You may know a lot about the world’s most expensive swimming pools. But, did you know that nearly one million visitors visit the iconic Hearst Castle every year. They keep the Neptune Pool as the centerpiece of their attraction in the vast estate overlooking miles of California coastline. And they pay a fabulous amount of money per dip into this blue glory featured with a terrace carrying statues of Mr. Neptune and the Nereid’s.
What is so infatuating about this topcellently expensive swimming pool?
Why is it still one of the most photographed pools in the world?
Let’s explore the answers ahead by scouring the wow features that keep drawing Hollywood stars, journalists, and other celebrities dating back from ’30s to till date.
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What does tempt some visitors to pretend an unwilling fall into this blue water ballroom?
Certainly, there are much more than the charming hilltop setting, sunlight dangling on the surface of the pool water, fog drifting over the oil-burning heated H2O, and the brightest sunset mirrored in that spectacular watercourse.
A bit away, the indoor Roman pool will surely not fail to amuse and amaze you with Roman bath surrounding tiled from floor to ceiling and stars dispersing across its domed ceiling. Visitors kept refreshed in this indoor swimming so long the Neptune pool was under a prolonged renovation project.
They are the jewels in all the gems of Hearst Castle that will seize your attention at the arrival.
Exclusive Features of Neptune Pool
The magnificent features that are responsible for its enduring public craze include:
Mind-blowing Setting: A massive swimming pool at the hilltop is itself a spectacular scene. The Neptune pool lies to the north and a bit below the main rest house Casa Grande. When you are standing on the terrace of this outdoor swimming pool, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Hearst family ranch, Point San Simeon coast, and the Pacific.
The pool sits edging the boundary walls of the Hearst Castle on Santa Lucia Mountain.
Neptune Terrace: This is a terrace featured with marble tiles. To further the appeal, the terrace is given an ancient heroic touch by installing the statue of Neptune on it. It is a public knowledge that Mr. Hearst was very fond of classics tapestries and antiques.
It feels like receiving a guard from the deities standing on the bank while you are afloat over the blue water. The colonnades and other statues standing on the terrace wear marble tiles to add to the shimmering effect of the scene.
Ornamental Pools: Several ornamental or reflect pools surround the basin of the Neptune pool. They are less deep – 3.3 ft- but certainly add to the ecstasy of the scene. The ornamental pools too have marble tile floor and sides.
Marble Pavilions: Marble pavilions are just in line with the overall view of the pool. Matching the basin tiles, they contribute to strengthening the oceanic and aerial blue look of the artificial aquatic paradise.
Sculptures: Other than the title sculpture of Neptune the pool is named after, there are two Nereid statues on the terrace to accompany Mr. Neptune. They further the romantic atmosphere of the watercourse.
Venus will emerge from under the water in a conch shell swaying in the arms of mermen.
Isn’t it a scene to be amused with or get lost in?
Ancient Roman Temple Façade: At one end of the primary axis of the pool stands the Roman temple frontage accessorizing the pool with the feel of eye-catching and mind-elevating antiquity. This imported Roman temple façade stretches to the primary axis. Mr. Hearst bought it from Italy and installed here anew and refurbished.
Tiled Basins and Gutter: Numerous blue marble tiles lying in the pool bed are the reason the pool water looks that glorious blue. And they are as huge as close to 20000 in numbers.
On top of all those mentioned, alabaster lanterns, gorgeously designed dressing rooms, and raised alcove are the attractions that multiply the appeal of the pool casting a magic spell over millions of beauty lovers and holidaymakers since its public inception in 1958.
Measurements: The Neptune Pool shares varied dimensions – overall width of 58 feet and a far stretched 95 feet of width at the alcove. The outdoor Hearst Castle pool runs 104 feet long and this length is known to be the second axis. It features 3.3 feet depth at the shallow west end not meant for swimming and 10 feet at the basin fairly deep enough for you to forget all anxiety and bring back the high school enthusiasm.
Water Source: Natural water coming from the Santa Lucia Mountain spring is the pool and fountain liquid source. The large volume of 345,000 gallons of water flows through piping.
There is an oil-burning heating system to keep the water temperature normal but not warm. Actually, no water in the Hearst Castle is warm.
Grand Fusion of Art and Nature: Imported antiques mostly from Europe and Greco-roman architectural style have found a superb blend with the coastal California landscape. This is the real appeal people get drawn to the Neptune Pool for. Many say that a dip in this outdoor swimming pool is a dive in ancient history.
Stars and Celebrities in the Neptune Pool
As suggested in the introduction, Hollywood stars, world-famous journalists, and Olympic champions frequented in Hearst castle even before it was open for public after the death W R Hearst. Big names among the Hollywood stars include Clark Gable, Carry Grant, Charles Chaplin, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo, and very close personal friend of Mr. Hearst -Marion Davies.
There went a saying then in Hollywood that there were Hollywood stars that really swam in the pools in the Hearst castle and there were some who said they had been there. Such was the craze and it is not the least declined these days. This blue water paradise with marble mosaic floor, shapely nymphs, pageboy hairdo mermaids, and voluptuous Venus rising from a conch shell muscle-bound by mermen cast magnetic pool upon a few more celebrities.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr., “Tarzan” star and 1920 Olympic gold medalist for swimming Johnny Weissmuller, and none the less than David Niven visited and spent time in this grand liquid ballroom. Weissmuller showed off the famous strokes he is known for while dipping in this blue glory.
In 2014, the famous Lady Gaga donated a fabulous sum of amount to shoot her U.G.I music video. She had the famous pool filled to the brim when it was drained for being under a 4-year long restoration initiative. Not to surprise, the Neptune pool found it featured in the famous film Spartacus in the Kubrick version while adorning the entrance of the set of Crassus Villa.
How much and when to take a dive in the pool?
If you want to spend a day like William Randolph Hearst, you just need to get prepared with a little extra amount in the bank. A dive in that water paradise with the ancient flavor of history cost you $60, 000 in the past. This came along the dinner of 10 in one of the guest houses atop the hill.
There was a pre-sale offer in the reopening on 21 August 2018 a swim at $1100 for the members by 31 August. And after October 1 the tickets will be available at $1300 for members and $1300 for non-members.
Swimming chance in this pool had a Grecian style bed and royal statuary along with grand colonnades on the pool deck is occasional. You cannot dip into this regal aquatic glory every time you visit Hearst Castle. It comes as a rare opportunity when the landmark needs renovations and preservation. Then the concerned authority offers tickets to win by bidding in an auction.
Surprisingly, no decline in the visitors during the renovation of Neptune Pool.
The central attraction of Hearst Castle estate The Neptune Pool- remained closed for the visitors as it was under a 4-year long restoration project until the final reopening in August 2018. The restoration was due to the fact that the pool suffered from a 5000-gallon leakage a day and drainage caused by drought in California then.
That caused replacing nearly 20000 of its Vermont marble tiles lying in the pool bed. Not to affect the original flavor, the tiles came from the original Vermont stone quarry.
Did the number of visitors decline during the revamp of the outdoor pool?
Not the least……
They found an equal alternative in the magnificent indoor pool – The Roman Pool. This indoor pool takes to the interior features of the ancient Roman baths – especially Baths of Caracalla, Rome(211-17CE) & Mausoleum of Galla Placida, Ravenna, Italy. This is also a testimony to Hearst’s deep passion for ancient classical age.
This indoor pool features mosaic marble tiles and a surrounding created by eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses, and the then heroes. The grandeur is further strengthened by the theme of the marine monster in line with the then Roman tradition. One of the statue copies – Apoxyomenos- sharply reminds us of the Baths of Caracalla for its frequent use there.
Shifting the gaze to upwards from the surrounding of the pool, you will find a doomed roof welcoming you with colored glass tiles having stars across the ceiling. The night blue of the mosaic tiles from the floor to the roof accentuated with gold infusion inside the smalti is just fair enough to drive you breathless. This will surely make you not miss the outdoor pool.
This indoor pool complex offers the swimmers an exercise room, handball court, sweat baths, and the gorgeous dressing rooms. This pool alone is 1665 sq.ft to hold 205000 gallons of water. Further detail of the Roman Pool will leave you mesmerized.
Why the Pools in Hearst Castle win over others?
You are entitled to enjoy an ecstatic vacation once in Hearst Castle even when free of pool water. It is bliss to spend a day or even more by exploring the majestic stay rooms, massive garden, walkways, the environs, and above all the Hearst Ranch Winery at San Simeon.
This lavishly designed private residence of the then media mogul has several guest houses offering multiple rooms and spacious lobbies.
The key mansion Casa Grande entertains the guests with its 115 rooms among which 38 are luxury bedrooms. Other few rooms include the Refectory, the Theatre, Gothic Study, Library, the Billiard Room, and Beauty Salon. Casa Grande is an antique feast packed with Italian and Spanish pieces of art and architecture.
Other than sticking your toe or the whole body in the pool water, you can enjoy idyllic beauty of the vast property that has earned the Santa Lucia Mountain the fond tag of The Enchanted Hill.
So intense is the architectural appeal of Hearst Castle is that this world-class monument and mausoleum is inspiring architects, engineers, sculptors, artist, and dreamers of every successive generation.
Therefore, besides a merry splash-about and extra-ordinary thrill and chill through bathing in the pools, the Castle as a whole can be the super-celebratory occasion-maker.
Really Interested? Cool… Here’s how to get there?
You have learned by now that the most expensive and the exclusive pools are inside the iconic Hearst Castle now managed by California State Park. To get to the pools amounts to reach the castle.
It lies halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco making a drive here very easy. You can reach to the Hearst castle in plenty of ways but the best would be to start along the scenic coastline of California.
You will keep max eight hours for the trip to Hearst castle either from San Francisco or California not to be late by any means.
The Neptune Pool in Hearst Castle is America’s most well-known outdoor swimming pool. Going by the detail of its design, features, and build-up, I must say this is one of the most exclusive and obviously most expensive swimming pools in the world. Celebrities from all walks of life who swam in this pool considered this as a rare chance – come once-in-a-life.
To intensify your aquatic thrill, Hearst castle offers another majestic swimming opportunity a bit away in the Roman Pool. This indoor pool too falls no short of the outdoor pool by any consideration.
To our utter amazement, these pools were the first and final bigger aquarium set up by Julia Morgan. And it is time-tested proof that she had been really great in her big assignment. So, what’s your plan to have a dive here?