Beach Cabanas: How Did We Ever Do Without Them?


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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a cabana as: a small, simple building that has a roof and usually walls and is often used by people at a beach or swimming pool. That may be technically correct, but that doesn’t even come close to defining them.

A Little History
Even just those little half-round tent—like structures you see all over the beach are technically called cabanas. In the past, pretty much anything that gave you some semblance of shelter on a beach or poolside could be considered one. They used to be used as changing rooms, secret little hook-up getaways, or shelters from the sun. They were more for function than form and while they were mainly located in country clubs or high dollar resorts, they were not necessarily a place you spent the whole day.

Engineered vs Non—Engineered
These terms have sprouted up as advertising for cabanas for your home have started up. There are terms like Engineered, Non-Engineered and even Pre-Engineered. From what we can make sense of: Engineered and Pre-Engineered cabanas basically are built to withstand winds from about 80 MPH to 180 MPH depending on the manufacturer. The more sturdy ones are mostly steel-framed and usually attached to the ground like a permanent structure. A Non-Engineered cabana could still be very sturdy but could also be a tent, or something that can be moved. Some are made of wood and or are more similar to Tiki huts while others resemble Bedouin tents. It does get confusing, but unless you are building one on your own beach or plan to lie around in a hurricane, I wouldn’t worry about it.

A New Income Source
In today’s resort-filled vacation world, no resort worth its salt would expect you to just lie poolside or beachside without some options. While some spots used to offer a few cabanas on a first come first served basis, cabanas are now a source of income and they rent for a pretty penny. No longer are they just there for your free use: you either have to rent them by the day or upgrade your package to even allow you in the area.

Class Warfare
They have become the VIP areas for pools and beaches that nightclubs first created. Some resorts have sections of the beach covered in cabanas or at least lined along the back and reserved for those who paid extra for VIP treatment. If you didn’t upgrade, you can’t even hang out with these folks, much less have the use of a cabana. I have seen resorts with half the beach sectioned off.

Amenities, Amenities
Some may just be a large bed surrounded by fabric walls while others step it up a bit. Some fancy and high cost cabanas come with Egyptian sheets on the bed—yes there are beds—and exotic fabrics for walls. Other accessories can include ceiling fans, audio equipment, wireless internet and a flat-screen TV. You may have a refrigerator and stocked bar or a wait staff and bottle service. Furnishings range from a day bed to patio furniture or even more luxurious surroundings.

Money’s No Object
Cabanas at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, which according to their website can accommodate up to 6 people, are steps away from the beach with poolside access and come with food and drink service, a refrigerator, electronic device plug-ins, and a personal safe among other things. All this is available for the low price of, well, if you have to ask, you really can’t afford it.

May I Please?
The Wynn and Encore Las Vegas are known for their pool parties and their VIP cabanas are one hot item. They are so hot in fact you can’t even get a price until you send in a request—that’s right a request—for a reservation. Cabanas at their Wynn, Encore, or Tower Suites pools come with a mini fridge, plasma TV, plush chairs and sofas. This is Sin City so the pools are adults only—leave the kids at home but make sure you bring your wallet with lots of cash.

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