LAS VEGAS – The cashier at the hotel lobby shop practically apologized when I asked a…
LAS VEGAS – The cashier at the hotel lobby shop practically apologized when I asked about the price of a small box of Band-Aid Hydro Seal Blister Cushions.
They were $12.95. I had no choice but to swipe my debit card. The free generic bandages that a clerk at another store generously gave me the night before when she saw me limping didn’t do the trick.
It was day three of four days of pool parties in Las Vegas and my right heel was covered in a blister.
Blame it on the wrong shoe choices on the first day. Las Vegas day clubs have strict dress codes, so I wore what I thought were practical but stylish Steve Madden wedges instead of flimsy Target flip flops.
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Most Las Vegas day clubs are tucked away at the back of the resort and require a winding walk through a casino, especially if you park or get dropped off at the hotel entrance. Add endless time to your feet at the pool party and the dressings invite you.
If Las Vegas pool parties—where music festival meets nightclub—are on the agenda for your next Vegas vacation, these do’s and don’ts will help set your expectations and save time, money and, possibly, your feet.
How to get on a guest list at a pool party in Vegas?
•Don’t buy tickets in advance unless you need an expensive cabana, daybed, or bungalow. Join a guest list for free entry.
Guest lists abound, especially for women. We used LasVegasNightClubs.com and nocovernightclubs.com and there were no problems. Club promoters are also walking around the Strip and hotels with guest list deals.
Some hotels offer on-site guest list offices. We spotted offices at Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and The Venetian — they tend to set up near the parking lot, hotel lobby, or near the pool entrance and are easy to spot.
We wasted $50 pre-booking two tickets to Wet Republic and couldn’t get a refund after getting guest passes in Las Vegas.
The exception here, especially during busy summer holiday weekends: buy tickets if there’s a must-see act or nightclub on your list and missing it would ruin the holiday.
Some guest list passes include benefits. Many places have expedited entry, which saves time. (Elia Beach Club only had one line, resulting in an hour-long wait to get in to see Snoop Dogg.)
At Daylight Beach Club in Mandalay Bay, admission on the guest list included two free drinks on the Friday we visited. Same at Circa’s Stadium Swim on a busy Monday night and Ayu Dayclub at Resorts World Las Vegas on a Saturday morning. We were supposed to get free drinks at Elia, but they ran out of tickets before we got to the front of the line given the high demand for Snoop Dogg.
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Read the fine print on your guest list’s admission, especially regarding check-in times. We had planned to get to the newly remodeled Tao Beach club in the early afternoon, but our admission said we couldn’t arrive until 4pm.
•Ask your hotel to see if staying there gets you to one of the swanky pool parties. We just showed our Flamingo Las Vegas room key for free entry to Drai’s Beach Club. Drai’s admission came with a free towel, valued at $5. In Downtown Las Vegas, a stay at Circa, D Las Vegas or Golden Gate includes two complimentary passes to Circa’s Stadium Swim complex.
•Consider a pool exploration. The tour we chose from LA Epic Crawls gave us quicker access to Marquee and Wet Republic, as well as a 30-minute bus ride on the Strip. We paid $112 for two people before tips for the guides. The party started with a one-time drink offer at our initial meeting spot at the Tipsy Robot Bar inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.
Laura Hill from Melbourne, Australia, books several daytime clubbing and nightclub outings sometimes on the same day, for camaraderie. She has traveled to Las Vegas twice in the past month to make up for lost time when international borders closed.
“I love crawls,” she said. “I haven’t needed to meet any randoms so far in Vegas because when you go exploring you have instant friends.”
Don’t expect to find a place to sit
•Be ready to stand. Las Vegas dayclubs make their money from cabanas and other exclusive seating areas with high food and drink minimums, so they monopolize all the real estate around the typically small pools.
Ask an attendant at Drai’s Beach Club about the seating options and he’ll say, “If it’s red, it costs money.” The place is a sea of red.
The only place to sit at most pool parties is by the pool and these seats fill up quickly when a big entertainer is in the house. The only other option is standing in the pool.
Of the 10 pool parties visited by USA TODAY, only two offered free seats during our visit, although one was hard to find.
Stadium Swim at Circa has lounge chairs that are first-come, first-served, even during the final game of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (VIP lounge chairs on the upper level of the amphitheater are extra.)
Encore Beach Club also offers padded cushions around its palm trees, but seats tend to fill up quickly. Even if no one is seated, expect to find the cushion covered in shoes, blankets, or towels.
•Eat before you go or be prepared to pay dearly to eat standing up. In the sun.
Food choices are varied at day clubs and menu items are generally expensive. The carne asada nachos at Marquee Dayclub were delicious — and $36. A Chipotle Grilled Chicken Club at Encore Beach Club was $22. Tao Beach offers a $52 Rangoon crab dip with caviar.
Cheaper options are available, including $9 chicken tenders and $8 skinny fries at Drai’s Beach Club and $14 for a Waygu beef hot dog at Stadium Swim.
The price is not the only problem. Since there are no free seats with general admission, there is no room to eat at most places.
A bartender from Daylight in Mandalay Bay said we could order food and eat at the bar, but standing was the only option as there were no bar stools.
Encore Beach Club had tables near its food stand, although they were small with little shade and no chairs.
The most comfortable and affordable dining option we found was at Drai’s Beach Club. The upscale concession stand counter is covered, has a few tables (but no chairs), and offers views of the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas pool parties can get packed. Here’s how to handle crowds
•Go on Friday or Sunday for lighter crowds. The pools we visited in the morning (Friday 11am daylight, Saturday 11am in Ayu and Sunday noon in Marquee) had little to no queues.
If you have to wait, the guest list line at Encore Beach Club was tops for comfort. It was partially shaded, with fans and water stations to help keep patrons cool. The 20 minute wait on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t that painful.
At Stadium Swim, lines form inside, a major advantage in the summer.
At Elia Beach Club, by contrast, there was little shade and no water stations in an hour-long queue on a Saturday when Snoop Dogg was the entertainment.
•Don’t bring a lot of stuff. Lockers are expensive, ranging from $20 to $75 per day at the pools we visited. But because many pools ban large bags, guests are often left to choose between lugging their items all day or shelling out the cash for a locker.
Inflation seems to have hit the pool party lockers. A Daylight security guard told us the price had doubled in the past year, from $20 to $40.
Also pack some light so nothing gets confiscated.
LAS VEGAS POOL ESSENTIALS: Details on admission, security and drink prices at Encore, Drai’s and 8 more
How hot is Vegas in the summer?
•Apply sunscreen and stay hydrated. Shade is rare – unless you pay for it. Some cabins and day beds keep guests cool, but they can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Those $13 water bottles at the pool can be pricey, but they’re worth it because mixing alcohol and heat can be a recipe for disaster. If you want to avoid buying an overpriced bottle of Fiji at the bar, you can try asking for a cup of ice at the bar and refilling it at a water cooler. Some pools offer free water stations.
Staying hydrated is always important in the heat of Las Vegas (temperatures can top 110 in the summer), but it’s even more crucial when drinking during the day. USA TODAY reporters saw visitors fall ill and pass out at weekend pool parties, and Uber driver says he refuses to be picked up at parties at the pool if he saw someone being held back by his friends as he walked to the car.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vegas pool party: 8 tips for dayclub beginners