The Cambrian

The re-opening pool party at Hearst Castle is sold out. But here’s how you can still attend

Hearst Castle’s famous Neptune Pool filled with water after millions spent on repairs

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle was refilled with 345,000 gallons of water in August 2018 after a $5.4 million renovation project which began in mid-May 2016 in San Luis Obispo County, California.
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The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle was refilled with 345,000 gallons of water in August 2018 after a $5.4 million renovation project which began in mid-May 2016 in San Luis Obispo County, California.

Hearst Castle’s Neptune Pool is back to its scenic self, and State Park visitors there are able once again to walk around the perimeter, take selfies and think dreamily about what it must be like to swim in the 104-by-95-foot pool and alcove.

(Answer: The water’s cold, but the vibe is magical.)

The previously leaky, yet iconic, outdoor swimming pool was emptied in mid-2013, and a massive renovation project to repair, renovate, revamp, waterproof and completely retile the Neptune began in May 2016. The work wrapped up last month.

During the $5.4 million project, visitors could still see the pool, but only from the Neptune Terrace above it, because construction equipment and crews made it unsafe for the public to access the pool area itself.

To celebrate the project’s completion, the Friends of Hearst Castle nonprofit is hosting a “Grand Reopening Celebration: Sunset Soirée & Swim Party” on Sunday, Oct. 21.

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Retired Southern California businessman Steve White, who paid $6,500 so he and six friends could fulfill his long-held dream of swimming in the Neptune Pool in 2009. Kathe Tanner ktanner@thetribunenews.com

Yes, swim, even though members of the public are very rarely allowed in the water, and only under specific, controlled circumstances.

But only 50 swim tickets were available for the soirée, and they sold out faster than you can cannonball into the deep end. (You can add your name to a list of those hoping somebody drops out. Just email friends@friendsofhearstcastle.org with “swim wait list” and your name in the subject line.) The tickets were $1,300 each for Friends’ members, $1,500 each for nonmembers.

However, as of Monday, Oct. 1, about 90 tickets were still available for the soirée part of the event, a lavish cocktail party on the surrounding terraces. Those tickets are $325 for members, $375 for nonmembers.

The event includes a grand-reopening toast, hors d’oeuvres, hand-crafted cocktails, Central Coast wines and music by Jazz to Big Band and a unique finale performed in the pool at sunset.

Before the soirée starts, guests may watch the digitally remastered film, “Building the Dream,” in the visitor center’s five-story IMAX theater.

And hope springs eternal for those soiree attendees who missed out on the swim tickets but for whom swimming in the Neptune is a fondly held dream … they can bid in the fundraiser auction to win a swim party at the Castle.

According to Friends’ Sue Rausch, two parties will be auctioned off at the party, one in the Neptune, the other in the equally dramatic indoor Roman Pool.

But be forewarned, those are passionately sought auction items. “At our Twilight on the Terrace event three weeks ago,” Rausch said Oct. 1, “the Neptune swim went for $8,000. The Roman Pool swim sold for $5,000 … and then someone else matched that bid for a second Roman Pool party.”

Funds raised help pay for preservation efforts at Hearst Castle, a world-class monument and accredited museum.

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