Having moved into the first project of our Renovation Roadtrip, Our Charmer in Alexandra, we had a big outdoor space and the opportunity for a complete makeover. I was determined to make a great family outdoor living and entertaining area, with our spa an integral part of this space. By using good planning to optimise the space we had and being able to include everything we wanted. With the goal of making all areas feeling integrated and complementing each other.
Here are the key considerations to take into account to incorporate a spa pool into your outdoors. Thinking not just about how your spa is used, but looking holistically into your whole outdoor space. A result of spending several months researching, planning and working this out for our own outdoors.
How Do You Spa
Before you start, it’s good to ask yourself a few questions, to make sure you end up with the right space for you and your spa. There is no right answer - this is completely personal preference. But knowing what’s important for you will allow you to create a space that fits you.
How do you like to spa? Are you after a retreat - a place to relax and unwind. Will it be used for recovery or even exercise. Or is a spa a completely social experience for you - connecting with family or friends. where you want it to be a focal point for interactions with those both in and out of the spa.
What will make you use your spa more or less? Do you love to star gaze, get away from life for 30mins of peace, sit and chat while someone’s cooking on the bbq. Does rain put you off, having to walk 20m to get in, or tucked around a corner that you can’t see it from inside - making you nervous for others to use. Understand what will make it get used more frequently as well as what puts you off.
Do you want your spa area to stand out or blend in? Are you trying to make a statement with your spa pool, or do you prefer for it to hideaway and blend in.
Who will be primarily using the spa? Spas can cater for a range of people and reason, but why not prioritise the key people and reasons for having the spa. If you can’t achieve it all, its better to be designed for the 80% of time it will be used, rather than accommodating the odd time 10 friends come over with their togs.
Site Conditions and Constraints
Start by taking stock of the space your working with. There are often many physical constraints which will dictate where a spa can or can’t go. And some locations may require more work and cost than others. I’m realistic that our dreams come at a cost, so weigh these up in your planning. Key items to consider here are:
Existing features and spaces. While you may have a blank canvas, it’s more likely you won’t be starting from scratch in your outdoors. What is the current flow and layout, where are existing features - trees, fences, gardens, paths, etc.
Foundation. Are there areas you can/can’t put a spa due to weight or topography. A spa needs to be on a flat and level surface. And a full hot tub commonly weigh 1.5 tons (more or less depending on spa).
Access for delivery and install. Spas can be difficult to move, and should be done with care. Make sure there is space and a plan to get your spa to where you want it to go. If it can’t be lifted, can a hiab or crane provide access.
Environment. Consider the climate and weather where you are. What are the prevailing winds, what is the outlook and orientation. Will there be sun or shade at the times of day you will most likely be using the spa.
Sufficient space. Don’t consider just your spa’s dimensions, but space to access and service the spa. Where will your cover go, steps or access into the spa, etc.
Safety and Regulations. Check requirements from your local authorities and get any appropriate approvals to make sure you fully comply. Make sure you are up to date with requirements for compliance around having a spa pool. This may limit certain locations, or require additional area for fencing.
Your Spa. There are a wide range of types and sizes of spas available. It’s helpful to know the specifications of your spa at this point to plan your layout.
Plan Your Layout
Once you have a good handle on your outdoors, you can plan your layout. The first 2 steps help you understand your preferences and the constraints within your property. Now you get to put the jigsaw together - problem solving to look at the opportunities and create the best layout.
Exploring all options during your planning will make sure you achieve your desired flow, connection, space optimisation, while making your spa feel well-considered and integrated rather than being an ‘add-on.’
Key items to consider when planning your layout:
Adjacent living/social spaces. Think about the flow between other spaces on your property - pool, dining, casual seating, bar leaners, fire pits, play areas, etc. what other areas do you have, or may add into your design.
Connection. Connections can be visual as well as for movement. Think about view shafts between spaces. Including from indoor spaces through windows and doors. Or for privacy, where can it be placed to create a retreat or the mood you’re after.
Accessibility. Access to the spa from your house or where . Generally, a spa closer to your house will be used more frequently, and quicker to get in when it’s cold outside.
Views and outlook. Are there views you want to take advantage of, or angles you want to hide (ie, neighbours, street).
Spa seating. A spa pool has its own seating layout, consider this to maximise the natural connections and outlook from within the spa.
Exposure to weather. Think of your preferences and then plan to these. There are many option to mitigate weather and create shelter while you use your spa - from installing a roof, pergola, umbrellas, shade sails, fencing, screens, planting, etc.
Height of the spa. Do you want it recessed, even appear to be recessed. Or do you want to make a statement, or raise it higher than ground level for a different type of connection or safety reasons.
Planting. What are you working with, what could you plant and what will it grow into.
Privacy screens / fencing. If you are after privacy from certain directions, or to create a certain mood in your spa, consider how fencing and screens could achieve this.
In addition to the layout and connection to adjacent spaces, keep in mind the following items:
Power supply. Where can you get access to this power, and how will you get it to the spa location. Power requirements range from 10-60 amps, depending on spa. Lower amp spas can be set up as plug and play, and larger spas will require an electrician to connect.
Heat pump. Heat pump installed to heat your spa, much more efficient (up to 70%). If you do consider, consider the size and a location near to your spa to place this.
Cover lifter/storage. When your spa is in use, where will you put the cover. A cover lifter makes this easy and saves your cover.
Steps and access into spa. For safety and ease of access. Will you have steps, are they permanent or movable. If movable, where will they be stored when not being used.
Lighting. What light do you want for your spa in evenings/night. Both direct and indirect lighting, as well as for access. Many spas come with internal and external mood lighting built-in.
Towel storage. Where will you put your towel or clothes when you spa.
Technology and TV. Technology is now available in many spas, including wifi controls and music. Or if you are an avid movie or sport fan, watching from a spa outdoors maybe the ultimate experience - where could a screen be placed and get connected.
This is a very comprehensive list, and I must admit the first time we got a spa I did not think about most of these. I just got the power supply and plugged it in, and we sure used it a lot! While all items may not be relevant for you - nor are they necessary to enjoy your spa - it provides an extensive list for you to consider if you are planning an outdoor project with the intention of integrating a spa pool.
This blog was brought to you by Spa World, who offer a variety of spa pools for enjoyment. They are all about creating undeniably beautiful, environmentally friendly and easy to use products that improve health, well-being and happiness. We have been personal users of a Vortex Spa for over 5 years and have enjoyed every minute in that spa. For family time, quality conversations, recovery after a run, time-out and enjoying being outdoors.