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Summer is Swimmingly Good at Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago

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  Site Where: 221 N. Columbus Dr. [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60601
July 6, 2012 at 2:55 PM | by | ()

Finding a really great outdoor pool at a Chicago hotel used to be like finding a needle in a haystack. Sure, plenty of beautiful indoor pools abound, but where were the sparkly, sceney big pools in which to soak in all that summer sun? As if an answer to the sun seekers prayers, Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua now shines like a mirage in the middle of this big city, literally around the bend from Millennium Park, the Mag Mile, Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

We recently stayed at the hotel and after one look at Blu Aqua’s huge recreation deck and pool, bailed on our room and jumped in for a swim. Situated on the third floor across 80,000 square feet, the very green deck is something to behold in Chicago. There’s the pool and cabanas plus a Jacuzzi and kiddie pool. Further beyond sits another large deck with gardens, gazebos and a 1/5 mile walking trail, grills and a fire pit, even a lower-level Zen garden complete with a rake. Everything is first come first serve.

Architecture buffs lounging poolside will love the views of Aqua Tower, where it's said that no two balconies are the same

Recreation plays a big role inside at Radisson Blu Aqua, too, with a huge fitness center that includes a free weights area, resistance machine area and a cardio wing, plus a half basketball court and co-ed sauna. The game room is sure to fire up the boys with a billiards table and card table, all available again as first come first serve. Did we mention there’s also a two-lane indoor pool?

Back outside, we surveyed the scene. We’d heard so much about the Aqua Tower -- which is indeed stunning and a story all its own – that we didn’t expect to be so taken by the rec deck and pool. Do travelers or locals even know about it? We had to wonder since it was a gorgeous summer day and not crowded, though the mix of mostly couples and families did lend some easy breezy energy.

A view of the recreation deck from our room, where the gardens and grills kept busy all the day long

We lounged under the sun for hours, even after the hovering Aqua Tower cast its shadow across most of the pool. Surrounded by other distant Chicago buildings and landmarks, the views were quintessentially Chicago, which made this hotel pool even more refreshing. Not Miami or Vegas, Radisson Blu Aqua’s pool and rec deck was all about the City That Works.

The only real bummer about Radisson Blu Aqua’s rec deck is the absence of food and beverage service, though we did spy a vending machine or two and there are the garden grills. (Another upshot is that you can bring your own cooler of beer.) Were it not for our growling tummies and a much-anticipated dinner reso, we could have stayed outside by the pool until sunset.

Summer rates at Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago currently start at $199. Nab a slick and roomy junior suite for $349 and you’ll also get access to the Business Class Lounge for complimentary hot breakfast, snacks, and cocktails.

Photos: Nina Kokotas Hahn

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