Labor Day is fast approaching and, with it, the unofficial end to summer. Whether you’ve lived it to the fullest or squandered too many hours indoors behind a desk, there’s one last summer hurrah for grown-ups: the hotel pool party, where locals can cut loose poolside, sipping exotic drinks, dancing on the pool deck and loafing on daybeds and chaise lounges.
The soirees are nothing new in Scottsdale, where some high-end resorts charge a $50 cover to get in, require you book a pricey overnight stay or charge up to $500 for a cabana rental.
Lucky for us, two East Valley hotels offer a similar experience for a fraction of the price, and they’re squeezing every last drop out of summer with a few more pool parties before season’s end:
Sip ’n’ Dip Pool Party
Pool parties at the year-and-a-half-old Hilton Phoenix Chandler started out earlier this summer with a big bang, says property food and beverage manager Chuck Seppanen.
“They’ve been tremendously popular. It’s kind of slowing down now, as people are getting their kids back to school or going back to school themselves,” he says.
And that means you’ll find a lower-key vibe than the typical see-and-be-seen Scottsdale hot spot.
“You’re definitely going to feel comfortable,” says Seppanen. “The crowd is all ages. We have familes come in with the kids, groups in their forties and fifties, and some college kids. It’s a totally relaxed atmosphere.”
But don’t bother bringing a book to keep yourself entertained. Three deejays trade off cranking out upbeat, hip-hop music, and Coronas and cocktails go for $3-$5. (There’s also a food menu.) The hotel gives away four overnight stays throughout the course of the afternoon, and at the end of the night, if the weather holds, the hotel screens a dive-in movie at the pool, which Sip ’n’ Dip guests can stay and watch for free.
If, after all that, you’d rather stay put than drive home, the hotel offers an overnight room for two for $79. Up it to $99, and you’ll get champagne brunch for two on Sunday morning.
Details: 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 at the Hilton Phoenix Chandler, 2929 W. Frye Road , Chandler. $5 admission; includes 8 p.m. screening of “Yes Man” on Aug. 28 and “Alice in Wonderland” on Sept. 4. (480) 899-7400 or www.phoenixchandlerhilton.com.
REFOCUS Pool Party
When the $215 million Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino debuted last October on the Gila River Indian Reservation near Chandler, officials promised the Valley’s first truly Las Vegas-style place to party. This summer, the resort has taken the Vegas vibe to its 15,000-square-foot pool with a 21-and-older bash called the REFOCUS Pool Party.
“The word is definitely starting to spread. At each party, we get more and more guests. It’s very laid back, very casual, very fun,” says Melody Wolcott, a resort spokesperson who helps organize the poolside events and promote them via Twitter and Facebook.
Parties feature a DJ spinning music, cocktail specials, a poolside grill menu and swimsuit contests for men and women, with winners taking home cash or prizes.
There is an admission fee, but you can bypass it altogether by signing up for a free Player’s Club Card at the Player’s Club desk inside the casino.
Details: Noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler. $10 admission. Full-service VIP cabana rentals run $100-$400. (800) 946-4452 or www.wingilariver.com.
Gila River Casinos
The REFOCUS Pool Party debuted this summer at the new Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler. The adults-only events allow locals to while away a Sunday like resort guests for a fraction of the cost of an actual hotel stay, and they last through Sept. 26.