Specialising in hospitality interior design, HBA London have been in charge of some of the most breathtaking new hotel interiors across the globe. A key part of any luxury hotel design is the pool and spa area which are essential for guests’ relaxation during their stay. Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director of HBA London is an expert on this area of design and here she shares her top luxury pool design tips to get the look in your own pool area with The LuxPad…
1. Be Bold
Don’t be afraid to explore indoor spaces when looking at luxury pool design, as they give designers a chance to be bold and make a creative statement. For example, we designed the spa at the Raffles Istanbul as a journey in which the momentum builds as guests enjoy each step. After enjoying ancient ritual treatments, the experience needed to culminate with a poolside ambience that would create a powerful impression. Firstly, we specified grand double doors that would create a sense of arrival into a special space. Once inside, an apparent challenge actually gave us a chance to really play with our imaginations.
Although skylights filled the pool areas with abundant natural illumination, there were no windows with picturesque views. We created “scenery” by filling the large void above the pool with a raft of ethereal, blown glass sculptures. Best observed whilst floating on the water, the iridescent finish of these delicately suspended, sea creature-like forms reflects the light to create a truly mesmerising atmosphere.
2. Explore Unusual Colours
The use of unexpected palettes can create a theatrical style. At the ESPA Ritz-Carlton spa in Macau, China, designing a magical poolside experience in a compact setting was quite a challenge. Our solution was to use dramatic yet balanced colours that would amplify the sense of luxury despite the smaller scale. The pool is clad with black granite tiles that, together with sparkles of light reflecting off the water, create the illusion of almost dimension-less space with the dark floor seeming to expand beyond the limits of the walls. Subtle lighting highlights the black and white veining of the walls’ bookmatched stone slabs, forming an almost meditative experience. To break up the formality, playful woven fibre lounge chairs suspended from the ceiling swing gently above the water so that guests can rock themselves into a deeply relaxed state of mind.
3. Embrace your Surroundings and Bring the Outside In
Nature is inherently soothing, so a luxury pool design that reflects its setting introduces an extra layer of calm. For example, the geographic coordinates of Schiphol Airport, the gateway to Amsterdam, are four metres below sea level. This extraordinary fact, unique in the world, inspired us to create the illusion of a tranquil, underwater realm, a sanctuary for observing the hustle and bustle of travellers. At the pool, shimmering glass mosaics in gold and grey meet a clean, minimalist Dutch aesthetic, and white structural columns bring a sense of rhythm as they frame views onto the airport. The vitality pool also encourages guests to pause in a quiet moment and reflect whilst watching the hive of activity beyond. For those who want to read a book or work, bespoke metal lanterns hung low next to loungers recall the twinkle of evening lights at the seaside.
We also blurred the lines between the indoors and outside at the Hotel Atlantis by Giardino in Zurich. We made a virtue of the pool’s basement location and designed a calm and relaxing escape that seems to have been carved from the mountainous surrounds with richly textured stone cladding and, outside the glazed wall, a backlit waterfall rock feature. Penetrating the water surface at one end of the pool are craggy chunks of Valsner stone sourced from the nearby town of Vals, further heightening the connection with nature to create a soothing atmosphere.
4. Reflect Local Culture
Every culture has its own unique references, so these can be an interesting way to bring distinct personality to your luxury pool design. For the ESPA at The Europe Hotel and Resort in Killarney, located on the mountainous shores of Loch Lein, we devised a contemporary design concept influenced by Ireland’s magnificent landscape and its tradition of leaded crystal and Celtic ornament. The long-established connection between crystals and healing – and between Ireland and Waterford – inspired the use of softly shimmering surfaces and the play of light as primary design elements for the pool. In addition, custom-designed details derived from the interlacing spirals and knots prevalent in the Celtic pattern language are used throughout, as seen, for example, with the cutout motifs in the pool deck’s metal screens. Backlit, they emanate a soft glow when the lights are dimmed.
5. Accessorise Outdoor Areas with the Same Care as Interior Spaces
Outdoor pool settings should be designed with all the comforts and attention to detail expected indoors. The poolside atmosphere of the Luxury Collection hotel we are designing in Doha offers a colourful abundance of lounging opportunities. The owner’s links with the fashion world has inspired the look and feel of the pool deck that is as detailed and layered as any interior. Breezy cabanas and comfortable beds with soft throws and custom cushions in vibrant, stylish patterns are organised neatly along the pool edge and seamlessly integrated into a lush landscape of palm trees. Accessories and intricate passementerie are like the jewellery in a carefully tailored outfit with fringed macrame tassels on parasols, while tone-on-tone shades of white and cream in the lounge chair textile covers and mosaic accent walls create a sophisticated feel. Contrasting finishes bring visual interest, with the texture and coolness of stone walls offset by the warmth of timber decking and thatched roofs. At night, exquisitely designed lanterns create an enchanting ambience worthy of the finest indoor space.