PUBLISHED: 10:41 14 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013
Hot tubs and swimming pools have long been the preserve of the upper classes or lottery winners, but even in these credit crunch times, sales are on the increase. Kent Life finds out why
The realisation that hot tubs and swimming pools are more than just fun luxuries is dawning on more and more us.
And the fact that they are a great investment for our health and wellbeing is also helping when it comes to make a calculated judgement in our purchasing decision.
The simple act of immersing yourself in hot water sets in motion a chain of events that underscores just how closely our health and wellbeing is attuned to water. In hot water, your circulation adjusts to create a slight increase in blood pressure and blood rushes to the skin, where it's further warmed.
The blood vessels expand and the pressure drops back down. The warmed blood penetrates deeper into the tissue below the skin. As more vessels expand, you notice a soothing sensation. Your muscles start to relax and your body becomes more efficient at cleaning carbon dioxide from muscles. Your immune system kicks in, increasing antibody production and endorphins - the body's natural painkillers - are released, thus melting away aches and pains.
How hot tubs help
If you are one of the 10 million or so people in the UK who suffer from some kind of sleep disorder, hot tubs could help you out. Since the launch of the first hot tubs in North America in the 1950s, it has been known that they have given relief from chronic pain and sleeplessness.
The latest models have unleashed the full benefits of hydrotherapeutic massage and it is now proven that regular bathing for at least 20 minutes is effective in inducing sleep. A report in the scientific journal Sleep showed that soaking in a hot tub before bedtime not only improves the ability to fall off to sleep, but also to sleep deeper and therefore more restfully.
Since tiredness is a cause of tension and stress, a short temper and depression, the latest hot tubs are welcome relief for those affected.
As a result of all this scientific research, Beachcomber Hot Tubs (available from Chris Whitton at Exotic Palms and Spas in Gillingham, 01634 238700), has developed hot tubs with water jets positioned to target specific muscle groups to aid relaxation and healing. With more than 15 models to choose from, there will be a hydrotherapy hot tub to suit your needs.
Martyn Gent of Hotspring Hot Tubs and Swim Spas in Ashford (01233 898440) has already seen a change in the buying habits of his customers. The idea of a 'staycation' (holidaying at home) is causing people to consider purchasing hot tubs as a long-term, year-round investment. Development over the last few years has led to increased insulation, efficiency and filtration rates, thereby leading to a reduction in cost of ownership.
If you are still not persuaded to buy a hot tub, thinking that the cost of ownership is too high or too complicated, then research by The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association shows that, dependent upon ambient temperature, water temperature and usage, a hot tub could cost you only 75p a day to run.
Retailers who are members of BISHTA are trained to high standards and their knowledge of products and how to maintain them should instil you with the confidence to buy.
Besides all the health benefits, hot tubs are fun and a great excuse to have a garden party.
Next-generation swimming pools
A step up from the hot tub is the swimming pool. It needs a lot more space and a few more pounds of investment, yet the swimming pool need no longer be just a hole in the ground filled with chemically treated water and of rectilinear shape.
Like hot tubs, research and modern technologies mean that swimming pools are more than ever an investment in your lifestyle and property.
Whatever the reason for having a swimming pool, as a designer I would encourage every swimming pool owner to think carefully about the aesthetic of your development and ask yourself the following questions.
• What is your garden going to look like with an outdoor pool?
• Would it be better to have the pool indoors as part of a conservatory style extension or in a separate building in the garden?
• Is there a different solution where the pool doesn't necessarily look like a swimming pool?
Your perfect swimming pool is limited only by your imagination.
For practical purposes, there are four basic types of pool construction.
• A reinforced concrete shell, traditionally finished with tiles
• A block work or prefabricated panel shell supporting a tailor-made PVC liner
• A glass fibre or ceramic one-piece shell
• An above-ground pool
Becoming increasingly popular in the UK is the natural swimming pool or swimming pond. These pools have no chemicals (chlorine), no salt, just clean and clear water filtered naturally all year round. This is achieved by harnessing natures processes, with microorganisms and plants balancing the water chemistry and maintaining clean and clear and hygienic conditions.
This makes for a user-friendly pool - no dosing with chemicals, no water replacement, minimal top-up quantities, comfortable maintenance and ease of use.
If you already have a pool or are considering buying a house with a pool, you may be interested in converting the existing pool to a natural version. This will make the pool more of an inclusive feature of the garden, enhancing the natural landscaping and not necessarily looking like a pool.
Clear Water Revival has brought this Austrian technology to the UK and now has numerous partners in the UK. Simon Brotherwood at Simon's Pools in Cranbrook is the Kent partner (01580 715221) and is already seeing a rise in interest in pool conversions and a desire from customers to bring more nature into their homes and gardens.
Equally, modern technologies have increased the energy efficiency of pools and it is now possible to use solar panels and woodchip pellets (available from Mark Knight of The Natural Heat Co, 01303 813999), to heat your pool.
We all spent the first calm, quiet months of life in the watery warmth of our mother's womb, so our bodies are naturally tuned to respond to water, to its touch and to its natural rhythm. Now more than ever we need the quietness and security we experienced there.