Dominic DiCesare, general manager of Blue Haven Pools by Calvitti, says that it’s not uncommon for homeowners to visit resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, see what’s out there, and then want some of those features for their own pool. In fact, he says that the introduction of “sun shelves” (which have also been called Baja shelves, tanning ledges or other names) as a growing feature in backyard pools came about from homeowners experiencing them on vacation. This shallow ledge is a lovely feature where homeowners can cool off without becoming fully immersed. Some are even built big enough to fit a lounge chair.
Going away on vacation is always a great place for inspiration, agrees Bill Lee, general manager, Northeast, of Anthony & Sylvan Pools.
“Most of our clients have visited various resorts with pools and strive to replicate some of that feeling in their own backyard as a place that they can staycation on the weekends,” Lee says. “Items such as fire pits, gazebos and outdoor kitchens are a great way to give a resort-like feel to an existing backyard pool without changes to the structure. Waterfalls and upgraded interior finishes are also another great way to change the look and feel.”
DiCesare says that swim-up bars and fire features are other popular additions that can take a pool to that resort-like level. It adds a “wow factor” that really elevates the entire pool experience. DiCesare says the backyard becomes like a “destination spot,” except you only have to walk out your back door.
If you have the space, a beach entranceway is another great addition that will make your pool feel like a resort spot, adds Don Panetta, of D. Panetta Contracting. With a beach entry, the design features a gently sloping transition from the pool deck into the water—instead of a traditional edge or stairs. It’s a great place to set up a lounge chair—or to play with the little ones.
Of course, water features also go a tremendous way in creating a luxurious and relaxing experience, says Rich Cording Sr., owner and founder of CLC Landscape Design. Fountains that shoot from the side of the pool are always popular and a nice addition. But Cording says he’s also doing more waterfalls not only that you can see—but ones where you can climb into them and lay down in a small stream or on a big flat rock.
“We’re also doing grottos where waterfalls come down over them and there’s a cave that you can swim into and sit on a bench to watch the waterfall,” Cording adds. “These are ideas copied from resorts—along with fire/water features and even the always-popular swim-up bar. Homeowners are always looking for something different that will take their backyard experience to the next level.”
Lighting is also an important factor, adds Bryan Hull, general manager of Del Val Pools and Spas. New color-changing lights are another way to elevate your backyard pool. And now that pool lighting is available in an LED format, it’s better than ever.
“They have color changing mood illumination in LED, which we are now putting in several swimming pools,” Hull says. “We can also put lights on waterfalls to sync with the same colors as the pool lights.”
Steve Yanulavich, owner of Garden Patios, says homeowners are also paying more attention to the materials being used. He’s seeing a lot more interest in natural stone materials on many of his projects, whether it’s dressing up a spa or building a grotto.
What’s gone are the days of cookie cutter style pools. Yanulavich says that pools are built to the customized expectations of the homeowner. The more modern look might include a lot of sharp edges and rectangles. Someone looking for something a bit more natural and free-flowing might want a pool with a lot more curve.
“It all depends on the homeowner,” Yanulavich continues. “We work closely with them to determine exactly what they want and what will best suit the property.”
All around the pool Of course, it’s not just the pool itself that contributes to the resort-like experience. Panetta has created some spectacular pool houses that really complete the whole resort-style experience. They offer a space to change or to use a restroom so that family and friends don’t need to trudge in and out of the home when they’re wet.
Panetta says that adding lounge areas with televisions and audio capabilities, an outdoor kitchen and a dining area all help transform the backyard into a total destination spot. It is these additional features that keep friends and family outside all day—truly getting the most out of their space—and their leisure time.
DiCesare agrees that the space around the pool also helps complete the look. He says that in addition to getting ideas from vacation, homeowners also watch shows on HGTV and look through pictures in magazines to come up with those wow-factor features that will truly impress. And the best part of it is that it’s just steps away.
“People love the idea of vacationing at home,” DiCesare adds. “If you create a resort-like experience in your backyard, do you really have to go away to enjoy yourself? There’s nothing like being able to walk into your backyard and relax.”
RESOURCES Anthony & Sylvan Pools Locations in Pa., N.J. and Del. (855) 565-8254 AnthonySylvan.com
Blue Haven Pools by Calvitti Serving Pa., N.J. and Del. (800) 219-2141 BlueHaven.com
CLC Landscape Design Ringwood, N.J. (973) 839-6026 CLCDesign.com
Del Val Pools and Spas Turnersville, Mantua and Elmer, N.J. (856) 629-2999 DelValPoolsAndSpas.com
D. Panetta Contracting, LLC Randolph, N.J. (973) 659-9374 DPanettaContracting.com
Garden Patios, Inc. Quakertown, Pa. (215) 660-3079 GardenPatiosInc.com
First and fourth photos courtesy of Anthony & Sylvan Pools
Second and third photos courtesy of Del Val Pools
Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 17, Issue 10 (May, 2017). For more info on House & Home magazine, click here. To subscribe to House & Home magazine, click here. To advertise in House & Home magazine, call 610-272-3120.