Affordable Hotels: Lazy Rivers, Water Parks & More

Lazy Canyon River, Grand Geneva Resort, Wisconsin. Courtesy Grand Geneva Resort
By Carrie Havranek

The dog days of summer are upon on us. If you still haven't booked a trip, why not make sure there's ample water involved?

Hotel pools are nice, but these affordable hotels and resorts have kicked things up a notch with on-site lazy rivers, pools, and swimming holes that are built upon or around real water features. In other cases, these man-made lazy rivers are a refreshing way to relax. Unless otherwise indicated, access to the lazy river -- with complimentary inner tube rentals -- is included in your nightly rate.

Photo Caption: Lazy Canyon River at Grand Geneva Resort, Wisconsin
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Sugar Mills Falls Water Park, Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica Courtesy Hilton Rose Hall
What: Sugar Mills Falls Water Park
Where: Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica
The Details: Wind through a jungle garden that features a rope-and-wood suspension bridge and replicas of the former Rose Hall Plantation aqueducts. In addition to the 500-foot-long lazy river, the park's other water features include lagoons and waterfalls, a 280-foot waterslide, three terraced pools, and a swim-up bar. The resort also hosts dive-in movies (outdoor film screenings that can be enjoyed from a pool raft).
Rates: From $249 per person all-inclusive; $75-99 for children 6-17 years old staying in same room as adult; children 5 and under stay for free.
More Information: tel. 866/799-3661; www.rosehallresort.com

Photo Caption: Sugar Mills Falls Water Park, Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica
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Mandalay Bay Beach, Las Vegas. Courtesy of MGM Resorts International
What: Mandalay Bay Beach
Property: Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
The Details: Vegas has all kinds of unbelievable architectural feats, and a 2,700-ton sand beach in the middle of the desert is one of them. The lazy river forms a leisurely 600-foot-long loop. Other diversions at Mandalay Bay include a wave pool and four swimming pools.
Rates: From $59 for a deluxe room (book well in advance for best deals)
More Info: tel. 877/632-7800; www.mandalaybay.com

Photo Caption: Mandalay Bay Beach, Las Vegas
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Paradise Springs in Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas, Texas. Photos Courtesy Gaylord Hotels
What: Paradise Springs
Where: Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, about 10 minutes from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport
The Details: The official hotel of the Dallas Cowboys, the 125-acre Gaylord Texan Resort opened its Paradise Springs water complex in May. Hang out on a chaise lounge alongside the 600-foot-long lazy river, or float down it on an inner tube. A family lagoon, a 27-foot-tall winding waterslide, and a toddler pool round out the offerings. Dry off with a game of bocce ball, croquet, or shuffleboard in the gaming pavilion.
Rates: $201 for a standard room; USD 20 daily resort fee added to rate incl in-room basic high speed Internet, discounted transportation services & more
More Info: tel. 817/778-1000; www.gaylordtexan.com

Photo Caption: Paradise Springs at Gaylord Texan Resort near Dallas, Texas
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El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. Las Croabas, Puerto Rico Courtesy El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
What: Coqui Water Park
Where: El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
The Details: The three-foot-deep La Mina River is attached to the resort's Coqui water park, which includes three waterslides, an infinity pool, and a large deck that's perfect for watching people float by on the river. The 800-foot-long river forms a loop, so you can linger all day. Admission includes luxury lounge chairs, towels, and inner tubes.
Rates: Garden-view rooms start at $169 per night; due to high demand, adults pay $19.95 per day and children ages 3-12 pay $14.95 to access the water park.
More Info: tel. 787/863-1000; www.elconresort.com

Photo Caption: El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
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Aquaventure at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. Courtesy Atlantis
What: Aquaventure
Where: Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas
The Details: This mega water park has 13 pools, a life-size replica of a Mayan temple, a snorkeling lagoon, and a kids' pool area. Grab an inner tube, float along the half-mile-long lazy river, and end in the River Pool. If you want something more thrilling, the Current -- a mile-long river ride -- brings you face-to-face with seven-foot elevations and drops, along with some rapids.
Rates: From $129 per night for the Beach Tower
More Info: tel. 888/ATLANTIShttp://www.atlantisbahamas.com/

Photo Caption: Aquaventure at Atlantis in Paradise Island, the Bahamas
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Mission Hills Resort Hainan. Haikou, Hainan, China Courtesy Mission Hills Resort
What: Lazy River
Where Mission Hills in Haikou, Hainan, China
The Details: Did you know China has its own tropical island? On Hainan, you'll find a five-star resort with 10 golf courses, 12 restaurants, a spa, mineral springs, and the Lava Lagoon aquatic theme park. The park's lazy river -- about four feet deep and a quarter of a mile long -- connects to a pool surrounded by a man-made beach, waterslides, a rock climbing wall, and more.
Rates: From 828 RMB (about $123) for a deluxe room
More Info: tel. 86 898 6868 3888; www.missionhillschina.com

Photo Caption: Mission Hills Resort Hainan in Haikou, Hainan, China
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Lazy Canyon River, Grand Geneva Resort, Wisconsin. Courtesy Grand Geneva Resort
What: Lazy Canyon River
Where: Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
The Details: The resort complex on Lake Geneva is an all-season destination with a 500-foot-long lazy river, and two waterslides. The water features are part of the on-site Moose Mountain Falls water park at sister property Timber Ridge Lodge.
Rates: From $189 for a deluxe guest room at Timber Ridge Lodge, from $219 for a deluxe guest room at Grand Geneva Resort; guests of Timber Ridge get in free to the water park; guests of Grand Geneva pay $25-$30 for all-day passes.
More Info: tel. 800/558-3417; www.grandgeneva.com

Photo Caption: Lazy Canyon River at Grand Geneva Resort, Wisconsin
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Pagosa Hot Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Courtesy of Pagosa Hot Springs Resort and Spa
What: Pagosa Springs
Where: Pagosa Hot Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado
The Details: Hang out in one of the 23 natural hot springs for which the resort is named. For an exhilarating plunge, step from the mineral pools right into the adjacent San Juan River. On Fridays and Saturdays in the summer, enjoy a dive-in movie at the main pool from the comfort of an inner tube. If you choose to get out of the water at some point, more than three million acres of wilderness areas -- including the San Juan National Forest -- surround the property.
Rates: From $209 for a standard room, which includes unlimited access to the hot springs pools 24 hours a day
More Info: tel. 800/225-0934; www.pagosahotsprings.com

Photo Caption: Pagosa Hot Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado
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Tongabezi Lodge, Livingstone Island, on the Zambezi River in Zambia. Courtesy Tongabezi Lodge
What: Zambezi River
Where: Tongabezi Lodge on Livingstone Island, Zambia
The Details: Stay in a private cottage overlooking the Zambezi River in Zambia. Start and end your day with a boat ride. Go fishing, canoeing, or opt for a candlelit dinner alongside the river, which stretches nearly a mile in width. Watch Victoria Falls from the amazing Devil's Pool, where the current flows around each side of the natural pool and plunges down -- but you don't go over the falls.
Rates: From $655 per person for a cottage stay or $755-$875 for a house stay; all-inclusive means meals, guides, activities, excursions, and more are included. Children 7 and up are permitted; kids 7-13 pay 50% of the adult rate; kids 14 and up pay adult rate.
More info: tel. 260/213 327450; www.tongabezi.com

Photo Caption: Tongabezi Lodge on Livingstone Island, on the Zambezi River in Zambia
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Privassion River, Blancaneaux Lodge in Cayo District, Belize. Francis Ford Coppola Resorts
What: Privassion Creek
Where: Blancaneaux Lodge in Cayo District, Belize
The Details: This natural creek runs through the property, which is located on the bank of Privassion Creek surrounded by craboo, palmetto, and pine trees. Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola fell in love over 30 years ago with this remote, mountainous location. The property served as a private home until 1993 when it was turned into 20-room resort with cabanas and villas, all along the creek. Cool off in the swimming holes created by tumbling waterfalls.
Rates: One-bedroom garden view cabanas start at $289 per night; one-bedroom riverfront cabanas start at $339 per night. Children are welcome; there are no extra charges.
More Info: tel. 800/746-3743; www.coppolaresorts.com

Photo Caption: Privassion Creek at Blancaneaux Lodge in Cayo District, Belize
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