Tuesday, May 22, 2012

3 Very Different Indoor Swimming Options Near Wolf Road, Colonie, NY

10/20/2012 - Update:  I recently learned that the University at Albany (UAlbany) has changed their offerings.  There is no longer a "pool only" option and they no longer have the monthly option that was referenced in this original post.

I love swimming.  Sure, its great for my OFS and arthritis, but let's face it, swimming is just plain fun.  How else can you get near naked and wet in a socially acceptable manner?  I think there may be something primitive to it - maybe we truly came from the sea and feeling the sun and water on our skin is what is programmed deep inside us.

While Colonie is a terrific area, it is as the politically correct would say, "sunny day challenged."  I'm looking outside now and yup, its cloudy.  Long story short, if you like to swim and you're in Colonie, you need to check out indoor swimming options.  In this excerpt, I'm going to discuss 3 very different options and while I probably will be brutally honest about what I like and don't like about each, your circumstances may be such that my dislike may be your like and vice versa.

1.  Cicotti Family Recreation Center - This is the Cadillac option.  The Cicotti Center has multiple programs and is conveniently located on the edge of Crossings Park.  Indeed, Crossings is such a gem, that I have dedicated a page to it and will update this page as I take better pictures.  If I had children under 10, this would be the place I would need to join.  It has a water park like swim area in addition to swim lanes and a hot tub area.  The facility is very new and still has that buzz of new energy.

The Cicotti Center does not list their membership rates on their website; they should.  I made a recent contact to Cicotti and was provided these rates:
The first adult (age 18-61) is $55 per month, and additional adults (ages 16 and up) are $30 per month. Children (ages 6 months through 15 years) are $15 per month. We only charge for the first four members of the household, oldest through youngest, and the fifth member and up is free. (Seniors, age 62 and up, are $47 per month as the first adult in the household.)
Depending on your circumstances, this can get pricey real quick.  For me, I have 3 kids, 2 being over 16 so the way I compute this; 55 + 30 + 30 + 30 = $145.  Wow!  I don't consider this a family friendly price.  My understanding is that Cicotti does offer a “day rate” which last I checked was around $15.  It is too bad they don’t offer a bulk coupon book of day passes – like 20 or so at a discounted rate such as $100... that might be a win-win as it would bring more users to the center and occasional, "light" users could pick times that work best for them – like when it is not so busy.

While the splash park is great for the very young, I’m not overly excited about the design of this facility.  The facility feels a bit cavernous to me; the designers really missed an opportunity to open this area up in a bigger way to natural lighting.  We have very short summer seasons in upstate New York and more sunlight would definitely enrich this area.

Another element that I found unfortunate with the Cicotti Center is that they have commercialized naming areas to such an extent that it does not feel like a community center; rather, you'll find areas like “the Smith family gym,” or “the Jones family conference room” and so forth so that it feels like every piece of the center has been claimed by a well-heeled donor.  Other issues to be aware of are that this facility is very popular and can get crowded during prime times such as weekends.  This could be a plus for Wolf Road professionals who want to meet others or socialize.  Programming is big at this facility so that means you do need to check to make sure the open swim schedule fits with the times when you anticipate that you would be swimming.

2.  The Holiday (Turf) Inn, Wolf Road - This is a great informal swimming option.  I love that this swim option provides a degree of ambiance so that you can also feel as though you are on vacation.   I love that there is also an outdoor pool so that you can get the best of both worlds for one price.  Other perks that may not be readily apparent is a towel service for the pool, and a small exercise area.

The indoor pool is located centrally in the hotel so this could be a pro or a con depending on your perspective.  If you are shy about being seen in a bathing suit, you may not like this.  For people like me, I sort of enjoy watching the business people go by in pursuit of their day of drudgery...hee-hee, not me, I'm in the pool!

A noteworthy concern with this hotel is that it was reported to be in foreclosure.  It is difficult to know what if any impact this will have on it's fitness club as it seems as though this hotel has had financial issues for quite some time.

This hotel does host conferences and as such, you may find that there are times when the pool will be uncomfortably busy or closed.  On the plus side, while your swimming might be interrupted unexpectedly due to conferences, you may find more opportunities to swim as it being a hotel, the Holiday Inn is open holidays whereas the other options generally are closed.

Price-wise, this is your Oldsmobile option (yeah, I know they don’t make Oldsmobiles anymore – think Buick – I believe they are still around).  Note that the membership must be paid in full for the term desired so this could be tough if you are living paycheck to paycheck.

  • Annual Single Membership:  $550
  • Annual Family (up to 5 in household) Membership:  $650*
  • 6 month Single:  $300
  • Annual Single Senior:  $450
  • Single Senior plus One:  $525
  • 6 month Single Senior:  $275

*For my family of 5 situation, this $650 compares to $1740 for Cicotti annual membership.  Yes, I understand Cicotti may have more to offer, but it’s only more if you use it so you need to really evaluate your realistic usage.

3.  The State University of New York at Albany (SUNYA), now generally referred to as “UAlbany” -  Note, this option has very limited scheduled family swim hours, so from if you’re looking for a regular place to swim with your very young children, this is not the place.  Also note that this option is also about a 15 minute drive from Wolf Road.

This is the “Chevy” option, but it’s a pretty nice Chevy and a worthy option.  This is a great option if you’re into swimming for exercise.  The pool is large and frequently not crowded.  Since, it is a college pool; the hours of operation are focused toward the college cycle so you want to always check their conveniently posted online schedule.

Here are the prices for the general public:

  • Monthly Gym and Pool:  $31.66 (don’t ask me how they come up with this; this is a state university so I’m sure that they applied some advanced calculus that identified the urgency of the 66 cents.)
  • Monthly Pool Only:  $18.
  • Daily Gym and Pool:  $6.

Important Note:  You purchase your membership in the SEFCU Arena which is adjacent to the pool.  You MUST pay by check or money order.  They absolutely will NOT accept cash.

One of the terrific things about SUNYA’s membership is that you can start at any time.  Thus, if you know of a span of time (vacation, other activities, etc.) where you won’t be able to use the facilities, you can plan this into the timing or your monthly membership purchase.  You also should closely examine the schedule, looking several weeks in advance as you may spot the pool being closed for an extended period and you may want to consider this in timing the purchase of your “monthly” membership.

Despite all the liberals running around the campus (and some would count me in this number); they haven’t infiltrated the shower room…yet – no low flow showerheads here.  Hallelujah!  You get a great, big blast of warm water, very noteworthy.  This exception aside, don’t expect any “perks” such as a towel service or tiki bar, after all, this is a state school pool.

There you have it, 3 very different swim options.  I also realize that there is also a YMCA and the Jewish Community Service a reasonable drive away.  If anyone knows of any other hidden gems for swimming near Wolf Road, I welcome your comment.

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