Great Marketing Vs. Great Hot Tubs

Great Hot Tubs or great marketing. You can’t have them both and you can’t relax in a brochure.

There are 2 business models for Hot Tub manufacturers and unfortunately, the best business model is to Build a mid grade spa and spend a lot of money on fancy marketing, spin, and advertising.

The reality is marketing trumps, and the pitch and the spin are nearly impossible to sort from the reality.

One of the best things you can do is this analyse where the money is being spent.

For example, we can pitch reflective foils as a good insulation system, and we can pitch perimeter foam or full foam as great systems but looking past the hype and the pitch to what costs the most is a great way to determine what is really the best system, it’s easy… Full foam uses 3x more of the expensive expanding foam so it costs 3x more… similarly, the good North American parts cost more than the cheap Chinese parts and building a good hand rolled fibreglass shell cost the most.

 

 

62 Comments:

  1. hi was looking in to buying either a beachcomber 740 model or a master spa twilight ts 7.25 or twilight 8 ts 8.3 was wondering what the better choice would be and how much from Toronto

    • Both spas are built very well, they use good vinyl ester resin cored hand rolled self-supporting shells and Balboa controls and heating systems.

      from a performance standpoint, they are in two very different classes, beachcomber 740 compares more the healthy living line of spas from therapy massage standpoint, they do not do any really high-end massage spas. look at the jetting and flow control systems…

      If you want just well-built spas then wither will do for you but if its all about the massage then the Twilight by a huge margin… the best massage chair in the beachcomber has a couple of the good expensive hi flow jets and you can get around 3 hp through the seat, the top twlight seat has 7 hi flow and 4 mid flow and you can put a wqhole 6 hp pump through the seat, they are simply not in the same realm… for a better comparison to the Beachcomber look at a healty living, or legacy spa.

      the 740 should be around the $10-12k range but beachcomber pricing is bonkers… there is no justification for the suggested retails they are totally out of whack, the HL or legacy should be around the same 11k mark the Twilight should be around $13500

  2. Hi.

    We live in Coeur d’alene ID. and looking at a Viking Heritage 71. What is your opinion of this brand.

    • Cant say i am a fan.

      Viking has been around forever but never really became a serious player, the problem is unless you get big enough you can’t afford to build everything to the top spec. While the parts are good, I don’t like the plastic shell, I really want a good Hand rolled fibreglass shell. The pipes are not clamped, and the insulation is not my recommended system. all in all its what most spas are, some good, some bad and some ugly…

      go see the Artesian spas here:

      Priano’s Billiards & Backyards
      (208) 292-4126
      318 West Haycraft Ave.
      Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

      prianossales@gmail.com

  3. Hi, I have a Vita,Jacuzzi and Bullfrog dealer in my area and a cal spa. The cal spa dealer is just a rep, he does not have a place to go see the tub. His price is much lower. They have all been around for 15+years. Being a first time buyer its hard to buy a tub that i can’t see first. what do you think? Thanks

  4. First time buyer….been reading your comments and watching your videos….so much information. We have only one dealer close to us, we live out on the Olympic Peninsula, and one of your top recommendations is to buy from a local dealer. They sell these brands….Hot Spring, Hotspot, Cladera and Fantasy. Any recommendations on which to buy?

    • if they have been selling the line for 5 years or more than even though it’s not my goto brand at least they will know its issues and be able to take care of you.

      On the other hand, a great dealer is key, but a great dealer is not about proximity. It’s about knowledge and communication, there are always local handymen or electricians that can swap parts on a spa using the good OEM parts…

      • Looking for a good round 6′ hot tub. Live near Indianapolis, IN. Your suggestions and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

      • Chris: I am trying to find a reliable Hot Tub in the Las Vegas area that I will fit comfortably in. Big fan of your posts at Hot Tub University.

        I am looker for a larger tub–would like a lounger seat, but I am 6’4″ and most I try don’t seem to fit me correctly–so ok with just getting a 6-7 person seated tub with strong jets and good therapeutic qualities.

        Have you ever looked at the “poolandsparatings.com” post from 2013 and what can you tell me about their grading or overall scoring of many brands of Hot Tubs?

        Also what can you tell me the good, the bad and the ugly about the Dr. Wellness G-20K or G-13 models?

        • I had a cruise around the poolandspararating site and the rating criteria and rankings and it seems totally arbitrary and was before all the cheap pats came into being. I would say they are a Hot Springs dealer 🙂

          I can’t find much real info on the Dr wellness a lot of vague references about inexpensive spas being affordable, It’s using some control and heating system I have never seen and I have seen all the top 5. I love the crazy free heat pitch about the friction manifolds 🙂 The laws of physics are clear and they do apply even in the blissful world of your hot tub 🙂 an electric immersion heater is super efficient… Friction heat means we take electrical energy transform it into mechanical energy of the spinning motor (loose a percentage from the transfer), then transfer it to water pressure in the pump (loose a percentage from the transfer) then convert the water motion back to mechanical energy of the friction heater (loose a percentage from the transfer) then make heat ..LMAO… it’s a gimmick… way less efficient than just using the electrical energy and making heat

  5. Hi
    We are first time buyers and live in Winnipeg. We are trying to decide on a brand which has good insulation (given our extreme winter weather), good jet power for a healthy massage, relatively low maintenance and reliability. We looked at Arctic as they have a nice esthetic (cedar surround) and promote their insulation factor but they seemed to come on with a hard sell and it looks like you have some unfavorable opinions. What other options could you suggest? Do you know of any other recommended companies have the cedar surround? Could the surround be changed to cedar on other tubs after purchase or is the shell integral to the structure? Thanks for your opinion.

    • Hi James

      Yeah, I am not a big fan of the brand, I tore one apart and can see no justification for the high pricing, Rising dragon jets, no-name control systems they are having made in Asia, very little insulation and they don’t even clamp the plumbing.

      dude go see the boys at Krevco, they sell Master, Its one of my goto brands. http://www.krevco.com/

  6. Hi Chris. Great wealth of info. Thanks. Do you have any insight into Dimension One Spas?

    • bought by the jacuzzi group, last i saw they had gecko electronics and built a decent spa but with a perimiter insualtion.

      not on my top list but not a nightmare brand.

  7. In my area ottawa ontario we are looking at 3 different hot tubs; beachcomber, artic and signature and as well there is a guy who sells his hot tubs out of warehouse Pinnacle hot tub. Everyone has a pitch why they are better. Looking for 6 to 8 person hot tub reliable under 10k.

    • Beachcomber out of that group would be my choice.

      Not a fan of Arctic at all, good shell and the rest is middle of the road. Pinnacle again would not be on my floor

  8. Looking for a Master spa dealer in the Spokane, WA area. Seeking a small spa 2 to 3 person thar will retain heat in cold winter usage. I did locate a Marques dealer. Thank you, GHS

  9. HI, first time hot tub buyer. Looking to buy local in San luis obispo, CA. we have 3 choices. Jacuzzi J-335 ($8500), Vita 300 elegant($6400) and Bullfrog RL7($7700).
    Any thoughts? thanks for your help

    • Of the three Bullfrag I guess, at least the parts are compliant, and the insulation is good.

      Vita is middle of the road in my opinion, the steel frame I do not like, its a gimmick and noisy and usually needed if you are making a thin shell that needs supporting.

      The biggest problem I have is the reflective insulation systems, they are cheap and not very effective.

      There are a lot of different reflective surfaces but the truth is it does not change the fact that they are reflective insulation only dealing with radiant heat and the backing has minimal thermal mass.

      The problem with radiant insulation is that it is just not that good at containing heat in a system, especially when installed in a hot tub. Radiant barriers work well at bouncing heat away so in Florida they are good in attics to keep the heat out.

      There are enough studies out there to make a good solid scientific case against these radiant systems used to contain heat in a system and the reality is some hot tub company with some marketing spin is in no way changing that scientific data.

      copper, whiteboard, Bi pet foils they are all the same theory.. reflecting infrared spectrum back… Changing the reflective material has almost no effect because it’s not the quality of the reflector that is in question it is the science of reflective insulation systems being applicable to this application that is in question.

      http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/

      • Thanks for the reply and info. I have found a local dealer who sales Marquis.
        We are looking at the 425. Do you recommend the Marquis over the Bullfrog?
        The Bullfrog seems a little gimmicky.
        thanks
        PS price is simalier

  10. Hi. I dont know if you still see these new comments now. Our heads are spinning from looking at hot tubs. We have looked at so many. Currently between a Dynasty, a Maxx, or a Mira. We are in the USA in Ohio. Finding reviews on these have been so tough. Maxx acts like thier perimeter insulation is best. We question that with the cold Ohio winters. Have you heard of these brands and have an opinion on which may be best?

  11. Hi again. Apologies for asking again but we are in the market ASAP for a new hot tub. We have stuck way too much money in trying to kerp our old one alive that we are biting the bullet and going new. Need it for chronic back and neck pain management. Used almost daily. Must be goid in cold weather. Looking in St. Cloud MN. Too many manuf. Touting they’re the best and don’t know what to believe. Narrowed down sumwhat to Arctic. Cal Spa. ThermoSpa. Master spa. Any and all info into these brands and others is greatly welcome. Thank you.

    • Hi Tisha

      Bad Timing I was away for a week at races with my boy 🙂

      Get the Master, they are built better and efficient and use good parts.

      • Okay. Im wavering on pulling the pin on the master spa. Theres just so much contradictory info out there. So I’m torn between master spa twilight 7.2, hot springs highlife aria, cal spa huntington or la jolla. I like the motomassage on hot springs & the ATS seat on the cal. Our friends love their Maxx but dont know much about them. The more i look the more confused I’m getting. I need to hear why not to go with one of these. Uhg! Help please.

    • How about Hot Springs highlife series. Jetsetter?

  12. Your site has been really informative so keep up the great work it’s really appreciated!

    We live in Eastern Ontario just outside of Ottawa and have been shopping around the local dealers. Wow what an experience as it really is a gong show of information (one says one thing and the other says the opposite). I think we’ve narrowed down our decision (much due to the info on your website and feedback from others).

    So a little about us. We are 2 adults who will be using the tub for our own use with maybe 5% of the time having visitors use it as well. We plan on using it year round and are looking for a reliable, comfortable tub that will offer the easiest in terms of maintenance while keeping the tube healthy and safe.

    We’ve narrowed our choice down to 2 brands / models. The first is the Marquis Vector 84 and the other is the Artesian Captiva Elite.

    The Artesian is about 3K higher in price offers more pumps and seat controls due to the extra pump(s), has about 50 gallons more in capacity (so similar) and is sold by a large pool/spa company with a big service center but seems like it may take a few weeks for delivery and we get the hunch it make take that long to book a service appointment in the future as well. For accessories there is no filtration system (Ozone, UV etc….) other than the cylindrical pleated filters and mesh. Does come with a waterfall (2) and LED lights. Does not come with Ozone or UV systems (optional). It does come with more jets (55 + Dual Footblaster) than the Marquis Vector. Warranty seems better and includes labor (there is a mileage charge of $50.00 per visit)

    The Marquis Vector V84 is a nice looking tube and comes with a lower price tag and comes with 2 motors, 2 pop up water streams / waterfalls and there is a promo where they are including the Starlight L.E.D. lighting, Ozonator (I know you’re not a fan but it’s included 😉 ). My concern is that it has 36 jets + 1 Whitewater vs the Artesian with more jets. Warranty is for parts only according to the dealer but labor/mileage is extra.

    Both tubs have full soft foam interiors, close off valves at the pumps, well supported internals and what seems to be fairly similar cabinetry.

    We are really unable to decide.

    regards,

    2 hot tube newbies in Ontario

    • These are both well-built tubs, try them out because the reality is its personal preference from here on out…

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply. It’s really appreciated. May we ask where you are located and do you ever have any tubs sent up to our area?

  13. In this post you talk about expo shows and your concerns with them. Master Spa is having a show in my area soon. There is no Master Spa dealer in my area so should I stay away from the “show” or go ahead and purchase here?

    • Sorry for the delay been busy and I’m a one man show :-0

      Expos are like anything good if they are done right, a shit show if they are not. Just like buying from a local dealer really good if it’s a great dealer a shit show if it’s not…

      If you are a handy person and don’t mind doing some of your own stuff If you have a good local Handyperson you can pay if the Expo dealer has a good local service guy then this can be a good option to buy a hot tub…

      But You can likely get as good of a deal from a good hi volume local guy especially if he is a warehouse direct operation where he has low overheads. In my Area, the expo pricing is very similar to my price but I am an Inigma.. after 30 years in this game, i sell a couple hundred spas from my backyard… Low overhead decent volume great service…

      The reality is great dealer support has way less to do with proximity than it does with great communication and knowledge. I am a better dealer at 1000 miles away than probably 80% of the local dealers because I am proactive in communication, organised in response, knowledgeable, and very careful with overheads…

      so to answer your question every purchase has the risk of having poor backup and support, for me I wouldn’t care about a local dealer just a good communicator because I would just get the part shipped to me, and put it in or get a local guy to put it in, if you do this the dealer should pay you the factory warranty portion of around $40-$50 USD.

  14. I have a 14 yr old daughter with very bad psoriatic arthritis. She also has the skin plaque psoriasis and chlorine is an irritant. I need to get the best massage tub with the best salt system. I’m overwhelmed with decisions . We live on the east coast where everything is accessible. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    • Hi trisha

      be careful of salt systems… they just make chlorine or bromine and are 2-3 times higher chemical than a mineral salt system like Aquafinesse or Mineral Lux watch this video:

      [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxrbD7P7umA&w=560&h=315]

  15. Hi, what a great resource your site is!
    We live in Clayton, NY on the Canadian border, and are looking to replace our (still working!) vintage Tiger River Bengal.
    The Canadian dealers I called either won’t deliver to our area and/or say they would charge sales tax.
    On the US side, there are 3 dealers who would deliver & service: Hot Springs, Caldera & PDC. We’ve used the Hot Springs dealer over the years with good results.
    There is a Marquis dealer about 2 1/2 hours away that will not deliver to us, and the Master Spa site directs me to an Indiana location.
    I don’t fully understand how an “out of market” transaction works if you run into any problems.
    Would you recommend we go that route rather than buy the brands sold by local dealers?
    Thank you!

  16. Chris, I’m down to a Sundance 780, Master twilight 8.2, and artesian grand bahama. Please help.
    Thanks, Mike

    • The Artesian or the TS

      If it’s all about the massage then the TS for sure, it has a lot more of the expensive large therapy jets than the Artesian.

      If it’s more about chilling and entertaining than either the ASrtesian or The Healthy Livings.

    • Chris I chose the twilight. After they delivered I discovered it was a new 2016. Is there any difference between a 2016 vs a 2017? As a dealer would you ever deliver a year end model instead of current yr model without telling the customer? Also how does if affect warranty? Haven’t decided whether to make them take it back.

      • That’s a funny one but not unheard of.

        Big dealers will often have models from previous years or they might have bought off the factory stock list which sometimes had previous year stock and no there is no difference except some of the jets and they could be exchanged but I actually like the old rotors a little better 🙂

        The warranty starts when you took delivery and really it makes little or no difference.

  17. We are trying to decide on a Hot Tub. Choices are limited here in Lake Havasu City, Az. Have narrowed down to Hot Springs Pulse or Tropic Seas Oahu. Any thoughts on these would be appreciated!

    • Hi! Great website! Looking for a hot tub south of Boston. Have 6 in my family, so something large, with great therapeutic jets for tight muscles. Thinking of master twilight based on your reviews. Are there any other brands/spas that are a good value in this range and area? Also, thinking of perhaps a spa/swim spa combo–any recommendations on those? Thank you so much–this is a mind boggling process!

      • Hi Tina

        For the whole package, the Twilight is hard to touch. There are spas that perform as well that are poorly built and there are spas that are built as well but performance wise are not quite there.

        For Swimmers the Trainer 19 Deep hands down… Its the official spa of the Ironman competitions. Flows tonnes of water, 60″ deep, and built and insulated right…

  18. Hi we are first time hot tub buyers. We are looking at Sundance, or one of the Jacuzzi brands. Mostly Sundance, what are your thoughts on this brand?

    • Both brands have great marketing as do all the big corporate brands,Sundance is owned by the same arent at Jacuzzi… its what they do best. unfortunately the cost of doing great branding and marketing is that there is just not that much left to build the actual product… they use a lot of no name parts they have made for them that just fit thier spas.

  19. Mark Newbigging

    Hey what are garden liesure tubs like is cement a good foundation to put a tub on thanx

    • The red flag here is the insulation system. They like to advertise the Icynene name and to say they are using expanded foam but it looks like they are only using a thin layer on the shell. this is doubly bad because the pitch is all about the heat from the motor being trapped under the spa and soaking into the shell but they have insulation on the shell 🙂 It’s like bad on top of stupid on top of cheap. they also use a gecko controls I really like to see a Balboa system.

      Can’t find anything about the shell but they do glue and clamp the plumbing.

      It’s not that it’s a bad tub it’s just like 90% of the stuff… some good some bad and some ugly…

  20. Hi!
    Thank you for all the information. It’s a bit mind-boggling! This will be our first hot tub purchase,
    I haven’t found anyone in Boise Idaho who sells master spas. So it’s between the Marquis vector 84 and the Hot Spring Aria. The Hot Spring is $12599 with the Ace system included (promotion) With a 5 year warranty. The Vector is $7795. I think it was a 2 year warranty. Both are reputable dealers and good reviews on their customer service. That’s a HUGE price difference, and from what I’ve read here…I think I know what you might say? 😬 But will you say it anyway? Thank you so much!

    • Buy the Artesian… better more reliable, and easier to source competitive parts for, also don’t buy into the miracle onboard chemical reduction systems, ACE is a salt system that just makes chlorine or bromine… there is better tech out there for sure…

  21. Hi, we are also looking for help in Sacramento ca to purchase hot tub. Really appreciate all the info on your site, things not on our radar and we try to be educated shoppers. We are looking at a Marquis 425, a cal spa gen ll S-621lL Hawaiian and a Master HL 630 or HL 616L so far as we want lower profile, 110v if possible and of course a good price. Any feedback or input on these or maybe others is much appreciated.

    • Hi Tricia

      The Marquis or the Master would be my preference. but have a look at the new Getaway Hot Tubs Your Master dealer can get them and they are arguably one of the best plug-in models out there.

  22. thanks so much for sharing your knowledge ! I’m shopping for a 5-6 person looked at caLadera, hot springs, sundance and masters (HC8 – put deposit at a show today price is 7700 with rocket cover and extended warranty 5/7… saw some scary reviews about shows and masters bug u seem to be a fan am I doing the right thing with my hard earned $’s?!? I have 72 hours to change my mind help!

    • I don’t really read reviews anymore for anything, What started as a great idea to provide honest feedback has been taken over by the industry. There is no way to know if they are real and I always think the best ones and the worst ones are bullshit.

      The expo events are a big target. They come into a town and sell a pile of tubs in a city. The local dealers who live and work there get furious… You have to know that there is a real high likelihood that those guys are going to slam the event every way they can including posting reviews and posing as customers on discussion forums. You can’t really blame them this is their market where they work and support the local community.

      I know 100% for a fact that companies post fake reviews, and pay bloggers to post on forums and review sites… the only ones you can really trust are the BBB and things like consumer affairs and if you look into it master has the BBB Torch award for marketplace ethics and routinely wins the Consumers Digest best buy awards, and you can’t buy or influence or even advertise with them.

      • Hi
        Thanks again for all the helpful info. the show I went to was in Manchester nh and was actually sponsored by a local dealer. I called this morning to ask about hl 7 vs hl 8 because I am nervous about decision to go bigger due to energy cost in nh. was pleasantly surprised when phone was answered on 2nd ring. Lewis was very helpful too! i hope the experience will continue to exceed expectations. I guess im looking for confirmation im spending my hard earned money on the h8. 7700 including rocket cover and extended 5 year warranty and that the h8 monthly energy cost won’t break my bank.

  23. Hi. looking for help. I live in Simpsonville SC. looking for a hot tub ( 6-8 person) that is extra deep . I like it for massage and relaxation. I have read several of your reviews. Can you give me some guidance on who to contact in my area for the best spa available. Looks like master spa dealer is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away. just reached out to someone who may carry marquis in my town. any other thoughts?

    • Yeah Genko sells the marquis that’s the only brand in your area I would buy, speak to the master dealer frankly 1.5 hours away for a busy dealer is nothing…

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