A gallery of award-winning spas and hot tubs

We thought it would be interesting to take a look at the AQUA Choice winners in the custom spa category, going all the way back to 2001. The projects vary quite a bit in design and materials, but they all share the distinction of having been chosen by their peers as the best of the year.

Dr. Spa

Santa Cruz, Calif.

This custom spa is anything but customary. Ed Rust, owner of Dr. Spa, was commissioned by a client to build an acrylic hot tub from scratch. That client eventually lost interest, but Rust didn't. He built the 700-gallon transparent tank and dubbed it Luminous Ofuro. Note the lack of obtrusive equipment and piping.

Deck and Patio Company

Huntington Station, N.Y.

These homeowners lacked the space for a pool, so the Deck and Patio Company built them a swim spa with a cascading waterfall. The waterfall was hand-made by a skilled mason, who selected and placed the stones to create the sheeting waterfall effect.

Star Pools

Houston, Texas

This spa, built for a lucky Houstonite, can safely be called a "whopper," measuring 10 feet by 10 feet and holding 2,500 gallons. Symmetry is a key element in the design, with matching sheets of water spilling forth on either side of a waterfall that spans nearly the entire width of the spa. Even the chairs are carefully placed.

Downes Swimming Pool Company

Arlington Heights, Ill.

This custom spa, measuring 10 feet by 15 feet, is located in the southwest Chicago suburb of Naperville. Two-thirds of the circumference is adorned with stacked stone, which begins as a single layer on the left-hand side of the photo and rises as it continues counter-clockwise, before dropping back to a single layer for the final few feet.

Downes Swimming Pool Company

Arlington Heights, Ill.

Downes also won the custom spa category in 2004 with a project that has almost nothing in common with its winning entry in '05. It's actually two separate spas, a round, raised spa on the left and a swim spa, beautifully finished with Craig Bragdy tile in a dolphin motif. The raised spa is similarly clad in tile. A mural covers the walls and repeats the tropical theme.

Ozzie Kraft Ent.

Las Vegas, Nev.

Ozzie Kraft is well known nationwide for its work with boulders, and this spa is a fine example of it. The project's highlight is the waterfall, which spills from a rock form that covers part of the spa, making a small grotto on the far side of the vessel.

Majestic Pools & Spas

Chandler, Ariz.

This desert oasis measures 9 by 8 feet and holds 2,000 gallons of water. That water spills over a concrete weir that's framed by stone on either side. Users access the spa via a flagstone stairway on the left that matches the material used around the border.

Natural Design

Auburn, Calif.

Natural Design's award-winning spa, in Nevada City, Calif., holds 1,100 gallons of water and measures approximately 9 feet by 12 feet. Two waterfalls feed the irregularly shaped spa, which is surrounded by a boulder formation and lush greenery. A boulder in the center of the spa matches the rockwork that surrounds most of the project.

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