The Peninsula Aquatic Recreation Centre is a newly opened 50m pool incredibly close to Frankston Centre. Of course, it's not just a pool. There is a spa, stream room and water slides, as well as a gym. The gym is fairly standard: treadmills, bikes, weights and more classes than any sane person could attend in a week.
My sister and I went the Monday after it opened, so even at 9 in the morning, there was someone swimming in every lane of the pool. Interestingly, the pool was also divided into two 25m pools. The awesome looking kid's water playground was switched off, and there was no entrance to the water slides or the shallow pool.
The water slides are only available during peak times: 4-7pm and the weekends, and entry at peak times is correspondingly more expensive. $7.90 for adults versus $6.60, and $6.30 instead of $5.20 for children, students and concession card-holders. Spectators cost $2.75 regardless of entry time.
The shallow kids pool is in the foreground of this photo, while the large 50m pool is just visible in the background.
The kids' equipment and shallow pool open at 10am. This (currently) is not clear on the still-in-progress PARC website. Which meant that a young couple and their toddling son turned up to the pool, paid their entry fee, and had nothing to do. When they asked the staff about what time the shallow pool would open, the proactive staff member went and found someone higher up to open the kids' pool early.
Now, I'm not telling that story so you think you can go and convince them to open up whatever section you want to use. I mention it because PARC is new. And like any new business, it's still working out some pretty significant kinks. Unlike a lot of other places though, the staff are friendly, and will go out of their way to help you out.
The second kink we came up against was the parking. Unlike at most pools, there is no free parking. Parking is expensive on weekdays paying $2 for up to one hour, $5 for up to two hours and $8 for up to three hours. It's much more affordable on the weekends at $2 for up to an hour, and $4 for up to three hours. You also are supposed to get $2 back (or your first hour free) when you buy an entry to the pool.
I say supposed to because when we tried, we had a bit of trouble. The signage isn't particularly clear, and the staff weren't exactly sure either. It's not a simple refund - you don't just get the $2 off your entry to the pool. There's a special refund machine inside the pool area, just after you buy your ticket. First you have to scan your parking receipt, and then scan your pool entry receipt. Then your money pops out. Sounds simple right? The problem is you can only scan each barcode once, so if you stuff it up the first time, it won't work again. We ended up having to get the pool staff to reprint the pool entry receipt for us, but we got there in the end.
Even the paid parking is capped at a maximum of three hours. While this is understandable given the proximity of the pool to both the local TAFE and Frankston centre, it is frustrating. When I went to ask about joining the gym and pool, I had to wait so long to speak to a consultant that our parking expired, and I had to leave without speaking to anyone, or buying anything. There's also a café on site, but I feel that people will be less likely to stay for a meal when their parking means they can only be poolside for a short time anyway.
On the bright side, free three hour parking is included when you join either the pool ($49 joining fee and $12/week for adults) or the gym as well ($99 joining fee and $21/week for adults). Locker access is also included as standard when joining. You also get a couple of freebies (bag and bottle) as well as water slide entry, sauna, steam room and obviously the pool. If you are also joining the gym all classes are included.
It's hard to say for sure as the centre is still in early days, but the change rooms and toilets were clean and neat, as were the pools. Even the chlorine smell wasn't too strong. I will definitely be returning, perhaps next time when the water slides are on!
Were you able to take any photos of the slides? My kids are bigger and would be interested in the slides and stuff. I have been driving past this Frankston pool under construction for a long time and was looking forward to the opening. However, after reading your article, I am a bit dulled.