The season for pool parties is drawing to a close but we're already dreaming up next summer's plans. As most of us don't have the luxury of a swimming pool, or even a backyard, finding a place where we can dip our toes into water is a challenge. A new online marketplace, dubbed the 'Airbnb of swimming pools' is seeking to fix that by allowing pool-owners to rent their pools by their hour when they're not being used.
Swimply is essentially an Airbnb for swimming pools. It operates in a similar way. A pool-owner lists the pool, with images, details, pricing and house rules on Swimply's website. Swimmers can view all the details plus previous reviews and submit a request for the date and hours they wish to use the pool. It takes the hassle out of finding a poolside hangout. Rates vary between weekday and weekend usage.
"Owning a pool can be expensive, enjoying one doesn't have to be," says founder Bunim Laskin. He tells Lonely Planet that Swimply was inspired as a "personal survival method". As the oldest of 12 children, he says his family home in New Jersey becomes "more or less a living hell in summer and getting even half of us out of the house is a mission".
One day, he approached a neighbour who had a swimming pool and requested to use it when wasn't in use and help her cover costs. "In a short time, my whole block was paying her to use the pool," says Laskin. "When my neighbour expressed gratitude for introducing the concept, Swimply was borne".
Swimply lists outdoor, indoor, fresh water and saltwater pools on its site. Some come with extra amenities such as BBQ grills, pool toys, waterslides, hot tubs and basketball courts. When it comes to bathroom breaks, the host will either have a special guest bathroom or portable toilet onsite or provide swimmers with instructions for accessing one inside the home.
In New York and Los Angeles, average listings range from US$50 (€43) to US$200 (€172) per hour, which is pretty steep for one person but may work well if you have a family of four or a group of friends to split the costs with. Some listings come with specific guidelines so it's important to read the fine print before booking. It's worth noting that as these are private pools, there will be no lifeguards on duty.
An example of what you can expect is the above saltwater heated pool in Brooklyn, New York. It's described as a "private oasis" and is complete with palm trees, a hammock, a boat and rafts, a sauna, BBQ and night-lighting. Free WiFi is available and there's a bathroom and changing area on site. Weekday prices are listed as US$125 (€107) per hour, while weekend prices are listed as US$150 (€129) per hour for up to six people.
The above listing in Miami, Florida is a 45 X 15-foot heated saltwater infinity horizon pool. Weekday prices are listed at $150 (€129) per hour and weekend prices are listed at $200 (€172) per hour for up to eight people. Amenities include a basketball court, diving board, kiddie pool, pool toys, and night-lighting.
Swimply has listings in almost 20 states across the US and last week, it launched in Toronto, Canada. The company also plans to launch in cities across Australia later this year, just in time for summer Down Under. To see the full directory, click here.