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ABOVE: Plastica’s fully working spa in a VW car was the runaway winning attraction at this year’s SPATEX.

The weather might have been cold, but the UK’s hottest destination at the end of January was officially Coventry’s Ricoh Arena for SPATEX 2018, UK’s annual wet leisure exhibition. The show was the perfect platform for the UK’s thriving hot tub industry to show off its latest products and services directly to contractors, installers, distributors and end-users.In fact, it’s not just UK companies who exhibit at SPATEX – this year saw even more companies from the European continent, the USA, Canada and China making an appearance. The runaway winning attraction at the show was a fully working spa within the body of a VW car complete with filtration. One of the highlights of the show was an extensive schedule of seminars and workshops spread over the three days. These talks provided visitors with updates and tips on topics ranging from the latest health and safety legislation to hot tub heating. The breadth of knowledge on display was very impressive and gave audiences plenty of food for thought to take away with them. Of particular interest were talks on HSG282, the HSE’s newly-published guidance on the control of legionella and other infectious agents in spa-pool systems; and on the upcoming Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) which could have far-reaching consequences for the hot tub industry. “Ignore the BPR at your peril” was a quote from an audience member at the end of the seminar. Recent research by Hoseasons has shown that accommodation with a hot tub is now the top search term when people are booking accommodation. This has led to a growing trend for more and more holiday parks to install individual hot tubs in their lodges – and heating is becoming a major issue according to Phil Allman, Bowmans’ Marketing Manager. “Electric heaters are the traditional way to heat up hot tubs, and a 3 or 4 kW heater can take up to 24 hours to heat a cold spa up to 38 degrees. A 7 or 8 KW heater is quicker but uses a lot more energy.“At guest change-over times, new guests expect the tub to be ready – or almost ready – when they check in. They don’t want to wait a day or even half a day to enjoy what they’ve paid for. TREND SETTERS“A significant trend is therefore emerging for holiday parks to look for alternative ways to hear their hot tubs. Our heat exchangers can be linked to an external heat source, such as a gas boiler or biomass – whatever is available – and can heat up a tub in about three hours. And by avoiding using electricity as heat source, they dramatically reduce the cost of heating. For us, this is a major and growing market.” The Aqua Warehouse Group saw new horizons opening up at SPATEX with the demonstration of its Covana Horizon electronic hot tub roof. “The great feature of this roof is that it tilts back, so you can sit back and see the distant horizon or look up at the stars,” extolled John Mabey. “While this product is slightly more expensive than conventional spa covers, there was a definite demand from the upper end of the market for a tilting roof. It’s also designed to become a gazebo.“The beauty of the Covana Horizon is that, once you have one, you’ll never have to buy another hot tub cover again. It’s also fully insulated with a rubber heat seal, so the tub will stay hot for longer.”BRIGHT VENUEThe Riptide team was clearly impressed by their first visit to SPATEX’s new home. “What a great venue – it’s certainly a bright new start for the show,” said General Manager Huw Chivers. “We had a brilliant first day – I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy. I didn’t take any lunch – in fact I didn’t have anything to eat until 5.30! “We took some very high-quality leads, on an international level, which was fantastic. It was also great to catch up with many of our colleagues and friends in the industry.” O-Care, the Dutch manufacturer of minerals used to remove and prevent biofilms from pumps, heaters and blowers, discovered a potentially huge new business opportunity at SPATEX. Roel Fassbender, the company’s CPO: “I only leaned at the show that UK holiday parks are a massive opportunity for us. Chris Brady from One Stop Spas is promoting our product over here and he explained to me just how big the UK holiday park market is. “Hot tubs in lodges see really intensive use – people aren’t used to them, so may want to spend half the day in the tub! In this case the chlorine can quickly run out. O-Care ensures contaminants don’t settle and cause a biofilm, ensuring chlorine is much more effective when topped up. “So, while it’s early days, we think that holiday parks could become a major market for us.”GETTING IN-LINEDarlly Europe, the UK’s leading supplier of replacement hot tub filters, launched its new SaniStream direct line filtration system at the show. A new solution for HSG282 compliance for the majority of hot tubs on sale in the UK, the SaniStream is an inline dosing dispenser which allows for the continuous dosing of chlorine or bromine tablets or bromine granules.“The majority of infection in hot tubs is in the filter, so having a sanitiser inline is an ideal solution,” says Darlly’s Gil Gingell.Superior Spas had all bases covered with three ranges on show, to suit all tastes and budgets. “By offering spas across the range, we can offer customers what they want. There’s been a great deal of interest from dealers we already work with and the response so far has been very positive,” commented Sales Director Gareth Ward. “Dealers also like us as a company, as we try to take the ‘hassle’ out of things, leaving them to do what they do best, which is selling. Once a dealer sells a spa, that’s it – they don’t have to do anything REVIE Welse. We’ll deliver it, install it, service it and take care of all warranty issue down the line. We make it easy.” THE NEW BLACK Polyester is king for Spaeuro’s New Zealand owner Peter Hogg. “Old vinyl covers are on the way out and all the big brands, such as Jacuzzi and Bullfrog, are switching to polyester,” explained Peter. “It’s much easier to maintain than vinyl and is far more durable and long-lasting.” “It’s also ideal, as the same material can be used for outdoor furniture and umbrellas, so everything can match.” Another new product launch at the show was Hydrospares’ Spa Angel spa monitoring system. Monitoring temperature, sanitiser level, pH and power usage, it is easily retrofitted into the plumbing of any hot tub and sends out email or phone alerts when a reading is out of the desired range. It also allows the input of manual readings. “The product is brand new and we’re really just gauging interest at the show,” explained the company’s Director Rosie Cook. “We’re also running a trial at a holiday park near us at the moment, so once we’ve had a chance to analyse the results after the summer we’ll be in a much better position to know how to position and price the product.” Typical of the very positive post-show feedback came from Richard Hart of Aqua Warehouse: “It’s fair to say that this year’s SPATEX was the best one yet,” said Richard. “Not only were we busy on the stands, but the quality of the attendance was outstanding. I have never worked so hard in all my life. “In fact, we were so busy I made a note we need more staff for next year! We are now struggling to deal with all the enquiries. Not a bad problem to have!”