We are this close to the beautiful ocean here on the East End—sometimes even closer—but there’s nothing quite like your own personal expanse of H2O.
Go ahead—indulge your imagination. Maybe you’re envisioning an elegant, formal pool surrounded by white marble statues, or perhaps you’re drawn to the sleek lines and smooth waters of the modern infinity pools. Could be you’re interested in swimming for exercise in a classic lap pool, or do you see yourself relaxing beside a free-form pool and just taking the occasional dip to cool off? Perhaps you’d like an adjoining spa, your own cabana, or a customized fountain. How about underwater speakers? Big or small, traditional or idiosyncratic, the perfect pool in the perfect place is the ultimate amenity for the East End home.
But if you think pools are just about a convenient way to cool off on a hot summer’s day, the custom-designed creations you’re looking at right now show that they have become the actualization of its owners’ wildest watery fantasies.
As with any other aspect of Hamptons living, pools are always keeping up with the newest trends, and one trend in particular currently predominates. “The latest craze is rimless, infinity/negative-edge pools,” says John Tortorella, founder of J. Tortorella Pools, who has been designing and building pools from his headquarters in Southampton since 1981. These are pools that have at least one end with no rim—instead, the water flows over an edge, which leads to a smoother water surface and a pleasing illusion of expansiveness when you’re in the pool. Rimless pools are also noted for the waterfall feature that results from the flow of water over the edge. “Though they carry a much higher price tag, when properly done the illusion, the look and the added value is extremely noticeable,” Tortorella says.
Of course, the pool itself is only part of the picture. The true mark of the well-designed high-end pool is suitability to the surroundings. “It has to flow and harmonize with the property,” Tortorella says. The surroundings and its overall place in the entertaining-lifestyle landscape matter in setting it apart. “I feel that probably more than 70% of our clients use the pool and its surrounds as a social-gathering and relaxation destination,” notes Tortorella. So pay special attention to lighting design and creating social spaces—fire pits, fully equipped grilling areas—that allow people to get the most pleasure out of a pool area.
Among the other important design features in demand now is automation, which refers to several different kinds of systems that automatically clean the pool. Instead of waiting for the weekly visit from the pool guy, a robot takes care of things several times a week, minimizing maintenance time and maximizing pool usefulness and overall system efficiency.
Pool system efficiency is important for saving energy and aiding the environment in the long run—Natural Resources Defense Council research says that America’s pools generate about 10 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is about the same as putting 1.3 million cars and light trucks on our highways and byways. In addition to such design components as LED lighting, hydraulic pump systems and superior solar covers, the rising popularity of saltwater pools here in the Hamptons also addresses the latest in the green-living approach. A saltwater system generates its own purified chlorine from what amounts to table salt, not only going easier on the skin and bathing attire, but on the natural world.
As much as a pool is intended for the enjoyment of current owners, it can also bring some much-vaunted boost in house value—it is an investment, and as such requires nothing less than the highest standards of materials and craftsmanship. “Like anything else, people see and recognize quality,” Tortorella says. “A quality product will withstand the test of time. It will make a property shine and easier to sell.”