As the mercury climbs in Las Vegas, there are two ways to nab precious real estate by the city's best pools: reserve a cabana, or show up at 6 a.m. to stake your claim to a chaise. (If you're conscious by 6 a.m., consider reevaluating your Vegas strategy.)
Your cabana, with its dedicated wait staff, bottle service, flat screen television, and (in some cases) private pool, will be your oasis once the afternoon temperature hits 115 degrees. But some strategy is involved: some hotels hold cabanas for guests only; and for those that don't, you'll want to reserve early. Here, our advice for keeping cool when things get hot:
Palms Casino Resort
Most good Vegas pool scenes lay claim to a day of the week. Fridays (a.k.a. "Ditch Fridays") belong to the Palms. The Palms Pool, with its 27 cabanas, some with gaming consoles, is one of the best places in town to be seen. Sunday through Thursday, cabanas start at $150, jump to $1,000-$2,000 (food and beverage minimums) for Ditch Fridays, and level at $1,250 on Saturdays. They fit 10 people.
Extra intel: On select Mondays, Palms donates the cabana rental fee to charities around town for "Cabanas for a Cause." This is the time to bring the kids: DJs remix family-friendly music from noon to 4 p.m.
Mandarin Oriental Pool Café and Cabanas
One of the most transporting spots on all the Strip, Mandarin's intimate pool and 17 relaxing cabanas have a gorgeous view, a delicious and light pool menu, no thumping bass, and the least meat-market vibe of our round-up. Most people don't even know that non-guests can reserve cabanas here. From Friday through Sunday, $350 gets you one with complimentary non-alcoholic minibar, fresh fruit, sun care, a 48" flat panel TV, and full Pool Café service and bottle service. On weekdays, there's no rental fee, just a $350 food and beverage minimum.
Extra intel: Don't miss the raw vegan smoothies, delicious Mediterranean mezze platters, and liquor-spiked popsicles.
Boulevard Pool at Cosmopolitan
The multilevel Boulevard Pool has an unobstructed view of the Strip four stories below. During the day, it's open only to hotel guests unless you have a cabana reservation. The vibe is pure backyard BBQ (for the hotel's notorious party scene, head to Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub, where people hang out on the big, blue shareable daybeds and play patio games).
Extra intel: The pool springs to life at twilight, when Dive-In movies play on the 65-foot marquee, or the Set Your Life to Music concert series transforms the space into a major concert backdrop.
Encore Beach Club
The most lavish of Wynn's pool experiences, Encore Beach Club's 26 cabanas come with flat screen TVs, stocked refrigerators, selections from the Botero menu, and an outdoor gaming pavilion. But see how seriously Vegas takes its cabana culture in one of the eight bungalows, which start at $15,000 per day (with a 20-guest capacity), and come with serious sound systems, terraces and private balconies, private spa pools, AC and showers.
Extra intel: Go on Thursday for the Night pool party that features Wynn resident DJs like Kaskade, Diplo, and Avicii.
Azure Pool at Venetian
The Cote d'Azur-themed Azure pool is set back from the rest of the Venetian's huge pool complex, and is meant to bridge the gap between spa-quiet and full-fledged daytime EDM scene. Sequestered and surrounded by landscaping, it feels more private, and you can order from Wolfgang Puck's Solaro restaurant or get a poolside massage from the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The 11 cabanas are air-conditioned and come with fridges stocked with chilled towels and water.
Extra intel: Prepare to unplug—the wifi doesn't work back here.
Foxtail Pool Club at SLS
This is the first summer in operation for Foxtail at SLS, which opened last August in the former Sahara. Foxtail is a relaxed hotel pool Monday through Thursday, and an energetic day club from Friday through Sunday. The 25 pool cabanas and two VIP options come with sundecks and daybeds, lounge chairs, 48" flat screen TVs, and ceiling fans. Though there's no set price, prepare to meet about a $1,000 minimum on weekends, though the bottle service and menu options like ceviche, fish tacos, and shrimp cocktail shooters will help you meet it.
Extra intel: On Fridays and Saturdays, special cabanas dedicated to gaming include three blackjack tables, personal TVs, and misters to keep you cool no matter how you're playing.
Caesars Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis
This sprawling, five-acre, eight-pool complex has a variety of experiences, from kid-infested to "toptional," and you'll want to discuss your options with a concierge. As in the rest of Caesars, think Ersatz Rome: classical landscaping, Roman statues, go-go dancers.
Extra intel: Try the Fortuna pool for its swim-up blackjack and Jupiter for its relative quiet. But real players can opt for one of eight VIP cabanas around the Bacchus deck.
Read T+L's Guide to Las Vegas for more Vegas vacation ideas.