Pool Etiquette: Don't Make a Splash

by  Trish Friesen | Nov 8, 2012
Family at water park
Family at water park / Halfpoint/iStock

After making a splash with our recent flight and hotel etiquette miniseries, we wanted to turn our attention to the pool – an area just barely treading water in the travel manners department. I’m not sure if we should blame chair hogs, the invention of cell phones, waning social graces, or a combination of all three, but over the past few years, pool etiquette – be it at the Ritz or the Holiday Inn – has floated off the edge of the infinity pool. Whether you’re planning on escaping to a palm tree-studded all-inclusive, a romantic retreat, or a family Disney extravaganza this winter, there's bound to be some serious pool or beach time, so here's a poolside protocols refresher.

Cell Phone Use: The pool is no place for idle chitchat on the phone, but if you must bring your lifeline to send or receive emails, or Instagram your umbrella drink, keep it on silent. On the off-chance your office or entourage didn’t get your vacation notice and you must take a call, walk away – far away – from the pool.

Inside Voices Outside: There are a few people who feel the pool is their podium, delivering a series of keynotes throughout the day. If I wanted to learn about your topic du jour, I’d attend your TED Talk. Use the "library voice" rule at hotel pools, whispering to those in your immediate vicinity in case your neighbor isn’t interested in your discussion about the best type of waterproof mascara, or your thoughts on the recent 2012 election results.

Group Think: Unless you’re at a day club in Vegas dancing to DJ beats while sipping a margarita from an Eiffel Tower-shaped glass, survey the poolside situation to determine how your group should act.

Step one: heed these suggestions.

Towel Saving: When hotels are busy and lounge chairs are in short supply, unattended towels rudely guard prime spots. If you really want to get up at 5:30am to save your choice pool chair, good for you, but don’t saunter to your towel-saved chair at 11:55am when someone could have been using the spot all morning. Along the same lines, leaving for a beach stroll or quick lunch is acceptable if you’re planning on returning right away, but don’t go on a five-hour excursion (with your towel and book still saving your spot) unless you want to get accidentally splashed by your fellow resort-goers. The same rule applies to hoarding beach palapas and cabanas.

Smoking: If you puff Cuban cigars, cigarettes, or pipes, use the designated smoking areas to spare your mojito-sipping amigos from inhaling your second-hand smoke.

iPod’ers: Mind the iPod volume (even on your headphones), and remember, sound carries over water.

Kids ‘n Play: Many hotels have separate child and adult pools, but if yours has an all-in-one approach to lounging, mind your little ones' volume and splashing, and do not change your baby’s diaper at the pool.

PDA: It almost goes without saying that extra frisky canoodling should probably be taken upstairs.

If you come in contact with a pool etiquette offender (and handing out copies of this list is both impractical and inappropriate), it is not your responsibility as a guest to police the pool. The best practice for approaching pool fools is to discreetly let a hotel pool attendant know, as opposed to causing a scene.

What pool rules would you add or subtract from this refresher?

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