• Purely Portable

    by Emily Fuger May 2004

    The dream of spending hot summer days lounging on a raft in a cool, pristine swimming pool beckons nearly everyone. Until recently, however, many average-income families had to put this dream on hold because they couldn't afford to install a swimming pool in their own backyard.

    In the late 1980s, affordable portable pools began to be manufactured in the United...

  • Some (Don't) Like It Hot

    by Barrett Kilmer May 2004

    It's a wonder saunas aren't more popular in the United States. They've been used in Finland for more than 2,000 years, caught on in much of the rest of Europe some time after the Middle Ages and have been found in North American hotels, health clubs and pool stores for about as long as hot tubs have. Still, many Americans view saunas as mere...

  • ABCs Of APCs

    by Kirstin Pires April 2004

    An automatic pool cleaner is an automatic pool cleaner, right. Right. Except when it's a loss leader that seals the deal on an above-ground package and also cleans the pool. Or when it's an appealing colorful critter that also happens to clean the pool. Or when it's a sleek, color-coordinated accessory to a high-end project that — you guessed it — also keeps...

  • Step This Way

    by Reid Creager March 2004

    The recreational dream on wheels lit up the showroom: a $50,000 minivan with enough seating to lose a basketball star and enough extra gizmos to keep everyone in the family happily occupied. The parents and their two kids eagerly climbed inside — only to find that the overhead TV had fuzzy reception and the upholstery was garish.

    No sale.

    When you're...

  • Toys For Everyone

    by Kirstin Pires March 2004

    In case you haven't noticed, toys are not just for kids these days. More and more, adults are spending money on fun — for themselves and for the whole family. Add to that an increased interest in fitness and exercise, plus the growing trend toward folks spending more time at home (and more money on their homes), and you get a pretty good environment for selling...

  • A Will, A Grill And A Way

    by Karen Erstad March 2004

    You're not going to find a backyard with a pool or spa without a grill," says Eric Roller, sales manager for Olympia Pools & Spas in Fort Wayne, Ind. This thinking has led many pool and spa dealers, including Olympia, to add grills to their product mix. "It's just a natural fit," adds Roller.

    But grills, like pools and spas, don't sell...

  • Above And Beyond

    by Scott Webb March 2004

    Homeowner once described his above-ground pool as a "great big water dish in the backyard," suitable for Clifford The Big Red Dog. It appeared to be little more than that — a simple vessel of clear liquid, adorned with just a tarp below the ladder for changing shoes.

    Not that his kids (and a good number that weren't his) didn't enjoy the pool on a...

  • Sound And Vision

    by Barrett Kilmer February 2004

    Back in the early 1970s, a wooden barrel filled with hot water comprised the entire hot tub experience. Hot tubbers, mostly Californians at first, just wanted a place to unwind and drink a little wine. Stereos and TVs? Those were in the house.

    But the idea of the hot tub lifestyle soon spread, and as it did new manufacturers cropped up, each looking to...

  • Pleat Smarts

    by Kirstin Pires February 2004

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Hot tubs have changed a lot over the last few decades. Simple, rustic, tubs have evolved into high-tech, multi-featured spas. Materials such as acrylic, Lucite and fiberglass have replaced redwood or cedar. Jets are fancier, more plentiful and more complex. Sanitization has evolved to include more ozone and UV and less...

  • Efficiency Equation

    by Karen Erstad February 2004

    Ask any pool owner if she'd like to spend less money operating her pool by installing a more efficient system, and the answer will be a resounding "yes." No one enjoys spending money unnecessarily on energy bills.

    Furthermore, an efficient system tends to be one that preserves pool equipment. "What's critical for builders is the longevity of their...