Today's hot tubs offer more than just a place to relax. While spas are still ideal for hydrotherapy and melting away the day's stresses, they are also becoming increasingly popular places to entertain and exercise, thanks to some high-tech upgrades.
In addition to featuring a variety of jets designed to pinpoint the body's various muscles, some multifunctional spas also come equipped with entertainment extras ranging from LED lighting to bars, waterfalls, fireplaces, stereos and even retractable TVs. The latest swim spas offer fitness activities for the whole family.
"Homeowners today want a spa to add value and functionality to their home," says Shiva Noble, vice president of Cal Spas in Pomona, Calif. "They lead very busy lives, so they invest in a spa to help them relax and rejuvenate, reconnect with friends and loved ones and keep up with their fitness routine."
That's entertainment. With an entertainment spa, homeowners can enjoy movie night or watch the big game while basking in the comforts of a warm, invigorating bath. These top-of-the-line hot tubs combine a therapeutic spa with just about any entertainment feature you can imagine.
Cal Spas' Galaxy GX49 Entertainment Spa places luxury at your fingertips. A press of a button reveals an anti-fog, anti-glare 42-inch plasma TV that rises from within the spa's shell. The six-person hot tub with 49 jets includes a DVD, a CD player and an iPod docking station. LED-lit waterfalls, waterline and cabinet-bottom LED lighting and aromatherapy options add to the ambience. The suggested price is $32,727. Details: calspas.com.
Caldera Spas' new Aquatic Melodies Wireless Music System uses the iCast transmitter and receiver to allow spa-users to leave their iPods safe indoors while they enjoy music in their hot tubs outdoors, says Kacey Cosley, product manager of Caldera Spas in Vista, Calif.
The Advent remote control allows users to adjust iPod track and volume, as well as music, lighting, jets, water temperature, cleaning cycles and more from just about anywhere in their yard. The system's two weatherproof flip-up speakers can be installed in the up position to direct sound into the hot tub or in the down position to direct sound into the backyard for outdoor entertaining.
The system costs $1,599, which consists of an amplifier and power supply, two flip-up speakers, the iCast wireless transmitter and receiver, the Advent remote control, and all the components needed for installation.
To locate a dealer near you, go to calderaspas.com.
Vacation at home. Some spas allow homeowners to go on a "mini-vacation" without leaving home. Spa surrounds that wrap around the exterior of the hot tub and incorporate storage, benches, bars with seating, eating areas and exotic features such as fireplaces and waterfalls, help to create a backyard escape.
Cal Spas' Spa Wrap Oasis Series offers surrounds and wraps that represent favorite vacation destinations and come in various stucco colors, stone and tile options.
The SW500 provides an island feel with its tranquil waterfall that trickles behind the spa. It also features a place to eat and relax outside the water.
The SW100 mimics a ski lodge or mountain resort with its roaring fire that provides heat when the air is chilly, a side bar and refreshments area. Details: calspas.com.
Work it out. For the fitness-conscious homeowner, a swim spa can transform the backyard into a variable workout center. A variety of swim spa models offer separate areas for relaxing and exercising. Swim, walk, run, stretch, row, strength-train and get a water massage in one convenient location.
"People are seeing the benefits of working out in the water," says Derek Duke Noble, celebrity fitness trainer, author of The Body Noble and training developer for California-based Dimension One Spas' Aquatic Fitness Systems. "Water puts less stress on the joints, provides gentle resistance for toning muscles and burning fat, and it has healing properties."
While a swim spa can easily cost about as much as an in-ground swimming pool, Noble says, unlike pools, the spas are easy to install, take up little space and offer a full-body workout.
"Nine out of 10 people who try these spas buy them," Noble says. "Who wouldn't want an underwater gym in their backyard?"