Family creates tropical haven at Clear Lake Shores home
When 11-year-old Colton Massey jumps off the top of a 10-foot grotto into the family swimming pool, he’s in his element.
“My friends and I jump off of it a lot,” Colton said.
He also likes to play water basketball and volleyball in another area of the pool or venture under a waterfall to the swim-up bar and get a cold drink.
Mark and Wendy Massey, who have between them seven children ages 11 to 25, had the spectacular pool and grotto built two and a half years ago next to their Clear Lake Shores home.
“It was just vacant land that we owned where the kids played kickball and soccer,” Mark Massey said. “So, we decided to do something grand for the family and build a pool.”
But not just any pool.
Wendy Massey consulted with Bob Anderson of Custom Design Pools & Landscaping in Webster.
“I didn’t want a slide, but I did want a grotto — one tall enough for me to ascend the stairs and watch the sunset in the evenings,” she said.
After going over a few renderings, they agreed upon a final design.
Mark Massey, who co-owns a manufacturing company that builds blast-resistant modular buildings for the refining and petrochemical industries, often works out of his home, which allows him to jump into the pool every chance he gets.
“We have 18-year-old triplets who will be seniors in high school in the fall, and they bring their friends over a lot, so between all the kids and us, the pool is rarely unoccupied,” he said.
The 100,000-gallon pool with grotto is made of faux rocks, reinforced with steel and stained to match the shape and color of boulders. And it contains a wonderment of catacombs.
Handrails, resembling tree limbs, are along various steps leading to the multiple levels within its confines for safety. A spa and swim-up bar are housed deep inside the cavern; three waterfalls, diving ledge, Baja shelf — a tanning ledge — and fire pit are exterior design elements.
Three televisions are placed throughout. Multi-colored, low voltage LED lights can be controlled to match the lighting in the pool, creating just the right ambience for themed and seasonal parties. Most of the trees in the yard also have lighting elements.
Wendy Massey particularly likes the Baja shelf, she said.
“I can walk barefoot in that area where the water is shallow and sit in one of the recliners without having to put on a bathing suit,” she said. “You stay dry because there’s just enough water to wade through.”
The outdoor kitchen and entertaining area adjoining the house are a few steps away. A palapa bar shares space with four refrigerators, an ice maker, margarita machine, grills for cooking and a pizza oven. A fireplace opposite the bar, tropical outdoor furniture and trophy fish mounts complete the décor.
Custom Design Pools & Landscaping also designed the gardens.
“My requirements were a ton of palms to provide a tropical feel,” Wendy Massey said. “I had no time for growth — I wanted everything to look like it had been here awhile. I also wanted very dense landscaping to add a feeling of seclusion to our surrounding property.”
Massey is very pleased with the outcome — 66 palm trees and a variety of colorfully blooming plants. The palm varieties include Mexican fantails, Medjools, Canary Island date palms and a few sagos.
To add to the tropical theme, Massey chose coral hibiscus, red dianthus, blue ixora, pink Hawaiian ti and Drift ground cover roses.
The Masseys, who entertain frequently and can easily accommodate 200 guests, also own homes in Austin and Pagosa Springs, Colo. They enjoy cruising aboard their 70-foot Johnson yacht or flying in the company plane, a Beechcraft King Air 200.
“We love the coastal life,” Wendy Massey said. “So much so, that about the only time I can get my husband in long pants is when we go to dinner at Rudy & Paco or attend the Kentucky Derby. Other than that, he’s in shorts, 24/7.”
Mark Massey might be enjoying the good life, but it has never been his main focus.
“I am nothing without the 300 employees that work for me,” he said. “They help me provide for my family, so I take care of them. I’m basically a simple guy with a simple philosophy: We take care of each other — we’re family.’”