San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Sinking into Luxury: Pools and Jacuzzis to Order

PERHAPS it’s the feeling of sitting in a steamy hottub, bubbles running up your spine as you stare at a nightsky, or the tranquility of lying in cool, still water in yourown backyard… the reasons for having a hot tub or poolare many and easy to find. Here in Costa Rica, differentoptions are available for those wishing to add water featuresto their homes, ranging from simple to decadent.If your budget is ample and your vision artistic, thereare at least a couple options. One is Kim Trefcer, whosebusiness, Pools by Kim (831-8334), is based in PlayaFlamingo, on the northern Pacific coast. Trefcer, originallyfrom Florida, has 35 years of construction and pool-buildingexperience in the United States and the Caribbean, andhas been in Costa Rica for five years. Many of his materialsand all of his finishes, he said, are shipped in from theUnited States.One popular style of swimming pool he builds is the“infinity pool.”“It has the disappearing edge,” Trefcer explained. “Youlook at your pool and it looks like it is disappearing into theocean.”Another popular feature is a beach entry, where insteadof steps, the pool gradually gets deeper, as in the ocean.FOR a different feel inside the pool, Trefcer does non-chlorinepools for those with sensitive skin, and saltwaterpools that have a “softer” feeling.“It makes the water feel soft,” Trefcer said. “That’s avery refreshing feeling. It also produces a minimal level ofchlorine,” which keeps the pool clean, and is gentle on theskin.Trefcer added that he does stained-concrete and rockand pebble bottoms and finishes, which come with lifetimewarranties. Clients can also add fiber-optic lighting in andaround the pool.For hot tubs, Pools by Kim offers stand-alone units, orthey can be built into decks. In addition, Trefcer builds twotypes of specialty spas: hydrotherapy spas and swim spas.Hydrotherapy spas have 10 therapy jets outfitted withback-massage nozzles to give the user a relaxing and therapeuticexperience. Swim spas pump a steady current thatthe user can then swim or jog against.ANOTHER artist for those who want nothing but thebest is Juan Roca of Aquart (653-8347,,based in Santa Cruz, in the northwestern province ofGuanacaste. Born in Barcelona, Spain, Roca has beenbuilding pools for 30 years and is an exclusive member ofthe Genesis 3 Design group, a renowned pool-design groupbased in the Silicon Valley in California.“I always tried to be good at my job. All those years, Itried to make all the pools I could. I tried to do quality, andI tried to do quantity,” he said, adding that he went to conferences,joined world pool-builder associations and builtup to 80 pools a year.But he became bored and frustrated with not being ableto do all he wanted, and felt constrained by small budgets.“I wanted to express myself with all the will I had,”Roca said.Now, Roca builds maybe six pools a year, for asmuch as hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, that areworks of art.“I try to do projects for people who want a real pieceof art in their home that goes with its surroundings, thathas rhythm, that has equilibrium, that makes sense,” Rocasaid. “In each place, each pool is a new subject that adaptsto the land.“Something I like to use a lot is the infinity edge. Butthis doesn’t just have to be for mountains, on a cliff or atthe edge of the sea. It blends into any surrounding.”He added that because the water runs over the edge inan infinity pool, it works as a natural skimmer.Roca also designs beach entries, which he says aregreat for children who have not learned to swim, as theycan enter just as far as they are comfortable, as well as forthe elderly or people with disabilities. And hot tubs arealways an option, built to stay with the style and artisticquality of the project.As for the water, Roca explained he uses a bacteriagenerated with infrared light that keeps the pool cleanand doesn’t leave residues, and he also uses salt to producean effect similar to that of chlorine, avoiding harshchemicals.CHOICES are also available for those with a lessextravagant budget. Demsa Diseños EstructuralesModernos, S.A. (251-3838), in San José, builds pools andhot tubs starting at $7,000.“We design depending on the space and location, andaccording to the client’s preferences,” said manager CarlosPérez. “It could be in the shape of a shell, or an eight – itjust depends on the wishes of the client.”Demsa, which builds houses, can include pools andhot tubs in the construction of a house, remodel to includethem, or build a pool separately. The company canalso add a hot tub to the interior of a house, such as in abathroom.COAST Spas (228-6829), in the western San José districtof Pavas, supplies prefabricated hot tubs from Canadaranging from $4,500 to $14,000. Customers can choosefrom 18 different models, 10 of which are on display in theCoast Spa showroom.“The difference with our pools is the surfacing,” saidRodrigo Beeche, general manager of Coast Spas in CostaRica. “They’re acrylic, not fiberglass or plastic… They willnever break or deform.”The hot tubs, Beeche explained, are all therapeuticallybuilt with massage jets and back and leg support, and thecompany even offers a specially designed “Wellness Spa”for people who suffer from arthritis.

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