Waterfront: January 2008

Soaking At The Top Of The World

Adventuresome friends stage their most extreme hot tub party yet.

0108 17aEveryone knows that hot tubs are de rigueur for après ski. And soaking in a warm, bubbly tub with majestic snowcapped mountains as a backdrop is a hot tub top 10. But what about soaking in a hot tub on top of a majestic snowcapped mountain? That's just what a group of adventurous Swiss friends did recently when they summitted 15,000-foot Mont Blanc - the highest peak in the Alps - packing everything they'd need to build a mountaintop tub.

This wasn't the first hot tub caper the friends had pulled. In fact, the group has constructed and then enjoyed hot tubs in many unusual places. These hot tub happenings "are parties that are thrown in unexpected and exceptional places," says Jean-Christophe Boillat, one of the organizers. "It is a hobby invented, created and organized by our own means with the help of our friends."

The first tub was constructed on a ski slope in 2001 of four wooden pallets and some plastic sheeting and was powered by a washing machine motor. The events, staged to celebrate a graduation, a marriage or just about anything else have grown larger and more elaborate over the years - one tub, built on a frozen lake, accommodated 55 people but had to be quickly evacuated when the ice started cracking - but the Mont Blanc hot tub is the crowning accomplishment. The friends worked on plans for over a year.

"All components had to be as light as possible while still functioning in an oxygen-depleted atmosphere, under wind and freezing temperatures," says Boillat. "We soon realized that a hot tub at the summit of Mont Blanc would be just as much of a social challenge as a technical one because we had to find amongst our friends enough people who could climb Mont Blanc by night, with a backpack of more than 45 pounds and stay at the summit for several hours before descending. Additionally, since the weather had to be perfect, everyone needed to be able to leave with very short notice, possibly during the week."

After four false alarms, the friends finally had their weather window. The group started their ascent and climbed through the night, and by 9 a.m. the tub was assembled and heated up to 100 degrees. After the fun, they disassembled the tub and packed all the elements back down to Chamonix, leaving only footprints and possibly an icy spot at the summit.

Giving Back

Beachcomber donates $16,000 to Canadian Cancer Society.

Beachcomber Hot Tubs employees recently raised more than $16,000 and donated it to the Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley. Beachcomber presented a check to the society when the cycling team it sponsors visited its factory in Surrey, British Columbia, last September. Beachcomber raised the money by raffling off a hot tub donated by CEO Keith Scott. All funds were collected through the sale of raffle tickets plus donations on the society's Web site, cancer.ca.

Since 2005, Beachcomber employees have raised more than $70,000 to support children and their families living with cancer in memory of Frank Scott, factory manager, who lost his battle with lung cancer two years ago.

Dreams Do Come True

A daughter's curiosity inspires an up-and-coming water game.

When Mike Riebersal's daughter, Amanda, picked up some trash along the highway during the spring of '05 in her home state of Ohio, she inadvertently struck gold. "She came up into our front yard with a five-gallon bucket of trash and in her left hand had a round disk and said, 'Dad, what is this?'" says Riebersal, CEO of Riebee LLC. After dipping the mud-covered disk in his pond, he uncovered an old Oldsmobile wire-wheel cover. Tapping in to his own pastime of skipping rocks, Riebersal flung the cover across the pond, skipping it 25 times along the way, he says.

"At that point, Amanda started playing with it. She would stand out there in the pond, on the beach end and just sling this thing all day, every day," he says. This piqued Riebersal's interest, and his creative instincts kicked in. Riebersal began pursuing floatable, UV- and chlorine-resistant material for a skipping and skimming water disk game that plays like bocce ball.

More than two years later, Riebee is on its way and even making headlines. Toy Directory Monthly selected Riebee as a finalist for 2007 Toy of the Year, says Riebersal. Riebee also recently moved its manufacturing from the United States to Taiwan just to keep up with its growing demand. Riebee debuted on the trade show scene this past September at the BioGuard Dealer Mart, and continued through the AQUA Show and the International Pool & Spa Expo in November.

And how did the name come about? Amanda's friends at school nicknamed her "Riebee," so it's only fitting the one who started the ball rolling - or disk skipping - gets some level of recognition. For more information about Riebee water games, call 419/796-0441 or visit riebee.com.

Gargantuan Paradise

Chilean pool sets Guinness World Record

0108 17dGuinness World Records recently acknowledged a man-made, salt-water lagoon at San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, Chile, as the world's largest swimming pool. The pool, which is one kilometer long, covers more than a 861,000-square-foot area - think 6,000 standard, 26-foot-long swimming pools - and reaches depths of about 114 feet (!). The pool water was extracted from the Pacific Ocean and remains at 78.8 degrees during the summer, 9 degrees higher than the ocean's waters. San Alfonso del Mar also features white sand beach areas, other indoor and outdoor pools, indoor hot tubs situated inside a crystal pyramid, solar heating and multiple water features. The Oceanside project cost nearly $1.5 billion and requires $4 million in maintenance each year.

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