Trend report: Hot Tubs | ParkRecord.com

Trend report: Hot Tubs

Bob Payne
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It's not a secret that some skiers put in their time on the slopes just so they'll feel justified in rewarding themselves with a dunk in a hot tub. Especially after coming off of a cold mountain, there are few better ways to lay back, unwind, and imagine that wherever the bad parts of life might be, this is not one of them.

Choosing features for a hot tub, though, can be more complicated than it seems, particularly with the innovations that advancing technology is making possible. Here's a look at some of the recent trends.

Energy efficiency

Cold-climate energy efficiency is largely a matter of retaining the heat a hot tub produces utilizing solid, high-density foam insulation and a well-insulated, tight-fitting cover, and by taking advantage of heat given off by the pump motor. Additionally, keeping filters clean and using two pumps, a smaller one for water circulation and a larger one for jets, can decrease your electric bill. And automation — for remotely removing or replacing a cover, or warning of a system problem — is playing an ever-increasing role.

Chemical monitoring

Maintaining a hot tub's chemical balance has always been something of an arcane art: so many times a week for this, so many parts per million of that. But automated monitors and controllers are making it easier to keep an eye on such hot tub considerations as sanitizer and pH levels. And with a Wi-Fi connection, it's becoming one more task that can be looked after from anywhere in the world. 

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Mood lighting 

With the advent of energy efficient LED lighting, it's becoming common to use colored lights as a hot tub mood enhancer. Some users even contend (without widespread scientific support) that chromatherapy, or light therapy, teamed with the beneficial effects of soaking in a hot tub, is a legitimate source of alternative healing. Bathing in red light, for instance, is said to increase vitality, blue might induce calm, and yellow may strengthen the nervous system. But whether for entertainment or health, there's little argument that hot tub lighting makes for almost as pleasant an experience as just shutting everything off and gazing up at the stars. 

Aromatherapy

Another increasingly popular hot tub upgrade is aromatherapy, which promotes a feeling of wellbeing through the sense of smell. As with chromatherapy, its actual healing powers are uncertain. And moreover, aromatherapy products that have not been specifically designed for hot tubs will literally clog up their works, causing significant damage. Fortunately, hot tub-safe aromatic fragrances are available in capsule, salt, liquid, and crystal forms, and in scents including lavender, lemon, and jasmine, all of which are said to calm nerves. 

Swim spas

Swim spas, which are a cross between a hot tub and a lap pool, have been around for some time. But aging baby boomers, determined to maintain a healthy lifestyle even as their bodies make it more of a challenge, are increasingly turning to swim spas as a way to stay active. The best swim spas produce a strong current while minimizing turbulence and noise. For a true aquatic workout, some even offer a rowing machine and underwater treadmill. 

Mood music

Just about every form of human experience now seems to require an accompanying playlist. So it is no surprise that many outdoor hot tubs come with built-in audio systems. Or consider the DIY alternative: Set up a media player within range and listen through Bluetooth-enabled floating speakers