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Gina Galvin's Posts

10 Items that Every Hot Tub Owner Needs

April 16th, 2015 by

spa-accessory-umbrellaWhen I bought my first hot tub (not so long ago), I was expecting a complete package, but soon found out that I needed much more than just the tub itself! Sure, I got a starter chemical kit, but that was about it.

Over the next few months, I began to shop for the necessary hot tub accessories to be able to use my spa properly. Over the next few years, I acquired more toys, tools and conveniences.

Since I’ve come to Hot Tub Works, my employee discount has been put to good use, replacing many of the earlier spa products or add-ons that I bought.

Here’s my list of the 10 best spa products that every hot tub owner needs, or – if I were stranded on a desert island, with just my hot tub, these are the 10 things I would require. :-)

Hot Tub Covers

A spa cover is the first thing you buy, if it’s not included in the hot tub price, and if it is – it’s probably a piece of junk that won’t last but a few years. Operating without a hot tub cover is like having a refrigerator with no door on it, or a heated house with no roof! Absolutely necessary – and about every five years you’ll need to buy a new one. When your spa cover becomes broken, waterlogged or begins to sag into the spa, take a look at why we are America’s #1 choice for spa covers!

Hot Tub Cover Lifters

spa-cover-lifter

A lifter may be the second thing you buy. I thought I could get along without one, and did for several years. Then one night, my cover broke while we were moving it off the spa. We both blamed each other, but the reality is – it’s hard Not to break a spa cover, when you don’t use a cover lifter. I hear a lot of stories about people falling into the cover, or the wind picking it up and blowing it across the yard. A cover lifter prevents both of those from happening too!

Spa Steps

Definitely didn’t see this one coming, but of course you need a way to get in and out of the spa, without making a complete, and unladylike fool of yourself! My 6’2″ boyfriend can just lean on the side and spin himself into the spa, but not little ol’ me – I needed a step. Spa steps are available in colors to match your spa cabinet, and can be plastic or redwood. You could make your own steps, if you fancy yourself a woodworker. If you do that, you may as well create some under-step storage and add a pair of attached planters!

Spa Rail

spa-rail-for-hot-tubsAs a companion to a spa step, a spa rail slides under the spa and gives a safe hand hold for climbing in and out of the spa. Especially coming out of the spa, standing up suddenly can be dizzying, and with slippery wet surfaces, it’s easy to slip and fall when coming out of a hot tub. I put a spa rail on my spa just last year, more for our “older” hot tub friends – haha, not for me! It also makes a nice towel holder.

Spa Tables

For towels, drinks, snacks, keys or phones, etc…, a spa side table can be used for so many things. You can buy resin tables that install into the side panels of the cabinet, or use a freestanding type of Console table. I have several (three!) tables that were made from rough hewn wood, kind of shabby chic, surrounding my hot tub. One of them is completely filled with plants, on the sunny side of the spa. You don’t need 3, but some kind of table within arm’s reach is a nice touch.

Spa Pillows

universal-spa-pillow

Here’s another item that you would think came with the spa, but I had to pay like $99 extra for my first set of spa pillows. They don’t last as long as you thing, after about 5 years, the foam was all cracked and dried out. Spa pillows are more necessary than you may think, and not so optional; have you ever tried to find a comfortable position with your neck on the edge of spa? You can feel every vibration of the equipment, but not in a massaging the neck kind of way – more like teeth chattering!

Chemical Storage

As Carolyn pointed out in her recent blog post about spa chemical storage ideas, having a safe place to store spa chemicals is an important accessory. It should be lockable, to keep it out of reach of children, and for the longest shelf life, store chemicals indoors, with consistent humidity and temperature levels. I use a Rubbermaid type of container – not lockable, but then we rarely have kids in our house.

Cleaning Tools

flat-skimmer-net

There are a number of cleaning tools out there, but you don’t need most of them. What you really DO need, however – is a flat skimmer net, to fish out leaves or food, or anything floating on the water. And, you also need a Grit Getter or some type of vacuum to clean the floor and seats of the spa. Other than that, you don’t need any other specific cleaning tools, except maybe a bottle brush, which is good for cleaning out the spa jets when you drain the tub.

Baseball Caps

Keep some baseball caps or knit caps near the tub for women or men with long-er hair, to put their hair up. This keeps their gunky hair products out of the spa, and keeps that bromine smell out of their hair! On cold nights, use the knit caps to hold-in that head heat, and keep your guests hot!

Spa Thermometer

duck-thermometr

Your spa probably has a digital readout of the spa temperature, so why would you need another one? For one, to double-check that your temp sensor is right, and the spa is as warm as it says it is, and secondly because it’s fun! Everyone who gets in will have to check the thermometer, especially if you get one of our cute spa thermometers.

 

~~~So, that’s it, that’s my ‘desert island list’ of my favorite hot tub gear. Is there a spa accessory item I didn’t list that you can’t do without? For Carolyn, it’s her Towel Warmer (she made me put that in!).

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Spa Cover Inventors

March 17th, 2015 by

spa-cover-design-5745932The hot tub cover or spa top, is one of the most necessary accessory items for a spa or hot tub. But it wasn’t always so – in the early days, hot tubs were not kept hot all the time, but heated up as needed. Then, the energy crunch of ’73 hit, and inventors starting tinkering…

The early spa cover inventions were modeled after pool covers, but spa covers could offer more than pool covers; with insulation and hinged folding panels. Most early spa covers, in the 70′s were hand-made of plywood, but remember, portable spas as we know them today, hadn’t been invented yet!

Inventors rolled up their sleeves to design new spa covers that would save energy, and be easy to work with. Here’s a short collection, in chronological order, of some interesting patents for spa covers.

Spa cover US 4236259 A – Gary R. Wendt

spa-cover-us4236258

A rigid piece of insulative foam, fashioned with hinged cut out sections for users to enjoy a dip in the tub, without experiencing the unfortunate effects of heat loss.

Closed cell foam is soft to the touch, and has a moderate durability against spa chemicals. Easy to remove and store.

The underside of the flip over sections includes cup holders! Obviously, this design was way ahead of it’s time for 1980.

 

Convert Spa to Wading Pool US 5390377 A – Mark W. Blough

sheet-for-converting-hot-tub-to-wading-pool

Not really a spa cover, but this device has a curious use – lay it over the bench seats in your hot tub to decrease the depth of the tub to a fun baby pool!

This device was sketched in many shapes and sizes for the most common types of spa shells being produced at the time. Holes in the center allow for water to bubble up through the clear sheet, and hand holds near the edge allow for placement and removal.

The sheet is made of a Lexan or durable ABS plastic for years of use with minimal care!

 

Hot tub cover US 4246663 A – Anthony J. Aragona

anthony-argona-spa-topI love this one! A spherical dome structure, looks so steampunk!

“A generally hemispherical dome designed to cover a hot tub comprised of two nested spherical shells, which pivot on a a vertical pin running through the superimposed apexes of the two shells. A deck surrounding the perimeter of the hot tub provides basal support to the shells as well as a bearing surface for roller wheels attached along the base of the smaller shell.”

The larger shell is fixed to the deck and the smaller shell is rotated about the pin member through a range of superajacent positions relative to the fixed shell.

 

Thermal Spa Cover US 4270232 A – Ray D. Ballew

thermal-spa-cover

A thermally effective cover designed to entrap and magnify atmospheric heat and pass the same into the water and retain it – the first spa solar cover?

Originally designed for pools in 1979 to be the first type of interlocking, floating solar panels, they also found a use for spas by creating a heat trapping dome over a hot tub or spa, of the right size.

Designs show this floating spa cover (buoyant) being manufactured in different shapes and sizes, 3-corner, 4-corner and 6-corner sections can be used to keep your spa clean and retain heat.

 

Tub cover US 4234973 A – Craig A. Vetter

wood-spa-cover

You may have seen this one before, a roll up spa cover made of wooden slats – popularized by California Cooperage, who had an exclusive on the design, for a short time.

“This cover for a hot tub has wooden or other rigid ribs secured to a flexible, resilient foamed plastic sheet. One rib is secured at an edge of the tub to anchor the cover. The cover can be rolled between an extended position overlying the tub and a rolled retracted position adjacent the tub. A pair of brackets secured to the tub each have a depression in the top surface in which the retracted rolled cover rests.”
If you have a wooden hot tub, this looks pretty smart, but it’s not a very insulative spa cover.  Use it with a floating foam spa blanket for help keep more heat in the tub.

 

Spa or hot tub cover US 4422192 A – Terry Jacobs

spa-cover-patentThis design is closest to the spa and hot tub covers that we know today, an insulative cover made from two closed cell foam panels, hinged with a center channel, and covered in waterproof material.

“An insulative hot tub or spa cover appearing in two symmetrical halves, each half comprising an inner foam core capped on a peripheral edge by a C-shaped channel and covered on an upper and lower surface by a softer upholstery foam then entirely enveloped by a heat sealed vapor barrier and ultimately with a vinyl outer cover riveted to the channel by a trim strip. The entire spa cover being designed to come in sealed registry and rest upon the rim of a hot tub, spa or the like.”

Pretty inventive stuff for 1982! Terry Jacobs spa or hot tub cover design has been scarcely improved upon in over 30 years. At Hot Tub Works, we have only improved the design with modern materials and a computer controlled manufacturing process to ensure a consistent product.

 

We salute all of those brave pioneers who invented and reinvented spa and hot tub covers. Spa covers have come a long way – in over 40 years we’ve seen quite a few designs come and go, thanks to tireless efforts from entrepreneurial inventors.

We are proud to be America’s #1 choice for spa and hot tub covers! Take a look at our affordable and well made spa covers from Hot Tub Works!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin

 

How to Buy a Hot Tub

March 5th, 2015 by

spa-cover-careThinking about buying a hot tub? You’ve come to the right place honey, I’ve purchased a few hot tubs in my day, but helped more people buy theirs. For many years I was a Top-Selling Spa Salesperson. That’s right, two-time Salesperson of the Year, as a matter of fact.

Since my spa store days, I have helped lots of friends and family members become spa owners, by assisting them with a purchase, guiding them through models, the value of features, and helping to select a local dealer, buy through Costco, or buy a hot tub online.

Today’s post is a Buyer’s Guide for Hot Tubs, but not in the normal sense of “here’s all the spas we sell, aren’t they pretty“, but rather a checklist of items to consider before purchase. So relax, friend – I’m going to help you determine how to buy a hot tub – and not get soaked!

WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?

Hot Tub prices are all over the place, from $2500 to $7500, or more. The lower end tubs have smaller pumps, fewer jets and no bells and whistles. On the opposite end are full featured spas with over 100 jets, super-sized pumps and heater, 10 points of lights, water features, sound system, you name it.

The neck jets and mood lighting are very nice features that I enjoy on my current spa, but I don’t think you need a built-in sound system, but that’s just me. Consider size too, if it’s only going to be 1-2 people 90% of the time, look for a smaller tub, which will be cheaper to operate and easier to care for.

Don’t forget about the “extras” of buying a hot tub. Some spas will include a locking spa cover, and others may not. Spa steps or hand rails for safe entry and exit and normally are not included. Spa chemicals and cleaning tools. Finally, there is delivery and set-up, and – most spas will need a dedicated electrical service. Count on about $400 for an electrician to wire it up.

Where will you Put it?

A very good question. Spas, when full of water weigh thousands of pounds! The spa has to sit on a solid concrete foundation or slab, you can’t put it on a wood deck, or on a balcony. If you plan to put it indoors, you need to consider splash-out and humidity. If outdoors, consider some protection from the sun and rain. No matter where you plan to put it, measure the gates and doors, to be sure you can get it there!

Any location should be fairly close to the home breaker panel, where the power to operate the spa will come from (only very small spas can be plugged into a 115V outlet). And you’ll also need access to a water spigot and hose, to add fill water to the spa.

Finally, consider safety whether installed indoors or outdoors, the spa should be enclosed by a sturdy fence or locked doors, in addition to a locking spa cover.

WHAT FEATURES DO YOU WANT?

A spa or hot tub, like a car, has some standard options – these include a pump, heater, underwater light and a spa-side control panel. Options are plentiful; here’s a list of some popular upgrades that you can add to your spa purchase.

  • More pump horsepower, up to 5 hpchecklist---
  • Two pumps – circulation and jet pump
  • High capacity heater – 5.5 kw or 11 kw
  • Air blowers – to add bubbles!
  • 18 points of light, inside, outside, etc
  • Water Features – neck rollover jets, laminar jets
  • Ozone or UV purification systems
  • Audio or Video systems
  • Upgraded insulation, for cold areas

Where to buy a hot tub?

There are several places to buy a hot tub – online, local spa retailer, big box retailer, carnivals or fairs. The last one, carnivals and fairs – should not be the place to buy a spa, but it could be a good place to test out a spa, yeah right.

Online: Prices online can save you a lot of money on a new spa. Savings of up to $2000, over buying locally, but – you have to expect limited service, and delivery to your driveway by a burly and surly trucker. Empty spas can weigh 500-900 lbs, and can be very unwieldy to move from the driveway into position. But, if you have some large furniture moving equipment and several burly friends to help you move it. If you buy a hot tub online from a well known website (like HotTubWorks.com), you can be confident that there is some technical support and help by phone and email, if you need.

Spa Store: If you want as little risk as possible, and don’t mind spending a premium to have all the details taken care of, visit your local spa store – one that’s been a business for many years. Having a hot tub installed by professionals is really the way to go, if you can swing the added cost. You also will have the advantage of an easy warranty service or repair, if that becomes necessary. And because you spent 8-10 grand, you become something of a VIP client, for awhile anyway.

Costco: Prices at Costco are another way to save a few thousand dollars, and they have an installation service available, in addition to regular driveway delivery. The models at Costco are usually major brand with Balboa components, but double check to be sure you aren’t buying a ‘no-name’ spa pak or knock-off brand. There’s not much service after the sale from the big box stores, they don’t have any spa experts that you can call, although if there is a warranty issue, the local rep can usually be called in to assist.

Buy Name Brand Spas

Be sure to buy a Name Brand spa and spa pack, and not something imported, or built in a garage. The reason is, you want tested equipment and components, not imitation generics that are not made to the same standards. You also want a network of service centers, and parts availability for future repairs.

Do some online searching of the spa make and model and the spa pack (pump/filter/heater/controls), to be sure it’s made by a respected brand that has been around for some time.

Oh – and don’t buy a used spa, the useful life is probably near the end, so even a good deal won’t seem so good if you are plagued with problems. Most used tubs have been neglected and abused by the time they are sold as “slightly used”.

 

i-love-my-hot-tub

 ~~~ That’s all Folks! I hope your spa buying experience is a good one – and that I taught you at least one thing about how to buy a hot tub. If you have specific questions, leave a comment below, or send an email to us!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Scents & Hot Tub Aromatherapy

February 9th, 2015 by

candle-spaWith Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought we could talk about some ways to make your Spa and Hot Tub a little more Romantic!

To create a romantic ambiance around your spa or hot tub, you need soft lighting, soft music, and soft spa scents. For lighting, I recommend tea candles in small votives, nestled safely on one side of the spa. For music, well, whatever floats your boat, but for spa scents, also known as spa fragrances or spa aromatherapy, just shake or pour in a capful and it’s like “Calgon – take me away!”

The nose knows, you know – it’s very sensitive and connected to our sense of well being. Using spa scents helps you to enjoy your spa or hot tub more. Spa scents will instantly trigger certain parts of the brain to relax your body, while invigorating your senses.

It just so happens that our romantic marketing team have put our most romantic scents on sale, like our Mood Crystals Romance and Mood Crystals Passion, both expertly crafted by Spazazz. The label states “CAUTION: THIS AROMA IS SO ALLURING IT SHOULD CARRY A WARNING LABEL.” :-)

spazazz-romance-spa-crystalsStrawberries and Champagne
Set “The Mood”… with ROMANCE

Immerse into a romantic fantasy of luscious strawberries drenched in tingly champagne as the bubbles transcend ecstasy straight to the head. Become dizzy with desire. (straight off the label!) Just shake in a capful of these crystals just before you get in, and your spa instantly freshens up, and smells of sweet strawberry pie. The effervescent spa crystals give off champagne-like bubbles.

On sale now for just $9.74

 

 

passion-spa-crystalsSex on the Beach
Set “The Mood”… with PASSION

Immerse yourself in a passionate fantasy with this sexy peach schnapps and exotic nectar blend. Hot water and crystals are intertwined to ignite your passion.

This spa scent smells like the drink Sex on the Beach, with a sweet smell of peaches and citrus. A little sweet and a little sour, it may take over your senses!

On sale now for just $9.44

 

 

vanilla-musk-spa-scentWhite Musk Vanilla Jasmine

Set “The Mood”… with WHITE MUSK

Indulge yourself with this enlivening blend of sensual aromas with therapeutic benefits and moisturizing botanicals. Spazazz aroma therapy crystals set the mood, arouse emotion, and relax your state of mind. Feel the calm and natural release of aches and pains. Free the spirit with passion and emotion, as tension and stress melt away. 12 oz bottle is good for dozens of treatments.

On sale now for just $8.24

 

 

sensual-river-and-tiger-balmTiger Balm

Set “The Mood”… with TIGER BALM & SENSUAL RIVER

All-Natural fragrances are formulated especially to relax and pamper you after a long day. Soothe your senses, relax your muscles with the exhilarating scents of these amazing fragrances; which stimulate the senses. Tiger Balm helps with muscular aches, sprains, and helps boost circulation, if you know what I mean. Sensual River is inspiring, helps attract and retain moisture, if you know what I mean! These are high tech aphrodisiacs, use with care!

On Sale now for just $16.12 & $16.49

 

So remember, if you want to set a mood in your spa or hot tub, for Valentine’s Day, or any old day – here’s how to make your spa or hot tub – a little more Romantic, if you know what  I mean!

  • Soft lighting, candles or light dimmervalentines-scents
  • Soft music, Sade or Barry White, lol
  • Hot chocolate or other warm drink
  • Soft and sensual spa scents
  • Flower Petals
  • Your Valentine

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

When Hot Tubs lose Power – Strange but True Stories

January 29th, 2015 by

Around hereoutdoor-spa-full-of-snow-2, at Hot Tub Works, we get nearly 1000 phone calls per day. Most are sales calls to order spa covers or chemicals, but a good percentage of calls are spa tech support calls. It’s enough to keep several spa techs busy on the phones all day, so I guess it’s about 15% of our call volume.

I was talking to Drake at our holiday party recently, and it was a cold night – so cold that I made a comment about “…a lot of spas freezing up tonight”. He told me some funny stories that he had experienced over the phone with customers or had heard about.

IF YOU LOSE POWER - Strange but True Stories

  1. Do not drain the spa! Most winter power outages are resolved quickly, and most spas with any sort of insulation, and a good spa cover, can hold heat for at least 24 hours. If your spa was 90° when the power went off, it can take a long time for temperatures in the pipes and equipment to cool to near freezing, especially in a spa with a tight cabinet and good insulation.
  2. Do not put flames under the spa! Small fires (true story), or a kerosene heater, or any gas heater placed under the spa can cause a big problem with soot, carbon monoxide and melted spa parts. Keep the cover closed, and lay heavy woolen blankets over top if needed to help old spa covers.
  3. Do not pour antifreeze into the spa. Some of you are laughing, but another true story. “I don’t care if the label says non-toxic antifreeze for pools”, it’s not safe to pour into the spa, plus it wouldn’t work unless you poured in an amount equal to at least 10% of your spa water volume.
  4. Do not stuff blankets or comforters underneath the spa. When the equipment starts up, the pump and heater need the air spaces to keep themselves cool. Besides, who would want to use that blanket again? Not me!

WHAT YOU CAN DO - in an Extended Power Outage

  1. Cover the spa cover with heavy woolen blankets and plastic tarp, wrapped tightly around the edge. This can help hold heat in, especially with older covers or spa covers that don’t fit tightly, or seal up all heat loss.
  2. Check the water temperature with a floating thermometer that you can quickly access via a smartphone app, or by quickly lifting the cover just slightly. The water temperature in the pipes will have to reach a few degrees below 32° for several hours before they expand enough to cause damage. At 32°, most water will just turn slushy and not freeze hard.
  3. Add hot water to the spa. Drain half the water, and refill with hot water from a garden hose connected to a spigot in the kitchen or laundry room. You can find an adapter from kitchen sink threads to garden hose threads at most hardware stores and  home stores.
  4. Use Hot Stones, warmed for 30 minutes in a fireplace or wood burning stove. Put them in a large iron skillet and place them under the spa cabinet. 8-10 large stones can be enough to warm the cabinet spaces for the overnight.

bio-film-hot-tubsOf course, you can drain the spa, as a last resort. It may be the best option for a home that is unoccupied during winter, with no one available to maintain the spa. However, if you plan to drain the spa for longer than a day or two, follow these tips on winterizing a spa – not only to protect the spa from freezing water, but from pockets of water and moisture that can grow into a nasty biofilm.

The best thing to do during a power outage, is the same thing that you do with the refrigerator – keep the door closed, and call to let your power company know that you are without power. If it drags on for days, such as after ice storms, keep adding hot water to the spa, or bite the bullet and drain it completely, especially if you are due for a water change anyway.

 

XOXO;
Gina Galvin

 

12 Inground Spas and Hot Tubs that I Love

January 19th, 2015 by

We spend a lot of time around here talking about portable, above-ground spas and hot tubs, blah-blah-blah. Although there are conveniences related to aboveground spas, there is nothing like stepping down into the warm water of an inground spa.

I have plans for my own inground spa one day, I have the perfect garden setting picked out. Or, I may build it indoors, when I bump-out the master bedroom to put in my dream master bath!

While I’m dreaming of inground spas, and filling up a Pinterest board with design ideas, I thought I would share some of my ideas with you. Not my ideas actually, but here are some pictures of some inground spas that I love, love, love!

1. Inground Spa with sheer waterfall features in a cool master bath design; with a sun glow day lamp, and backlit glass blocks.

inground-hot-tubs-1

2. Inground acrylic hot tub, set into a wood deck, surrounded in wood coping.

inground-hot-tub-wood

3. Ooh la la, an inground acrylic spa with slide away floor, (roll up carpet) revealing a secret spa!

inground-hot-tubs-11

4. Indoor inground spa on a raised platform, allows for easier spa pack equipment access, from outside.

inground-hot-tubs-10

5. Tiled outdoor inground spa with remote filter and heater. Beautiful stone decking and rocks.

inground-hot-tubs-9

6. Outdoor inground fiberglass hot tub, surrounded in stone, displaying a Hot Tub Works spa cover!

inground-hot-tubs-8

7. Inground plaster and tile spa with 28 spa jets. Steps and seats done in bullnose brick, painted and washed.

inground-hot-tubs-7

8. Kidney shaped inground fiberglass spa, with stacked rock waterfall. Equipment hides under wood panel.

inground-hot-tubs-6

9. Multi-person inground spa with cascading waterfall and elaborate marble and stone decking. Palm tree!

inground-hot-tubs-5

10. Inground 10-person spa in concrete and plaster, with automatic pool cover. And a rhinoceros!

inground-hot-tubs-4

11. Inground fiberglass spa or plunge pool, wrapped in stone and tile. Uses a custom spa cover to retain heat.

inground-hot-tubs-3

12. Florida room with a semi-inground acrylic hot tub set into a concrete surround, spa pack behind wall fountain.

inground-hot-tubs-2

How Much do Inground Spas Cost?

It depends on how elaborate your design is, but in most cases, an inground spa will be more than an aboveground spa, which cost in the $5-10,000 range. Inground spas are cheaper when you use a pre-fab drop-in spa shell, of fiberglass or acrylic, and a spa pack. Concrete spas set in the ground require more work to build, from various tradesmen, which can push the cost to $20,000, or more. So then, we can ‘safely’ say that inground spas are about twice as expensive as aboveground spas, especially if you add-on water features and expensive and extensive decking around the spa.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Baja Spas

December 18th, 2014 by

baja-spas-early-logoA booth at the 1971 NSPI show and the opening of the Dallas-Forth Worth Airport led to the creation of the world’s first acrylic spa.

Baja Spas, based in Tucson, Arizona, founded by Bernie Burba and Ed Price, began as pool builders in Naperville, Illinois, in 1960. Ed Price founded West Suburban Pools, a high-end concrete swimming pool builder, and Burba joined him in 1962.

When the pool builders finally had money in the bank, they expanded into other areas. In 1965 they formed Aqua-Gon, one of the nation’s first pool product distributors, then they opened several pool stores in the area.

In 1971, Baja began producing fiberglass and acrylic diving board stands. They were the first to use these two materials together in the pool business, and patented the process of vacuum forming fiberglass and acrylic. Burba and Price chose the name Baja because it was short and didn’t pigeon hole them into one product line. Also, it was one of their favorite areas to visit in Mexico.

Sales of diving boards jumped, and by 1972, Burba and Price sold their business ventures in Illinois. Burba moved to Tucson to dive into the diving board business. The same year they were joined by Randy Price, currently the President of Baja Spas.

The 1971 NSPI Show

Life changed forever after the 1971 NSPI annual show. Baja Products, displaying its diving boards, found itself next to a booth held by Riviera Spas. Few people stopped by to look at the new diving board design, but the Riviera Spa booth was packed. The two realized that spas represented a timely business venture.

They researched spas and discovered weaknesses in current design and manufacturing of spas and hot tubs. At the time, spas were made of fiberglass covered by gelcoat, similar to boats and pool slides. However, gelcoated fiberglass couldn’t stand the intense heat of spa water, the chemicals used for sanitation and water balance, or bright sunlight. “The gelcoat caused a lot of problems,” Randy Price says. Blistering and cracking were the main problems, in addition to delamination of the two materials, and fading from UV rays.

An Acrylic Spa is Born

Baja however, was already manufacturing an acrylic-fiberglass stand for its aluminum diving boards. “We believed in our acrylic. So we decided to manufacture a spa made of acrylic. Our competitors said it wouldn’t work,” Ed Price says.

baja-spas-logo

The company could not find a sheet of acrylic big enough for a spa. “Manufacturers at the time just weren’t making sheets that size,” sighs Burba. “Finally, we found the only one in the world” that could help them. It was Swedcast Acrylics (now Aristech) in California.  Swedcast had large sheets of acrylic on hand because it was making sheets for the monorail cars at the new Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Swedcast sold Baja some of these same acrylic sheets, large enough (9′ square), to produce a vacuum formed spa shell.

Baja manufactured it first spas with three employees, and tested them by setting up a few spas in the intense Arizona sun. They also shipped their new acrylic spas to Illinois to test it out in a winter climate. “Those spas today still look like new,” Burba says proudly.

Selling Acrylic Spas

One of their first customers was Phil Horvath, president of Aqua-Gon, the distributor that Burba and Price had founded. Horvath says when he saw Baja’s first spa, it took his breath away. “It was gorgeous” he says. But it took some convincing to sell people on the idea of an acrylic spa.

Horvath held seminars for potential customers to sample the new acrylic spa. “We told them the acrylic was indestructible. We wanted to show them how strong the material was, so we hit it with a 2 x 4. It worked!” Horvath recalls.

Expansion in the 80′s

In 1981, Randy Price opened a new production plant in North Carolina for the company. “We can reach 70 percent of the U.S. population in a few days by truck from that location,” says Price. In 2005 they stopped manufacturing in Tucson, AZ but kept their corporate office and service department. Even now, they continue to ship from both locations keeping transit time for their hot tubs to a minimum. Sales are worldwide.baja-luv-tub

Baja is perhaps best known for a specialty item, a heart shaped spa called the Luv Tub. The company decided to develop this tub in 1974 after Ed Price was looking through a brochure for the Mt. Airy Lodge, a honeymoon resort in the Poconos. One of the suites had a heart shaped red bathtub made of concrete and tile. “Ed Price looked at the photo and said, ‘We can make that in acrylic,’” recalls Bernie. Soon after, the Luv Tub was in production.

After some of their spas were in place for 10 years now, some of the same trouble of blistering and delamination that had plagued fiberglass spas, now began to appear in the acrylic spa shells. Working with the boating industry, a solution was soon found by switching from polyester resins to ester resins. No more gas blisters!

Award Winners

Randy Price and Bernie Burba have received two prestigious awards in the spa industry. In 1992, Randy was honored with the John Silver Award recognizing his technical contribution to the industry in the development of vacuum formed spas. In 1987, Bernie was given the Eagle Award by the Spa and Tub Council of NSPI (now APSP) for his contribution and leadership in the industry.

Today and Tomorrow

Bernie Burba and Ed Price are now retired, but Baja Spas continues operations and a legacy of innovation. Credited with the first acrylic spas in production, they were ahead of their time (by about 10 years), and way ahead of competitors like Cal Spas and other copycat manufacturers. The cost of vacuum forming equipment, and a lack of knowledge, gave many trouble migrating to acrylic production.

Baja Spas continues to lead the field, not only with quality products, but with solid, feel good marketing. At Hot Tub Works, we wish them well in their bright future!

baja-spas-logos

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Len Gordon

November 17th, 2014 by

Our story begins here in southern California, in the late 60′s. Pool builders like Len Gordon (1925-1997) were adding attached spas to the gunite pools they were building.

spa-shell-patent-application-US-4142337-A--Interested in how he could simplify spa construction, and avoid the structural problems of adding a separate body of water – he and fellow builder Jack Stangle dreamed up drop-in fiberglass spa shells, similar to the hydrotherapy tanks that Jacuzzi was making.

Len Gordon saw potential in the inground spa market, and set up a manufacturing facility in a rented gas station; soon making several spa shells per day.

Len Gordon’s Fiberglass Spa Shells

The innovation and mass production of a drop-in fiberglass spa shell is often credited to Len Gordon Co., and soon after many other small manufacturers joined in, revolutionizing (or creating) the market for inground hot tubs. As Len told Spa and Sauna magazine in 1986, “The fiberglass shell was a contractor’s dream, all you had to do was dig a hole in the ground and you were just about finished. It cut the costs dramatically over gunite.”

Suddenly, an inground spa was within reach of nearly everyone, being that it was now much cheaper to buy and much simpler to install. Not too many years later, innovative manufacturers like Jacuzzi and Watkins began to create complete aboveground spas, which didn’t require digging a hole in the ground, or hiring lots of contractors.

Len Gordon’s Air Switches

I’m not old enough to remember, but in days gone by, the spa equipment was separate from the hot tub, and you had to climb out of the warm water to activate functions like jets, lights, heater, blower. There was no safe way to control this with electrical switches that were activated from inside the spa.

len-gordon-spa-controlUntil one day in 1974, while driving his truck to a job site; Len Gordon came up with the idea of an air switch, which could be operated from inside the tub. From a Len Gordon patent application:

“These air switches incorporate bellows which are compressed when the switch button is depressed thereby forcing air through a pneumatic tube to activate an electrical switch”

Len Gordon’s Legacy

Len Gordon company received other patents, one for an insulated high voltage switch which could be safely used from inside the spa, and in 1983 a top side control panel that integrated many air controls onto a single panel. The Len Gordon company discontinued spa manufacturing by 1980 and focused on their core products of spa switches and controls. They continued to operate for over 25 years, until Len’s passing in 1997.

len-gordon-ss2After Len’s death, the business carried on, buying a manufacturer of spa packs and controls, Brett Aqualine, in 1998. The Len Gordon company was sold by Len’s descendants in 2001 to Allied Innovations, where the business has carried on to this day.

One of the great “Hot Tub Pioneers”, Len Gordon was also a great guy to know or do business with – and is remembered fondly here in southern California, by many of the founders and friends of Hot Tub Works.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Before Massage – or After?

October 20th, 2014 by

eskaya-beach-resort-spaIf you’re like me, you enjoy a good, professional massage. Preferably outdoors on a warm beach, beneath a shaded canopy. If that’s not possible, a local massage practitioner is the next best thing. Even better, some masseuses travel with a folding massage table and still make house calls!

Perhaps you’ve just booked your spa at a fancy spa resort, and well, of course they have a large, bubbling hot spa! So now you wonder, what’s better – a hot tub soak before getting a massage? Or enjoying the hot tub or spa after the massage?

Soaking for 15 minutes in hot water, at 100-105° F, relaxes the muscles, drawing out lactic acid. This loosens tight areas, deep in muscles and connective tissue surrounding joints. It reduces inflammation of joints, reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen flow to painful areas.

So, the answer to the question – “Hot Tub Before Massage?” is a resounding “Yes!” – you should slip into the hot water before your massage, whether your massage is local, or if you are at a spa resort. Just 15 minutes in a hot tub, right before your massage appointment, will make your massage more enjoyable and effective, and easier for your therapist.

patient_getting_massage_6895If you are at a fancy spa, don’t show up to your massage appointment dripping wet. Dry off beforehand, perhaps taking a cool shower rinse, to close up skin pores (you don’t want to absorb too much massage oil!). Your muscles will retain the heat from the spa for up to an hour.

After your massage, if you want to return to the spa for 15 mins – take a soapy shower to remove any massage oils (your spa operator will appreciate this), and another soak in the tub will do aching muscles and joints good, and give your pores another tall drink of water.

Be sure to drink lots of water after your massage, and also with each hot tub soak – both massage and hot tubbing use a lot of your body’s water, so replenish with water – or cucumber-melon infused water, if you’re at a fancy spa! If you’re at home, you could enjoy massage while in the hot tub, with these hot tub massage tips.

Either way ~ I’m so jealous!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Tips for Relaxation in a Spa or Hot Tub

October 1st, 2014 by

spa-readyA spa or hot tub is a great place to relax – if you can get it all to yourself, with a little peace and quiet, and privacy.

But even when it is – public and loud – you can still not only enjoy the soothing effect of the hot water, but take away a feeling of peacefulness – otherwise known as relaxation.

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Tranquility in your spa or hot tub!

 

Meditate!

hot-tub-yoga-sm

My number one way to relax in the hot tub is to meditate. I wrote an entire post on hot tub meditation, so I guess I’m something of an expert – not! Meditation is a practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You can meditate on a specific water location, or just focus on your breathing and sweeping your thoughts away. Music, a part of everyone’s list of relaxation tips, can also be used to help you ease into a meditative state more easily. Choose soft music, without lyrics, and keep the volume level low, sort of as background tones.

Decorate!

If you are lucky, you have a spa with a beautiful view, overlooking a valley or the ocean. If not, then decorate your space to provide something pleasant to look at, while at the same time adding privacy. Hedges or Trellis ivy provides both privacy and a softer view. Many people have their spa on the back porch or patio. Surround two sides with some tall plants, and maybe a large lithograph for the wall. An overhead fan is nice if your spa is in a covered area. And plants, lots of plants!

Smile!

smile-to-relax

It’s hard not to relax when your smiling. I know for me, I can improve my mood just by forcing myself to smile, or enjoy myself more. I’m not talking about a big Joker grin while you’re in the spa, just a subtle, soft upturn. Try it now, right now! I promise you you’ll feel better. And it’s the same for your hot tub, or traffic, or writing blog posts…everything’s better with a smile!

Breathe!

Deep breathing is another quick way to calm the body down, whether for meditation, sleep or relaxation. For me, after the spine tingling rush of getting in the hot tub is over, I take several deep breaths into my stomach. Then I take several full Yogi breaths, expanding my rib cage sideways, and filling my upper chest with air. Breathing is important for any activity – obviously, but for the most complete spa or hot tub relaxation, don’t forget to breathe!

Get Comfy!

spa-booster-seatSome spas have molded seats and pillows, and if there’s no one else in the spa, I can usually find one that’s just right for me – not too big and not too small. But, that’s not always the case. If your spa or hot tub seats are less than comfortable, do something about it! We have a padded spa booster seat and spa pillows that you can use – much better than trying to use a towel!

 

Enjoy your spa or hot tub!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works