"I have always wanted a swimming
pool, and never had one."
-Joan Didion, Holy Water. 1977
-Joan Didion, Holy Water. 1977
The Royal Sonesta New Orleans has stood on Bourbon Street since the late 1960s. While some might hold the false belief that hotels and Bourbon Street are best left to the tourists, when the seven-month-long summer hits Louisiana, they will sweatily eat their words. Hotels, it turns out, are indispensable to locals who are looking to enjoy an outdoor pool. Luckily for our overheated locals, the Royal Sonesta's Sonesta Sunday afternoon hangouts at the Oasis Pool Bar will run from April 11 through October 10 with pool passes available to the public.
Passes are available for purchase now—select a date or get a season pass on Eventbrite. The one-time admission fee is $25 per person and pool access is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Limited 2021 yearly access passes are available for $500 per person, providing entry for every Sunday through the season. Each pool pass includes one complimentary Red Bull Daiquiri and complimentary valet parking.
Celebrated American writer (and lifelong pool-wanter) Joan Didion visited Louisiana in the summer of 1970. She begins the book South and West with this sentence: "In New Orleans in June, the air is heavy with sex and death, not violent death but death by decay, overripeness, rotting, death by drowning, suffocation, fever of unknown etiology. The place is physically dark, dark like the negative of a photograph, dark like an X-ray: the atmosphere absorbs its own light, never reflects light but sucks it in until random objects glow with a morbid luminescence." Sounds like Didion didn't make it to a pool while she was in town.
While summer 2021 might not yet be a summer of normalcy, it will definitely be more of a summer than last year—and safer too. As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to expand (beginning March 22, more people in New Orleans will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The new tier—Priority Group 1b, Tier 2—is vocation-based and includes grocery store employees and hospitality workers), it's beginning to look like this will be the summer of socially distancing at the pool. At least you won't have to worry about a group of people taking your chairs while you step inside for a second.
Addressing continued COVID-19 precautions, the Eventbrite page for Sonesta Sundays states that the "Royal Sonesta New Orleans is committed to the health and well-being of all guests and employees by implementing the necessary safety measures set by public health officials. Capacity will be monitored, and social distancing will be required."
Beyond taking a dip in the saltwater pool and lounging under the magnificent shade of a sapphire blue umbrella, Sonesta Sundays are a whole vibe with live entertainment, a full bar, daiquiri machines, bottle service, and grill food. Wear "pool chic attire," as the Eventbrite page specifies, though you probably already knew exactly what you were going to wear when you saw the headline.