Photo by Todd Morrison

THE CANVAS: A handsome estate, textured landscape, Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley

THE PALETTE: Colorado buffstone, an inset grotto, a foreground of wild mountain brush

THE MASTERPIECE: A secret spa and sublevel terrace that segues into the native mountainside

Nestled in the tall shadows of a chateau, this spa design utilizes a private panoramic view of the Colorado countryside.

“When you’re in the spa, it almost feels like you’re sitting on the side of a mountain,” says Marshall Foote, a partner at Colorado Poolscapes Inc. “It’s the idea of being isolated, away from everything else going on in the house.”

The short length of the terrace shielded the spa from higher-level views, but also meant some alterations were needed.

“We had a very tight building envelope, so we enlarged the terrace by moving the [spa] underneath the wall,” says Gyles Thornely, an associate at Design Workshop Inc.

The resulting overhang adds a unique touch to the project, creating a little nook on one side of the spa. It’s highlighted by tumbled Colorado buffstone cut into squares for a more tiled appearance. There was enough room in the remaining area to accommodate full-length recliners, which offer sunbathers an additional mountainside vista.

Crossing wires

To match the formal surroundings, the designer selected silver gray for the shell. The spa features LED lighting, 39 jets, a waterfall and four headrests.

Foote says the biggest issues he faces with self-contained spas are providing appropriate access to the equipment and creating a custom feel.

To solve the first problem, he designed a teak access vault that was light enough in color to mesh with the cream-colored pavers.

But the project called for a slightly different kind of user interface. With automated controls managing four waterfeatures spread throughout the grounds, the homeowners asked Foote to customize the spa for remote access using the same controls.

“They had us basically rip out the circuit boards and tie the [customized] controls into the spa,” Foote says. “From the house, you can check and change the temperature, determine filter cycles, and turn on the lights.”

This voided the manufacturer’s warranty, so the installer backed it up with a guarantee of his own.

Foote also had to rewire the spa’s heater and jet pumps to coordinate with the new remote.

With a modicum of modern technology, the spa can be remotely readied for a backyard retreat.