Indulging In Laps Of Luxury
By Laurie Nadel
When designing the white brick mansion that he
shares with his two adult sons, their wives and children,
Dr. Manilal Patel wanted a park-like personal country
club. “We have all the luxuries, including Jacuzzis in
two master bedrooms, volleyball and tennis courts,
swings, and trampoline,” Dr. Patel said.
Instead of signing his four grandchildren up for
swimming lessons at a nearby community center,
six years ago Dr. Patel decided to build an indoor lap
pool so that they could learn in comfort and privacy.
“Everything is self-contained,” he said. “It is very
A two-story annex of some 50 feet by 20 feet was incorporated
into the design of the palatial 8-bedroom,
8-1/2 bath residence set on just over three acres.
Whether it is an indoor pool, a basketball court, or
virtual golf simulator, an elite percentage of luxury
homeowners are investing in state-of-the-art indoor
sports facilities. “You’ve heard of the one percent.
It’s less than the one percent,” said Stewart Senter,
President of the Automatic Group in Hempstead, the
high-end builder who along with a group of high end
architects is developing Hidden Pond at Old Westbury,
a premier gated community of 16 estate homes. “It’s
a true luxury.”
Lined in green tile with beige trim, Dr. Patel’s
addition features a 50-foot by 20-foot, 10,000 gallon
indoor pool and full sauna plus gym area. Arched
windows nearly two stories high bathe the room in
natural light. A balcony on the second floor provides
a sweeping view of the pool.
Rather than installing an outdoor pool, Dr. Patel
figured that a lap pool indoors would be more
practical. “We don’t like outdoor pools. They are too
much maintenance and you only get to use it four
months of the year,” he said. “We can use this one
all year round.”
Building an indoor pool presents hefty challenges
that an owner needs to consider carefully before
proceeding. “This is not for the faint of heart,” said
Senter, who has seen two instances of indoor pools
that were not properly insulated. Pool water must be
treated with chlorine or bromine. If it leaks into the
atmosphere it can mildew walls and corrode pipes.
The key to success is having an effective heating, airconditioning
and dehumidification system to control
humidity in the pool area. “You want to make sure
you almost quarantine the house with air doors
between the pool and the rest of the house. With the
proper precautions, you don’t let the environment
mix with the rest of the house,” Senter explained.
He recommended an electric motorized cover to
contain the pool’s humidity when it is not in use.
Construction challenges for pools and other indoor
sports facilities can be daunting. If installed in a basement
area, the foundation wall of the structure has
to be reinforced. “You need more steel, more support
mechanisms which have to be engineered,” he said.
One homeowner in Old Westbury wanted an indoor
basketball court. Since a regulation-size court runs
94 feet by 50 feet, he settled for a half-court with
stands. To accommodate his indoor sports complex,
which also includes an indoor pool and elevator, the
builder had to excavate thirty feet.
“My seven grandchildren wanted a basketball court,”
said the owner, preferring anonymity. “One of my
grandkids brings his friends over to shoot hoops. I
use one of the side walls of the basketball court to
practice tennis.” A lap pool, 44 feet long by 13 feet
wide, was built on the mezzanine level above the
basketball court so the owner, a triathlete, can swim
all year round.
An avid golfer excavated a 4-foot deep, 15-foot long
extension to his Muttontown home for a virtual
golf simulator. The simulator requires an 11-foot
ceiling but the basement ceiling was only eight feet
high. “We had to excavate three feet down and
build a wall with steel reinforcements. It was a bit
difficult,” he said.
In the end, the $100,000 virtual golf simulator was
well worth it. Not only did the owner’s handicap come
down from 22 to 16, he got to play a virtual version of
his favorite Scottish golf course every morning before
going to work and on weekends.
Manufactured by Dead Solid Golf, virtual replicas
of the world’s greatest golf courses are projected
onto an 11-foot high screen. The owner explained,
“You have to physically hit the ball and you can see
it moving. If you hit it into a rough or a bunker, you
have to hit it as you would in real life.”
Behind the virtual golf screen is a home theater
screen for movies and TV. “I had wanted to make
a home theater which would have been much less
expensive. All I would have needed was a screen,
projector and some seats,” he said. “But I hoped my
son would pick up golf, so I made the investment.”
At first, his son used the simulator but now, “he plays
guitar but not golf.”
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