Britain splashes out as demand for hot tubs soars

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Hundreds of thousands of Britons are splashing out on the latest home improvement - hot tubs.

Hundreds of thousands of Britons are splashing out on the latest home improvement - hot tubs.

Sales of the bubbling, heated baths have risen by 25 per cent over the last 12 months and 100,000 homes now have a spa or hot tub.

Tubs, in particular stand-alone units, as opposed to spas which are sunk into the ground, are no longer the sole preserve of the rich. Prices start as low as £2,500, and with more middle-class homeowners viewing them as an affordable luxury, sales are expected to rise by another 30 per cent this year.

Hot Spring Spas Ltd, Britain's biggest supplier, reported January sales up 50 per cent on last year. The company - which supplied the spas for reality television series Big Brother and The Salon - is about to open its 11th outlet, three of which arrived in the last year.

Siobhan Hay, the company's marketing manager, said: "We've seen a real increase in demand over the past couple of years.

"People are travelling more, and trying out spas in ski resorts or countries that have embraced them, like America and Australia. It's also probably an extension of the current popularity for home improvement programmes and outdoor living." The industry's trade association estimate that 10,500 units were sold last year. According to analysts, the market will be worth £160m within five years.

Caroline Powell, 51, a sales manager from Portishead, near Bristol, bought a five-seater hot tub with her husband Adrian a year ago.

"The hot tub cost £8,000 in the end, but it was the best £8,000 we've ever spent," Mrs Powell said. "We don't spend a lot of money, but this is our luxury. It's very social too," she continued. "We'll invite friends round, cook a roast dinner and sit in the hot tub."

Don Elliott, 53, who lives with his teenage daughter in Chelmsford, Essex, first thought about getting a hot tub when he was sitting in one during a skiing trip to Canada. Mr Elliott, who bought his six-seater tub three months ago, said: "It's lovely to be able to come home from work, grab a bottle of wine and jump into the hot tub. Although it's much more difficult to get out afterwards."