The quintessential Hamptons summer lifestyle is outdoor living with a focus, for many, on poolside living. The pool and the area around it are used as “outdoor rooms,” the seamless flow between interior and exterior. If you’re considering designing and building a pool or renovating an older existing pool, you’ve got a daunting project ahead. With that in mind, Social Life sought out an expert to bring us up to speed on what’s involved in creating a special pool.
We asked Stuart Andrews, the owner of Shinnecock Pools in Southampton, for his take on what makes a great pool and what he sees as his client’s chief concerns. Andrews — who has been building and caring for luxury pools in the Hamptons for more than 20 years — was forthright and even philosophical. “For many of my clients, building an amazing pool is often how they want to proclaim their success. If you’re a corporate CEO, work on Wall Street, or are in charge of a hedge fund, you spend your days creating something that’s invisible and intangible to most people, and no one can see what you’ve made,” says Andrews. “For many successful people, creating an amazing pool is a metaphor for what they’ve achieved. And they truly are works of art. A lot of people choose to express themselves through the artistry of a pool.” Andrews, who has built and maintains some of the most dazzling pools on the East End, humbly offers that he is more of a facilitator than anything else. “My job is to listen and listen carefully to their ideas and hopes and then bring my client’s vision to reality. And that reality reveals their personal passions intensely. No two of my pools are the same; they’re like snowflakes!” he added. Even though he’s built pools costing seven figures, he prefers to focus on the intangible when discussing them, “I like to quote the author Joan Didion, who wrote; ‘A pool…is a symbol not of affluence but of order, of control over the uncontrollable. A pool is water, made available and useful and is, as such, infinitely soothing…’ Isn’t that wonderfully put? Think about it. Water is the essence of life. Your pool offers so much. Quality time with your kids. Or imagine that skinny-dipping moment when you’re alone with your partner, late at night. It’s connecting your soul and body in a basic element, water. When immersed at the perfect temperature, with low-level lighting on a starry night, you achieve a Zen state of mind,” says Andrews.
“Having a pool can be critical to your well-being,” he insists. “It’s not always about getting into your pool but knowing that it’s there for you at any time, that you can look forward to that moment after a hard day at work, to have time to yourself to be at peace, surrounded by the liquid perfection that exists in your backyard. It’s a source of calm, comfort and belonging,” he adds. That’s never more true than on a Friday afternoon when harried New Yorkers are chomping at the bit to get out of the city, away from their office and out to the Hamptons. “Many times the very first thing they do when they get to their house is to get out of their clothes and into their pool,” says Andrews. “And my job is to ensure that their experience, that split second of relief, is absolutely perfect. However, for people to drift into a meditative state when they get into their pool, everything must be flawless. The tile must be immaculate. The water condition must be just right. The temperature must be perfect,” he cautions. “That’s where I come in. That’s my job and frankly, my passion,” he emphasizes. Stuart Andrews is indeed the caretaker of the oasis.