How to Gain Access to Private Perks While Traveling

Day passes to hotels, golf courses and airport lounges are just some of the ways to enjoy places typically limited to guests and members.

Photo By: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Photo By: Alive Coverage

Photo By: Marriott Marquis Houston

Photo By: Boulders Resort and Spa

Photo By: The William Vale

Photo By: Dina Avila Photography

Photo By: Mohonk Mountain house

Photo By: Heritage Hotels

Photo By: Chad Keig

Photo By: Shutterstock/Sorbis

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island may be a sliver jutting off Florida’s Northeast coast, but it’s not boring. Websites like ResortPass allow vacationers to take advantage of the many amenities found at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, a five-star property. For starters, day-pass holders can enjoy private beach access, indoor and outdoor pools, two hot tubs, a fitness center, and access to the golf and tennis courts. A spa pass is the next level, providing entry to the spa pool, locker room, lounge, eucalyptus steam room and waterfall whirlpool. Those splurging for the cabana pass get the full Ritz-Carlton treatment, complete with a cabana butler, fruit plate and snacks, bottled water, cocktail, large-screen TV and all of your sunscreen needs.

Marquee Club, Atlanta

The historic Fox Theatre is one of Atlanta’s premier places to catch touring Broadway shows, hear major concerts, partake in movie sing-alongs and much more in the entertainment category. The theater recently added the Marquee Club, a dramatic 10,000-square-foot space featuring Moroccan-inspired decor and a rooftop terrace. Unlike most clubs, which require an annual membership, the Marquee Club allows any ticket holder to buy a single access pass, although the cost varies depending on ticket prices. Besides granting rooftop access to pass holders, it also provides free non-alcoholic drinks and hors-d'oeuvres, private bathrooms, the choice of five bars and the ability to pre-order drinks, coffee or dessert to enjoy during intermission.

Marriott Marquis Houston, Texas

Arguably one of the best features at the Marriott Marquis Houston is its Texas-shaped rooftop lazy river. Only hotel guests could enjoy this one-of-a-kind attraction, but day passes are available starting at $50 through ResortPass. In addition to floating around the "river", guests can enjoy the heated infinity pool, hot tub and fitness center. Towels are provided, but food and drink are extra. ResortPass users can also choose passes to Marriott’s spa, daybeds, cabanas, a pergola and gazebos.

Boulders Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona

The golf course at Boulders Resort & Spa used to be off-limits to the public, but now anyone can enjoy what Golf Digest has included as part of its best 2018 golf resorts in the Southwest. Greens fees for the 18-hole course range from $179 to $225, which also grant access to the clubhouse’s pool as well as five dining options around the property. The facilities at the 33,000-square-foot destination spa are another area that’s open to the public for a day fee (currently $50 during the week and $75 on weekends), for those who don’t want to pay for an actual spa treatment. This entitles pass holders to take a fitness class (yoga, cardio, aquatics), make use of the outdoor pool, walk in the meditation labyrinth and rotate between the steam rooms and saunas.

The William Vale, NYC

Gaining access to a pool can be a competitive summer activity in NYC, especially in Manhattan. Try your luck in Brooklyn at the fairly new five-star William Vale in Williamsburg. The 60-foot pool is considered to be the longest in NYC, an added benefit when everyone else at the hotel and surrounding area are clamoring to use it. Plus, its rooftop location provides prime skyline views. Day passes start at $150 for a chaise lounge chair Monday through Thursday. Though cocktails and light fare from well-known local chef Andrew Carmellini are extra, the price does include outdoor showers. There’s even a lifeguard, not often a given at hotel pools.

Multnomah Whiskey Library, Portland

The Multnomah Whiskey Library has earned the reputation of being so exclusive that it’s near impossible to get into without a reservation — and only members can make one. While you could spend $600 for an annual membership (for which there’s a waitlist anyway), a workaround for those who have a limited amount of time in Portland is to pay $25 per person for a hall pass. Based on availability, this allows non-members to score a coveted reservation in order to experience one of the country’s largest collections of whiskey and distilled spirits in sexy, dimly-lit environs.

Mohonk Mountain House, New York

As one of the country’s oldest resorts, dating back to 1869, Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley resembles a Victorian castle, except one that borders a lake instead of a moat. It offers tons of activities depending on the season: For example, summer guests can hike, play tennis or throw tomahawks, while winter guests can swim in the indoor pool or go ice skating or snowshoeing. That is, if one is staying overnight — and room rates are not inexpensive. However, a day pass provides a more affordable way to experience the resort. Visitors have eight options, divided into packages that focus on the aforementioned activities, as well as golf, horseback riding and the destination spa. Dining packages are also available, so you can take advantage of farm-to-table food surrounded by magnificent water and mountain views.

Casa España, Santa Fe

Guests staying at one of Heritage Hotels and Resorts’ five properties in Santa Fe (Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Hotel St. Francis, The Lodge at Santa Fe, Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe and Inn and Spa at Loretto) have unfettered access to Casa Espana, a private lounge located inside Eldorado Hotel & Spa open Friday and Saturday nights. The public can access it on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., but you can't get in during prime hours if you aren't a guest at one of the hotels. That is unless you buy a membership. The $350 annual fee might make sense for frequent Santa Fe visitors and also includes discounts at Heritage properties.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, California

It may come as a surprise to some that Francis Ford Coppola, the famous director behind The Godfather trilogy, is also involved with a highly-regarded winery in Sonoma. Perhaps even less known is the impressive Francis Ford Coppola Winery estate is also home to a small museum displaying memorabilia from his films, a bocce ball court and two outdoor pools. While the first two are free, visitors need a pass to enjoy the inviting pool. Different price tiers accommodate everyone, from an individual day pass with lawn seating to a family of four who desires a private enclosed cabin space. The latter includes a private shower, a deck of cards and access to the pool’s lounge chairs.

Airport Lounges, Nationwide

Airport lounges aren’t just the rarified domain for first- and business-class passengers. Websites such as Lounge Pass and LoungeBuddy offer day passes starting at $19 and $25, respectively. For the best choice, fee-based credit cards open the door to a host of lounges around the world, depending on which airline the credit card is associated with. The Points Guy, a travel industry expert on the subject, is a good starting place for deciding which credit card is best for you. Some credit cards offer lounge access through Priority Pass, a program with worldwide lounge access. Travelers can also choose to sign up directly through Priority Pass for an annual membership fee.

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