HOUSANDS OF YEARS after it was constructed, Rome’s Colosseum remains an iconic symbol of Italy. A grand triumph, the graceful curves of the amphitheater’s arcaded stories inspired one of the largest circular pools in the world: Coliseum Pool at The Resort at Pelican Hill.®

Like its namesake, Coliseum Pool is in a class all its own. Designed by Bill Burton of Burton Landscape Architecture Studio, it features spacious tiered seating areas, a circular shape and a host of carefully selected plants and materials.

At 136 feet in diameter, the shallow saltwater pool takes center stage on the terrace overlooking Pelican Hill Golf Club’s Ocean South course, the Rotunda and the sparkling Pacific. While most swimming pools are finished in a uniform white plaster, Burton’s team created an underwater surface that mirrors the azure sky. Upward of a million glass tiles, all custom-fit and crafted from environmentally friendly recycled glass, were hand-laid in concentric circles, radiating from the midpoint of the floor out to and up the pool’s curved sides.

“There needs to be character behind every design,” Burton says. “Our vision was to create [the aesthetic of] a Mediterranean, Italian-coastal hill town.”

The pool’s setting blends modern landscaping with classical architecture. “Pine and olive trees are offset by a shrub palette that ranges from lush ferns to tropical succulents,” says Burton. “We wanted to make the space as genuine as possible, so we sourced brick and concrete pavers much like the stones you would see in a piazza in Italy.” The free-standing building that houses private pool cabanas and al fresco seating for the Coliseum Grill is marked by stately columns and sweeping staircases evocative of ancient Rome.

“There was a lot of collaboration between architects, designers and landscapers to distill the ideas,” says Burton, with a nod to Robert Altevers, the architect for the Resort’s public spaces, and Andrew Skurman, a San Francisco-based interior architect known for his expertise in classicism and Palladian design. “It gives the space a wonderful continuity.”

One of Burton’s favorite features is the deck space surrounding the pool. Lounge chairs on the main deck allow guests to immerse in the experience firsthand, whether for entertainment, relaxation or a magical combination of both. Alternatively, 18 cabanas offer a heightened experience — quite literally. Reminiscent of the seating in Rome’s amphitheater that was reserved for the royal family, Coliseum Pool’s 170-square-foot luxury cabanas feature flowing privacy curtains, Bose sound systems, flat-screen TVs and five-star service.

Each day and vantage point at Coliseum Pool reveals a new experience. Built atop a sloping landform, the terrace offers stunning vistas to the north, south and west. As the shifting sun paints a watercolor mural across the sky, guests can relax with a refreshing beverage and admire nature’s handiwork.

“It’s such an amazing view and setting,” Burton says. “I remember going out at night and just standing there. It’s a thrilling moment when you realize that you got it right, that the things you had envisioned came together. Coliseum Pool was a once-in-a-lifetime project.”


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