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Like the spunky Sonic, these hotel pools are designed for fun seekers who like their holidays to be a bit on the wild side

By Robin Cherry

Do you remember when a swimming pool with an aqua slide was a thrill? That’s like getting psyched about a car with roll-down windows and an 8-track. These sophisticated pools have been turbo-charged like the fun-to-drive Sonic. The Sonic gets you excited to hit the road; these pools will get you excited to hit the water. Jump in!

Blue pool

The word sonic refers to sound waves as well as to something extremely exciting and fast-paced. Dallas' Joule Hotel , a Neo-Gothic former bank building renovated by renowned international designer Adam D. Tihany, is also named for a scientific term, in this case the international unit of energy. Drive your Sonic to The Joule and you have a guaranteed recipe for high-caliber entertainment. Fittingly, Dallas’ hottest outdoor venue is the ultra-cool Joule Poule, a cantilevered infinity pool on the Joule’s rooftop that extends 8 feet beyond the edge of the hotel building, providing swimmers with the sensation of swimming off the building’s edge. The pool is surrounded by private cabanas and a sun deck where you can enjoy the sparkling skyline while indulging in snacks from the nearby pool bar.

Swimming with dolphins? That’s for amateurs. Only in Las Vegas can you swim with sharks. The Golden Nugget’s $30-million water complex boasts a 200,000-gallon, shark-filled aquarium in the middle of a swimming pool. If that’s not adventurous enough for you, there’s the Shark Chute, a three-story water slide that lets you whoosh right through the middle of the shark tank. The hotel also offers a behind-the-scenes tour conducted by the hotel’s on-staff marine biologists, who will teach you what sharks eat and how the feeding process works. You’ll even go home with a souvenir shark tooth. Talk about hitting the jackpot!

The 25,700-square-foot Wailea Canyon Activity Pool at The Grand Wailea in Maui has nine pools on six different levels, seven water slides, a white-water rapids slide, a Tarzan pool with a rope swing, and a spectacular array of man-made caves and grottos. That’s all very well and good, but the highlight of any visit there is a trip in the world’s only water elevator, an open-top cylinder which lifts you up to the top of the water slides as the water level rises. Onlookers can watch riders’ progress through the windows placed every so often up the rock. For a more relaxing experience, try the 4,850-square-foot Hibiscus Pool, open only to guests 18 and older. This pool is named for the stunning hibiscus flower inlaid on its floor that’s crafted from more than 630,000 pieces of Mexican glass mosaic tile.

The W Fort Lauderdale has a clear staircase, so you literally walk from the ultramodern W Living Room through the WET pool’s inviting waters and onto the pool deck. The sleek infinity pool creates the illusion of spilling into the Atlantic. The “see and be seen” hotel’s Living Room bar has portholes on the ceiling through which you can watch swimmers above. The WET pool is heated and there’s a gas-powered fire pit where you can dry off, which means you can enjoy the pool any time of the year. There’s also a more secluded and urban-focused infinity pool on the hotel’s fifth floor where you can watch the magnificent sunset over the inter-coastal waterways and then feast your eyes on the glittering lights of the city.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Robin Cherry is a travel, food and pop culture writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Afar, Islands and many other publications. She blogs at garlicescapes.com and is writing a book on the history of garlic that will be published in 2014. Follow her on Twitter @garlicescapes.

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