Cool in the Pool
Backyard water retreats provide relaxation, entertainment, and exercise for the entire family. Here’s what’s cool in pools, hot tubs, and spas and what questions you should ask before buying and installing
Mike and Cheryl Vos call their in-ground swimming pool a “friend magnet.” Located just steps from the couple’s kitchen door, and with the winding Ohio River and surrounding woods making a dramatic backdrop in the distance, the pool stretches out 16 by 36 feet and entices water babies with a floating fountain at one end and a diving board at the other.
“Our friends more enjoy coming to our house,” says Mike, “because they, and more importantly their kids, can swim and have fun.”
Adds Cheryl: “Plus, we have a heater, which extends pool use by two to three months of the year.”
Six years ago, the Burlington couple picked out their Grecian-style pool with the help of Lipps Pool & Spa, a local family-run business with more than 30 years of experience in installing swimming pools.
Today, the Voses view their pool as an extension of their home: a fully equipped and accessorized outdoor living area has sprung up and around it. It has become the focal point of a well-treed backyard play area that now includes an outdoor kitchen, several seating areas, and the aforementioned scenic overlook. It is the hot spot in the summer where, as Cheryl says, they do everything but sleep.
“Summers are more fun because of the pool and it provides us with a place to cool off when working on our property.”
This summer, the two plan to install a deck extension and seating for the horseshoe pit, and they will purchase a selection of new, durable floats for the pool.
Other elements that add to an in-ground pool’s entertainment factor are fountains and waterfalls. Ken Riffe of Cente Pools in Clay City has seen their popularity increase dramatically since his family’s business opened in the mid-1980s—particularly in the last few years.
“I’m seeing more fountains going into pools (like the three-tier, Floating Blossom and Flowing Wells fountains) and faux rock going onto pools so that water tumbles over it and into the pool.”
“Lighting also adds a lot,” notes Patsy Robertson, co-owner with son Bryan of Robertson Pools in Somerset. “We sell a fiber optic lighting package, which is an upgrade from the regular single pool light. It has five different colors and creates a real festive mood in your back yard.”
Hot tubs & spas
The add-ons aren’t limited to swimming pools. Robertson says people love the effect of running water and spas, particularly the higher-end units, which now feature water falls, as well as special lighting packages, radio/CD players and, with some spas, television sets.
Ronnie Stinson of Park City wasn’t looking to watch TV in his back yard or to turn his back yard into a summer pool party. The logger, volunteer fire chief, and Little League coach just wanted a place to relax that he could share, when time permitted, with his wife, Faye.
“I work for myself in logging and my wife is on her feet all day long in a factory. We don’t have a lot of free time.”
What he chose was Dimension One’s Aurora II, a spa that can seat up to five adults, but was the perfect size for just Stinson and his wife. It has 27 jets with multi-level, barrier-free seating, one hydrotherapy seat and a cool-down seat, the NeckFlex Jet Pillow, plus the UltraLounge Personal Relaxation System, a contoured “spa within a spa” that delivers targeted head-to-toe hydrotherapy with up to 14 individually adjustable jets.
Stinson also opted for LED lights that cycle through 13 colors, creating an impressive light show. The lights can be set to fade out or to focus on a singular color, like Caribbean blue, adding fun and drama to the spa.
“In the daytime, the lights are useless, but at nighttime, it’s awesome. The only problem is you want to get in and stay in; you don’t want to get out.”
The best news for Stinson? The spa is virtually maintenance-free.
“I picked out a white one; my wife didn’t go with me and she really fussed at first. When I came home, she said, ‘A white one? I’ll have to clean it all the time.’ But the salesman said it would clean itself. It has a sensor that goes through cycles and keeps the water moving and keeps itself clean.”
This particular water management system continuously filters, heats, and ozonates the spa water, allowing owners to use fewer chemicals. It also utilizes a mineral pack that, according to Robb Watt of Atlantic Pools & Spas in Bowling Green, kills 100 percent of bacteria on contact.
“We don’t have time to spend fooling with things,” says Stinson. “We just want to get in the hot tub.”
Whether in-ground swimming pool or spa, equipped with standard features or decked out with cycling lights, waterfalls, and music system, the backyard retreat or relaxation center (as spa owners like to call their watering hole) is a hit with homeowners.
“Some people want a spa for therapeutic purposes, for muscle aches, arthritis, back pain, and other health issues,” says Watt, adding that the hot water in motion, or hydrotherapy, has long been recognized by doctors as beneficial in controlling chronic diseases like high blood pressure, arthritis, and even diabetes. “And some people just want to have fun.”
“People want something unique in their back yards to fit their own lifestyles, something more personal for their families to enjoy,” adds Robertson. “They think of their back yards as a vacation place with music, lighting, and landscaping along with the pool or spa.”
EXPERT ADVICE FOR BUYING A SWIMMING POOL
There is more to creating a “friend magnet” than just adding water. Here are some suggestions for homeowners considering a pool installation:
Get estimates from at least three different pool builder/installer companies. Mike and Cheryl Vos called three pool companies for ideas, suggestions, and quotes, and ultimately selected Lipps Pool & Spa because the company provided them with the best pool layout for their property.
“We live on a huge hill and are always looking for ways to flatten it, and it made sense to have the pool access more convenient to our home.”
Elevation is a key factor, but it isn’t the only consideration for a pool installation, according to Jane Riffe of the family-owned Cente Pools founded by her late husband, Frank, nearly 20 years ago.
“Homeowners have a number of concerns: Is there enough room to accommodate a pool? Is there rock underground? That can be a major problem. Is there underground water? This is another potential problem.
“Unfortunately, you don’t know about these things until you start digging,” adds Riffe. “When we start digging, if we hit rock, we stop and talk to the owner because they have to pay for the removal of the rock.”
The Voses also advise taking lots of photographs of the entire installation process for future reference.
“Last summer, we noticed the stairs leading into the pool were pulling away from the pool shell. We were able to look at past photos to see what was done during the installation and discovered a drain that was eroding the soil under the stairs, creating no support for the stairs. We shored up the stairs with bags of concrete and diverted the drain away from under the stairs.”
Shannon Edmondson of Lipps Pool & Spa says there are three questions homeowners should absolutely ask any company they are considering for their pool installation:
1) How long have you been in business?
2) Are you insured?
3) Can you provide references?
“You definitely want to know the reputation of the company you’ll be working with and how they stand behind their product,” stresses Riffe, who credits her late husband with the success of Cente Pools.
“My husband was born with a business mind. Frank was in the installation business and he knew how to come up with a good wall panel.”
Riffe says the company’s goal is to maintain Frank Riffe’s business philosophy.
“We try to give good service and stand behind what we sell.”
POOL & HOT TUB INFO
For more information on pool and spa designs, and to contact the businesses in this story, click here: swimming pools