Hearst Castle allows 50 people to swim in its pool for $1,000 each

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle is 104 feet long and 58 feet wide.  It holds 345,000 gallons of water.

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle is 104 feet long and 58 feet wide. It holds 345,000 gallons of water.

Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

One of California’s most desirable pools is hosting back-to-back pool parties this month and is somewhat open to the public — if you’re willing to pay for a lavish dip.

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon is a luxurious novelty on the Central Coast and rarely open for public use. The pool was once owned by media scion William Randolph Hearst, and became coveted because it was forbidden.

Even those who work at the castle appear to be forbidden from swimming in the pool, although in the past they were only given a two-hour swim once a year.

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However, the opportunity to swim in Neptune Pool is once again available to anyone with very deep pockets in their swimsuit. On August 19 and 26 of this month, Foundation members at Hearst Castle will have two opportunities to attend an evening swim as a fundraiser.

If you are a member, you are allowed to reserve $1,000 for a swim in the unheated pool. Wet suits are permitted, but there are limited tickets and it is first come first served. The purpose of the event is to raise money for the foundation’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs, which it says serve youth from underserved communities in the state. Tickets are also 95% tax deductible.

File: Hearst Castle, September 2018, in San Simeon, California.

File: Hearst Castle, September 2018, in San Simeon, California.

Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

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The first event this month is limited to 50 guests and is called the Hollywood at Hearst Castle Neptune Pool Swim. Members can mingle with industry insiders such as Nigel Lythgoe, creator of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’; Richard Wolfe, American columnist for The Guardian; And Paul Scheer, one of the funny guys in the TV series “The League.”

Designed by Julia Morgan, one of the state’s leading architects, the 104-foot-long Neptune Outdoor Pool reflects the castle’s lavish design. The pool, along with the castle’s indoor Roman pool, was built in the 1920s and 1930s.

Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in October 2018, in San Simeon, California.  The historic landmark was donated to the state in 1958.

Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in October 2018, in San Simeon, California. The historic landmark was donated to the state in 1958.

George Rose/Getty Images

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The pool reopened in 2018 after a $10 million renovation to repair cracks that were leaking about 5,000 gallons per day before it was drained in 2014. Because the castle falls under the jurisdiction of California State Parks, the project was funded in part through Proposition 84. Approved by voters in 2006.

In the past, workers and volunteers at Hearst Castle were allowed to swim in the pool once a year, although that swim did not return after the pool reopened. A lecturer on the castle’s living history named Yvonne Smith wrote in an op-ed about access to the pool in 2019 that workers were “deprived of a much-loved privilege” due to low wages and the inability to purchase memberships to the castle foundation. It’s not clear if this feature has been restored since 2019.

(tags for translation) The Guardian

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