Almost every major Las Vegas hotel has a pool, a spa, and a fitness center, but just like the resorts that house them, they are not created equally. If lounging by the water or getting pampered with fine treatments is important to you, pay attention here because all of the pools and most of the spas require you to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy them.

So Your Trip Goes Swimmingly . . .

Part of the delight of the Vegas resort complexes is the gorgeous pools—what could be better for beating the summer heat? But there are pools and there are pools, so you’ll need to keep several things in mind when searching for the right one for you.

During the winter, it’s often too cold or windy to do much lounging, and even if the weather is amenable, the hotels often close part of their pool areas during winter and early spring. The pools also are not heated for the most part, but in fairness, they largely don’t need to be.

Most hotel pools are shallow, chest-high at best, only about 3 feet deep in many spots (the hotels want you gambling, not swimming). Diving is impossible—not that a single pool allows it anyway.

Although the stories about the “Death Ray” at CityCenter’s Vdara hotel were overblown, where the sun reflecting off the mirrored hotel exterior reportedly caused plastic to melt, be warned that sitting by pools that offer scant shade requires diligent application of sunscreen.

At any of the pools, you can rent a cabana (which often includes a TV, special lounge chairs, and—even better—poolside service), but these should be reserved as far in advance as possible and most cost a hefty fee. If you are staying at a chain hotel, you will most likely find an average pool, but if you want to spend some time at a better one, be aware that most of the casino-hotel pool attendants will ask to see your room key. If they are busy, you might be able to sneak in, or at least blend in with a group ahead of you.

When it comes to pools, we tend to throw our support to those that offer luxurious landscaping, plenty of places to lounge, multiple dipping options, and some shade for those times when the desert sun gets to be too much. This is a good description of the pools at both The Mirage and The Flamingo, which offer acres of veritable tropical paradises for you to enjoy. Ditto the renovated pool area at The Tropicana, serving up a sunny Miami Beach feeling among lush grounds.

If you're looking for something a little more adventurous, try the epic facility at Mandalay Bay, complete with a wave pool, a lazy-river ride, and good old-fashioned swimming holes along with a sandy beach. MGM Grand has a similar facility, although not as big and without the waves.

Partying is not confined to the nightclubs these days. Many of the hotels offer pool-club experiences but even when they aren't in full-on party mode, the pools at Hard Rock (sandy beaches, swim-up blackjack), The Palms (multilevel, high-end cabanas), Aria Las Vegas (acres of sexy modernity), and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (not one but two party pools overlooking the Strip) serve up high-energy frolicking.

Sit Back and Relax . . . 

All that sun and fun got you worn out? How about a visit to one of Vegas's epic spas?

Our hands-down favorite is the one at Encore Las Vegas, a Moroccan-inspired Zen wonderland with multiple treatment rooms, saunas and steams, relaxation areas, and more. Close on its heels are the facilities at Bellagio and Red Rock Resort. The former is one of the largest in town and offers every pampering service you can think of, while the latter is an "Adventure Spa" that, in addition to massages and facials, provides guests with a chance to do everything from rock climbing to river rafting in nearby recreation areas.

Other noteworthy spas can be found at the Golden Nugget (classic design and traditional treatments), Delano (dramatic decor with surprising spaces), and Caesars Palace (complete with an indoor "ice" room and rock-climbing wall).

Of course the granddaddy of them all can be found at The Venetian and Palazzo's Grand Canyon Spa. Since it's the biggest in town it shouldn't surprise you that it offers virtually every treatment and health service known to man and, in a welcome change, is open to nonguests of the hotel.

Note that there is never a charge to use the pool areas of the resorts unless you are going to one of their daytime pool-club parties. Spa fees vary from hotel to hotel but usually start around $20 per day to use the basics like whirlpool tubs and saunas, and at least $75 and up for services like massage and facials.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.