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Sapphire Spas - Coral Sands Quartz
After having an above ground pool for a few years we discovered that we always kept it heated to around 30C and just liked to sit in it rather than actually doing anything else. When we decided to revamp our garden we were torn between buying a proper, inground pool or a hot tub. Now our garden is a typical British semi-detached 80s house garden - i.e. not very big. A pool would take over half the garden and reduce the value of our house. A hot tub seemed the obvious solution. It could take pride of place in the garden, and give the garden some reason for existing. Both of us suffer from muscle and joint problems so it would be ideal to help us with that as well.
The issue we found was the price. We set ourselves a strict budget of £3,000 knowing that it would be difficult to get a "proper" tub (i.e. not a plastic half barrel or an inflatable spa) for that price but also knowing that we wouldn't be left skint after buying it!
Almost everyone was telling us to spend more than £5000 on a spa to ensure we get good quality, and not some "cheap Chinese import". We were even told by one showroom to "come back when we've won the lottery". Gee thanks "Vision Spas" of Hucknall, way to get yourselves some custom (not).
Anyway, after some searching we visited Leicester Hot Tub Hire who were selling a Coral Sands Quartz for £2995. This includes delivery in Leicestershire but being in Notts this cost us £75 for delivery and installation. A very good price if you ask me. This model is around the £3k mark at most Sapphire Spas dealers in the UK.
Sapphire Spas are not a "cheap Chinese import" we had been warned about, but a reputable Australian firm. They are imported from Australia, even having an Australian plug on them when they arrive! They are modified for the British market by having a more powerful heater, and a better-insulated cover for our cold winters!
Before it was delivered we made a wooden frame, filled it with gravel and slabs and dug it into the ground. This is more than sufficient for the weight and is perfectly level, with gravel around it you don't even see the wooden frame. We had an electrician wire in some armoured cable from the fusebox in the garage to the garden, the installers wired this in when the hot tub came and we buried the cable.
Within 2 hours the tub was full, and within 8 hours was warm enough for a soak!
The tub is incredibly relaxing. It has all the jets you want, a two speed pump and three speed air blower. It features Ozone (a feature commonly found on more expensive spas to help keep the water clean) and has more than adequate room for 4 people. It will seat 5 but one of you has to sit on the "bench" seat, which isn't moulded.
We can easily sit in comfort for ages on a crisp, cold, winters night, watching shooting stars overhead while we bask in 40 degree water massaging us, taking the weight off our bodies.
We are using the tub at least once daily and once a week we have to put Aquagarde in (200ml), a chlorine tablet in the dispenser, and clean the filters. All in all this takes maybe 20 minutes a week, and maintenance is done. We have to budget for this though, as it is £90 per quarter - but you don't have to buy any further chemicals, and there is no nasty chlorine smell.
All in all, I simply cannot see why anyone would want a more expensive hot tub than this. Showrooms with more brand name spas (Arctic Spas, Jacuzzi etc) will tell you to buy a more expensive spa as it is high quality and has a long warranty. The workmanship on our Sapphire is impeccable, the case is high quality and the insulation is perfect. Once it's up to temperature the 2Kw heater just keeps it ticking over, hardly ever kicking in as the combination of insulation and the heavy lid keep all the heat in.
There is a 10 year warranty on the shell, as well as 5 years warranty on pumps/parts.
The only way I would improve it is to put a light in, but if you go for the Coral Sands Opal (next one up), you get a light as well. We are planning to erect lights on the gazebo over the hot tub anyway so it isn't a problem.
All in all I am very satisfied, and feel very smug that we have a high quality, Australian built, great hot tub for a fraction of the price we would pay for another brand.
Don't even bother with Carcraft. We bought a car from there and were conned for a total of £6,000 for a car that we later found out was valued at only £3,000. The car was originally at up at £8,500 and we were given a so called "managers discretion" discount, yet still ended up paying twice the amount the car is valued at. We test drove a 406 that was up for £8,000 which was actually valued at £3,000.
We also got conned out of £300 for an "extended warranty" as the original one "isn't very good" (their words). They take you in on the premise that it's all included, and when you sign to accept it they tell you it actually costs another £300. Reading the warranty properly when we got home we found out it actually isn't worth the paper it's written on - there are get-out clauses throughout so in effect they don't have to pay out for anything pretty much!
The salesmen are extremely pushy and like "We'll just ask you to sign this, it's only a formality" with everything. Reading through the paperwork properly (I imagine most people don't spend 15 mins reading through it thoroughly) you find out they're trying to get you to sign your life away on credit and extras. I'm glad we did read it properly - I urge anybody else to do the same.
We wouldn't touch these conmen again with a bargepole. Don't let these cowboys get any more money, hopefully the trading standards agency will catch up with them soon and they will be shut down.