What's New in Bathtubs?

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Bathtubs have come a long way since great-grandma's time when a tin basin filled with buckets of tepid water was about as luxurious as a Saturday night soak got. Today, the hottest new tubs on the market are anything but utilitarian: They're more like hedonistic pleasure pods, loaded with features that emit an array of sounds, colors, scents, and vibrations.

Is all this high-tech bath wizardry just a bunch of hokum? Many medical professionals don't think so. Water therapies have long been used in Eastern medicine to enhance well-being, relieve pain and restore the balance of body and mind. In fact, buying a tub with one or more special features could prove to be a smart investment in your family's health and happiness. Check out some of the options available in today's modern bathtubs. 

Good Vibrations

Described by users as "music you can feel in your bones," new acoustic systems work by combining songs with vibrations that fill the bath and resound throughout your body. Kohler's VibrAcoustic technology is comfortably concealed under the tub's surface, where transducers broadcast the music below the waterline. You can choose from four built-in compositions, or plug in your smartphone, tablet or MP3 player to chill out to your own tunes. 

Quiet Whirlpools

It could be that a day filled with ringing cell phones and honking traffic leaves you craving stillness instead of The Stones. If that's the case, you might enjoy a hydrotherapy tub equipped with a so-called silent whirlpool, where all you'll hear is the sound of your own sighs. Canadian manufacturer MAAX offers a line of massage tubs that it claims are 66 percent quieter than other whirlpool systems. What's more, you'll be saving energy: The system recycles the heat generated by the pump back into the water, keeping you toasty warm while slashing your electricity usage by 350 watts.

Change the Color of Bath Water

During the 1970s, there was a craze for mood rings: stones that changed color according to the wearer's emotional state. Although mood rings may have been just a fad, there is strong evidence of a link between color and feelings. That's the science behind chromotherapy, a cutting-edge tub option that uses a palette of LED lights to change your bath water's hue and—presumably—improve your mood.

Based on Ayurvedic healing rituals practiced in India for centuries, chromotherapy treatments employ warm colors such as red and yellow to increase alertness; cool indigo and violet to inspire calm. Companies such as Kohler, MAAX, and BainUltra have all dived into the chromotherapy craze, and you can, too—if you've got the cash. 

Add Aromatherapy

Did you know that you can intensify the positive effects of your aromatherapy bath session by pairing it with aromatherapy? For instance, combine violet light with the scents of lavender and jasmine when you want to unwind. For a more stimulating effect, rosemary teamed with a red light will do the trick. The MAAX AromaScents option features a built-in pump that diffuses a gently scented mist. Just add a few drops of essential oil that never touches the bathwater, and you're on your way to the energy level of your choice.

It's Like a Heatwave

Is your spine aching from the hours you spend hunched over a keyboard? You'll find sweet relief in a tub from Kohler with a Bask™ heated surface. With three customized settings, this feature allows the bather to recline against a heated portion of the tub that complements the temperature of the water.

MAAX tubs with the ThermaZone™ option include a heated backrest with your choice of temperature settings to melt away muscle tension in the neck, back, and shoulders. And with one of Aquatic's HotSoak new tubs, you can linger in soothing warmth as long as you like, thanks to an inline heater that steadily maintains your desired bath temperature.