How to Sneak into Hotel Poolsby david daly on 10/18/11
You can imagine my horror last week when I learned that the Marriot Gas Lamp hotel I was visiting in San Diego did not have a pool! I had wrongly assumed that a pool was every bit as standard as an ice machine in a city that boasts 270 days of sunshine per year. As panic began to set in, I frantically called the front desk to assess my options. Perhaps they could issue me a guest pass to visit the luxurious Marriot Grand Marquis across the street whose website glistened with photos of an elaborate oasis of pristine pools and waterfalls? But no, even though they both shared the same brand name- their relationship was more like that of North and South Korea.
I had to get a hold of myself. A lack of authorization had never prevented me from accessing luxurious pools in the past. It would just be a matter of reaching into my old bag of restricted pool hopping tricks. There are a number of nearly fool-proof methods for sneaking into pools. Here are some of my favorites:
1. 1. Act like you own the place- Think of all of the times you have walked into the pool of the hotel in which you are actually staying and had no one questioned your legitimacy. When you know that you are entitled to use the facilities, your confidence reflects that and you fit right in. In most cases, if you waltz right on into to any hotel pool with determination and confidence- no pool boy or cocktail waiter would ever dream of asking you to show some credentials.
2. 2. Get the lay of the land- Occasionally you may encounter some version of a check-in desk at the entrance to the pool that asks for your room number. 99% of the time this “check-in” requires nothing more than a self-reported name and a room number. All that matters in this case is that you make up a room number that conforms to the numerical code of that hotel. No one on staff ever checks that the names match the room. Usually it will be a 3 digit number, but occasionally it may be four digits. Before you attempt to make up a room number, be sure to pay attention to the signs in the lobbies and hallways directing guests to their rooms. These signs are a dead giveaway to the numerical coding that the hotel uses! For example, Rooms 301-316 to the left confirms that you will need a three-digit room code. It is important to note the number of floors in the hotel since the first digit almost always indicates the floor number. In large hotel towers, avoid making up rooms starting with a 1 or 2 as the lower floors are often banquet and event space with no guest rooms!
3. 3. Arts and Crafts- Some hotels and resorts will mark guests’ hands with a stamp upon leaving the pool area for re-entry. This process is popular at many country clubs as well. If you keep a few of the standard washable markers with you while traveling, you can make a mark on your own hand and then smudge it by licking your finger and wiping with pressure. When entering the pool area, hold your hand up confidently and proudly to show that you possess the necessary validation for entry. However, if you are stopped for further inspection (which is rare), demonstrate shock that the stamp has smudged and is no longer recognizable- perhaps it was due to sweat? I mean, no person in their right mind would actually go through the trouble to forge a pool-entry stamp, would they ;)
4. 4. Souvenirs- When friends and relatives come to your hometown and pamper themselves with a stay at one of the nicer hotels, it behooves you to make plans with them on the evening AFTER they check-out. While sipping cocktails and catching up, casually request to see their room key and ask if you can keep it for your collection. This key represents a free all-access pass to the hotel pool the next time you fancy a refreshing dip. If this souvenir also comes with the keycard envelope with the room number handwritten on the front- even better! No one messes with a guest sporting an actual room key and key holder adorned with the hotel’s prestigious and very recognizable logo!
Bl 5. Blond Moment- In the very unlikely event that you blow your cover and a manager approaches you to question your status- play dumb! If you know the gig is up do not try to argue- simply explain that you were visiting the hotel for lunch or drinks and thought the pool looked so delightful that you didn’t think it was problem if you indulged. Of course you did not see any of the signs indicating that the pool is for overnight guests only and you are so humbly embarrassed that you will leave right away. Oops!
I decided my best bet for an unsuspecting pool break was to head out to Coronado Island to the sprawling Hotel Del Coronado. The hotel offers numerous shops and restaurants that welcome visitors who are not staying at the hotel, so I knew that I would not arouse suspicion as I entered the property. I took note that the hotel seemed to only have about four floors, and then let out a sigh of relief as I passed a series of rooms with outdoor patios labeled with their respective room numbers 4031, 4032, 4033 - I had everything I needed. The pool was a large, sunken complex facing the ocean with several hundred sunbeds and what looked like a minimal staff consisting of a towel boy and a cocktail waitress. My biggest obstacle was the locked glass door guarding the stairs down to the pool. A sign clearly indicated that the pool was only for overnight guests, and a room key was required to open the door. I changed into my bathing suit ahead of time in order to fit in immediately with the pool guests, and lurked by the menu at the outdoor restaurant while I waited for a guest to exit the pool area. Alas, after just a few moments a mother with two small children headed up the stairs towards the pool exit. I timed my approach to coincide with theirs, and waited patiently as they exited the pool and held the door for me behind them. I was in!!
I settled into a sunbed in a vacant section of chairs and watched as guests sauntered up to the towel boy to help themselves to towels. It appeared that he was not requesting any validation, so I confidently made the trek over and selected an enormous soft white towel for myself. What followed was merely pure relaxation and refreshing floating as I basked in a mission accomplished successfully. I did not dare bother the cocktail waitress for anything- seemed like there was high risk of being exposed if I attempted a transaction. Instead I opted for evening happy hour and appetizers at the veranda bar before heading home, without anyone so much as suspecting that I was an intruder.