When I first heard about the Cabana Pool Bar, I was living in Montreal and it sounded like a pretty happening spot that a gal like me might enjoy.
Fast forward almost 4 years later and I’m booking my guest spot (which gets you in free before 3 pm) for my sister, Chanti and I to sit down and have a nice dinner.
As we arrived, people who looked to be in their early to late twenties were pulling up in Uber’s; dressed like they were getting ready to lay out on the beach.
Women were in sarongs and bathing suits, mini skirts, shorts, sandals and sun hats. Men wore button-down, flannel shirts (if any shirt at all) with khaki shorts and sun shades.
I didn’t think anything of it. I knew they had an outdoor space and a pool so I assumed it was a restaurant with a beach/poolside theme and everyone was dressed to fit the theme. On top of that, it was the Latin Heat edition and it was indeed a hot day so the less clothing the better.
As we were in the line, I stopped to snap some photos of the water against the downtown shore. Any spot against the water on a hot sunny day with a cool breeze is worth capturing a few shots.
I looked ahead of me and saw a boardwalk and more water. We got through the airport-level security and as we walked the boardwalk, we saw people lined up against the railing above us and the music was bumpin’.
Walking up the ramp, I suddenly got this feeling like this was not going to be your ordinary, every day, restaurant and as we cleared the ramp and looked across the venue, all we could see were people and cabana’s, hence the name: Cabana Pool bar.
This was not a restaurant at all. It was a party! And I wasn’t mad.
I immediately opened my camera and started filming the experience. I literally felt like I had walked onto the scene of Beverly Hills 90210. “This must be where rich kids hang out,” was my first thought. My next thought? “This place is amazing!”
We walked the room to see what we could see. There were even more people in swimsuits and sunshades in their dedicated cabana’s which start at $1,000 and can include food packages and bottle service and it must be reserved ahead of time.
At one point there was a drummer boy who paraded through the crowd, followed by 5 or 6 women; one of them was holding a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka and the others were sashaying right behind her.
We saw a bridal party, a birthday party and a party-for-no-reason party. There was laughing and drinking all around us and then we got to the center of attraction; the dance floor; and guess what we saw? Even more people! The music still had us jammin’ so we stopped to dance and enjoy the music before scoping out more of the scene.
We walked across the dance floor and headed towards the bar to get drinks. I got my signature gin and tonic and while I was paying I noticed two women with fluorescent wigs and bikini’s on a raised, mini-stage dancing at the center of the circle-shaped bar. As I turned around and looked across the way, there was another girl dancing on another mini-stage and even further down was another girl in a leopard print bikini and leopard-style makeup, and then I saw another and I soon realized, this must be one of their ‘attractions’, pretty cool!
Slowly but surely I started getting hungry and I did notice the snack bar on the way in so we headed over to see what was on the menu by Oliver & Bonacini. I was happy to see some of my favourites on there like guacamole and chips, Angus burgers and chicken caesar wraps.
After much deliberation, we finally decided on chicken fingers and fries, which in my opinion were pretty delicious. It’s too bad I only noticed later on that they also served sweet potato fries, bummer.
During our stand-up dinner; which was by choice because there was too much excitement, too much to see and we were still dancing while we picked at our food, there were people playing ping pong, pool and foosball and in the distance, we could see a floral selfie-booth, yay! Who doesn’t love a selfie-booth?
This particular event was sponsored by Sunwing Vacations and Riu Hotels & Resorts. They were giving away a vacation for two and you could enter the contest via a selfie-booth photo or by completing an entry form. More on the selfie-booth later.
After our snack, we made a pit stop at the washroom to readjust and freshen up and then decided we needed to get to the upper deck to get some aerial shots for this article. The security guy at the stairs stopped us and told us we needed a wristband to get up there. Chanti does not take no for an answer so we asked who we need to talk to to get access and he told us to find a manager.
We walked back towards the crowd, looking for anyone who looked official with no luck. But then we noticed the security guy walked away and we thought, this was our chance. We beelined back towards the steps and came face-to-face with a new security guy who came out of nowhere! He told us the same thing as the first guy and at that moment, we accepted defeat and decided to abort the mission.
Moving right along . . .
Chanti decided to go check out the pool area but I was pretty much glued to the dancefloor. Even though it was Latin Heat night, all kinds of tunes were playing: the latest hits, a little soca, a little afro beats, a little hip hop and of course, salsa courtesy of Chris Laroque & Jed Harper.
Just before we left the dancefloor, I noticed something like a lemonade stand behind us and as I took a closer look, I realized it was Exotiq Fruits making pineapple smoothies, served in a hollowed pineapple, that you can order with or without rum, nice touch!
Since I’m getting my feet wet in the travel industry, we decided we should take a shot at winning that trip to Santa Fe. There was a bit of a lineup but nothing we couldn’t handle while we continued to dance.
Finally, it was our turn to take a selfie but just before we did, we were told that we were too late to enter the contest. Nooooo! What the hay, we selfied anyway.
At this point, we’re about ready to leave, after a little more roaming and dancing. We make one last stop near the entrance to share about the experience in our Instagram and Facebook stories, promising our followers more details to come and this was it.
Things You Should Know About the Cabana Pool Bar
If you arrive after 3 pm, it’s only $20 to enter which is well worth it considering the great vibes and music.
Parking is also $20 if you park yourself. If you want to splurge, go ahead and opt for the $30 valet parking. If you don’t drive, there is a shuttle bus service to Union station from the Cabana. We’re still trying to find out if the service goes both ways.
Other Pool Bar features include complimentary Wi-fi, phone charging stations, completely renovated male and female washrooms, raised 133 ft wide private VIP mezzanine overlooking Cabana and Toronto Skyline, state of the art 21ft LED Digital Outdoor Screen, a brand new 100ft pool side bar, complimentary beauty lounge in the women’s washroom provided by Tweaked Products and there’s an isolated smoking area that’s still outdoors but away from all the action.
If you forgot any of your poolside tools, the tuck shop carries towels (rent for $5 with $15 cash deposit or buy for $35). Personal towels are not allowed. You can also get bathing suits, cabana apparel, suntan lotion and everything you would need for a day out in the sun. Change rooms and showers are also available and you can rent a locker to store your personal belongings.
The sad part is that there are only a few short weeks left if you want to have your own Cabana Pool Bar experience. Our next visit will be for the Labour Day long weekend on Monday, September 2. If you miss out this year, put it on your calendar for June 2020.