A pool should be refreshing and functional, but why stop there? Some pioneering designers are taking the humble swimming pool to new heights, with elements that mimic nature, or in some cases, structures that defy it. From glassy ledges to starry waters, some pools outshine their prestigious homes and hotels, like these seven jaw-dropping specimens that are impossible to resist.

Anantara Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand

At the prestigious Anantara resort tucked into Thailand’s green interior, you can wade into the huge, curvy infinity pool that looks out over the Mekong Valley. With an organic form and a deep blue hue, the pool meshes with the local flora and fauna very well – an impressive flourish to the surrounding jungle and neighbouring elephant sanctuary.

1Image: tripadvisor.com

 

Atlantis Paradise Island Water Park, Bahamas

A waterpark to beat all waterparks, the 141-acre waterpark on the Bahamas’ Paradise Island is an incredible network of pools, dotted with some pretty impressive structures. All the requisite waterpark features are here, from a lazy river to twisting waterslides, but there’s also an amazing play fort, 11 swimming pools, rapids, and surging waves.

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image: frommers.com

 

Hanging Gardens Ubud Hotel, Bali, Indonesia

With pools of sea-green waters hanging over soaring cliffs, Bali’s Hanging Gardens may just be the best place to enjoy the intensely tropical Indonesian landscape. The pool itself is a sight to see, with an entirely unique terraced design that seems to fall right off the ledge, but once you’re in the water, you’ll feel as if you’re gliding among the treetops.

3Image: listabuzz.com

 

Oberoi Udaivilas pool on the shore of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India

The palatial Oberoi Udaivilas hotel on the shore of Lake Pichola has a few pools, including one that can only be accessed from the prestigious suites. This exclusive stretch of pool lines the hotel’s sun-bleached walls, with bouquets of flowers dripping from the terraces and a view to rival any other. Despite its pomp and grandeur, this is a remarkably peaceful place to take in the picture-perfect surroundings.

4Image: standardculture.com

 

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi resort, the Maldives

The pool at this top-notch Maldives resort has an atmosphere all its own. It’s lovely in the daytime, but comes to life in the evening: lit by a carpet of starry lights, the water mirrors the night sky above, and the effect is nothing short of magical. Each villa has its own pool that grazes the ocean, so you don’t have to share the wonder.

5Image: aquasunholidaysmaldives.com

 

The Sarojin, Khao Lak, Thailand

The Sarojin hotel boasts an infinity pool that marries privacy with nature. Private curtained huts dot the glassy surface, and the whole complex is surrounded by the lush vegetation of the island. The design of the space ensure a relaxing, elegant experience without interfering too much with the unique Thai landscape.

6Image: splendia.com

 

Mardan Palace, Antalya, Turkey

Turkey’s legendary bathing culture likely explains the country’s predilection for incredible swimming pools, and the pool at the Mardan Palace is their crowning achievement. The sprawling pool isn’t fed by natural springs, but with Antalya’s warm climate, steamy water isn’t necessary. The largest pool in the Mediterranean, and certainly among its most luxurious, it’s circled by a water street and features a sunken aquarium with over 2,000 fish.

More and more hotels are latching onto the luxury pool idea, so it’s easier than ever to find an amazing pool experience. Infinity pools may be hot right now, but you can bet there’s a major innovation on the horizon to improve the swimming experience even more.

7Image: endouroloji2015.org