Huge Hotel Swimming Pool Makeover
in Just Four Days
The pool at the elite Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai was built in 2001 and finished using Cemcrete’s PoolCrete, a brilliant product that has added a new element to swimming pool construction.
Just two years later, in 2003, technical experts from the company which operates out of South Africa were called in to inspect the swimming pool because the surface of the existing pool was badly discolored and extremely rough. It was found that a combination of factors had contributed to the deterioration of the surface and the only solution was to give it a complete pool makeover which would entail re-plastering the entire pool. It was decided that Flexbond (a latex-based liquid admixture) would be added to improve the acid-resistance of the PoolCrete surface.
This does not sound too bad – until one realizes that the size of the pool is 2 000 square meters! Because the hotel did not want to inconvenience their guests, the work had to be done in summer (when occupancy is lowest in this desert region) and the pool makeover work had to be completed in one month.
Willy Bosch, who was in charge of the operation advised the contractor on the preparation (chipping, acid-washing and so on) that had to be done. and it was agreed that he would remain on site to train his staff and supervise the re-plastering. The time allotted for the completion of plastering was seven days. The scope of the project was daunting. The temperature was 45 deg. C with an 80 percent humidity factor. The implications of this were frightening. Not only would the setting time of the plaster be drastically reduced, but working in these temperatures can endanger the lives of the workers. It was decided to work at night (when the temperature was 30 deg. C and humidity only 50 percent.
This of course brought a whole new list of challenges. The entire pool had to be covered with shade netting to protect the plaster from the sun. Lights had to be brought in and fans had to be run constantly because there was no air circulation inside the pool. area The temperature of the tap water was 40 deg. C so ice had to be used to cool it down before it could be used.
When Bosch arrived the pool had already been drained – a procedure that must have taken at least a week to complete.
After the final preparation work had been done, the team had four days to plaster the entire pool … this meant they had to complete 500 square meters each night. Bearing in mind that the average swimming pool is only 70 square meters it meant, in theory, that the had to plaster the equivalent of seven swimming pools every night.
It was decided to use the expansion joints in the pool as ‘dividing lines’ to create smaller sections and thus avoid dry joints that occur when the edge of plaster is allowed to dry. If expansion joints are not incorporated, when the plastering is resumed, a line is created where the dry and wet plaster meet.
Cemcrete had a team of 12 plasterers and 18 laborers, and every night they used:
250 bags of PoolCrete
350 liters of Flexbond
1,400 liters of ice water
They mixed batches of 50 bags at a time and it took some amazing co-ordination to keep the mixing/plastering chain going. On average, the plastering took five hours per night and the finishing/polishing took four hours. Taking into account the culture and language differences, the fact that the plasterers had never worked with PoolCrete before and the heat, this was, according to Bosch, nothing short of a miracle.
During the day five people were constantly spraying the finished plaster with water to control the curing. Because of the extreme heat, it was very important to prevent the plaster drying out too quickly.
At the end of the four days they had used 1,000 bags of PoolCrete, 1,400 liters of Flexbond and 5,600 liters of iced water.
After the pool makeover the finished pool was stunning, which without a doubt made it all worthwhile.
It then took three days and two nights to fill the pool and the team left this part of the operation in the capable hands of the hotel’s South African maintenance manager.
“The whole experience was interesting, frightening, horrible, funny, peculiar and probably life changing – all at once,” said Bosch. “After doing a job like this, very few things actually seem impossible.”
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