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Solar Heating Extends the Swimming Season in Santa Cruz County

The roof after Solar heating installation in Santa Cruz

Coil Swimming Pool Solar Heating System in place

All across Santa Cruz County many people are wishing they could still be enjoying their pools and hot tubs. At the same time, they really don’t want to have to pay to heat them all winter long.

Fortunately we have a lot of sunshine, even though we also get the coastal fog! We get enough sun, especially in the fall and spring to allow for solar heating systems to extend our water fun.

There are a lot of different types of solar heating systems available. Whether you are wanting something to heat a small hot tub or spa or a large family swimming pool will determine what is the best unit for your home or business.

Another factor to consider is just how warm you want the water to be, and how “hands off” you want your system to be. Believe it or not, you can actually have a solar heating system that can make your swimming pool TOO hot! It is important to know the size and capacity of the unit, the location of your solar panels (or coils as show in the photo of an install we did last year) and the amount of time you use your pool.

For some people a good cover may be enough. Other people will need to have a pretty sophisticated system that processes a lot of water.

We can help walk you through the options and determine which solar heating system is the best for your family pool, spa or hot tub.

OUCH! West Nile Virus Found in Santa Cruz County


West Nile has arrived according to county officials.

Don’t let your Santa Cruz swimming pool harbor the mosquitoes that carry the virus!

Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control collected a sampling of seven northern house mosquitoes at the lagoon July 12 with a dry-ice baited trap. The virus-positive results were reported by the Davis Arbovirus Research and Training Lab at UC Davis on Friday, and publicized Monday.

Warm weather has the virus infected mosquitoes appearing earlier than normal. Be aware, and take precautions. And be sure to keep your pool properly maintained.

Mosquitoes love stagnant water–not clean, circulating pool water. If you regularly use your pool, it is not going to harbor mosquitoes.

Be sure to empty any standing water that may be found near the pool, such as saucers under potted plants.

If you are not able to take care of your pool, give us a call and we can be sure that your pool is properly maintained and mosquito free so you can spend your time enjoying the water, not worrying about it.

Click here to read the original article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel by Jessica A York

For more information on West Nile virus, visit westnile.ca.gov.

Santa Cruz County Swimmer Sets Record

Chris Staka Aptos High Swimmer

We love swimming pools and the swimmers who use them, from little kids to retirees.

We are happy to share the news of one local swimmer, Chris Staka, a senior at Aptos High who has be recognized as one of the fastest swimmers in the country. Yep, that’s country with an ‘r’, as in the USA,, not just the count.

Aptos High's Chris Staka. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Longtime Aptos High swim coach Jim Triplett earlier this year called senior Chris Staka the fastest swimmer to come out of Santa Cruz County.

Well, this month, it was announced by the NISCA that Staka officially made the list of All-Americans, placing in the top 20 prep swimmers for both freestyle and backstroke.

Staka will be leaving our county in just a few weeks for his freshman year at Alabama.

After that? He does have his eye on competing in the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo. Right now, he is contemplating being part of the Croatian National Team. All of his grandparents were originally from Croatia.
Who knows what 4 more years might bring. Perhaps a spot on the US team. For now, congratulations on being one of the fastest in the water, here and across the country.


Thanks to Julie Jag and the Santa Cruz Sentinel for the original article on Staka’s accomplishment.

Photos courtesy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dan Coyro


Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks Fan of Red Wine Hot Tub Soak

Red Wine Ritual Hot Tub with Amar’e Stoudemire

In our tour of hot tubs filled with odd liquids around the world, this week we visit Aire Ancient Baths, in New York City.

At Aire you can get a variety of spa treatments and combinations. Yoga sessions, classical music (live, not piped in), 4 handed massages are just some of the options you have.

One that particularly caught our eye is the Red Wine Ritual, of course it is touted as providing lots of health benefits.

If you are a basketball fan, you may fine it interesting to note that Amar’e Stoudemire, 32-year-old power forward and center for the New York Knicks, enjoys a did. Apparently this is part of his off-day recovery routine. Hmmm. Recovery? Really?

According to Aire’s website, you will have a 30 minute soak in the bath with is a concentrate of tempranillo grapes from the Matarromera winery in Spain.

The red wine hot tub experience is reported good for the skin and provides antioxidants and hydration.

The harsh interview lighting didn’t do the spa justice–it made it look more like a back alley affair. Here is Aire’s official shot–check out those bubbles of red wine and the strategically placed beam of light.


This indulgent experience doesn’t stop there, it continues with a 90 minute exfoliating massage, a body wrap, and a 90 minute Thermal Session. During that time you sit in hot tubs at different temperatures, enjoy a steam room and a saltwater pool.

By the way, they mention you can sip tea during the session. No mention of drinking wine–from the hot tub or by the glass. Although their photo shows a bottle of wine and glass, poolside. With or without the drinkable wine, be prepared to pony up for this experience. The weekday rate is $564.

Want to read more fun filled hot tubs? Check out our posts on the Pork Ramen Pool and the Beer Filled Hot Tub.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal

Photo of Amar’e Stoudemire enjoying his soak courtesy of ESPN

Photo of Aire Red Wine Ritual from their website

Do you really want to soak in a hot tub filled with limp noodles?
Ramen Bath House

Don’t you just love relaxing in a hot tub? A good long soak, and you are feeling just like a limp noodle. But do you want to soak with them?

Well, in Japan you can soak in a hot tub that is designed to resemble a bowl of ramen. But the uniqueness of the soak is not just about the appearance of the hot tub…

The water does actually have pork broth (reportedly no chunks) and noodles in it.

Well, the broth is real, but the health department wouldn’t allow real noodles, so they are synthetic. Guess that’s good news…but it does make us wonder about the health department a bit that we are allowed to soak in pork juice.

According to the owners of the spa, the pork soak is good for your health. I don’t know…it just sounds like something the Big Bad Wolf would say to Little Red Riding Hood. Oh come on honey, just jump in and relax!

The broth contains large amounts of collagen, a protein high in amino acids, which are essential to healthy skin.

So, if you are interested in soaking in some extra collagen, head for Hakone, Japan, and find the Yunessun Spa House.

Recently we reported that you can soak in a hot tub filled with beer in Austria.

Perhaps we can come up with a list of odd ways to fill a hot tub and soak–a hot tub filled with fun tour around the world!

We certainly don’t recommend any of these ideas for your home hot tub or spa–save that for your next trip. And if you fun across a fun soak idea, let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Photo credit:  Facebook Fine Design of Cipop
We found this article on The Daily Meal (yep, for real!)

Soaking in Suds–Don’t Try This Beer Filled Hot Tub at Home!*

We prefer our hot tubs hot, with clean, clear water.

We prefer our beer, crisp and cold.

But that doesn’t suit everyone’s taste, apparently. Someone has decided it is a good idea to soak in a beer filled hot tub. Seriously!

The Starkenberg Brewery in Austria has a hot tub that is filled with beer, available for guests to soak in. And in theory at least, to drink. No thanks–at least to the drinking part.

So what’s the deal here? The “hot tub” is actually an old fermenting vat which they have converted to a bathing spot. Filled with warm, bitter, beer!

Rather than drink the stuff you are soaking in, you can instead order a pint and drink that while you soak. That sounds better than the alternative!

According to the spokesperson in the video you don’t want to shower after your plunge:

“It’s very good for your skin,” Andrea Stigger, a Starkenberger employee said. “You get fine, velvety skin. We recommend not showering afterward so it can soak in.”

Just don’t head back to the office afterwards!

*And please, don’t try filling your hot tub with beer–use water and the appropriate chemicals–and enjoy your beer from a glass, or stein!

Technology Advancements Featured in Latest Hot Tubs

Soquel Spa Equipment Repair

Soquel Spa Service

Here in Santa Cruz County we are fortunate that we don’t really have to worry about the extreme cold that many of our fellow hot tub enthusiasts must endure. So while in some climates people will drain their hot tub during the winter, unless you are leaving home for an extended period of time, that is probably not necessary here.

Still, spring is one of our favorite seasons for hot tubbing. Followed, in no particular order, by summer, fall, and winter!

Because we specialize in making your hot tub energy efficient which saves you money, you can enjoy your spa year-round without feeling any guilt at all.

“Hot tubs are a great way to escape in any season,” says Brent Macklin, Co-Founder of Arctic Spas. “Whether it’s your own backyard oasis for when family and friends visit, or a therapeutic retreat for you, hot tubs offer many benefits no matter when.”

Here are some of the hot tub industry trends for 2016:

Automation: from built-in chlorine generators to automated water testing and adding of chemicals the goal is to take the lighten the load of maintaining a spa so you have more time having fun. Automated equipment can save you money as well as time. Keeping your spa properly maintained means you use fewer chemicals in the long run. With smartphones and apps you can even check on your hot tub’s water quality when you are at work.

Energy Efficiency: this is something that we have long worked on and promoted, now the rest of the energy is catching on. Our customers want to keep their expenses down and are environmentally conscious. Fortunately we have spa equipment that is more and more efficient which saves you money. Now there are hot tubs that will actually calculate how much they cost to run! This feature allows you to more closely monitor and adjust your water temperature, notice if you are having heat loss that can be fixed with a new spa cover, etc.

Size Matters: although some things are getting smaller, more and more people are looking at larger hot tubs that will accommodate a sizable gathering of friends and family. Some people are even opting for “swim spas” which are larger than a conventional spa, but smaller and more affordable than a swimming pool.

Mood Lighting: with the advance in LED lighting technology, you can add a little color to your hot tub experience. LED lights can direct your guest to a built in drink holder, jet location, and can even change colors. No more messy candles–with a snap of your finger you can create just the right party atmosphere. A fancy name for this is “chromatherapy”…by changing the color of the lights you can enhance the relaxation and calming effects of the spa even more.


Aromatherapy: A new feature that you can add to your mood lighting is the sense of smell. If the smell you associate with a hot tub is chlorine then it is time to update! A properly adjusted pool should not have any offensive odor. Today it is possible to add specific scents to your therapeutic spa experience. Hmmm, lavendar or ylang-ylang, anyone?

One feature that will never go away:

Hydrotherapy has long been known as one of the major benefits to owning a spa or hot tub. Spas improve your circulation and healing while reducing muscle and joint pain.

Whether you are a trend setter or want a more traditional hot tub, we can get you set so you save money while achieving all the benefits of hydrotherapy in the comfort of your own backyard.

Original article courtesy of Arctic Spas as seen on Investor Ideas.

A Backyard Spa is Not Only Reserved for the Rich and Famous

The hot tub of today has evolved into more than a mere luxury item:

Winter hot tubbing photo by LArs Plougmann, on flickr

In days gone by, a hot tub was a luxury item. Like many things common in our lives today that is hard to believe.

The modern spa and hot tub is definitely a place for socialization, but also a component for health and wellness. Recognizing this, spa manufacturers offer hot tubs with a variety of features that are highly customizable.

If you are looking to purchase a new spa one of the first things you will want to consider is if you want the spa to be built-in, whether into a deck, part of a pool, or otherwise integrated into your landscaping. Or would you prefer a traditional stand-alone feature? There is no right answer, it depends on your preference, how you will use the hot tub, and your property.

Another consideration is the size of the unit. How will you use the spa? If you want it to be a socializing venue, then you might want one larger than if it is for one or two people to use for health benefits. Especially if you are looking to soothe specific aching spots, be sure that the location and height of the jets and the water depth will suit your needs.

There are a variety of brands available for your consideration. There are even some that allow for “smart” features such as starting your heater from a remote location, using your phone, so it is warm by the time you are ready for it.

Fortunately, there are hot tubs available to fit just about every yard and budget. Talk to us and we will help you determine the right one for your family. We can even provide refurbished models–often from someone who has decided to get a newer, more sophisticated model. Our refurbished spas and spa equipment can really help out those who are on a tighter budget.

We refurbished and installed this spa saving our happy customers money

We refurbished and installed this spa saving our happy customers money

One of the biggest health benefits for today’s spa owners is hydrotherapy. Because our bodies are buoyant, being in the water takes pressure off the joints. This not only aids in relaxation but it also helps with joint pain caused by injury and illness, such as arthritis.

Spa’s therapeutic benefits extend to our muscles as well. Whether you have been working hard, exercise a lot, or have muscle pain or even restless leg syndrome, a good soak can help relax your body so you heal faster and get a good night’s sleep.

Some of the biggest brand names in spas are Jacuzzi, Caldera, Sundance, and Cal-Spa. Frankly, there are so many brands out there that to list them all would be…well…boring. So if you have a particular brand in mind, or if you are not sure, give us a call and we can help you select the right brand for you: one that fits your needs and your budget.

We specialize in creating a hot tub that is energy efficient. We want your spa to be affordable so you use it. After all, if you don’t use it you don’t get the health benefits.

Of course, if you want, you can have a spa with all the bells and whistles that would still be appropriately featured on the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. You can have extra large hot tubs that hold 10 or more adults, gazebos, fountains, lighting displays, speakers–above ground and even underwater–just about anything that you want.

stolen hot tub image from MEN Media

This case gives new meaning to the term “portable hot tub”–one that won’t make owners happy. Above is a photo of the hot tub happily in place on the raised deck of an English couple.

The hot tub measures about 6 feet across and holds about 400 gallons of water. Keep in mind that a gallon of water weighs more than 8 pounds–so we’re talking about 1-1/2 TONS of the wet stuff.

Get this: there was no sign that the hot tub was tipped out before it was removed. No water in the garden. No plants suffering from drowning or chlorine. (Cue music from your favorite alien movie…)

On top of that, the owners were asleep in side, just feet away from their beloved hot tub.

Even though it was winter, the couple had been using it, checking on the temp nightly to be sure everything was okay and not at risk of burst pipes. Smart.

Oh…but they had a warm spell…and didn’t check on it for a few days.

Perhaps the hot tub got lonely and sent out an SOS? Or perhaps the thieves sensed their opportunity.

One of the owners joked: “It’s like aliens have come down from space and taken it!”

If you put aside the aliens theory and assume that humans actually stole the inflatable hot tub, the assumption is the thieves gradually drained the spa over those few days…and put the water…somewhere.

Even without the watery evidence, that makes sense. After all, who could life it full?

The owners are considering replacing their hot tub with one that is a little less portable.

Although the police are not confident they will be able to recover the stolen spa, they quipped

“hopefully we can make it too hot to handle, so the thieves can’t shift it.”

If you are considering adding a spa to your yard, give us a call and we can help determine the right style for your home. Keep in mind how much water weighs, how many people you will want to use the spa at the same time as well as your heating needs. Using soft sided portable hot tubs may seem like the inexpensive way to go, but as this example points out, sometimes a more permanent style will actually save you money and heartache.

The original article can be read here

Photo courtesy of MEN Media

Avoid Spa Dangers with this Safety Checklist

spa equipment maintenance safety tips

Your Spa is there to help you heal, relax and enjoy time with family and friends–but who wants to get into something that looks like the spa shown above?

However, more than just been unsightly, a spa or hot tub can also be dangerous if not properly maintained.

Important spa maintenance guidelines:

  • Clean your spa filter every 30 days and replace it every 8 months.
  • Change the water every 4 to 5 months
  • Clean the underside of your spa cover every time you change the water.
  • Be sure to balance your water chemistry once a week.

Surf City Pool Spa and Solar can answer your spa equipment maintenance questions, teach you how to do it yourself, or we can do it for you.

We welcome your questions–Every question is a good question when it comes to you and your family and friends health and safety.

Surf City Pool Spa and Solar owner, Michael Hall

Surf City Pool Spa and Solar owner, Michael Hall