Creative outdoor materials that stand up to the elements

This is part two in a series on outdoor design for hotel pools. Click here for part one: "Poolside design that stands out in the shade."

In creating the poolside ambience, designers have a range of options in terms of what they will use. These decisions have to account not only for the hotel's overall theme, but for suitability in a humid environment. Umbrosa, for example, likes to use fiber glass, which export manager Khadidja Thys said offers "significant advantages" that allow creativity in shape and function.

"It's a very strong material, very flexible, [has] good weight/strength and no risk of corrosion," Thys said. "This allows us to create unique shapes like you find in Icarus and Lotus, [and] in the Spectra and Eclypse."

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Jennifer Lutton, VP of hospitality sales for Tuuci, noted that there have been improvements on "multiple levels" in umbrella and cabana materials. "Most are not visible to the eye," she said. "It is the durability and lifespan that it adds to the parasol that makes the difference."

Another notable trend is using wood in designs, Lutton said. "The challenge is the durability and maintenance of real wood," she noted. Tuuci developed a product called "Alumateak," a marine-grade alumnium parasol with a durable veil that looks like wood in natural, weather and Java color schemes.

Likewise, Catherine Deist, VP of business and brand development for Cabanas by Academy, said that her company has received "many requests" for aluminum frames painted with wood-grain powder coating. "The best part? This wood is immune to erosion," she said.

To prevent rust, Cabanas by Academy uses aluminum to construct its frames, and paints them with electrostatic powder coating. The company uses marine-grade acrylic fabrics and mesh for cabana covers, shade sails and slide-on wire systems that are UV-, mildew- and water-resistant, and all of the hardware is stainless steel. 

"Also, for areas with strict fire code restrictions, we only use fabrics that are inherently fire retardant," Deist said.

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