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Considering a Pool Grotto? (Pros, Cons, Ideas & Cost)

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Few things can transform your backyard from an average space to an oasis fit for royalty like a pool grotto can.

Grottos fall under the category of pool water features, and can add a relaxing and luxurious dimension to your outdoor swimming pool.

With plenty of styles available, this high-end feature can be worked into even the most minimal of budgets.

What Is a Pool Grotto? 

A pool grotto is basically a waterfall entrance to an additional space. 

Any easy way to think of it is like a cave with a waterfall in front of it.

With grottos, a built-up facade of large rocks (sometimes real, sometimes faux) is placed at the edge of the pool. The waterfall pours off the top of the rocks, and down into the pool.

Behind the waterfall is open space, and this is where grottos differ.

Modest budgets will be able to afford what essentially amounts to a loveseat in the pool. But if money is no object, you can build a grotto that would make Hugh Hefner jealous.

Some large grottos can open up into a secondary pool. These designs usually incorporate a swim-up bar, and multiple seating areas for the ultimate in relaxation.

Additionally, grottos can even lead to a hidden space, which ensures prying eyes are kept out.

The Pros & Cons 

If you’re thinking of investing in a grotto, there are a few things you should consider before making a decision.

Pros

A grotto will make everyone love your pool. Seriously.

The rock and waterfall design is aesthetically stunning, and having water rushing over you (or in front of you) adds a therapeutic element. 

With larger grottos, having a luxury-minded, private space is always a plus, and you can pair them with additional features like spouts, custom lighting, and statuary to make them really special.

Cons

If you aren’t careful, you may end up with a grotto that is more headache than it’s worth.

To avoid issues with the final product (ie. it’s too bulky, too small, has no return jets, etc.), make sure you fully understand the design and cost you’re agreeing to.

Additionally, salt erosion can occur on the underside of the overhead rock, and keeping the area clean can be a pain as the pool’s vacuum will rarely venture into the grotto.

A Cost Breakdown 

Adding a grotto to your swimming pool is not cheap, but it can be surprisingly affordable.

They’re mainly constructed out of rocks (sometimes artificial) with pool pumps and pipes redirecting water to create the waterfall.

A basic, 2-person grotto usually runs between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the quality of materials and labour costs.

Some grottos are designed with stairs and a slide on top, adding extra functionality. These types of grottos are more expensive, starting at around $15,000 and running as high as $50,000. 

Of course, if you want an ultra-luxurious grotto, complete with a swim-up bar and hidden room(s), prepare to pay north of $50,000.

Also important to take into account are operational costs, as a large grotto will require more water, electricity, heating, and maintenance.

Pool Grotto Ideas (And 5 Examples)

Grottos come in a wide range of designs. From size, to rock type, to level of luxury, here are the most popular styles.

  • 2 Seats Behind Waterfall
  • Group Seating Behind Waterfall
  • Grotto With Slide
  • Hot Tub Grotto
  • Swim-Up Bar Grotto
  • Grotto With Hidden Room

Let’s look at some real examples:

Example #1: 2 (Or More) Seats Behind Waterfall

Image by Rico Rock

A 2-seat grotto is known as a loveseat grotto, but larger versions can accommodate more people. The stone is usually concrete, but at times artificial stone is used to reduce costs. 

It can be stained different colors (in this case limestone), to match your pool’s aesthetic. A waterline is run to the top of the structure, allowing for water to cascade. In some cases, the rock ledge can even double as a diving rock.

Example #2: Grotto With Slide

Image by Premier Pools & Spas

Adding a slide to your pool grotto really showcases how there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to design. 

Not only do you get a beautiful relaxing space behind the waterfall, but the rock design of the slide itself gives the entire pool a jungle/natural feel to it. 

While this example is high-end, you can still implement a similar design on a smaller loveseat grotto to fit any mid-sized pool.

Example #3: Hot Tub Grotto

Image by Clara Morgan Jacuzzi

A twist on the basic loveseat/group seating grotto, you can have your waterfall rain down onto bathers in your hot tub. 

The advantage of this style is that you’ll get double or even triple the amount of seating that a regular grotto affords. In addition, an added benefit is having hot tub jets massaging you for an ultra-relaxing experience.

As most hot tubs get used at night, you can add in custom lighting that will really highlight the space (no pun intended), and make it a focal point of your pool.

Example #4: Swim Up Bar Grotto

Image by Grand Wailea Resort

Few things in life are more luxurious than having your own grotto, complete with a swim-up bar. It truly means you’ve “arrived”.

While this type of grotto is usually reserved for high-end resorts and luxury properties, there is no reason why you can’t have one built in your own backyard.

Obviously, a swim-up bar tips the financial scales, but if price is no object, you can custom design it however you’d like. Some of these grottos will even add extra bells and whistles like flat-screen TVs so you can watch the game while relaxing.

Example #5: Grotto With Hidden Room

Image by Eva Designs

The ultimate in privacy, this style of grotto is where you go when you want to get away from the world. 

Past the waterfall is a private room, decked out in pure luxury. 

In this case, they’ve designed it with a Roman bath motif – complete with jacuzzi, Corinthian columns, and wall art. Other designs lean heavily on replicating cave swimming. 

Either way, you really can’t go wrong at this level.

Ready to Jump In? 

As you can see, a swimming pool grotto can be a modest addition, or a high-end feature that will be the talk to the town.

With choices abound, you won’t be short on inspiration, allowing you to easily customize the perfect grotto to compliment your outdoor space.

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