Tucson resorts, waterparks, pools are cool retreats from the heat

Come on in - the water and parties are fine
2012-06-14T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T17:01:13Z Tucson resorts, waterparks, pools are cool retreats from the heatInger Sandal Isandal@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
June 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Dan Taylor embraced a heat advisory in late May by kicking back with a few friends next to a waterfall at Loews Ventana Canyon.

"I'm not going anywhere - this is great," he said, sipping a Blue Moon beer, a straw hat shading his eyes.

The 38-year-old was taking full advantage of Crash the Pool, the resort's invitation to party poolside from 2 to 6 p.m on the third Sunday of the month through September.

No more having to sneak in - as long as you spend $25 in food and drinks. "You can go to a restaurant and spend that kind of money and they don't have a pool," he reasoned.

What would he normally be doing on a Sunday afternoon? "This time of year - cool-coating my roof is what I should be doing right now," he laughed before joining his friends in the water.

Welcome to Tucson's ever-evolving pool scene where there are more ways than ever to socialize and make a splash.

Across town, Casino del Sol Resort throws a Vegas-style pool party every Sunday that draws hundreds of young adults.

"It's really gaining momentum," said Wendell Long, the chief executive officer of the Pascua Yaqui Gaming Enterprises. He estimated that more than 750 people turned out Sunday.

The pool parties fit with Casino del Sol's goals, Long said: "We want to be known as the entertainment center of Tucson."

On the far northwest side, Breakers Water Park opened its 28th season on Memorial Day weekend with a new tube slide that blasts rock ' n' roll, along with specials and events such as this weekend's Sponge Bob meet and greet.

There are also plenty of public pools throughout the Tucson metro area boasting slides and other water features.

"We're at capacity almost every day," said Marnie Green, the principal lifeguard at Manzanita Pool - one of the county's busiest - on the far southwest side.

LOEWS VENTANA CANYON

7000 N. Resort Drive.

• What: Crash the Pool.

• When: 2-6 p.m Sunday, July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16.

• Cost: $25 food and drink minimum. There are also drink specials and promotions.

• The vibe: Crash the Pool brings the pulsating sound of electronic dance music out of the club scene and into the glare of a hot summer day. DJs Corbin Dooley and Phoseph ease into the vibe when Crash the Pool starts at 2, with tunes that may be familiar to the sun-worshipping resort guests and scattering of Foothills-area families. The music gets more creative, with some tunes crafted by the DJs themselves, as the afternoon progresses. This month's specials include $6 daiquiri and piña coladas with Cruzan Rum, along with $6 appetizers served poolside.

Andrew Hansen aka "Phoseph"    

Pool attendant. Hansen is also a DJ, and assists DJ Corbin Dooley at Crash the Pool.

• Age: 21.

• Start date: January.

• Typical day: Hansen's job, which starts at 7 a.m., is to make sure everyone's happy at the pool. That means paying attention and seeing that people get what they want - from cups of water or fresh towels to information about Tucson.

• Memorable experience: Evicting ducks from the warm pool on frosty winter mornings. "That was always a struggle."

• Favorite perk: "Probably just being able to enjoy being in the sun. The weather's always nice. And everyone's always in a good mood. You do still have to work, but you can actually enjoy yourself."

• Keeping cool: "We have our little cabana. There's a fan. We have spray bottles with cold water. ... We definitely have ways to stay cool."

• SPF tip: Reapply. "The main thing that people don't really understand is that when you go in the water, it washes off."

CASINO DEL SOL

Soak Sundays at Casino del Sol Resort.

5655 W. Valencia Road.

• When: Noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

• Admission: $10.

• The vibe: It's not too much of a stretch to imagine you're in Las Vegas while you soak up the sun poolside at the $125 million Casino del Sol Resort, which opened Nov. 11. The swank pool area alone cost about $2 million, said Wendell Long, the chief executive officer of the Pascua Yaqui Gaming Enterprises.

It's already gotten a fair amount of use. "American Idol" alum Chris Daughtry, who has sold more than 6 million albums, performed an acoustic half hour by the pool during the resort's grand-opening celebrations.

On April 21, more than 3,000 electronic dance music devotees turned out for the Wet Pool Party, which featured LA Riots among other acts, along with a full bar and VIP cabanas.

Casino de Sol started its Soak Sundays series at its Oasis pool bar just after Easter and plans to keep them going as long as the weather's nice, Long said, estimating that could stretch until November.

"We've had a lot of demand to use the pool area, and during the week it's only open to pool guests," Long explained.

The weekly party features drink and food specials and includes a DJ.

"People like to get together and have fun with good music, good food and good drinks," he said.

BREAKERS WATER PARK    

8555 W. Tangerine Road, Marana, just off Tangerine Road and Interstate 10.

• Hours: 10-6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

• Admission: $21.95 admission. Discounts rule - find the latest offers online at www.breakerswaterpark.com. As of Tuesday, for example, a VIP season pass was $50.95 instead of $80.95.

• Special events: Take a picture with SpongeBob SquarePants between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

• The vibe: Open since 1984 on the far northwest side, Breakers is Tucson's water-park oasis. The 20-plus-acre park boasts a 1.3 million-gallon wave pool and a diverse collection of water features.

New this year is the Rock Slide, an enclosed tube slide that blasts rock music and flashing strobe lights in a ride that lasts about 25 seconds.

"This is something that a lot of water parks are doing ... restructuring slides and making the experience more intense," said Steve Miklosi, who has been Breakers' general manager since 2001.

Youngsters continue to line up for Surfari Bubbles, last year's big draw, which lets kids walk across the water inside a clear, bubblelike sphere (think hamster globe).

In 2009, the park stepped into major thrill-ride mode with The Riptide - a vertical slide attached to a 35-foot tower, which can propel sliders at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

"When you're sitting up there ... looking straight out, you really can't see the slide underneath you," Miklosi said. "One out of every 10 people get up there and decide they really can't do it."

MANZANITA POOL

5110 S. San Joaquin Ave.

• Hours: Open swim starts at 1 p.m. Saturdays through Thursdays; closed Fridays.

• Cost: $3; $1 age 17 and under; $1 per family during family swim.

• The vibe: One of the busiest of Pima County's nine pools, Manzanita quickly fills to capacity when open swim starts at 1 p.m. This pool area has a slide, along with a mushroom that sprouts water and a gradual entry area that swimmers call "the beach." For serious swimmers, there are six lap lanes. Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation offers swim lessons, junior lifeguarding, and various other programs during the summer. Brandi Fenton Park, at 3482 E. River Road, has a splash pad with spray arches, water geysers, and other water features.

Tessa Burton, assistant principal lifeguard

• Age: 20.

• On the job: 5 years with the county. This is her first year at Manzanita.

• Typical day: The first lifeguard shift starts early with swim teams and swim lessons Monday through Thursday (the county pools are closed Fridays). The second shift starts shortly before open swim at 1 p.m. "We easily hit capacity 10 minutes after opening. It gets pretty crazy pretty fast."

• Best memory: "When you get a 'thank you' from a kid or a parent. When they are leaving and they turn and smile and say 'thank you,' that's very nice."

• Favorite perk: "You usually meet some pretty awesome people on staff - It's a good environment."

• Keeping cool:"You look down at the kids and say 'Hey, I bet you can't splash me.' They kind of cool us off that way - they like a challenge."

• SPF tip: Anywhere from SPF 30 to higher.

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