Gunite or natural?
Still in planning stages... a lot of great feedback from everyone on here... very much appreciated.
We are doing a free-form gunite pool... with a cave, waterfall from top of cave, and slide wrapping around the cave on the back side of the pool. The proposal we are getting is to do the cave in gunite... with natural rocks along the edge of the pool on either side of the cave (dropped to water line), then backfill to get the hill behind and around the cave (about 25' wide and 20' deep). The PB will then shoot gunite steps up the left side to above/behind the cave to the top of the slide that wraps around the cave and into the pool. The areas between the steps and cave, cave and slide and beyond slide/steps would be mulch, plantings, etc. for a very natural look.
We are really looking for the natural look (not disney pool fake). And all the rocks on the hill and pool edge will be real. But, we are concerned that the gunite will stick out like a sore thumb. Would it be better/cheaper to build paver or stone steps into the hill? And some examples I have seen of real stone cemented to a gunite cave front, top, etc. does not look that great. I am leaning toward the gunite cave for structural reasons... but would love to find some pictures showing a gunite cave integrated and disguised into a natural stone hill so it does not stand out or look fake. top, front edge, sides and inside the cave also. Can gunite be colored to match natural rocks? Or will it look like a big grey concrete opening surrounded by natural rocks?
Would love advice from anyone who has had done this combination of materials.