Plunge pool villa, Four Seasons Sayan, Bali
The first time I experienced the luxury of having my own plunge pool it was in Bali, at the Four Seasons Sayan Resort.
I'd just flown 24 hours from New York. My body and soul felt like I'd left them behind somewhere over the Pacific, or maybe on the stopover at Narita.
“And... here is your plunge pool,” said my host, saving the best for last and opening the doors to a private patch of heaven, a small blue and white pool glinting in the hot Indonesian afternoon sun.
Something like childish joy leaped in my exhausted heart as I realized that this aquatic playpen was all for me.
After tipping and thanking my host I wandered around the expansive room, decorated in Balinese textiles. There was a gift basket with incense and dragon fruit. I lit one of the slim joss sticks and brought it out to the side of the pool and then did something I had never done in my life. I took off all my clothes outside in the broad daylight (OK, I was in a private backyard) and took the plunge.
The water was warm and buoyant and the scent of jasmine incense curled into the warm Indonesian afternoon.
I think I stayed in the pool for hours. It was the most decadently pleasurable feeling I'd ever had.
During that trip I returned to the pool at every opportunity, seeking it out almost guiltily as if I were having an affair.
No longer a plunge pool virgin, I have since sought them out eagerly around the world and whenever I got an opportunity to take that plunge, I did — guilt-free and greedily.
There were the plunge pools of the Luxury Collection Haciendas in the Yucatan (http://www.thehaciendas.com). I stayed in all five while exploring the Mayan world of this part of Mexico. The colonial architecture was magnificent as were the Mayan ruins but what my body remembers is the midnight swims in the haciendas’ plunge pools.
Argos in-room plunge pool
Then there was probably the most over-the-top experience you can have when it comes to plunge pools. It’s located within a room in the Argos Hotel in Turkey's Cappadocia (www.argosincappadocia.com).
These pools spring up as if from secret wells in the depths of the suites that are located in cool, stone caves.
After a day spent hot-air ballooning through the ancient landscapes of the region (those beehive dwellings are dusty!), there was nothing more refreshing than a dip in one of these cerulean blue gems.
I've also seen (although not tried) some of the really over-the-top pools like the one in the Presidential Suite of the Westin Excelsior Hotel in Rome. While actually a large Jacuzzi and not a plunge pool per se, the setting and the size of the pool make it look like something Liz and Dick would have shared in the paparazzi 60s while sipping champagne and giving each other million-dollar diamonds.
Westin Excelsior, Rome
How do you come back to real life after seeing something like this?
Then there was my plunge pool in Cyprus' Annasa Resort.
The Anassa Spa (http://www.elegantresorts.co.uk/anassa/) has a pool fit for Aphrodite herself (it is said she was born on Cyprus). My plunge pool was a bit more discreet than the spa’s, with an infinity edge facing the sea.
Anassa spa pool, Cyprus
My last night on the island I visited a spring where it is said that if you bathe in its waters, you'll be young forever. I dipped a bottle into the briny depths and then retreated later to my hotel, pouring a bit of the water into my plunge pool for the full Aphrodite effect. It was a moonlit night and I think I must have spent about four hours in that pool, floating in a heavenly place between fantasy and reality.
That's the place where plunge pools exist. Smack in the middle between heaven and earth.