For some people, the most exotic spot is in their own backyard. Credit new trends in pool design that have made these watery retreats smarter, sleeker, and even a bit magical.
“People are looking to their pools for an experience. It enhances and enriches their lives,” says Rick Pendleton, founder of Artisan Home Resorts, a luxury landscape design and pool firm headquartered in San Francisco. “It’s a distraction from all things we’ve been dealing with the last two years. It’s an escape, a sanctuary.”
Pool designers are thinking outside the lap lanes to give homeowners a total backyard experience that is relaxing, refreshing, therapeutic, and entertaining. Sloped-entry pools evoke the beach, while pools with transparent walls or windows bring aquariums to mind. Think swimming in a giant fish tank. Pendleton says elevator pools “are catching on.” With just the push of a button, the patio floor lowers like an elevator and water streams in from all sides. This patio-to-pool transformation “is straight out of James Bond.” Pendleton also calls on the talents of his “imagination team” to create underwater worlds, both three-dimensional and projected.
In the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe, the swimming pool in the backyard of a 10,085-square-foot estate “makes you feel like you’re in Italy,” says Linda Sansone of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in Rancho Santa Fe. “The only thing missing is the gondola.” The residence (shown on page 36) is on a three-acre parcel, one of the few lots located right on a golf course and trail system in the prestigious community of The Covenant. Back doors open up to a massive zero -edge pool with a waterfall, spa, dipping pool, and even a grotto.
Integration is a theme in contemporary design, whether it’s using glass or acrylic walls to blend a pool with its surroundings or merging a pool and spa with just a minimalist dam wall separating them for one seamless look. Another example of integration is the Baja shelf, also known as a sun shelf or tanning ledge. First popularized at resort hotels, it is a partially submerged level of the pool designed specifically for lounging. Chairs, tables, and umbrellas are set in shallow waters, typically up to a foot deep, and are perfect for toe-danglers. Pool and poolside are one.
Depending on the location, complexity of design and features, pools can range from a half-million dollars to $5 million. While the residential pool market in the United States is the largest, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East regions are fast-growing.
These days, technology and thoughtful design have helped overcome earlier challenges. The prospect of maintenance, for instance, no longer stands in the way of homeowners who want to take the plunge. Pool upkeep has never been easier. Smart technology enables heating, filtration, and lighting to be controlled from a smartphone. “You can put the heat on your Jacuzzi pool when you’re driving home so it’s ready when you get there,” Sansone says. Pool designers have managed to solve another issue: space constraints. Diminutive-size plunge pools and cocktail pools are elegant options even for the most space-challenged urban spaces. The cocktail pool, sometimes known as a spool—spa pool—is like an Olympic pool’s little brother and represents a growing segment of the industry. An irregular-shaped yard? An angled pool is the answer.
“Having a pool is really soothing,” Sansone says. “There’s a peacefulness in looking into a crystal clear pool and hearing the sounds of the water, even if you don’t go in.”
This breathtaking stately property consists of a plot area of approximately 9,000 square meters, offering complete privacy. Due to its location and being built on a hillside, this exclusive property boasts beautiful views, overlooking the nearby mountains, Son Vida’s golf course, and is within a 10-minute drive of Palma’s city center. In 2020-21 the property was equipped with the latest mobile technology, including a solar station.
The main property consists of nine spacious bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and further bedrooms with bathrooms located in the side building. There are several waterfalls and amphoras as well as ancient statues surrounding the perimeter of the property.
Furthermore, there is a tennis court, a separate gym, as well as a spa with Jacuzzi and a steam sauna area. The pool offers a sporty and relaxing atmosphere, with a counter-current system plus two waterfalls.