not to mention statues), as the hotel's design is Spanish-style with Moorish and Italian accents; its 15-story, 300' copper-clad tower is modeled after the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. Open in 1926 and a building of lasting beauty, the Biltmore Hotel has been designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. Its pool, according to Travel & Leisure magazine, is one of the world's best, and it's not hard to understand why. This is a swimmer's palace.

The Biltmore Hotel is located at 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, Florida 33134. Telephone: 305/445-1926. Reservations: 800/727-1926. Website:

The Albion Hotel's Pool
Portholes, Beach Sand, a Raft and Thou

Tired from all that hard-core swimming, I hopped over to South Beach in search of a pool where I could relax. I found just the thing at the Albion Hotel. The Albion, recently renovated in 1997 avant-garde architect Carlos Zapata, was originally created in 1939 by Igor Polevitsky, who described the Art Deco gem as a "luxury ocean liner on dry land." And that's what it is -- portholes and all. Walking to the pool area, you can see people swimming, drifting about and even snoozing on a raft, all from the pool's peek-a-boo portholes. Your heart flutters -- soon this will be you!

The 60-foot pool at the Albion is heated to a pleasant 83 degrees (in the unlikely event the Miami air ever drops to a brisk 75) and has a low-key, come-and-catch-some-rays attitude. No one hassles you here. You plop down on your lounge chair, take a dip when you get too hot, go back to your chair, put on your shades, maybe pick up a magazine if you're feeling energetic. You can hang out on a raft for hours. You can even do laps as long as you keep clear of those who aren't quite in the same mood.

If you want the beach, the Albion has that too: just walk up to the mezzanine sundeck (featuring real Miami Beach sand!) overlooking the pool. That way you can have your feet in the sand, but you don't have to worry about jellyfish--or JAWS. In fact, the only thing you might have to worry about here is running out of sunscreen.

The Albion Hotel is in the historic Art Deco district of Miami Beach at 1650 James Avenue at Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. Telephone: 305/913-1000. Reservations: 888/665-0008 Website:

The Pool at the Raleigh Hotel
Pretty as a Picture

Located directly on the ocean, the Raleigh hotel opened in 1940 and is the first large Deco hotel to be restored in Miami Beach. Now fully renovated, the Raleigh's 1940's-style decor and state-of the-art accouterments make this hotel a favorite hangout for locals, business execs and tourists.

And how's the pool, you ask?

The pool at the Raleigh has got to be one of the prettiest I've ever seen. This must be the reason why so many fashion photographers snap pictures here, why so many video productions and movies are filmed here, and why so many people come to the pool here. It's just dazzling.

The soft, scalloped-shaped design of the oversized pool (it makes me think of a sensuous, plump woman), the marvelous Moroccan Medjul palm trees surrounding it and the glorious turquoise and blue colors of the pool make it one of "10 Great Places to Take a Dip," according to USA Today. If you feel like cooling off but don't really want to swim, you can do your "wet lounging" in the shallow area of the pool (with a depth of just 10") that outlines the main pool. This is also an excellent area for kids to splash around in.

Poolside tables can be reserved for dining and there's a full service poolside bar. After all, you can build up quite a thirst from all that wet-lounging.

The Raleigh Hotel is located in the historic Art Deco district of Miami Beach at 1775 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. Telephone: 305/534-6300. Reservations: 800/848-1775. Website:

Delano's "Water Salon"
Redefining the Swimming Pool

Ready for something different, I hopped over to the pool at the Delano hotel on South Beach. Irreverent, cutting-edge and sophisticated, conveying a sense of tranquility and at the same time, playfulness, the pool at Delano is much like its hotel home: one-of-a-kind.

Renowned hotelier Ian Schrager and designer extraordinaire Philippe Starck conceived this Guggenheim of swimming pools, and what a pool it is. It took 17 city and state ordinances to finally get the self-described "Water Salon" afloat, an effort which basically reinvented the swimming pool. It's composed of several different areas for floating, meditating and yes, even swimming, although physical exertion is less the point here than relaxation, good vibrations and, of course, harmonious thoughts and feelings.

These feelings, however, were quickly diminishing. I wanted to sit in one of the chairs cleverly perched in the Water Salon's shallow end, but both chairs were already taken by adorable muscle guys with really white teeth, and it didn't look like they were going anywhere. It was enough to make me forget my mantra. Then I remembered something Delano designer Philippe Starck said: "You can admire my chair, but you shouldn't covet it." If you say so, Philippe. I decided to chill out by cooling off. I dove into the water and heard--could it be?--classical music. How utterly divine!

And that's exactly what it's like at Delano's pool--I mean, Water Salon: utterly divine.

Delano is located on the ocean at 1685 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. Telephone: 305/672-2000. Reservations: 800/555-5001

The Pool at the Fontainebleau

A Lagoon Pretending to be a Pool

For my last stop, I hopped over to the Fontainebleau Hilton's pool, located just past the fabulous mural of the hotel on Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. The hotel is situated on 20 acres overlooking the Atlantic ocean and is one of Miami's most renowned landmarks.

The pool at the Fontainebleau seems to offer almost everything: it's beautiful, it's large, and best of all, this is a place where you can really get away from it all. The nice thing about the pool here is, depending on your mood, you can engage in heavy-duty swimming/water-frolicking, or you can relax and enjoy the sun while slurping on a pina colada. Of course, you can always do it all (my favorite): the swim/frolic/relax/slurp.

The half-acre rock grotto lagoon-style pool with cascading waterfalls (marvelous!) is surrounded by palm trees, and it's so tropical here I'm wondering if I'm on Gilligan's Island (where's Ginger?). Because of the pool's size and unusual lagoon shape, you'll find there are plenty of places to venture to and explore.

But if you're not feeling that rambunctious, you can always get yourself a drink (always important after a hard day of "pooling"), find a lounge chair in the desired location, plunk yourself down, put your sunglasses on and enjoy the scenery--it's pretty darn good.

Hey, isn't that Ginger over there, in the evening gown?

The Fontainebleau Hilton is on the ocean at 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33140. Telephone: 305/538-2000. Reservations: 800/548-8886. Website:

I put on my swimsuit (egads!) and made the plunge. Join me on my journey to some of Miami's most spectacular pools...

Forgot to pack your bathing suit? No problemo en Miami!
The Beautiful People's playground is packed with swimwear outlets - check this listing of area shops that sell a good range of swimwear.

m i a m i b e a c h

Air De Paris
1920 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Beach Wear
1602 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Alice's Day Off Beachwear
1455 Nw 107 Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33172

Cindi's Sun Fashions
4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33140

Dolce Vita
422 Espanola Way, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

E-levy Corp
421 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Glowear Swim & Surf
36 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Marbel Clothing
6618 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33141

Miami Sound & Sports
2300 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

9567 Harding Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33154

Oba Oba Swimwear
1564 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Palm Produce Resortwear
657 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Ritchie Swimwear
800 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Too Cool
504 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Too Wild
1904 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Too Wild
1904 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Wild Thing
900 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

s o u t h m i a m i
Alice's Day Off Beachwear
5900 Sunset Dr, Miami, Fl 33143

Connie Banko Swimwear
5607 Sw 74th St, Miami, Fl 33143

Swim 'n' Sport
7545 Dadeland Mall, Miami, Fl 33156

Speedo Authentic Fitness
7613 Dadeland Mall, Miami, Fl 33156

Swim 'n' Sport -the Falls
8888 SW 136th St, Miami, Fl 33176

b a l h a r b o r
Beach House Bal Harbor
9700 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, Fl 33154

Swim 'n' Sport-Bal Harbour Shops

s u n n y i s l e s
Bikini City
16690 Collins Ave, Miami, Fl 33160

Everything But Water
19501 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Fl 33180

10155 Collins Ave, Miami, Fl 33154

Swimland By Ann Frances
18412 Collins Ave

Swimland By Ann Frances
18160 Collins Ave, Miami, Fl 33160

a v e n t u r a

Speedo Authentic Fitness
19575 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Fl 33180

La Difference Resort Wear
18829 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Fl 33180

Speedo Authentic Fitness
19575 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Fl 33180

c o c o n u t g r o v e
Chocolate Bikinis
3082 Grand Ave, Miami, Fl 33133

Ritchie Swimwear
3401 Main Highway, Miami , Fl 33133

Palm Produce Resortwear
3434 Main Hwy, Miami, Fl 33133

Speedo Authentic Fitness
3015 Grand Ave, Miami, Fl 33133

c o r a l g a b l e s
Curves N Waves
275 Miracle Mile, Miami, Fl 33134

k e y b i s c a y n e
Palm Produce Resortwear
328 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, Fl 33149

Sunflower Swimwear
9550 Bay Harbor Ter, Bay Harbor Islands, Fl 33154

Swim 'n' Sport-Aventura Mall
3565 Ne 207th St, Miami, Fl

m i a m i
Ritchie Swimwear
4525 East 11 Avenue, Miami, Fl 33013

Swim 'n' Sport
Westland Mall

Swim 'n' Sport-retail Stores-Omni International Mall
1601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami Beach, Fl 33132

p l a n t a t i o n
Swim 'n' Sport
713 Briarwood Ter, Plantation, Fl 33325

h o l l y w o o d
Swim 'n' Sport
Diplomat Mall, Hallandale, Fl

photos: Swimwear by Ritchie, Miami

This story was written in earlier times, when life was such that one could be a pool-crasher. Of course, we all realize,now, that time is long gone and one must always be a guest at the hotel to be able to enjoy the pleasures of its inviting waters, cordial service and delightful ambiance.

Jennifer Ammon is trying to get her very funny novel, My Dirty Filthy Memoirs, published. In the meantime, she watches TV and occasionally writes for us.