Building the Caribbean’s Greatest Pools
It’s one of the centerpieces of any resort in the Caribbean: the pool.
It’s often the town square, the meeting point, the place to be at every resort in region.
And that means that it’s an essential part of the process for any Caribbean property.
And arguably the hottest pool company in the region is Aquatics International Group, which has been behind the construction of some of the region’s newest poolscapes, including the stunning new pool system at the Ritz-Carlton, St Thomas.
To learn more, Caribbean Journal Invest caught up with Chris Fogleman, president of Aquatics International Group.
You have been doing this a long time. Tell us a little about your experience and the history of Aquatics International Group.
I started cleaning pools as a summer job in high school and it was never a job to me but something I genuinely enjoyed. While studying in college I worked as a laborer for a construction company and learned many things about the construction process. After college I started a pool service company, and it grew rapidly over the next 5 years. I decided to go back to college and study Aquatic Architecture and that is where I met my current partner. He was already very skilled at Aquatic Architecture because he had a natural talent for design and already had a landscape design background. We started working together about 10 years ago when I decided to hire him as a designer and consultant and both our companies continued to grow and thrive. About five years ago I decided to sell my pool service company and focus primarily on building high end residential pools all over the United States. We started winning many pool design/build awards together both domestic and internationally. It was at this point we agreed to form Aquatics International Group and tackle the most challenging international projects together with our “A” team we selected over the previous 10 years.
You have completed several projects in the Caribbean. What is your most recent one?
Most recently we built the Ritz-Carlton resort pool, hardscapes, landscapes, lighting, and irrigation in St Thomas, USVI.
As a company, are you focused on the Caribbean? Why the Caribbean?
Yes. We are primarily focused on the Caribbean. We chose the Caribbean because that is where it seems to be the most challenging and rewarding to work. Most of the resorts are being built there due to the beautiful year around climate and our projects get the most year around use because of that. Ownership groups are spending big on pools and the amenities because that is what is driving people to stay at their hotels. We notice a higher occupancy at hotels in the Caribbean when there is a beautiful pool to enjoy. Our projects also photograph well when there is a beautiful Caribbean backdrop to enhance our designs.
Do you have a few favorite projects you have worked on in the Caribbean?
Currently our favorite project is the Ritz Carlton in St Thomas, USVI because it has the nicest slide and pool in the Caribbean currently. There are so many amazing features to this project that are a must see.
You started out in residential pool design and construction and moved into commercial pools and spas. How did that happen?
After 16 years of building residential pools we wanted something more challenging. Commercial pools had a much larger budget than residential and allowed us to maximize our designs creativity and provided a better reward with more users. My partner was also already designing commercial pools for management companies and knew what was desirable to the client while maintaining a budget. This made for an easy transition.
Do you do new construction as well as renovations?
We offer both new construction as well as renovations. Many pools in the Caribbean are in desperate need of renovations as they do not meet state side code compliance and are battered by the hurricanes. We can simply give the projects a “face lift” with more modern materials or completely redesign and start fresh with a clean slate.
At what point in the design process does the pool contractor need to be consulted?
We highly recommend consulting with us in the very beginning planning stages as often things are overlooked as equipment placement, water conservancy, power consumption, and what landscaping works well to both compliment the look of the project as well as offering shade to users and keeping the pool clean for ongoing maintenance. There are many instances where stateside architects overlook things related to the pool design that later drive the price of the project such as placing equipment very far and having to use very large pipes and pumps to achieve the proper pool turnover to be safe for guest to swim.
Do you specialize in certain islands or regions?
Our company has a long arm in the Caribbean for design/build. We also are servicing islands off the coast of Spain, Turkey, and Greece for consulting and project management.
What about contractors, suppliers and logistics. How does that work on a remote island?
We have a logistics team we have worked with for years now and can handle shipping on a global scale. We like to ship all our raw materials in and store them onsite so we are not chasing parts which can delay a project. We use both sea and air when necessary, to meet our deadlines. We like to preorder and have material available and if space is not available onsite we locate offsite storage for project materials.
Can you tell us about any projects you have in the pipeline?
We were in negotiations on several commercial projects in the Caribbean prior to Covid-19 and things are just now getting back to the design phase. We have signed NDA’s and can not currently speak of upcoming things, but it seems commercial development is gaining strength in the Caribbean again for 2021.
What is your outlook for the future?
We are in anticipation of a profitable year and helping to continue to grow and enhance the Caribbean islands as tourism is forecasted to continue to increase through this year. We are seeing record numbers in tourism now.
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