A high-end custom pool personifies the luxury lifestyle. It’s the perfect space to recreate, entertain or just lounge away the hours sipping on something tall and refreshing.
But this luxurious retreat provides another function. It offers a visually appealing aesthetic mirroring the homes’architecture and surrounding landscape.
“We’ve moved away from a playful, resort-type of pool experience to a more sophisticated traditional pool,” said Anthony Spiegel, with the Ivan Sher Group, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Nevada Properties. “I think people are simplifying, wanting a more linear, cleaner aesthetic.”
Contemporary architecture remains popular in the Las Vegas residential luxury market, so pools demonstrate a cohesive design. Clean edges, dark, moody interiors, reflective surfaces, ambient LED lighting and technology integration are increasingly popular among the affluent. Aquatic windows, expansive fire features and cold plunges are also requested additions.
“We’re doing a lot of cold plunges,” said Kevin Kraft, president of Ozzie Kraft Enterprises. “They’re supposed to be therapeutic.”
Kraft describes a cold plunge as a small 4-foot-by-6-foot pool averaging 5 feet deep and set at a temperature below 59 degrees. Cold plunge pools are known to stimulate blood circulation, reduce pain and relieve muscle spasms.
Advancements in interior surface materials such as Pebble Tec and Primera stone enhance the ability to customize the design by offering a variety of colors and textures. Dark pool interiors, such as blue and black, remain popular.
“The reason for the dark colors is mainly the reflective qualities,” Kraft said. “When you look at it, it looks like a reflection.”
In more expensive designs, tiled interior surfaces create a refined resort-style appearance.
“It (tile) adds an expense to the pool,” Scott Burton, owner of Prestige Pools Inc., said. “But it’s a nicer finish. I’ve done three of them this year.”
According to the water shape designer and project manager at Ozzie Kraft Enterprises, Terence Thornton, custom pools range from $200,000 to $500,000 to design and build.
“The $50,000 custom pool doesn’t exist anymore,” Thornton said. “We have a few projects that are in the seven figures.”
Although the investment can be significant, it could be costly not to have a pool, especially when it’s time to sell.
“I think it’s imperative to have a pool in Las Vegas,” Spiegel said. “If you don’t have a pool, you trade at a discount.”
Custom pool building begins early in the home construction process and ends after the home is completed. This allows pool professionals access to the exterior without any restrictions.
“We’ll start the pool before they frame the house,” Burton said. “We put the shell of the pool in, then it will take months or years before we come back and finish the pool.”
The design and construction of a custom pool are typically challenging and complicated. If siting the pool on sloped or tiered topography, the process requires increased structural support before installation.
“Eighty percent of what I build has a tough location,” Burton said. “There’s special engineering required to make it work.”
Environmentally friendlier pool designs incorporate recent innovations in computerized energy-efficient variable speed motors, less toxic cleaning methods and motorized pool covers.
Motorized pool covers take on a new significance as the regional and global focus is on water conservation. A 2016 study done by California Polytechnic State University indicates motorized pool covers can reduce evaporation by 94 percent.
As part of water conservation efforts in the region, Clark County Commission recently voted in favor of prohibiting new residential pool construction exceeding 600 square feet after Sept. 1. The impact of this new restriction on the local luxury custom pool industry has the potential to be significant.
“We want to be a part of the solution,” said Thornton, who noted Las Vegas is only 1.8 percent of the Colorado River allocation. “But what they’re doing is literally a drop in the bucket.
“It saves 3.2 million gallons a year, which seems like a lot,” Thornton continued. “But you have a couple of residential properties in town that use 12.5 million gallons of water on grass and landscaping.”
Michael Gardner, owner of studio g Architecture &Luxus Design Build, views the restrictions as an opportunity for developing creative solutions.
“While the new restrictions are not ideal — and were certainly not introduced in a collaborative manner — they do present new opportunities for creativity in our custom home projects,” Gardner said. “As architects and builders, we will find ways to create innovative designs that respect our natural resources and showcase water in unique ways.”
Las Vegas luxury custom pool designs showcase styles from tropical escapes to modern art pieces. The product of the imaginative minds of local architects and pool professionals, the following examples embody current design trends.
Automatic pool covers
On the market for $32.5 million, 2738 Carina Way in Seven Hills showcases a 1,200-square-foot vanishing edge pool with an integrated automatic pool cover.
Designed by Kevin Kraft, president of Ozzie Kraft Enterprises, the custom design won the 2022 PHTA Gold Award of Excellence for a Pool with Automatic Cover.
“You don’t see the mechanism of the cover,” Thornton said. “It is low profile and gives you a seamless appearance.”
With a glass tile interior and laminar jets, the pool features a 30-foot linear fire feature along the outer edge.
Linear shapes with clean edges
Winner of the 2022 PHTA (Pool &Hot Tub Alliance) Gold Award of Excellence for Geometric Shapes, a home in The Ridges within Summerlin showcases a 700-square-foot uniquely shaped infinity-edge pool.
Co-designed by landscape architect, Clayton Miller, Greey|Pickett of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Ozzie Kraft, the interior reflects a trendy dark interior composed of polished black Starfall Primera stone.
The distinctive design incorporates two Jerusalem stone Splitface travertine walls. One wall divides the spa from the pool. Another extends out along the pool’s border and supports a striking 8-foot fire feature.
Featuring a gorgeous view of the Strip and surrounding mountains, a stunning deck-level, vanishing-edge 1,161-square-foot pool complements the MacDonald Highlands home’s architecture and setting.
Designed by architect Richard Luke and constructed by Prestige Pools Inc., the geometric design hides a unique feature that transforms the reflective surface into a lap pool. With a simple switch, the pool transitions into the swim mode, and the water automatically drops 4 inches to make it a standard pool depth.
As the water level drops, a hidden spa appears and automatically heats up. After a swim, the switch shifts it back, refilling the pool to deck-level from a hidden storage chamber.
Incorporating technology adds a wow factor to a pool deck. In the prestigious Summit neighborhood, a $1.5 million television display rises out of a 50-foot underground vault and rests on the pool’s outer edge.
“The television folds in and retracts into the vault,” Kraft said. “Speakers in the planters also retract when not in use.”
Co-designed by Swaback Architects of Scottsdale and Ozzie Kraft, the captivating pool features an expansive knife-edge rectangular-shaped pool with a glass tile interior. Kara Hawkins of KMS Designs selected the materials.
A smaller, elevated pool, with a Primera stone interior, accentuates the design while providing energy savings.
“The reason we did this upper pool.” Thornton said, “Is it can heat quickly without heating the entire pool,”
An increasingly popular amenity in the Vegas luxury market is the inclusion of aquatic windows. The see-through panels create a stunning visual aesthetic while allowing for interactive viewing.
Co-designed by Hoogland Architecture and Ozzie Kraft, the Summit pool displays an incredible example of aquatic viewing. The glass-encased spa, off a sunken fire area, contrasts the zero-edge pool. The entire pool deck showcases stunning views of the Strip.
The pool features a second larger aquatic window, located between the pool and a detached sunken grotto.
The pool at the home of Jim Ross, owner and founder of Unique Custom Homes, features an elevated 20-foot fire feature extended across the back of the pool on a structure 10 feet above the pool.
Co-Designed by Ross, his wife, Lucy Ross, and Tim Kalkowski, owner of Nevada Pools, the pool also features an 8-foot-by-19-foot movie theater with a screen composed of a 4-foot square ceramic tile hanging vertically.
“The wall is part of the design,” Kalkowski said. “It feels like you’re in a stadium when watching it.”
Natural resort style
Author and entrepreneur Brad Sugar enlisted the help of Kraft to create a $2 million oasis. Featured on “Animal Planet” in 2017, the extravagant aquatic feature was deemed “One high-rolling Las Vegas Pool.”
“I have five kids, so I wanted to build something to keep them entertained,” Sugar said. “And it needed to blend in the surroundings.”
Sugar’s vision begins at the estate’s entry with two 34-foot walls of water seemingly flowing out to the exterior pool deck.
“Kevin did a great job making it look like one body of water,” Sugar said. “Even though it’s not.”
The natural, resort-styled creation features a shallow kiddie’s pool, an adult lap pool, a lazy river and a swim-up bar.
“I didn’t just want a pool,” Sugar said. “I wanted to be able to entertain with it.”
A 9-foot central stone formation hides a private spa and bathroom in the middle. On the outside, waterfalls cascade into the water. The space features a hidden rock-climbing wall and a 15-foot slide.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” inspired Kraft to incorporate two distinct styles into one design. Known as “Skyline,” the 1,100-square-foot pool combines a natural, resort style with a contemporary aesthetic. A tiered deck features a spa, wet deck and a diamond-shaped knife-edge pool all flowing from a natural stone wall.
“I always wanted to do this,” Kraft said. “We’re talking about combining nice architecture with nature. It’s different from just doing a pool with a rock formation.”