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Bath: In Hot Water?

The thermal waters of Bath, England, have attracted travelers for at least 10 millennia. Over the past few years, the development of the historic Georgian baths into Thermae Bath Spa, a high-end facility designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, has been delayed by a series of snags, including environmentalists' lawsuits, political infighting, even nesting mallards (they had to be relocated). The latest delay?Weeks before the spa's splashy opening party last summer, workers discovered that the paint in all four pools had begun to peel. The spa never opened.

No one knows why the water-resistant paint didn't stick. The architects, contractor, and client are blaming one another; legal arbitration is ongoing. Crews have grit-blasted the pools and applied an epoxy coating called Krautoxin. Concrete steps in the pools have been razed to make way for stainless-steel replacements. The budget, initially set at about $35 million, is approaching $65 million.

Giles White, spokesman for the Bath Spa Project, anticipates that the spa will open by the end of this year. However, after so many false starts, sybarites aren't lining up for treatments just yet.

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