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Cascading Concrete Waterfalls and a Spa in a Concrete Glass

Lounge in a 10-foot-high margarita glass madeout of concrete at this resort pool with extensive decorative concrete finishes.Photos courtesy of RicoRock
Lounge in a 10-foot-high margarita glass madeout of concrete at this resort pool with extensive decorative concrete finishes.Photos courtesy of RicoRock

You’re in port and want to disembark the cruise ship for a while and head to town for a little fun. Tropical heat, island music, yummy appetizers and of course those salt-rimmed beverages are all part of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville experience in the restaurant chain’s newest Caribbean location in Falmouth, Jamaica. This picture-perfect setting is chock full of decorative concrete treatments, from a spa shaped like a margarita glass to a 30-foot bridge and waterfalls cascading into a pool.

You don’t have to be a Parrothead to enjoy this pirate-themed bar that’s only open when a ship is in port. “The world’s largest cruise ships were often docked 20 feet from where we worked,” says Bruce Riley, managing director of RicoRock Inc. in Orlando, Florida, and one of the project’s contractors. “We always had the sense of someone watching us.”

RicoRock Inc., a leading manufacturer of residential pool waterfalls in the U.S., has hundreds of dealers, but Margaritaville’s owners wanted to work directly with RicoRock because of the scope of the project and the company’s more than 30-year history of creating waterfalls.

Stegmeier concrete foam forms bullnose finish on pool coping and concrete bar top
Stegmeier forms provided a bullnose finish on the pool coping and bar top. A steel-reinforced concrete core was capped with a white cement mortar mixture.

“Margaritaville bars are famous for being a great place to relax and most of the Caribbean locations have waterfalls as part of the resort atmosphere,” says Riley, who only installs a few projects a year, mostly in the Caribbean. “Many homeowners return home from visiting resorts like this and want these same features in their own backyard.”

Piece of work

RicoRock knows how to work with the locals. “You get an appreciation for American know-how working out of the country but the local workers have a real enthusiasm for doing creative concrete treatments,” says Riley. “Over my many years of working in the Caribbean I’ve seen how local Jamaican laborers become enthusiastic about learning how to do decorative concrete.”

The bridge was formed with a plywood form, 2-by-4s and wood poles for support. A double layer of 5/8-inch rebar and 8 inches of concrete were specified.
The bridge was formed with a plywood form, 2-by-4s and wood poles for support. A double layer of 5/8-inch rebar and 8 inches of concrete were specified.

RicoRock Inc. contracted for this entire Margaritaville installation and was familiar with the work environment in Jamaica because of work done the previous year for another phase. Riley, the project manager, supervised local crews with usually only one on-site American tech-support person.

About 350 yards of concrete were used for the pool and deck areas and about 40 yards of masonry materials. The concrete decks had three textures but all used color hardener and texture mats by Increte. Work on the pool phase at Margaritaville began in October 2013 and the pool opened two months later. The pool, designed by Bruce Robinson of BDR Design, is 2,500 square feet and only 3 1/2 feet deep.

Bar stools made of poured concrete using foam molds and a concrete countertop using sea shells that were embedded.
Bar stools were poured concrete using a foam mold specially made for this project. Sea shells were embedded in the bar top for a subtle pattern.

“BDR designed the whole Margaritaville resort and the elaborate themed design is a critical part of the destination’s success,” says Riley. “Detailed plans also made construction go more smoothly, rather than a design/build approach that is less predictable.”

The pool coping and bar top have a steel-reinforced concrete core and both were capped with a rich white-cement mortar mixture. Hundreds of man-hours of grinding and polishing created a smooth and cool marble-like finish, making it nicer to elbow up to the bar. “The blue mosaic tiles on the barstools for the swim-up bar look great,” says Riley. “The barstools were poured concrete and we used a foam mold specially made for this project.”

The bridge finish was applied after the structural pour. Color hardener was applied to a mortar finish and stamped with wood texture mats by Increte.
The bridge finish was applied after the structural pour. Color hardener was applied to a mortar finish and stamped with wood texture mats by Increte.

Forming the pool with Spider Tie, a temporary framework that plywood attaches to for concrete placement, allowed for a smooth radius and uniform wall thickness. “This requires a level pad to secure plastic forms,” says Riley. “And because the pool was built in fill dirt, the engineer required a double layer of #5 rebar and 12 inches of 3,000 psi concrete for the floor.” To achieve a monolithic pour of 200 yards, a boom pump was used for the floor and shotcrete was applied to the walls. The entire shell was finished in 10 hours.

The bridge was specified to have a double layer of 5/8-inch rebar and 8 inches of concrete, and to be 7-foot high at the center and 6 feet 2 inches at the pool edge. The shape was created using 2-inch PVC pipe for the arc, a plywood form, 2-by-4s and wood poles for support. “For the bridge finish, color hardener was applied to a mortar finish and stamped with wood texture mats by Increte,” says Riley.

Volcano included

Aside from the whirlpool in the shape of a margarita glass, the other astounding features are the volcano, waterfall and rock wall.

RicoRock castings were hung on concrete walls to create the waterfalls. Rock planters were created using steel-reinforced concrete walls and rock veneer. The volcano took shape thanks to rebar and metal lath. “The volcano structure used SteelTex as an internal form,” says Riley. “Waterfall areas received two coats of cementitious waterproofing prior to the finishing textures and the volcano texture was achieved with a spray texture using a Quickspray Carrousel Pump.”

The pool coping also was a large job. “The coping mix was a white sand, white cement and an acrylic hardener from SCL Trinidad,” he says. “Some fibers were added and a paddle mixer used and sea shells were embedded for a subtle pattern.”

Fifty bags of cement that were ruined by rain were used as forms for the seat wall with poultry netting and 3 inches of concrete over the cement bags. Hand-textured seat walls were in a castle stone style. Stegmeier forms were used for a bullnose finish on the pool coping and bar top.

Riley says to make no mistake about what hard work it is to create a resort atmosphere like this. Despite the fact the work was done in a tourist’s dream destination, the crew worked hard and fast, although they did get to enjoy some of Jamaica’s scenic natural beauty on the weekends.

Project at a Glance

Client: Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Falmouth, Jamaica

Contractor: RicoRock Inc., Orlando, Florida
www.ricorock.com

Pool concept: Bruce D. Robinson, BDR Design, Cincinnati, Ohio
www.bdrdesign.com

Scope of project: Create a tropical-themed resort destination with walkways, swim-up bar, lounging decks and a 2,500-square-foot pool

Most challenging aspect: Working with hardworking but inadequately trained local crews, acquiring the right materials, accommodating language and cultural differences.

Products used:Shotcrete from local ready-mix plant; Caribbean Blue pool finish by CL Industries; Spider Tie concrete wall-forming system for pool perimeter; color hardener and stamps by Increte; stamp release agent by Sure-Crete; RicoRock’s rock castings; RicoRock Waterproofing and Acrylic Stains, Stegmeier forms for pool coping and bar top; Quickspray Carrousel Pump for volcano textures, pool pumps by Hayward

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