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Now — you really want to be in hot water

By Marcelle Dibrell

Hot water can provide one of the most basic pleasures of life. It is comfort on a cold night. It soothes the muscles and joints after a hard workout or a long day of work. And there’s even some evidence that it has actual health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, improving circulation, curing headaches, improving sleep, and relieving cold and flu symptoms.

But for most, soaking in a spa or hot tub is about relaxation and stress relief, something that the entire world seems to be clamoring for more of, if the last couple of years hot tub sales provides any indication.

Hot tub manufacturers have been scrambling to keep up.

The demand for spas has been so high that some manufacturers are opening new locations.

Jared Levin, president and CEO of Mainely Tubs, opened the company’s third location in New Hampshire in April 2021 after the pandemic drove spa sales through the roof. As a result, Mainely Tubs has been busy and growing.

“This year has been incredibly busy for us,” Levin says. “I think for many, the stress of COVID and having to spend more time at home has people wanting to create that backyard oasis for themselves. Our products provide that healing benefit and quality time that our customers have been craving.”

According to the 2020 Pool and Hot Tub Alliance Market report, nationwide, hot tub sales were up almost 7.5% during that year. Demand was much higher, however, and if there had been more inventory, many more hot tubs could have been sold. Average wait time for hot tub orders across the country, from initial purchase to delivery, was about 30 weeks in 2020, which was five times as long as the turnaround time in 2019.

Raymond Ibarra, a Pinch-A-Penny Pool-Patio-Spa franchise owner in Miami, Florida, says they are now placing hot tub orders 14 months in advance to try and keep up with future demand. Still, they’re sold out of hot tubs for the next three to four months. He hopes the situation will improve in 2022 but predicts the swimming pool industry won’t see a return to supply-demand normalcy until 2023.

It’s a story that is being repeated not only all over the country, but around the world.

In the United Kingdom, a poll conducted of 4,000 people by the British multinational insurance company Aviva found that 1 in 20 people had purchased a spa in 2020. Unfortunately, the study also found that 36 percent of those people regretted that particular pandemic purchase. The main reason? They feel stuck with the upkeep.

And many of the new spa and hot tub owners in America are likely to feel the same and will no doubt be hiring a pool and spa professional to maintain their investment. Because while it is not quite rocket science, maintaining a spa can be labor intensive, and there are certain nuances to the job that the average homeowner doesn’t know.

For example, spas are particularly susceptible to becoming bacterial breeding grounds, and special care must be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Spas also have distinct needs when it comes to pH and scale control.

It’s often said that spas are not just miniature pools. They have specific differences that create specialized maintenance requirements.

And if they aren’t little pools, they certainly aren’t glorified bath tubs.

No – when it comes to spas and hot tubs, the care is best left to the professional, and that’s what this issue of Service Industry News is all about.

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