Above: An infinity pool overlooking the sea at Tranquility Cove by Luxury Cayman Villas.
Pool designs have become an expression of style and a reflection of a home’s character. When it comes to the latest trends, many homeowners seek a contemporary look and find inspiration in high-end, luxury resort-style pools.
The traditional sloping shallow- to deep-end rectangular pools have become a relic of the past. Now there are endless forms, patterns and finishes to choose from; the use of color and technology also play a much greater role today.
From zigzags to palm trees, pool shapes and themes are more creative than ever and appeal to a wide-range of activities and ages. The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa’s spectacular pool was designed to emulate a delta as it fans out of an oasis. Emily Gardner, Seafire’s marketing manager, says that when its shape is viewed in context with the resort’s overall landscape, the pool mimics a refreshing stream, and its main pool area simulates a waterfall into a final fan.
“Originating from the higher ground of the hotel entry, the water flows through the terraced pool courtyard and fans out towards the beach,” she says.
The pool and its various water features were designed by Utah-based Cloward H20 and built by local contractor Joe DeFilippo of Island Pools. It has three strategically designed areas: a higher-elevated section, which is ideal for plunging and soaking; a main body with a depth of three to five feet, which Emily refers to as the “family area,” ideal for more active play; and a lower-elevated zero-entry section, which is practical for parents with small children.
If you lean toward a minimalistic design, infinity pools are a great option, especially for Grand Cayman homes that face the sea or canal; the illusion of not knowing where the pool ends and where the natural surroundings begins creates a special “wow” factor.
According to Mikael Seffer, who has built and designed pools in Cayman for more than 25 years, the newest trend to hit the island is the “Lautner knife-edge” perimeter overflow pool. A sleek style used in many ultra-modern swimming pool designs, it is where the water overflows its edges into a hidden slot or catch basin, before being recycled back into the pool. With a perimeter overflow pool, the water overflows on all four sides to give the look of a flat sheet of glass that is perfectly contained without walls.
For those who have the space, sports pools (also called lap pools and single-depth pools) are another trendy option. They are ideal for swimming laps and have the bonus that everyone’s feet can touch the bottom due to their evenly matched surface.
Vela is a private residential development in South Sound that was built by Davenport Development and is the perfect example of this style of pool. Its Phase 1 and 2 pools are 164 feet in length, making them Cayman’s first Olympic-length pools. With two swim lanes and three lanes, respectively, the pools blend seamlessly with Vela’s modern architectural aesthetic — the pools also happen to incorporate many other design trends.
Guatemala-based company Watermania designed and built the pools, while Mikael engineered their hydraulic systems. Mikael says these types of pools are great for competitive swimmers and fitness enthusiasts because you can swim continuously without stopping; however, since most backyards cannot fit a lap pool of this length, a great alternative is a swim-jet, which is similar to an underwater treadmill that allows you to swim in place against an artificial current.
Both Vela pools include hydrotherapy jets and other lounging areas (including fountain areas), and built-in sun shelves, which are flat shallow ledges within the pool to fit your sun lounger or for small children to frolic in.
When it comes to pool colors and tiles, there are so many options to choose from today. If you wish to create a sense of drama and depth, choose dark bottom pool finishes in shades of navy, azure or cobalt blue; black and slate gray are also popular choices. These darker colors are easily warmed by the intense Caribbean sun and help evoke a sense of spa-like tranquility and relaxation.
Glass mosaic tiles are also trendy as they help create a sparkling effect when the sun hits the water; these tiles are also one of the most durable finishes on the market. Clear, seamless acrylic panels like those you see in large aquariums, are also making their way into pool design, according to Mikael.
“As architecture continues its modern trend, pools are following, too, with darker interior finishes and clean, simple lines,” he says.
Regardless of style or shape, salt-water pools continue to be the number one choice for both residential and commercial pools, as consumers want to eliminate harsh chemicals such as chlorine from their environment.
Smart home technology makes life easier, and this also extends to pool automation, which is a viable way to control anything from the pool’s temperature to the lighting to the cleaning system — all at the touch of a button from your smartphone or tablet. It also frees up your time for more pressing matters, like sunbathing, swimming, and finishing that page-turner you can’t put down.