You might say the definition of optimism is to build a pool in Minnesota. Jonathan Durant, retail sales manager for Performance Pools in Plymouth, has done a lot of business with optimists—and with the somewhat more practical purchasers of hot tubs and spas.
Performance Pools is Minnesota’s largest pool builder. Ninety percent of the residential pools the company builds are outdoors and in-ground, although they build a few indoor pools each year, Durant says. Indoor pools are high-end projects that usually involve construction of both the pool itself and an easily accessed, heated space surrounding it. Alternatively, Durant has seen clients enclose outdoor pools in custom, inflatable pool domes—often every few years. “These domes are just not very durable in Minnesota winters,” he says. “Often, after one good storm, they’re mangled. They also cost a lot to heat.”
For better or for worse, then, year-round outdoor pool use in chilly Minnesota, says Durant, is generally limited to spas and hot tubs. When asked the difference, Durant laughs: “The customer calls it a hot tub; companies sell us spas.” Performance Pools carries only units manufactured by Sundance Spas, a company in business since 1979 and favored with remarkable customer loyalty, Durant says. “We sell spas year-round,” he says, with installations peaking in the fall. “We do the majority of our spa business in the colder months.”
Plymouth residents Jill and Jason Druckman purchased their spa from Performance Pools in March. They have three children who especially love using the hot tub when it snows, Jill Druckman says, but Mom and Dad’s favorite time to use the spa is “when the kids are in bed. We have a pond in our backyard [where nature gathers],” she says. “It’s beautiful out there.”
The Druckmans bought the most popular size spa, a tub that seats five to six adults. Features customers often consider in the purchase of a hot tub are seating comfort, the number of jets and cost to run. Look for a hot tub with excellent ergonomic design, suggests Durant. “Make sure it passes the ‘sit in it’ test.” The number of jets in a hot tub is probably less important than most people think, he adds. More important is their strategic placement and the adjustability of their air and water flow. “What you want is the ability to create a custom experience in each seat,” Durant says. Energy conservation and cost to run are always important. Ask about heater efficiency and whether the spa can be constructed with an extra layer of insulation. Along with a good winter cover, says Durant, this can save the consumer 10–20 percent in heating costs.
Potential hot tub purchasers should also inquire about water filtration and sanitizing. Some filters can remove particles as small as one micron in diameter, but this exceeds industry standards. Water sanitizing options include chlorine, salt water and a new non-chlorine, non-bromine agent called Baquacil. Used at the proper level, it has no smell and no taste. Durant recommends letting your dealer know your individual and family needs and wishes for the best options in hot tub water quality.
Let’s say you’ve tried it out, like the Druckmans did in the empty showroom tub, and you’ve asked all the questions you had on your list. You know which hot tub you’d like to purchase, and you’ve budgeted for the $6,000–$12,000 it will set you back. What’s next?
“In the old days of hot tubs, with cedar siding that rotted and faded in the sun, we were more likely to do built-in projects,” Durant says. Now spa exteriors are maintenance–free and come in a variety of colors: “We are much more likely to simply install them on pavers or on/next to a previously constructed deck.”
Unlike an in-ground pool, in most circumstances a hot tub with a sturdy, lockable cover doesn’t need to be enclosed inside a fence. (A fence can add considerable expense to an already hefty $50,000–$55,000 for the construction of an in-ground pool.)
Optimists, on your mark. In the meantime, fire up that hot tub.
Performance Pools is a full-service company, including fencing and landscaping options —shrubs, rock gardens, retaining walls—for a spa or pool project.