The question of whether to invest in a hot tub or not is one that is regularly asked by holiday home owners. More and more holiday makers are choosing to trade in the cost of an airline ticket in exchange for some ‘nice touches’ to add a bit of luxury to their UK holiday. As a result, having a hot tub is increasingly becoming a ‘must have’ for many guests when booking a holiday house. Adding this extra bit of luxury is certainly likely to increase your bookings and give your holiday home year round appeal.
However, hot tubs are a big investment. Not just financially, but also in terms of your time and responsibility. For some owners, hot tubs more than pay for themselves. Others decide that they are more hassle than they are worth. Only you can decide if you think that having a hot tub will work for you and your property. This article aims to help you consider some of the pros and cons of installing a hot tub before you take the plunge.
Increased bookings and income
Probably the number one reason to install a hot tub is to increase your profit. Having a hot tub will probably mean that you can increase your rates. Even if you decide to keep your prices more or less the same, it will almost inevitably increase your bookings. In particular, if you have a lot of gaps during those hard to fill winter months, you are likely to find that having a hot tub is a real draw. Whilst we can’t always guarantee the British weather you can guarantee that the hot tub will be warm! There is nothing quite like sitting in warm bubbles looking up into a bright and starry night sky.
We all love happy guests
Having a hot tub will differentiate your holiday home from your competitors. The thought of sitting in a hot tub, drink in hand, surrounded by stunning views, is the icing on the cake for a lot of holiday makers. Good memories and special holidays will result in happy guests. We all love happy guests! They leave good reviews, tell their friends how brilliant their holiday has been and are likely to rebook themselves. If hot tubs equal happy guests then adding one to your holiday home has to be a serious consideration.
How much will a hot tub cost?
However, the increased rates and occupancy that often come with hot tubs does not come without a cost. Hot tubs tend to cost somewhere between £3,000 and £20,000 depending on what you want. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with various additional features. As well as standard acrylic ones you can get traditional cedar hot tubs, and for those who want something a bit different, or who offer ‘off grid’ holidays, you can opt for a wood fired one.
For a relatively good quality but fairly straight forward hot tub you should expect to pay somewhere between £5,000 and £7,500. Whilst you can buy a domestic hot tub, according to the hot tub supplier Better Living Outdoors, the most popular hot tub for holiday home owners is currently the 6 person Holiday Let Tub. It is designed specifically for the holiday rental market. Not only does it comply with recent safety guidance written by the Health and Safety Executive, but it is also relatively hassle free. There are no air diverters or regulators for guests to break, no temperature controls for guests to fiddle with and no pillows for them to ruin. Guests can turn on the jets and lights, but all other controls are limited so they can’t fiddle with things that they should be leaving alone!
What about ongoing costs?
Most hot tubs run on electricity so your energy bills will go up. A well-insulated, well-built hot tub with a good quality cover should cost about £40 a month in electricity. This will be higher if guests use it a lot. Like a lot of electrical appliances, if you invest in a more energy efficient model from the outset, your monthly costs will be reduced. It is also worth checking that you are on the best electricity tariff.
You will also need to factor in costs for chemicals, maintenance and breakdowns. To avoid disappointed guests and expensive refunds you might decide that it is sensible to have a hot tub maintenance company on hand to carry out any urgent repairs.
Ongoing care and maintenance
The water in a hot tub is normally heated between 35°C and 40°C. This is the perfect temperature for the growth of bacteria such as legionella that causes Legionnaires’ disease. In response to the recent increase in the use of hot tubs, the Health and Safety Executive has published guidance for anyone responsible for managing hot tubs as part of a business activity. Whilst following the Health and Safety Guidance 282 (HSE282) is not compulsory, every holiday house owner has a ‘general duty of care’ to assess hot tub risks and implement appropriate measures to ensure guests’ safety. By following a few simple steps you will be able to ensure that you are compliant with the guidelines. You can find out more about Legionnaires’ disease and what your responsibilities are as a holiday home owner here.
In order to ensure that any bacteria is killed and water quality is strictly maintained it is essential that hot tubs are disinfected and pH and sanitiser levels are tested and recorded on a regular basis. The hot tub will need to be drained at each change over, or each week if guests are staying longer. As most hot tubs take between four to eight hours to get back up to the right temperature it is probably a good idea to warn guests that the hot tub might not be up to temperature when they first arrive. Filters need to be cleaned once a month and replaced once a year and the hot tub will need to be serviced annually, costing approximately £250.
You will need to make sure your insurance includes the guests’ use of a hot tub, including the cost of any damage or accidents that might occur. If a guest slips and bangs their head you could be held liable. It is a good idea to include a list of hot tub rules in the welcome pack.
Do you need to get a hot tub to stay ahead of the game?
If you are looking for ideas to increase your bookings, and you don’t mind the extra work, then installing a hot tub could be a great idea. If you can’t offer other sought after features such as sea views, countryside walks or local historical attractions, then having a hot tub will give you something a little bit extra to offer your guests.
However, having a hot tub is not an essential feature of every successful holiday let. It is also not the only way of making extra income or making your property stand out from others. If you are looking for ways of increasing your bookings, especially during the winter months, you should also consider what other ‘extras’ you could offer. For example, installing a wood burning stove or accepting dogs might increase your bookings more than a hot tub. You can find more ideas on how to get more winter bookings here.
Different holidays and different holiday houses suit different people. Only you can decide what will work best for you in your property. If you do decide to take the plunge, do plenty of research and seek some advice from other owners who already have hot tubs. Below are a few top tips from owners that we have spoken to who have a hot tub. Please feel free to add any useful tips about hot tubs below.
Tips from holiday home owners with hot tubs
We asked some of our owners who have hot tubs to provide some feedback and top tips for anyone considering installing one. Here are some key points from their responses.
Increased bookings and earnings
- There was a unanimous agreement that installing a hot tub had resulted in more bookings.
- Having a hot tub also has the potential to vastly increase your earnings.
- Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions by guests before making a booking is ‘do you have a hot tub?’
Things to consider
- You will need to factor in extra time for each change over. Even if guests leave your hot tub in a relatively good condition (which many don’t!), you will still need to drain, clean and refill it after each set of guests leave.
- Anyone on a water meter should factor in the extra water that is needed to refill the hot tub on a regular basis.
- To help conserve water you can provide large trugs, rather than hosepipes, for topping up the hot tub.
- Hot tubs can take a long time to reheat to the required temperature. Consider installing external hot water taps to help ensure it is ready for the next set of guests.
- If possible, do a thorough handover in person so you can explain how the hot tub works and how you expect the hot tub to be left at the end of their stay.
- If you do not live locally you will need to employ someone to check the pH and sanitiser levels on a daily basis.
- It is a good idea to ensure guests read and agree to a strict set of rules and health and safety policies before they book. Include these details in your information folder and/or welcome letter in the property. It is also a good idea to have a sign warning guests that any surrounding steps might be slippery when wet.
- Consider opting for a basic bench design rather than individual loungers as some guests will fit as many people in the hot tub as possible.
- Avoid hot tubs with music, WiFi or overly complicated controls.
- Consider what time to set your hot tub curfew. Some owners say that providing a late curfew hugely improves the stay of their guests, while others note that the additional noise can upset the neighbours.
- Even in fairly remote cottages, some guests like a bit of privacy. Even though the view was beautiful, one owner put a trellis screen up around their hot tub by request, which they have decorated with solar lights and tubs of flowers.