Waterfront: March 2004

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Dreams Of Home

Idea homes showcase portable spa.

It's well known on Madison Avenue that person-to-person contact is the most effective way to deliver advertising messages. Aware of this fact, Marquis Spas president Jerry Lankheet has figured out a way to bring tens of thousands of receptive potential buyers face-toface with his company's portable spas.

"It started with Sunset, which had always been one of our mainstay magazines," says Lankheet. "Because we were an advertiser, they came to us with their Idea Home program." That was about five years ago. This year, Marquis spas were featured in dream homes created by five different shelter magazines. "After doing it for two or three years with Sunset and learning of the value it had, we started talking with some of the other magazines," says Lankheet.

Those other magazines — Southern Living, Coastal Living, Midwest Living and Cooking Light — each do one or more Idea Homes each year. "They build a house, and everything in the house features products that their advertisers offer their readers," says Lankheet. "Their homes are completely finished, they're landscaped and furnished, and then they open the home for anywhere from 30 to 90 days."

The professionally decorated dwellings are the perfect foil for showing off the category of portable spas to its best advantage. "I'm not sure a lot of people will admit it, but there's a perception out there, especially in the higher demographics, that a portable spa is not something they'd want," says Lankheet. But as an integral part of an upscale home, the spa can show off. "They can really address the issue that these products are viable when they're being specified by the designers that create these homes," he says.

In addition to the estimated 75,000 people who actually view the homes, each magazine also presents a feature on its Idea Home, complete with vendor information. "And that's in people's hands for at least one month," notes Lankheet. When you consider that the combined circulation of the five magazines is 6.8 million, it's no surprise that the program has been successful.

But the brand isn't the only beneficiary of the program. Marquis dealers share the spotlight, too. "Specifically for the Marquis dealer, there's value for the brand; Marquis must be a good product if all these designers are specing our hot tubs," says Lankheet.

"And it give us the local interest because the homes are in markets where we have dealerships, so the local dealer gets quite a windfall — some of these homes have 20,000 to 30,000 people coming through." Local dealers can also be on hand at the home to talk with potential customers and collect leads.

And when portable spas are presented as part of a mainstream, high-end, tastefully done home, that's good for everyone.

(Splash) Back Atcha!

Last month's Splashback hit a nerve with many readers. Here's just a selection of the responses we received when we asked, "What are they?"

Good grief! Am I that old? They're pool vacuum heads. Does anybody use these anymore?

Ley Hathcock, Ph.D. AdEdge Technologies, Buford, Ga

For those service folks that did not have the opportunity to use these products: The "best" applications combined a bronze pole — no telepoles — they bolted sections together with these chrome-plated brass cast vacuum heads. No wimps here. I would estimate the pole and vac head weight for a commercial pool unit where I worked was approximately 40 pounds for the vac head and pole.Some of the small lifeguards couldn't really pick it up and handle it. Oh, boy those were the days — along with the anthracite coal filters.

Kevin Tucker, Texas

The unit in the upper left side of the picture is Poolmaster's Jumbo Jet model J12. It came with brushes and or wheels. It worked with a garden hose and bag or hooked up to the filter system with a vacuum hose. It was discontinued some time around 1985 for a new model made for spas, ponds and small pools. I believe the lower unit was made by Alloy Brass on the East Coast — before the advent of the flexible vaacuum.

Lee Tager, Poolmaster

Old vacuum heads, of course. This one was way too easy for anyone who spent their summers vacuuming pools every morning.

Alison Osinski, Ph.D. Aquatic Consulting Services San Diego, Calif.

A Monster Makeover

House, backyard redecorated Jurassic-style.

Tony and Kim Rosten longed for a change of environment. Although the "country comfy" interior decorating in their San Fernando Valley, Calif., home was well under way, it would take many more years — and much more money — to complete.

Tony and Kim's children convinced Kim to apply online to Monster House, a Discovery Channel television show that decorates houses — with an original twist.

With the show's unlimited budget and the Rosten family camping in an RV for a week, Monster Foreman Steve Watson and his crew turned this ho-hum country style house into a prehistoric showplace.

The house now includes a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton built around the living room wall, a "meteor ball" that appears to have crashed through the ceiling into the fireplace and a sedimentary wall complete with more than 10,000 real rocks and a faux fault line.

In the backyard, the Monster crew placed an elevated octagonal spa from Cal Spas in the middle of a custom concrete shell designed to look like a volcano. The fully functional spa is accessed via a lava-red Plexiglas stairway and features seating for six, 15 jets, two headrests, and red and orange fiber-optic lighting.

"We have every intention of running with the theme," Tony says. "Kim is coming up with ideas for the bedroom, while I'm beginning to design my dream outdoor kitchen.

"It exceeded all of our expectations."

The "Jurassic House" episode of Monster House debuted Dec. 15, 2003, on the Discovery Channel.

Ceramic Twists

Fresh ideas for decorative pool tiles.

Accenting a pool or spa with a tile inlay is no longer an original idea. But the tiles you choose for the inlay can be. Today there's a wealth of tile designs on the market, including these creations from Artistry in Mosaics. The Fort Pierce, Fla., company offers the standard dolphin and turtle designs, but also kokopellis, geckos and lizards, as well as custom designs.

According to Brent Lane, key accounts manager for Artistry in Mosaics, each ceramic tile the company produces is handmade. "First, we have artists that hand cut the tiles out of a slab of clay, and after the tiles dry, they get polished and cleaned," Lane says. "Next, they're numbered so we can reassemble them, then they're disc fired and then they're hand painted in three to four coats."

The tiles can be installed in either fiberglass or gunite pools. And Artisty in Mosaic's Web site, artistryinmosaics.com, features interactive layout software so builders and homeowners can experiment to see how the tiles will look in various applications.

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