Pools to dive for

Pools are to outdoor living what sunshine is to the Caribbean: you can’t fully enjoy one without the other.

It’s not only because having your own private pool, just steps from your living room, is so inviting, but also because today’s design possibilities mean that pools can be true objects of beauty.

The standard rectangular, glaringly turquoise pool of old has gone. In its place is a new generation of swimming pools that take advantage of cutting edge technology and the most innovative design concepts to create breathtaking illusions and stunning focal points in a home.

Infinity edge
The infinity edge pool is one that has been popular for some years now. It’s a design that works best where the property overlooks the water, according to James Bussey of Oasis Pool & Spa.

The idea is to match the colour of the pool with the hues of the ocean beyond it, blending the two seamlessly, so that it is almost impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.

This need not only apply to properties where the backdrop is the aquamarine shade of the waters off Seven Mile Beach. In fact, infinity edge pools work well in canal locations too.

“Darker coloured swimming pools are becoming very popular,” says James.

“A lot of people are sick of looking at that cool blue, basic swimming pool colour. There are so many other choices now.”

Modern plaster pool coatings such as Diamond Brite, River Rok and Durazzo can be formulated in an almost unlimited range of colours, creating a much more natural look that blends with the surroundings, while quartz fragments add an ocean-like shimmer.

Homeowners with a lush, tropical garden may, for instance, choose a greenish finish for their pool, or even a river stone effect. Add on a waterfall feature and tree-filled planters in the pool, and you have your own rainforest river bathing at home.

Families with young children, says James, often want the pool to be a place for youngsters to play, but also somewhere adults can get in a good workout. One way to satisfy this demand is the double deep-end pool with a central shallow section ideal for kids. A “beach entry” – where the pool deck slopes gently beneath the water – can be added on one or more sides. For optimal beach effect, this can be finished in a natural sand colour, James adds.

Overflow pool
One of the most visually dramatic designs is the perimeter overflow pool, a successor to the infinity edge. This design has no discernible pool edge – the water simply slips over the edge, and disappears down cleverly concealed grates. The visual effect of this is a pool that looks like a huge pane of glass and appears to hover an eighth of an inch above the deck.

“The stillness of the water has the effect of reflecting its surroundings and, as the sun sinks lower in the sky, the mirror effect really starts to pop,” says James.

“If you install underwater LED lights, the effect is even more surprising.”

The sky is the limit when it comes to add-on features, he says, and if your pool is your sanctuary, a pool-spa combo allows you to enjoy views of the pool from an adjacent built-in hot tub, or create a private spa haven hidden from view behind a waterfall feature cascading down from a pergola.

If, on the other hand, entertaining is a priority, a swim-up bar with submerged seating will delight your guests. There are many ways to add some visual drama, and give your guests something to talk about.

The laminar deck jets which arc out from the pool terrace or garden and pour into the water, are one such feature, and LED or fibre optic lights can be added to change the colours of the jets. Timings, jet heights and colours can all be adjusted from your iPhone or iPad.

Fire pits placed in pools are equally dramatic, and also fully automated. Submerged seating can be installed around the fire pit for a novel twist on gathering around a bonfire, or the fire pit can be positioned beyond the infinity edge to give the illusion of flames dancing on water.

Keep it cool
Of course, when you have a beautiful swimming pool you want to be able to use it year round. Although visitors to this tropical climate may feel blissfully warm year round, residents who are more acclimatised tend suffer from that “Goldilocks effect”: during the winter the pool is a little too chilly, and in summer it’s slightly too warm to be refreshing.

Not if you have an Ultra Temp Heat Pump, however. The name is slightly misleading, says James, as these highly energy-efficient devices maintain a constant temperature, so will actually cool the water in summer, as well as heating it in winter. Just set the temperature you want and dive right in.

Evolving technologies are putting swimming pools within financial reach of more people all the time. Energy-efficient pumps, pool heaters, LED lighting and pool automation systems are all reducing pool operating costs considerably, meaning there is more left in the budget for the construction part, so let your imagination run wild.