For information about in-ground spas, we consulted SpaSearch.org, Pool & Spa Living, PoolAndSpa.com and HotTubSpaRatings.com, which all provide useful (if somewhat general) information about above-ground acrylic hot tubs, including buyer's guides, photo galleries and comments from owners.
In-ground spas are the most expensive type, as installing them requires excavation as well as plumbing and electrical work. These hot tubs are typically made of gunite (pneumatically applied concrete) or standard concrete, and sometimes have a decorative tile overlay. Most in-ground hot tubs feature basic seating arrangements, generally consisting of step-type or bench seats. These are the most expensive types of hot tub to operate and maintain, but experts say they heat faster, hold their heat better and are more aesthetically pleasing than other spas. They're also the only type of spa that is practically guaranteed to raise the value of your home. If you don't want to bother with excavation and installation, you may want to consider an acrylic above-ground hot tub (*est. $3,000 to $10,000).
This website comprises dozens of articles related to hot-tub buying decisions, including construction, features, maintenance, safety and installation, and also includes the results of a customer satisfaction survey.
Review: Buying a Hot Tub, Editors of SpaSearch.org
2. Pool & Spa Living magazine
This website includes some good articles on choosing a spa, as well as on installation and maintenance issues. Pool & Spa Living also runs lots of pictures of fancy and not-so-fancy spas, so you can get a good idea about what's out there.
Review: Hot Tubs and Spas Articles Archive, Contributing editors to Pool & Spa Living
This retailer sells parts, chemicals and accessories for hot tubs, but not the tubs themselves. Most of the site is very commercial, but the article on buying considerations is helpful. The short guide covers material types, installation considerations and a shopping checklist.
Review: Planning to Buy a Hot Tub Spa?, Editors of PoolAndSpa.com
4. HotTub SpaRatings.com
Although this website isn't very easy to navigate, there's a better collection of glossary terms and advice here than at any other website we found, as well as a substantial number of user reviews of various hot tubs.
Review: Hot Tub and Spa Reviews, Contributors to HotTubSpaRatings.com