(ARA) - For many owners, spas and pools have become more than just warm-water respites and places to play. They are, instead, the main attractions in backyards that are equipped for living. As this trend grows, it's inevitable that the trappings that make pools and spas special are becoming more popular and more affordable. Many pool and spa add-ons and luxurious details, once only available to those with deep pockets, are no longer so very exclusive.
Water features immediately come to mind for Tommy Johnson, owner of Johnson Pools & Spas in Huntsville, Ala. He says more often than not he installs some type of water feature on the pools he builds -- if for no other reason than to generate a soothing, water noise.
"Besides," he says, "water features like waterfalls have come down tremendously in price because of pre-manufactured mountings and false rocks." Today, water fountains and other water features connected to pools are a lot more economical than they were just a few years ago, he adds. This also makes them attractive additions when it's time to upgrade or update an existing pool.
Lighting is another one of those things that is becoming more varied and more affordable, says Bob Lauter, president of Master Spas, Inc, in Fort Wayne, Ind.
There's LED lighting, which might cost more at the beginning but pays for itself over the long life of the bulbs. Colorwheels with fiber optic lighting have become more prevalent on both pools and spas. And dramatic options like Jandy's Laminar Jets, which combine water and light, take this to another level.
Other accessories such as fancy grills and in-deck fire pits have become quite affordable, Johnson says. You can spend $10,000 on a grill, but you also can get a very nice unit for $400. The fire pits are extremely popular, he adds. There are affordable wood-burning and gas versions, portable and built-in. People can put these on their decks, sit by the pool, enjoy the sound of moving water and be comfortable. Ten years ago these things weren't even around, he says.
Charles E. Elfert, owner of Pleasure Pools in Metairie, La., began building pools in the 1970s. "When I started," he says, "pools were considered the domain of the rich and famous." Of course, that's not the case anymore. He adds: "I never thought I'd see people putting in pools that are as elaborate as they are today." It all goes back to that idea of the backyard as an entertainment area, Lauter says. People want these add-ons because they complete the package.
Luxury also applies to less-sexy pool and spa components when you figure in the indulgence of leisure time. As people's free time becomes more limited and therefore more valuable, high-end, high-tech cleaning and filtration systems are looking very attractive.
Elfert says he's seen a lot of changes in technology that make pools easier to operate and maintain than ever before. "Used to be, automatic pool cleaners were considered an option," he says, "and the big thing was putting in an automatic chlorinator. Automatic pool cleaners are not an option anymore; they are standard equipment." So, too, are salt chlorination systems and changeable lighting.
Johnson says it comes down to one thing: "How much is your time worth?" For people who consider their time valuable and want to spend more time enjoying their pool, a chlorine generator makes a lot of sense, he says. Sure, there's that initial up-front cost, but in the long run it is worth the money. The same goes for cartridge filters vs. sand filters, he says. "In the long run, the cartridge filter will be the better buy." Plus, he adds, people who put a cartridge filter on their pool can open that pool sooner.
That, of course, is a luxury in itself.
"You're going to swim in that pool the first 10 years," Johnson says. "Ten years later you don't want it to seem less attractive. So you make it attractive in the beginning. Then you're going to go out there in the morning and have your coffee. You'll go have a drink by the pool at night and listen to the water noise, and take the stress and strain out of your day."
People want the bells and whistles -- functional ones and those that simply look good. We kid ourselves about the importance of aesthetics, he says. "But those aesthetics,in the long run, are what will keep people in their pools."
Courtesy of ARA Content & Pool Spa News www.poolspanews.com