Water brings hotel landscapes to life

When creating a hotel’s outdoor landscaping—from trees to gardens to outdoor plants—an architect or designer has to take numerous factors into consideration. Aquatic Design & Engineering (ADE), a niche design firm specializing in show fountains and pools, recently completed work on the new Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, an 11-acre waterfront property along the Arabian Gulf, which has two free-form pools and fountains to complement the beach.

ADE’s president, Josh Martin, said that the overall goal was to create different zones that catered to different needs, from zero-entry paths (“key” for a family pool) to “sunshelves” within the pools where guests could sit in shallow water. Both outdoor pools also have infinity edges that give guests the illusion that they are sitting in the ocean. “It creates continuity from place to place,” he explained. “That was a key design aesthetic.” 

Beyond the pools, ADE created small fountains throughout the landscape. “Water is integral in Arab culture,” Martin said. “We used water features that tell a story.” 

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To accomplish the desired effects in both the pools and the fountains, ADE’s designers sought out materials that could handle heavy usage, rather than elements more suited to residential settings. “Plastic pumps can be fine for a backyard fountain, but not a hotel pool,” he explained. A variable-frequency drive, for example, lets the hotel adjust the pump’s motor as needed, using it only when necessary.  

In Bali, meanwhile, the Ayana Resort & Spa opened a second resort-within-a-resort, Rimba Jimbaran Bali, in late 2013. In contrast to the main beachfront resort, this property is set back from the coastline, requiring Dennis Selinger, principal landscape architect at St. Legere Design International, to bring the water to the property for its six pools and multiple ponds.

“Guests enter the lobby and immediately see a reflecting pond with a horizon view of the ocean,” he said. “Starting from the lobby as the highest point, five terraced pools cascade into each other and even overhang each other.” To make this possible, Selinger and his team raised the lobby level by several meters, creating space for several levels of pools outdoors.