Cool Pools

Make a splash. Make your backyard your playground.


Ashley Stepanek

maui home swimming poolWe live on an island smack-dab in the middle of the biggest ocean on the planet. Why would anyone bother with the expense and upkeep of a pool? The answers are myriad—and perfectly logical: entertaining the grandkids . . . watching the stars blink on from the comfort of a cozy spa . . . easing out the kinks with a few dozen laps after a hard day’s work . . . finding the perfect spot for those sculptures from Mexico. . . .

Mirror Images

It’s no surprise that a pair of playful sculptures by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamente perch at opposite ends of the infinity pool that serves as a centerpiece for Mike and Madeline’s Keokea home. Until a few years ago, the couple owned One World Gallery, hands-down the most whimsical art emporium on Maui. What is surprising is that they bought the sculptures (Mike calls them “Diving Fish Boy” and “Handstand Boy”) before they enlisted Maui Waterscapes’ aid in creating a pool with “very Zen, simple lines.”

Designer Linda Turnbull used the art pieces to help frame the view, and to call attention to two smaller pools on either side. Diving Fish Boy seems to skim across the surface of the shallow “‘Play Pool,’ named by our granddaughter,” says Madeline. Handstand Boy balances at the edge of a spa, incidentally serving as a railing for ease of entry.

Talk about ease: “Five a.m., cup of coffee in hand, heater turned up, we sit and watch the sun come up,” says Mike. “At night, I like seeing the city lights, and the moon’s reflection.”

Recently, Aqua, a national spa- and pool-industry magazine, named the pool an award-winner for its innovative design and functionality. The pool is slated to make that publication’s cover later this year.

Behind Waterfalls

Monica and David’s home is a farmhouse situated on a wide expanse of Makawao pastureland. But just beyond their wooden lanai sits a tropical oasis: a pool reminiscent of the waterfall settings one encounters along the Hana coast. Maui Waterscapes used reinforced concrete, finished to look like natural stone, to create the faux-organic steps that descend into the pool, the ledges for sitting on and for waterfalls to spill from. Australian tree ferns, banana, anthuriums, orchids and philodendrons add beauty and privacy; springy mounds of Zoysia grass provide tactile delight for the naked foot.

The oasis has a secret. Behind the waterfall that pours into the main pool, a taller fall cascades into an intimate, hidden pool. To reach it, you must swim under the first waterfall, or walk along a footpath through this verdant, manmade jungle.

Fire and Water

Terraced into a Kula hillside, Patti and Lee’s glass-tiled pool is a double infinity delight.

“Once we got the foundation and footwork up for the house,” says Patti, “we played with the pool concept by stringing a garden hose into the location and shape.” Then the couple determined they “wanted a fire and water combination . . . something very Feng Shui.”

Working with Hans Huber of Huber Pools, they reprised the arc of the main pool with symmetrical curves that enclose a Jacuzzi on one end, a fire pit on the other. The result? A serene silhouette that embraces the bicoastal view. Lee enjoys using the pool in the early evening, “after a hard day in the yard.” Swimming laps is good therapy for his aching back, and he likes to jump between the Jacuzzi and the main pool’s cooler water.

“It’s pretty here at night,” adds Patti, especially when “we have flames from the fire pit at one end, and the lights are on in the pool.”

In-depth Advice

Go with a pro
We turned to Maui Waterscapes’ Marty Heintzman and Linda Turnbull for the words of wisdom that appear in these pages. Their most important tip? Choose a licensed pool contractor, one who will visit your site and help you determine a design that will work
in your environment.

Salt-water solution
“People are getting away from treating their pools with chlorine tablets and granules,” says Heintzman. The advantages to salt? “Your hair doesn’t turn green. Your eyes don’t burn. You don’t have to store harsh chemicals, and salt is not as hard on the equipment.” How much salt? “Less than what’s in your tears.”

Leaf well enough alone

“Certain plants do better than others around a pool,” says Turnbull. “A lot of plants are messy. You don’t want a jacaranda over your pool, dropping all its leaves, or a tree whose roots will invade the water. A client had a cute little California pepper tree, but knowing that it’s messy when it grows up, I told them, take it out now and plant it somewhere else.”

From here to infinity
Infinity edges increase your pool costs by 15 to 20 percent. Are they worth it? Depends on the view, says Heintzman. “If your pool overlooks the ocean, or you’ve got a great mountain view, it’s worth it. If you’re looking at the back of the property next door, there’s no advantage to an infinity edge.”

Save your energy
“There are great pumps that are more energy-efficient now,” says Turnbull. “We’ve also embedded solar panels in the concrete of the pool deck or driveway. You don’t see them, but they can raise the water temperature by seven to ten degrees.” Other energy savers include pool covers that prevent evaporation (and add safety), variable-speed pumps, and user-friendly computer controls that schedule timers for lights, circulation and purification, and running the infinity edge.

Cleanliness is next to the bottom
Hate the look of vacuums and hoses in your pool? An in-floor cleaning system, reminiscent of irrigation systems, pops up to clean the water, then fits smoothly back into the pool floor.

Let there be light
All kinds of it, incandescents to fluorescents to fiber optics. Low-voltage fluorescent lights create a softer illumination—while with fiber optics, you can change colors with a color wheel. “We can even create stars in the bottom of your pool,” says Heintzman. “We place fiber-optic rods in the bottom of the pool, level with the plaster. The light originates in a light tower that’s located away from the pool, and travels through the fiber-optic cable to the pool floor.”

Worth wading for
If relaxation is high on your pool priorities, consider a lounge area—a shallow section, usually about eight inches deep—where you can drift off on a pool mat without getting in over your head.

Surface considerations
Manufacturers offer a wide range of interior finishes, from the purely functional to the artistic. Plaster is the least expensive; tile the most expensive. Pebble finishes cost more than plaster, but have a much longer life. Turnbull likes to use exposed aggregate for beach entries because it offers the feeling of sand without the mess. “It’s a nice texture,
not slippery,” she says. Glass tiles and glass pebbles, translucent to opaque, add elegance to a pool’s design.

No pool like an old pool
If your pool is older than seven to ten years, Marty Heintzman recommends having it inspected, and fitted, if necessary, with an anti-entrapment drain and other safety measures. You can also give your pool a facelift, modifying and refinishing it, even changing the size. “If the shell integrity is in good shape,” says Heintzman, “you can do anything.”

It’s never too soon
If you live in a special management area,  getting your permits can take nine months to a year. Heintzman’s advice? Apply now.


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