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Henderson’s mini-waterfronts don’t require breaking the bank

Some grumble that Southern Nevada lacks four seasons, but our sustained summer provides an abundance of pool-time pleasure. For locals who want to play tourist for a day, some Henderson resorts offer reasonable deals. It’s cruise-ship luxury on a budget.

Included on my must-visit-again pool list are M Resort, Green Valley Ranch Resort and The Westin Lake Las Vegas. Prices range from free to $25 for a day of dipping in designer pools and relaxing on resort beach chairs. Drinks and munchies are predictably expensive, and anyone wanting the added comfort and shade of cabanas or daybeds will have to pay extra, usually hundreds of dollars extra. But self-parking is free.

At M Resort, where local ladies get in free before noon every day of the week, among the most inviting features are swiveling lounge chairs partially submerged in turquoise waters. Other winning touches are stately palm trees, swaying bamboo, fragrant jasmine and plenty of shade for anyone needing a break from the searing sun. Free glasses of chilled water at the bar are another perk, as are the comfy white-and-blue-striped beach towels.

Local guys get the same free-pool-before-noon privileges as ladies Monday through Thursday at M Resort. The before-noon rule isn’t necessary on Tuesday, when all local men and women with valid IDs enjoy free entry all day. Locals arriving at M Resort after noon pay $10 Monday through Thursday. Children 10 and younger pay $3. Prices are higher for everyone Friday through Sunday and on holidays. M Resort pools are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A recent visit to M Resort was late on a Monday afternoon in May, when the sun’s rays weren’t so harsh. I easily found a lounge chair under an umbrella, and I knew my chances for that were high because I could see the pool wasn’t crazily crowded as I stood in the entry line. When I go back this summer, I’ll be there in the morning when it’s cooler, calmer and free.

Last year, a mid-afternoon, mid-summer visit to the pools at The Westin Lake Las Vegas was far from relaxing and refreshing. My timing was off. While the pool area’s terracotta tones, stylish arches and cool blue waters were lovely, it was too scorching hot and the pool was too crowded. This summer I plan for an earlier arrival and intend to check out the pool before I pay the $25 non-hotel-guest access fee. If it’s too crowded, there’s always the option of getting an icy drink inside the resort and finding a comfortable perch that overlooks Lake Las Vegas.

For Westin pool access, there were specials in mid-May on the Groupon website. Four people could visit for $69 or two people for $35, Monday through Friday. Inquiries about “dive-in” movie nights and weekend pricing should be made at the resort’s recreation desk or by calling the resort’s general number at 702-567-6000. Pool hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. were posted on the resort’s website.

Good sun timing — morning or late afternoon, when building shadows are more likely — also will be part of my strategy when returning to the eight acres earmarked at Green Valley Ranch Resort for fun, sun and relaxation. Amenities there even include a sand-bottom pool. Plenty of comfortable seating and shade options are part of the overall design. The geometrically playful architectural touches and artfully done landscaping give Green Valley Ranch’s pool area a smart look and a resort feel.

Non-hotel guests at Green Valley Ranch Resort pay $20 (adults) and $10 (kids 12 and under) for access Monday through Friday. It’s best to call 702-617-7744 if interested in weekend visits or hosting larger groups. Pool hours were posted as 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the resort’s website.

Escaping to a local resort’s poolscape can be a fun way to spend a sun-filled summer day. Wading in Green Valley Ranch Resort’s sand-bottom pool, shooting down the Westin’s waterslide or cooling off while partially submerged in an M Resort lounge chair are all good ways to celebrate our lengthy Henderson pool season.

Natalie Burt, a former news reporter at the Review-Journal for 11 years, spends as much of her free time as possible enjoying Southern Nevada’s outdoors. She’s now a teacher and has lived in Henderson for 18 years. Email: nvburt@gmail.com.

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