Hot Tub Buyers Guide

Hot Tub Buyers Guide

Buying a hot tub is a nightmare.

The truth is, there are so many side track issues, exaggerations and outright misinformation perpetuated by manufacturers and retailers alike that even an intelligent, diligent researcher does not have a hope in hell of making an educated buying decision.

Part of the problem is most of the retailers don’t really know that much about the hot tub industry or what really makes a great hot tub. For the most part, they are just regurgitating the pitch they got when they bought the line of spas they are selling.

I’ll break this down into a few sections, first lets talk about the real issue that will make the biggest difference to your hot tub buying choice, then the pitches that are all about side tracking you… I call these the spin issues, then a list of questions to ask your local retailer.

After more than 20 years in almost all aspects of this industry, I don’t know much… but I know way too much about the hot tub industry….

The Stuff that really matters

The Dealer:

Ok first is the Dealer…

Trust me here folks… A good industry person with 20 years under their belt who has been under the spas fixing them, selling them and designing them will have made a good choice on the line of spas he carries. They will also know how to look after you and the product in the field… If you are lucky enough to have an expert in your local market then you are golden, but the reality is most of the people in the hot tub industry are not experts… They just went shopping for hot tubs like you are now except they went to the spa industry show in las Vegas and bought in a line of hot tubs based on a sales pitch from the manufacturer… And now they are regurgitating the same pitch back to you… Ask questions… Get a feel for their industry knowledge instead of just product knowledge… Just because someone believes something to be true doesn’t mean they have an understanding of the nuances of the product,sometimes it just means they drank the Koolaid :-).

There is no substitute for experience and a good dealer will make more difference to you than any other single factor…”

Components:

Now I will only say this a million times so listen close… components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components…

In case you missed that people, it is all about the components!!!

When we build a hot tub we can buy good solid proven track record components like Balboa heating and control systems, and Waterways jets, pumps, and fittings or we can buy inexpensive components like Rising Dragon jets, controls and filters… And there are also a whole pile of guys in the middle. but understand one thing!!!

No hot tub company in the world really builds their own electronic control and heating systems, nor do they make their own jets, pumps or fittings…”

The idea is ludicrous really, there is no way any hot tub company, not even the giants like Master Spas and Watkins could ever build and maintain their own electronic fabrication facility nor could they build their own plastic fabrication plant. The idea is silly… All they do is have someone build the parts for them and then private label it.

If a company is claiming that they build their own components then they are almost certainly hiding a cheap component behind a fancy label…”

If they are using the number one big brands like Balboa and Waterways then they are going to talk about components because they are using the best you can buy and want you to know it. If they are using cheap Chinese knock offs then they will talk about the side track issues, like shells, bases, and frames. In some instances even claim they build their own parts…

Shells:

Shells construction can vary vastly and the way a shell is built will affect how long your spa will last…

Almost everybody uses the same shell materials but the manufacturing technique can make a drastic difference in the cost and the reliability of your hot tub main component… the shell

  • Hand rolled self-supporting shells are rare, most use a band aid approach of props, supports, and steel re-enforcing to try and keep cheap shells from falling apart.
  • Thick edges do not mean the whole shell is thicker, it just means they make the edge thick to give you that warm fuzzy feeling 🙂
  • supports under the seats to support the shell are not a good thing they mean the shell is cheap and thin and needs supporting to hold up

The Side-track issues

This list is Huge because there are more non-issues spun into issues than anything else.

“While the manufacturers of the components like Balboa and Waterways hold many useful patents on the parts in your hot tub, Very few hot tub manufacturers hold any really significant patents…”

Base of the hot tub

The pitch from the companies that use these over engineered bases is that the base is critical to keeping moisture and vermin out of the tub and that you can put the tub right on the grass without hurting the tub. The pitch is that the overall cost of buying the product is going to be reduced by not haveing to properly prepare the ground… Folks this is just bad advice. We don’t do groundwork to protect the tub we do it to make sure the ground does not settle unevenly.  If you drop a tub on the ground you will have to lift it in a few years and re-level it… Do it right the first time… no matter what the sales guy says put a patio stone base down and avoid the many issues that come with bad ground prep.

The moisture issue is solved by any vapor barrier on the base and the really important issue for controlling moisture is the base you put the tub on, make sure there is good drainage under the spa. Vermin on the other hand generally get in through the corners at either the bottom where it joins the base or the top where it meets the shell.

What’s important

All you care about here is that there is a vapor barrier, and ideally, you will put a patio stone or similar base that drains well under the spa.

Some Manufacturers put super heavy-grade bases under their spa but the truth is there is little or no real value here.

The tubs with crazy moulded bases fall into one of two groups:

  1. Low-end tubs using cheap parts and thin shells that need a heavy grade base to hold the shell together, or use the base as a sidetrack issue to cover up a cheap component list.
  2. Crazy super hi-end spas that have every conceivable upgrade and you are paying the crazy Hi-end prices.

In either case, don’t put too much weight on this feature, it will not really make a difference to your spa experience or to the longevity of your hot tub.

Do not buy into that crazy pitch that you can put your tub on any flat level surface without the proper ground prep. It will not hurt the hot tub, but the ground will not settle evenly and in a couple years, you will have to lift your tub and do it properly.

Frame

On modern spas, the frame is just there to hold the skirt on, again all but the cheapest end of the market makes self-supporting shells now which simply means the shell can hold the water without support from a frame.

  • Spas that use heavy frames or steel frames are usually using thin cheap shells that need to be supported.
  • The frame does not need to pressure treated, it is not like your deck that is exposed to the elements, your frame is covered by the skirt and is dry and protected.

“It is dry as hell under the skirt of a hot tub, you do not care if the material is wood, pressure treated wood, or metal, you will never have a frame failure…”

996 Comments:

  1. Hi,

    We are from Canada and looking to get a hot tub. We have never owned one before so were doing some research and came across your page. Very informative. We are currently looking at a Jacuzzi J325 bu were wondering what your thoughts are on the brand and what brNds/models you would think would do well here? We are in BC and winters get to around -15 C but usually -5-10 C. Appreciate your feedback and thoughts!

    • Hi Naomi

      jacuzzi belongs to the group of guys that I feel spend too much on branding and marketing and not enough on the tub. These guys have parts made that only fit their hot tub which means you are now in the unfortunate circumstance of having only one source for parts and limited fall back on service. I would never personally buy or sell a brand that does not use the good NA OEM parts that you can buy easily and competitively.

      email me where you live and ill see what I can find out there 🙂

      chris@hottubuniversity.com

      • Hi Chris,
        Have you heard of a soft tub? I know someone who has one and they say the chemical component is so easy, and they only need to apply chemicals and test the water yearly.
        I can’t find much info about them.
        How would you compare them with a Master Spa?

        • Hi Terri

          That’s a crazy claim. the soft tub does not have an onboard system that can account for this, alot of people use the spa frog with them but you cant use the enzyme or mineral salt system with them because the filtration rate is too low.

          it’s a lot of money for a vinyl liner spa with a control and heating system that is all proprietary with expensive replacement parts.

  2. We went to a Hot Tub show in Greensboro, NC. We are impressed with Master Spa. Do you know of a good distributor located near us that will provide good service? We live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Thank you!

    • Hi Ginger

      sorry for the late response, my wife was hospitalised Friday and its all been kind of flat out since then.

      Nothing right in your area but over near Raleigh…

      Spa & Pool Outlet
      Status: Unverified
      We know nothing about these guys but the carry Artesian and Marquis spas, 2 of our goto brands they also have some junk lines which always makes me wonder what the hell they are doing…

      Remove
      Details from Google Maps
      7963 Fayetteville Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603
      http://www.spapooloutlet.com
      +1 919-772-7745
      4.4View in Google Maps

  3. Hi, really appreciate the information on the site. We actively are looking for our first hot tub and have a space that can fit about 84″x84″. We are just getting started and looking at various options. Based on our price point of $10k or less, any recommendations? So far we have checked out Jacuzzi brand 345 series, Tropic Seas Kona, Master Spas Twilight Series 7.25, and Hot Springs Aria. The Hot Springs was over $13k, so above our budget unfortunately. Any recommendations from what we have seen or other brands/models we should look at when considering price point, climate, and operating costs? We live in Southeast Michigan near Detroit.

    • hi Greg

      Sorry for the delay in responding my wife was checked into the hospital a couple days going so It’s been a bit mad around here.

      Right off the bat, the jacuzzi in the Hot Springs wouldn’t be on my shortlist. The problem with these guys as they spend too much money on The Branding in the marketing and not enough money on building a hot tub. These are your mid-grade Spas wrapped and beautiful branding made to look like a high-end product. Goofy things like proprietary parts that you can’t Source easily, non-removable sides and other cost-cutting measures just take these guys out of my top range.

      The Master Spa range is one of my go-to Brands. Things like hand-rolled self-supporting shells glued and clamped Plumbing lines, good North American parts list and a full foam insulation package make it hard to compete against. If you can find a Marquis or Artesian dealer they’re also a good tub built very similarly.

  4. Hi,
    Great site. I’ve learned so much. We live in Southern California (90260) and we’re hoping to get some recommendation on hot tubs.
    We we were looking for a 3 or 4 person hot tub. Do you have any recommendations for brands and/or dealers near us. We went to look at some Hot Springs and Jacuzzi brands at a local dealer, but we’re new to this and have no idea what brands are good.
    We originally set out to spend about 4-5K, but would go higher for more quality. We were think about a plug and play model, but would be open to installing 220 if you think it would be worth it.
    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

    • Hey Jay

      man, that area of the country is downright dysfunctional when it comes to hot tubs. not many retailers and the ones that are left are all the big brand names like Hot Springs and Jacuzzi or low-end junk. the problem with the big heavily branded lines is a lot of fo times they are using goofy proprietary parts so they can screw you for life with crazy parts costs because no one can get you parts, I never look at brands that do not carry the top quality parts list. Not only will these parts be a lot more reliable but you will never have issues getting parts and the parts will be competitively priced because you can get them at loads of places online and in retail stores, plus when you stick with a good American made parts list you can get local service guys to fix it reliably.

      there is one gem down there… Nordic spas which do a great priced line that is built well. In cold climates like Canada, I would be hesitant because the insulation is not my number one rated system

      • Thanks so much for your quick response.
        We’re going to check out some Nordic brand hot tubs on Sunday.
        Do you have any thoughts/problems with round vs rectangular hot tubs?
        Also, do you have a ballpark figure for what something like an Impulse or an Impulse DP would costs? I’m sure it varies by region.
        Thanks in advance.

      • Hi,
        Amazing site… my wife and I have been researching tubs for some time now and was lucky to stumble on to your site. I’m in Hamilton, Ontario. Is there a dealer you would recommend in my area that I can go to?
        Thanks,
        Frank.

        • HOLY CRAP THATS DAMN NEAR WE OLD STOMPIN GROUNDS 🙂

          go see these guys:

          Premium Wholesale Home & Leisure
          Status: HTU ALL-STAR

          These guys are a big operation with a good service and backup support staff. Carrying Master, Twilight, H2X and MP legends
          Remove
          Details from Google Maps
          17 Manitou Dr, Kitchener, ON N2C 2J6
          http://www.premiumwholesale.ca
          +1 519-895-0606
          4.5View in Google Maps

          or

          Niagara Hot Tubs
          Unknown Dealer – Carries Master Spas
          Remove
          Details from Google Maps
          227 Bunting Rd, St. Catharines, ON L2M 3Y2
          http://www.niagarahottubs.com
          +1 905-684-0770
          5.0View in Google Maps

      • Great site, and I’ve already learned a bunch. I can guess where your response might lead, but here goes…

        Just starting to look at a spa and as you have written, it is a nightmare. The best local dealer (I’m in Huntsville, AL) sells Hot Springs and Sundance. We really liked the Cameo 880-but it was 15k and I really don’t want to spend 12-15k for a spa. I looked at Costco, but when I go online for opinions and reviews (other than the reviews for each item on the Costco site) nobody recommends them. I was particularly interested in this one:

        https://www.costco.com/Divine-Hot-Tubs-Sinclair-115-jet%2c-6-person-Spa.product.100338547.html. It’s $6,999.99, which is $1500 off until 03/04/18.

        Without a good local dealer, I’m not sure what the best option is, especially if buying online is not a good choice. At least Costco has a great return policy. Suggestions?

        • Hi David

          Sorry for the delay, My wife was hospitalised Friday and is sick as heck.

          Anyway… yer right if you have to buy out of the market than Costco seems like a safe bet because of the return policy but their spas are crap…

          Your market is a mess, loads of goofy brands and of course the big fancy marketing brands I don’t like the Hot Springs and Sundance Spas, these guys spend too much on the brand name bs and not enough on the hot tub.. goofy proprietary parts and in some cases even no removable skirts! these things are overpriced mid grade spas wrapped in beautiful marketing.

          I went through 15 different retailers and there is nothing on my top list at all.

          go see these guys, a bit out of the way but top brands.

          Hice’s Pool Spa & Patio
          Status: HTU Approved
          Brands: Master, H2x, Clarity, Twilight

          These guys have a great line of spas and good service.
          Remove
          Details from Google Maps
          507 W Lincoln St, Tullahoma, TN 37388
          http://www.facebook.com
          +1 931-455-2500
          5.0View in Google Maps
          35.35733, -86.21697

      • I couldn’t find the place to leave a stand alone question, so hopefully you will see this in the reply section! 🙂 We are in the Reno area and looked, today, at a Caldera, Niagara model. From browsing through the questions, you don’t seem to like the Calderas? Our choices here are rather limited, but we sure would like to know the positives and negatives before we make a decision. Thank you for your help!

        • Hi

          Caldera is owned by Watkins who owns Hot Springs, endless pool, limelight etc. ^Thesee guys don’t make my list because of the parts. Instead of using the really good reliable proven parts like Balboa heating and controls they get parts made to just fit their spas.. its a good ploy… cheaper parts, and you are locked in forever because you can only get the paRTS FROM THEM 🙂

          I would never buy or sell a brand that does do not use the good OEM parts…

          go see these guys

          Sun Leisure Pools & Spas
          Status: Unverified
          Approved Brand: Marquis

          We don’t know jack about the dealer but the brand is solid.
          Remove
          Details from Google Maps
          6323, 960 S McCarran Blvd, Sparks, NV 89431
          http://www.sunleisurepools.net
          +1 775-359-6073
          4.3View in Google Maps

  5. Hi! Thank you so much for all of the videos and clear information. What are your thoughts on Vita Spas (especially the prestige) and the sealed shell with appliance grade materials–has a lifetime warranty? Thanks so much! 🙂

    • They don’t clamp their plumbing lines and the insulation if you live in a cold area would be a no-go for me.

      I searched the Chesapeake area and there is a guy out a bit from you that does Master which is one of my goto brands.

      Innovative Spas
      Status: HTU ALL STAR

      These guys I have met and spoken to and have a good operation with a great line of spas
      Remove
      Details from Google Maps
      155 S Rosemont Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23452
      http://www.innovativespas.com
      +1 757-490-7727

      • Hi and thank you so much for your lightning fast response!! I ended up going to Innovative Spas today and talked to one of their salesmen. Wow, super impressed with the Master Spa vs. the other brands I’ve checked out this week–Vita Spas, Hot Springs, Bullfrog, Calderra. Love the “overkill” of the the glue, clamps, etc on the plumbing lines and that it’s an American company. Helps that the cabinet has a lifetime warranty too. Quoted for a limelight series $9850 i think 7.2 model and $8500 for healthy living HL7 model. Not sure if those are the model numbers–I need to go back and check. Thank you so much for helping me sort through the madness of making a hot tub purchase. You are awesome!! 🙂

      • Great site, Chris! And you’re so right: buying a hot tub IS a nightmare.

        I live in San Jose, California. There are no Master dealers near me except for a spa and bbq show this coming weekend, and I am VERY leery of buying at that type of venue with no local dealer as backup when things go wrong.

        There is a Marquis dealer about 45 minutes drive from me, in Livermore.

        What other brands are on your top list; I can’t seem to find it so I can search for local dealers? What we mainly have in this area are Hot Springs and Bullfrog, and I don’t think either brand is recommended by you.

        Would appreciate any thoughts/pointers and, again, thank you for this useful info you provide!

        • Ahhh

          That’s why I’m getting so much action down there this week!

          Man, I searched that area large this week and it explains why the independent service market is so buoyant there are like 4 guys down there doing service.

          It depends on the brand at the expo if it’s a good brand there are lots of resources on the ground for getting service done and you are probably fine if it’s a crap brand then it’s a crap brand.

          Drop me an email on chris@hottubuniversity.com and let me know who is doing it and ill look into it.

        • Hi Curtis, there is actually a Marquis dealer very close to you in San Mateo.
          PACIFIC COAST SAUNA AND SPA
          ADDRESS: 2176 S EL CAMINO REAL
          SAN MATEO, CA 94403
          PHONE:(650) 212-7727

      • So, any Master tub in the Twilight Series (i think I actually looked at the TS 7.25) under $10K is not a bad price? Thanks!

  6. Hi Chris,
    Thanks so much for the informative web site. I was at a Master Spa dealer last week, and am interested in the Twilight 87.3 version. I know you like the Master Spa series and they certainly are at the high end of the product line. So my question is around pricing. The 2017 model that I am looking at has a list price of $18,795 a dealer price of $13,900, and a floor model price of approx. $10,000. What is the best price that a consumer could expect to pay, or putting it another way, what is the dealer margin and what is typically negotiable regarding price. Thanks!

    • Hi Steve.

      Other than regional differences (small rural areas vs massive city’s) prices are fairly similar across the most lines a good retailer can usually sell at the same price as the big tent sales and state fairs and expos.

      Everyone quotes the pie in the sky retail, then the middle price is where you typically sell it. Getting a floor model can be the way to go and $10k for that tub in any market is low.

  7. What are your thoughts on Hydropool Spas? We had one at our last home, it was good to us and we’re considering another. Having owned a spa for a number of years I completely agree with the BS and hype the salesmen use to sell junk.

    • Not big fan.

      dont like pressure side filtration, dont like floor suctions(self cleaning) and definately do not like the radient barrier insualation…

      shell is ok parts are good all in all not somthing I would recomend especially as its sold as a high end spa, for that kid of money you can get somthing built better with way better insuation.

    • I have spent hours on your forum and appreciate your efforts. Looking for a new hot tub in the Denver area. What are your thoughts on the quality and reliability of a Dr Wellness G-14? Thank you!

      • Dr Welness is not a brand I would have anywhere near my short list.

        so many gimmicks and no real substance.

        Goofy parts, although I heard they might offer balboa control and heating systems which would at least get them out of the basement but then radiant barrier insulation? man, this stuff was basically banned in the housing industry in the northern states int he 80’s and all of sudden 20 years later its the miracle insulation for hot tubs and it cost 10x less 🙂

        Then those friction heaters LMFAO… that tech is so bass backward it’s not even funny. first electrical immersion heaters are super efficient near to 100% of the energy that goes into those heaters get into the water as heat energy. friction heaters, on the other hand, are horribly inefficient… think about the progression…

        1. we take electricity and convert it to mechanical energy in the electric motor inefficient as hell
        2. We transfer that energy into water pressure with the pump and get big losses in the transfer
        3. then we transfer that energy back into mechanical energy of friction… again huge loss
        4. then we transfer the mechanical energy into heat… Bonkers… this is just bullshit science to try and create a unique selling feature.

        Colorado Custom Spas
        Status: Unverified

        These guys carry a couple brands but Artesian is the only one on my short list.
        Remove
        Details from Google Maps
        5270 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216
        coloradocustomspas.com
        +1 303-468-8827

  8. I’m in the Louisville, KY area looking for a hot tub that seats at least 2-3. We looked at the Viking Royale PSL yesterday. It looked like a better deal with more jets and options than the smaller tubs being sold there.

    We were initially looking at 110 Plug N Play units but now also considering installing 220 which would open us up to the Royale, ETS, etc in the Viking line. I’d like to shop around before making a decision. We were also shown the Viking P1, P2 and Aurora, as well as a Fantasy Drift and InnovaSpa Urbania which looked like lesser spas at similar pricing to the Viking Royale with lounger.

    My primary issues currently are neck, shoulder and knee pain. Neck jets are an important feature. They have optional features on the Viking line

    What other tubs should we be considering? It will likely be going outside on a place on a grassy place piece of ground so we also need info on surface needed to support, it if that’s a requirement also.

    • Hi Pam

      ground Pep wise simply put down a patio stone base. you basically remove the grass and top soil put in crusher dust, level and tamp and drop on patio stones… 16 24″ stones gives you a good 8′ base.

      Viking is not a brand I would buy sell or endorse, you need at least the 4 main things and they just don’t do them…

      I looked around the area and you have lots of the usual suspects… mid grade spas that are spending too much on branding and bullshit and not enough on building a great hot tub.

      On the other hand you have highly developed independent service network, there are 5 guys there specializing in just service, this is great because these guys are usually a lot better than retailers for the service and it lets you get anything you want as long as you stick with a good parts list.

  9. We live near Louisville KY and are looking for a hot tub around 4-5k. Looked at the Viking Royale series. Have 110 currently but may get set up for 220. Recommendations welcome.

    • Pam, I looked everywhere over to Lexington, down to Elizabeth town and around to Cinci and the only thing I found that I would shortlist is out in Bloomington Which funnily enough is where my lovely Wife was born 🙂 and up near Hamilton north of Cinc 🙁

      the 110v systems really limit how long you can use them in cold weather and you really need to make sure you get a really well-insulated spa. go 220v if you can.

      Indiana Pools & Spas, Inc.
      Status: Unverified

      We don’t know anything about these guys other than they carry Marquis which for this area is the best its gonna get.
      Remove
      Details from Google Maps
      1206 S Walnut St, Bloomington, IN 47401
      http://www.indianapoolsandspas.net
      +1 812-334-3900

      Tim’s Pools & Spas
      Status: Unverified

      We do not know the dealer but they carry Artesian which is a good reliable spa.
      Remove
      Details from Google Maps
      1065 Reading Rd, Mason, OH 45040
      http://www.timshottubstoremasonoh.com
      +1 513-777-3833

    • Pam, my business is based in Cincinnati but we do a lot of business in Kentucky and Indiana. I have a huge showroom. I have 110v and 220v models on display. Agean Hot Tubs 9756 Princeton Glendale Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45246 http://www.Agean.com 513-874-3331

  10. Hi Chris,

    I am in Seattle and have been looking for a hot-tub for 6 people, preferably with a lounger seat. I have mostly been chatting with Olympic Hot Tubs, and had liked their Envoy or Aria models, but I am not loving the price (around 12k+). Additionally, was intending to add the salt-water system they offer.

    I am now looking at going to the clearwater spas factory store which is near seattle or at a tropic seas or Maax brands at http://www.decksandspas.com who seems to get very good dealer reviews.

    Any thoughts on any of these tubs/dealers, and any other suggestions? Are the salt water or other low chemical systems worth the addition? Would like to spend less than $10k if possible.

    Thanks

    • Hi Richard

      Salt systems are an old technology from the 80’s being regurgitated as new miracle systems. My advice is to stay away from it… it just makes chlorine or bromine out of highly corrosive salts, it’s hard to manage, unreliable, and only gets you to around 1-3ppm of chlorine or bromine!!! You are breathing that into your lungs!!! the aftermarket stuff like Aquafinesse is what you want… gets you to around .5 ppm if used with an ion mineral cartridge like eco pure or spa frog or nature II. See this article

      Not a fan of the fancy brands with all the goofy proprietary parts. Hot Springs are not super high-end spas, they are mid grade spas with goofy parts, beautiful branding and marketing and you can’t even take the sides off when you have a failure… look the through the forums and count the number of people looking for help fixing Hot Springs spas… these things are not reliably working in the field and when you get a failure expect to pay through the nose because there is only one source for the parts!

      Clearwater tropic seas and Maxx are middle of the road, Just the insulation is enough to make me run for the hills. there are no shortcuts or miracles… it’s crazy… we would never have this conversation in a regulated industry like the home building industry because we have codes to adhere to, these radiant barriers and batton type insulation systems used in hot tubs would never, ever, qualify anywhere in the world for home building so why should it be good enough for your hot tub which has a much higher heat loss due to the larger temperature difference? You want R-value!!! full foam Ivcynene if possible.

      And forget the

      Go see these guys they do marquis, it covers all the right things.

      Seattle Hot Tub Company
      Details from Google Maps
      11435 120th Ave NE Suite C, Kirkland, WA 98033
      http://www.seattlehottub.com
      +1 425-869-7727
      5.0View in Google Maps

  11. Hi Chris: We live in Maple Ridge B.C. (near Vancouver). We’ve just spent 2 exhausting days visiting various hot tub dealers. We are now totally confused: my those sales people are all so very nice!!?? We’re looking for good quality, well-built, therapy jets, 4-5 people size, minimal bells and whistles. After looking at Cal, Equinox, Vantage, Coast, Artic, and one company who had multiple brands (Hot Tubs Galore), we really don’t know what’s best. You seem to like Masters and Marquis, but I don’t know who sells those in our area.
    Also am very interested, but very conflicted about salt water systems: good or bad?
    Please help!!

    • Hi Janette

      Salt systems are an old technology from the 80’s being regurgitated as new miracle systems. My advice is to stay away from it… it just makes chlorine or bromine out of highly corrosive salts, it’s hard to manage, unreliable, and only gets you to around 1-3ppm of chlorine or bromine!!! You are breathing that into your lungs!!! the aftermarket stuff like Aquafinesse is what you want… gets you to around .5 ppm if used with an ion mineral cartridge like eco pure or spa frog or nature II. See this article

  12. Ever heard of/know anything about Clipper Spas in Walnut Grove, CA?

  13. Can you give me your thoughts on the Journey Curve Hot Tub? It apparently ships out of Canada and was recommended by a neighbour.

    • Oh I forgot, we are out of Austin TX, in case you have local recommendations.

      • Hey, paul. I haven’t done a review of the area but I spent a week at a conference with the guys from Nationwide Spas, they have a big operation and carry really good brands. I’ll try and look for any other options but these would be my goto guys down there.

        It funny they wanted me to fly down and see their operation, it’s great when we get active dealers letting us have full disclosure.

        1834 Ferguson Drive, Austin , TX, 78754
        Phone: 512-364-1472
        jason@nationwidespas.com
        http://www.nationwidespas.com

    • Not sure the only thing i could find was the Coast spa curve…

  14. Hi Chris,
    I was looking to get a 3-4 person hot tub maybe a Master Spa Twilight, but here’s my concern. I live 30 miles North of Seattle in Snohomish, Washington. I cannot find a Master Spa Dealer in WA. They are having a Spa & BBQ show at the fairgrounds this weekend that has Master Spa. I am concerned about not having a local dealer in case of problems or follow-up. If I purchased a Master Spa would I use a local dealer that does not carry Master Spa for repairs. Would I be better buying a Marquis or another brand from a local dealer or take a chance and buy a Master Spa that I would prefer?

    • Hi Joni

      It really depends on a few things.

      I had a look in your area and not surprisingly there are 4 separate independent guys within 10 minutes of you… crazy, But either way you have a good fallback position.

      And if you need help just call me and ill wack them with my big stick 🙂

      Check out the local service guys out there.

  15. Hello, we are here in Arizona looking for a hot tub. What do you think of the EcoSpa? Thank you.

    • Hello, we are here in Arizona looking for a hot tub. What do you think of the EcoSpa? Thank you.

      • The rotomoulded shells are usually pretty durable, but the parts are not great. The style of click in jet they use looks like the ones with the little tabs on them and they are notorious for breaking. Its also looks like they are moving from Balboa control and heating system to Gecko, I won’t buy anything without Balboa on board. I also am not a fan of Batt style insulating, it’s cheap and cheerful, better than reflective radiant barriers but nowhere near as good or as high of an Rvalue as a good full foam Icynene system.

        Go see the new Getaway Hot Tubs, better parts better insulation and similar price,

        These guys have my 5 start recommendation, I just spent 4 days with these the boys from Phoenix and they are doing all the right things. By from these guys and get HTU Approved put on your original invoice and you can use us if you have any issues and we will stand behind you and use our big stick to wack them into compliance 🙂 “HTU APPROVED” must appear on the original invoice!

        Details from Google Maps
        1746 W Ruby Dr Suite 104, Tempe, AZ 85284
        phoenix.swimspas.us
        +1 480-389-9799
        5.0View in Google Maps

    • Hi Connie!

      You are making me work 🙂 never heard of them so I called the factory. This will not be on my recommended list, they recently moved to gecko heating and control system, and while at least it has a readily available parts list I won’t buy anything not using Balboa, These guys hold some key patents and have 30 years making heating and control systems for hot tubs and they work well, are reliable and its dead easy to get parts and service.

      They also use eco batt insulation, cheap and cheerful, I want to see a good Icynene full foam system.

      Last they use an old style click in jet, you need to go either waterway threaded or the new CMP blade lock, I don’t know what they call it but there are 2 blades that lock in and the failure rate has been almost non-existent according to the three factories I toured this year so far.

      I had a boo around the area have a look at the ones below.

  16. Hi Chris, thanks for all you do, buying a hot tub is a confusing process to many, and you help bring a lot of clarify and attention to the important things. I see you have generally been supportive of Marquis, but are concerned about their lack of transparency with you, this makes me nervous as well. I have an older Hot Springs, and you are right, you cannot take the sides off! Makes minor repairs impossibly difficult.

    In looking at the Marquis Vector21, I have a couple questions that I hope you can help with.

    First, one thing I notice is the insulation is a bit confusing, do you happen to know the insulation system this line uses, and can you share your opinion of it?

    Second, the dealer advocated for an inline water chemical system called Frog at Ease Smart Color. It appears to be a combination of two cartridges that sit inline, hidden from the bather. The insert into a tub on the top of one of the sides. One cartridge is effectively a mineral stick, the other is said to maintain Chlorine levels at 0.5ppm-1.0ppm. I know you advocate for AquaFinesse which makes a ton of sense, but would you buy this inline system to maintain that very low level of Chlorine that using AquaFinesses enables?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Karl.

      I’m really off with the abysmal communication from these guys. I pinged them 8 to 10 times after I put about 200 tubs generating $600k into their tills and I can’t even get a callback… I posed as me, a perspective dealer, and a troubled customer and Natta… and I’m not even trying to sell them anything! I’m just trying to get real hard answers and visibility so I can recommend them with confidence. Its either doggy as hell, underserved like crazy, or simply disorganised as a flea market… no idea…

      I have a lot of questions about the vector 21… it all seems to be buzzwords and spin with nothing other than the look changed, and that change means more proprietary parts which is never a good thing.

      So you can help me 🙂 email me any details you found… chris@hottubuniversity.com

      The cartridges are basically like Spa Frog, Eco Pure, and any of the other silver/zink/copper ion systems, they work ok but you will be nearer the 1+ ppm chlorine level which is better than the salt systems at 1-3 ppm but not as good as the Aquafinesse mineral system at .5 ppm. I would use the frog at ease with the Aquafinesse (or spa marvel if I want to keep costs down).

      I went through your area and man there is not much good news nearby, I even went out further… have a look below.

  17. Hi – I’m looking at dealers in our area (orlando) particularly at Marquis Vector 21 and Bahama spas Palm Island. I see a lot of comments on Marquis and have a feel for your thoughts. I haven’t seen much on Bahamas Spas Palm Island.

    Any insight on the Bahamas Palm Island? virtually the same price as the vector, both about 93″x93″
    Thanks

    • Marquis, I like for now but if they don’t get in touch soon to verify what they are doing they are going to be on hold here. I need to be able to get into their factory and verify what they are doing and I just can’t get them to come to the table… always makes me worry, esp when every other manufacturer is begging me to endorse their lines.

    • Chris. Thanks for what you do! Whats the story on Bahama Spas! Im considering the Palm Island model. Im in orlando. No master spas that im aware of.

      • I had a quick boo and right away the control systems not a Balboa, frankly at that point I did not look any further.

        I had a look around the area and populated the map in your area but man there are not a lot of options… and you have like 3 independent guys who do service in the area which means you can buy from anyone around a likely have a good support network.

        My mom lives just North of you and She bought a swim spa from South East Spas in West Palm and They have taken good care of her with a local service guy.

  18. Looking to replace a 1993 Master LSX 800 that has a bad top controller that we cannot get a part for.
    A. Go with a decent local dealer selling an 2017 Artesian Grand Cayman Elite for $9,300 (includes cover, lifter, steps and delivery)
    B. Go with a not so reputable dealer a bit farther away selling a 2017 Master Twilight 8.25 for $7,500
    What would you do?

    • Fak tough one dude, love the master stuff but a bad dealer can be an issue. but that price is nuts… it should be more than the artesian…

      The other side is why not just replace the whole control system for $800?

  19. Hello

    The closest store to me carries go spa, American whirlpool, premium leisure and tropical seas spa. Any recommendations on those ? I’m just looking for a smaller 3 person one. 2 seats a recliner and good jets ! Thanks !

    • Of those three the tropical seas by a country mile… but get the full foam upgrade stay away from the radiant barrier systems…

  20. Chris, Absolutely awesome site, super helpful in this purchasing journey! I’ve been searching comments and replies for your thoughts on the Marquis Vector 21 series, and was wondering if you’ve had any updated thoughts or feedback on them or had a chance to get in one yet (we’re looking at either the V84 or V94L specifically). My wife wants more of a soaker tub, but I’d like some massage benefits as well. Prices quoted were $7900 plus tax for 84 and $8900 plus tax for the 94L. Do those seem reasonable?

    Other tubs we’re considering are Hot Springs Flair or Hot Spot Tempo (local dealer is clearing ’17 inventory and offering 40% off MRSP which seems like really good prices). This dealer has sold Hot Springs for over 35 years and has excellent reviews.

    There’s also a Master dealer in the area, but I went in there Monday morning and the showroom was completely empty (they did one of those expo shows the weekend before). I left my name, number and email and no one from the dealer has contacted me yet, which doesn’t seem like a sign of a good dealer.

    We’re in the Cleveland, OH area – would appreciate any thoughts you have. Thanks again for all the info!

    • I have been bugging them to give me visibility of their process and this line and no one there answers any messages… meanwhile, the other brands I like are calling and giving me visibility of their factories and process

      The Vector 21 stuff is a big unknown for me. and frankly, if these meatheads don’t start giving me some visibility into their back end I’m not going to be recommending them for much longer, I can’t stand behind a factory that cant give us a better view of what they are doing.

      The price is certainly up there.

      I would normally not be a fan of the Hot Springs stuff, man I just learned that you cant take the sides off these things! on top of all the issues I already have with this brand this new info just reenforces my position… that’s crazy that alone makes me run away add the goofy parts list on to that and I just can’t even take the brands seriously… too much spent on the branding and not enough on the hot tub… but all that being said, a great dealer that has had the line for a long time will be aware of all the goofy shit and likely be able to make it a good experience. I always say for a lot of customers a great dealer with a mid-grade product is better than a crappy dealer with an awesome product…

      I would look at the Artesian or the master, I know the master dealer was just in Florida for the big master sing-along last week so likely that’s the delay.

      .

  21. You have me convinced in regards the Master hot tubs. Do you have any idea where I might find a distributor of Master in the greater Seattle area?
    Keep up the great wed site and advice.
    Larry

  22. Hi.
    I have appreciated all your reviews and comments. Yet I am puzzled at the total lack of mention of Saratoga Spas. Are they not a good brand? At least two other spa rating sites I found have them at the top of the heap.

    You had a questioner from Saratoga, NY, and still you didn’t mention Saratoga as an option.

    We have had a Saratoga Clarendon (since discontinued) for 17 years and are just now looking to replace it with something a little more “modern”. It has required fairly little maintenance. Our dealer is a solid family-owned business, but now they seem to be pushing the Garden Leisure line over Saratoga.

    We are in the Denver metro area.
    Your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    deedub

    • Hey

      I answered this but something must have happened, I might have clicked the next comment before it uploaded, word press is crap at keeping live, as soon as you move away from a window it cancels what you did 🙁

      I haven’t found much real info on them, lots of fluff but no hard science I spent a good half hour trying to get tech data. They should reach out with shell construction, parts, insulation type, and fabrication points… I don’t endorse brands I endorse a way of building a hot tub. If you can prove you build a hot tub the way I like them built, and demonstrate a commitment to customers on the back end yer in.

      There are so many brands out there, they just do not come up much.

  23. Chris, So glad to find you before we make our hot tub purchase. My husband was convinced Costco would be the best deal/value. We are in the Charlotte NC area and would love it if you could make a recommendation on a manufacturer and dealer. Have read most of your replies and sounds like you recommend Artesian and Master Spa quite a bit. We have been to a local dealer who only sells Jacuzzi. We were ready to buy a 2017 floor model J-345 this weekend, but I feel like we need to research more – thanks so much for any help you can provide!
    Dara

    • Hi Dara

      I’m not a fan of Jacuzzi, to much money spent on brand awareness marketing and spin… not enough left over to build a great spa and it shows… go to the discussion forums and forget all the advice just start looking for posts from people looking for help fixing their broken hot tubs… Jacuzzi (brands) are the second most problematic spa with over 20% of all requests from Jacuzzi owners asking for help. this is real information from boots on the ground owners and means a lot.

      You have awesome options in your area.

      I would be looking at the following:

      Artesian spas from these guys : http://www.oasispoolsplus.com/hot-tubs-spas-charlotte-nc/

      Marquisspas from these guys. http://www.mymodernbackyard.com/hot-tubs/

      • Chris, Thank you so much for your quick reply! I visited both of these dealers yesterday. I am torn between a Marquis on the floor that has the microsilk feature and a Caldera that would need to be ordered. The dealer has offered the same price for both tubs. This dealer believes that the Caldera is a higher quality product than the Marquis…. referred to the Caldera as the Lexus/BMW and the Marquis as a Toyota. Says that those customers who water test both prefer the Caldera. That being said, the salesperson thinks the Marquis on the floor is the best value – the Microsilk feature is basically being thrown in—but does that feature really work and do all it says? I’m so torn! Wnat to make a decision this weekend – especially if I go the floor model route – afraid that one may sell.

        Thanks again Chris,
        Dara

        • Hi Chris – What do you thinmk a bout the Bahama Palm Island tub? Our dealer carries these and Marquis Vector 21 and some other models. I see your thoughts on Marquis but haven’t seem much on google on the Bahama products.
          Thanks!
          Rob

    • Chris, what is your opinion on the Master spa Clarity balance 7 spas? I live in Cheyenne, WY

      • Hi Matthew

        I’m a big fan of the master stuff in general, and the new Clarity line shell layouts are one of the roomiest spas out there.

    • Do you recommend Arctic spas?

      • Hi John

        I wish I could dude but they are a great example of a company building a mid-grade spa spending scads on branding and marketing and selling as high end… Like the name should cost you 5k extra 🙂

        They do a Great hand-rolled self-supporting shell and a good base but ignore the pitch about being able to throw it right on the ground without ground prep.

        The parts are all no-name parts I won’t buy a tub that not using a good readily available parts list like Balboa controls.

        The insulation is inexpensive and simply misleading, you want foam in this area… R-value… look at the housing industry, its all about thermal mass to retain heat,

        They don’t even clamp the plumbing lines. These guys are doing 1 of the four things I want to see before I will recommend a spa.

        Let me see what I can find out there, Some brands let me sell into markets they don’t have dealers in because I have a good reputation for customer care.

  24. Buying a hot tub is a freakin’ nightmare… so glad you were destined to help make it a good dream!
    I am in Nashville TN and went to Family Leisure, Artesean makes a line of spas called Tropic Seas Spas and the Waikiki 6p/64j spas is available for 7k+ tax. What do you think? I take care of my combat wounded dad who has 3 Purple Hearts a Silver& Bronze star(s) and I want to get him the best therapy spa for around 6-8k. Thanks so much.

    • Man that’s awesome, he will love it and help those old battle wounds.

      I like Artesian but they are being super dodgy with information on the tropic seas line.

      I have sent them all kinds of requests for confirmation on if they are built at the site in Vegas and questions about the build procedure, i asked to see the factory and where everyone else is yelling for me to come see them these meat heads who we already endorse and who we sold a couple hundred spas for wont answer their emails…

      I’m dropping in on the factory Friday and shooting a video… it will either be an awkward video of them asking me to leave the premises and the cops dragging me off for trespassing and these guys going off my recommended list or they are going to have a conversation with me and verify what they are doing so i can refer them with confidence.

      • I’m also looking at a Tropic Seas Spa (Maui 85L), I’ll be interested to hear how today goes. We’re up in Seattle and have been working with Decks and Spas in Kirkland. Family owned place, friendly, willing to go through the engineering with us. Also, they’re trying to sell us the “elite model upgrade” with 24 hour circ pump and extra insulation. Worth it or scam? They’re offering the upgraded package for $600.

        • Hi Brittany

          The factory tour with Artesian went well, they are a small factory but are doing all the right things and using the same build quality on all the lines. So I am comfortable with keeping them on the A-list.

          Personally I do not like the circ pumps, they are finicky and offer no real advantages over the high flow systems and a lot of disadvantages. read this

      • So we got in touch and went down to Vegas and had a look at the Artesian factory and had a look at how they build the spas, and I have to say they are doing all the right things down there.

      • How was the tour? Is it good quality for the Tropical Seas Spa?

        • Hey LT

          I get the Island elite and tropical seas mixed up 🙂 no idea why…

          I toured the Artesian factory (Island Elite) but just haven’t had time to write the review… too busy… all in all, it was good and they will remain on my recommended list, they do what they say…

  25. Love the site. Thinking about a Maax R70 spa. I know you don’t like the blue insulation but they claim an overall R factor of 21. I’m concerned about the noise but we will have it on a concrete slab. It will be outside at our mountain house in the Poconos of PA so it can be darn cold. We were offered it for $7500. Thoughts? Any other dealers of better products you recommend? Thanks!

    • Larry don’t drink the Kool-aid! there is no way on earth that 1 or 2 inches of batt insulation are going to give you anywhere near R-21. Whoever told you this either has no idea what they are talking about or are simply saying anything at all to close the deal.

      The best Batt insulations out there for the building trade is Running around R-20 but that’s if you are using 6″ inches of the stuff. they are using between 1.5″ and 2″ max so the really real world says that’s about R-5 to R-7 Max.

      There is very little around you but I will have a closer look and get back to you.

  26. We are looking for a good 5 person spa we have looked at Hot Springs and Mira. we are in northern KY just south of Cincinnati. What would you suggest for our are area?

    • These guys Carry Artesian, they are a good spa. http://aurorapoolsandspas.com/

      • We are also looking at a Max 880 or a Artesian Bahama. What would you recommend? I cannot seem to find the board to post this question?

        • Hi Rock

          The Maxx Blue insulation is just cheap. on all other fronts, the two tubs are similar but the Artesian spends a lot more on the insulation and has 5x the rvalue.

      • Hi, What is your opinion on hard covers? Or, spas built with hard covers, ie. Ecospas, Strongspas, or Toughspas.
        Also, any recommended spa vendors in the Vancouver, WA/Portland, OR. area?

        • Covers are crazy.

          Problem is most of the options that last are so freeking heavy.

          I would buy a 5″ aluminum core standard tapered cover, make sure it has a centre baffle (long 3″ wide 5″ deep and the length of the covert that gets pinched between the fold when you close the cover.

          Then when you get is home unzip it and take out the cores, go over the edges all around the core with tuck tape then the vinyl will not wear through the vapour barrier… also go over all seams in the vapour barrier… the thing will last 5-7 years.

      • Chris – I could not figure out how to post except for using the reply. I live in Portland, OR and we have looked at Jacuzzi, Calderra and Hotsprings, none on which you recommend. I have no idea where to find the other brands. Do you know of any dealers in Portland you would recommend?

        thanks so much

      • I can’t figure out how to add a new comment. I was wondering what you thought of the Vita Envie

        • Vita is middle of the road, in my opinion, steel frame I do not like, its a gimmick and noisy.

          The biggest problem I have is the reflective insulation system, it’s 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/

  27. Hi Chris,

    This website is amazing and we’ve learned a lot through it and because of it we’re now trying to decide between two brands. We’re trying to decide between a master’s HL7 and a marquis spa (we live in Toronto) and we can get either one locally. We’d like one with a recliner, has therapeutic jets and measures 84×84 since the one we’re replacing is already cut out in our deck. The current one is a hydro spa and we wouldn’t go with that brand again because of the many issues we had with it. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated as we hope to go hot tubbing soon! Thanks!

    • Hi Tiere

      Happy New Year! and sorry for the tardy response!

      Either tub will be a good buy. The HL is a very contoured bucket seat seating good for average sized people but a tight fit for plus sizes. Depending on the Marquis you are looking at the performance on the HL will be like the Marquis.

      • Thanks for your input. We decided to go with the HL since Master Spa has great customer service. Since getting it, we’ve used it practically every night! Thanks so much for maintaining this website and providing so much helpful information. I’ve already recommended this website to several people!

  28. Hi! I love your site, and it’s full of great info. I live in Bellingham, WA, and am looking to get my first hot tub, and want to keep under $9k…less if possible. Something around a 7×7’. I know there is a dealer (Natural Eco Solutions) for Marquis relatively close, but is there anyone/another tub you would recommend in the area? Thanks so much!

    • Only local one there would be the marquis

      • Love this site. We live in PHX and are deciding between a artisan grand Bahama verses a Maxx 881. Which would be better? Would love your input.

        • Hands down the Artesian The max insulation system makes it a no-go for me personally. The artesian has 3 or 4 times the R-value and they spent a lot more money getting that insulation value.

    • Only local one there would be the Marquis dealer that I can find.

    • Hi Chris! Happy New Year to all! Ill cut to the chase.. I need firehose type of pressure in my back. Which top 2-3 spa/Brand comes to mind as the Kings of all hydrotherapy spas? Thanks for all you do Chris!

      • Hey man!

        if its lower back then the foot jets in a twilight spa 🙂 sit in the footwell and crank the pump over to the floor jets and away you go!

      • I actually meant in a chair or lounge/overall spa. I cant purchase a spa based on having to sit in a foot well. Sorry I confused you. Can you elaborate? Thanks a ton Chris!

    • Hi Chris,
      Great site! I am in Vancouver B.C. Canada. We have a similar climate to Seattle.
      I am looking for a 7×7 ish hot tub with a lounger. Lights, music, waterfall etc. is not important. Good quality is important. We currently like the Jacuzzi J-335 and the Northwinds NWE 30 (Coast Spas).
      Please give me your thoughts.

  29. Thank you for your awesome site!
    I live near Roseville CA (outside of Sacramento) and am replacing an old Coleman/California Cooperage spa that came with the house. It is about 93″ square and set into the backyard deck. The spa would be general use: occasional adults and wintertime family use, but primarily kids taking a break from the pool. We plan to stay in the house for many years, and would like a quality product. Any recommendations for models and/or dealers in this area? (I did notice that there is a Master Spa dealer in Rocklin which is relative close by.)

    • Dude I know the guys down there, I went in and saw them when I went to burning man a few years back and ran into them in Vagas at the show.

      Go see them the cooperage stuff is ok, but the insulation is crap, the Boys in Rocklyn run a great shop and have good solid backup.

      • Looking at a Healthy Living Master Spa from the Rocklin store. Was almost convinced to buy the salt system Hot Springs tub until I read your review on salt systems…can I really get away with no chemicals?

        • Hi Julie

          The hot springs salt system is not chemical free, it uses sodium chloride or sodium bromide to make chlorine or bromine… that’s all… and the levels will be around 1-3 ppm which is pretty high.

          I’m, not a fan of trying to get away with no chemical and really feel that we are splitting hairs because you can get to .5 ppm which is drinking water levels On the HL with either an enzyme or mineral salt esp with the Eco pure filter which uses copper and zinc Ion and the ozone system..

          Go see the guys at the Rocklin store, they are good guys and the tubs solid well built and has a much better quality parts list.

  30. Hi Chris,
    We were thisclose to purchasing the Portage by Divine from Costco when I stumbled on your youtube review of a Costco tub. We live in the Austin area and there are a ton of hot tub retailers. Any in particular that you recommend? Also, is Dimension One Spas a decent brand? We were considering the Aurora , by Dimension One Spas and the Marquis Vector 21: V84L. The Marquis spa is the more expensive of the two, but also from a different retailer. We feel that we may not be getting a great deal with that retailer though. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

  31. Current hot tub service provider sells Bullfrog. Looking to replace an Arctic Spa we inherited with the house and it would be easiest to use the same company. Wondering the quality of Bullfrog.
    Thanks- your website is very helpful

    • Hi Wendy

      Other than the shell which is a cheaper pedestal supported version, I really prefer a good hand rolled self-supporting fibreglass shell. the parts, and insulation and fabrication are good.

      Only the shell construction keeps it from being on my top tier.

      in Breckenridge, you don’t really have any of my number one brands

  32. Chris,

    I am thankful to have found your website before buying. Have had one hot tub 15 years ago and ready for a new one. New home, properly wired, poured slab. Currently a family of 4, empty nesters in two years. Think 4-6 person ideally. Live in Parker, Co 80134. Not as easy as it once seemed to find the right spa. $5-7 K for the budget. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks- Chris

    • Hi Chris

      lots of guys selling spas but only 2 I would consider, I went through all 20 odd guys in your area to see these guys.

      http://coloradocustomspas.com/ sell artesian which is a good line.

      http://www.heatwaveboulder.com/ sell Marquis spas and beachcomber.

      • Hi, Thanks for such a great source of information! We just moves to Reno, Nevada … Burrrr. We want an outdoor tub for just the wife & I and locally there’s Hot Springs, Sundance, Caldera, Free Flow, Nordic, Dimension One, Cal Spas, Catalina and Marquis. After hours of reading on your site I’m leaning toward Marquis. Am I leaning correctly or did I go overboard? Thanks so much for any advice. -Jim

        • Hi James

          Of that group, I would absolutely go with the Marquis, good spa, well built. the only other one on that list that I would consider is more the entry level spa from Nordic.

  33. Thanks for all the great info. We are first time buyers and are looking for a relatively small round model with bench seating. We are big soakers and aren’t really that into jets; we’re more looking for something that is really reliable and energy efficient. We are trying to decide between the Marquis Napa, the Nordic Impulse DP, and the Jacuzzi J-210. What is your recommendation?
    Thanks for your help!
    Allison

    • Hi Allison

      I would look at either the Marquis Napa or the Nordic Impulse.

      Of the two the Marquis is a better spa they insulation is better and the shell is a hand-rolled fibreglass acrylic whereas the Nordic is a roto mould shell which is durable but not nearly as expensive to make and don’t look as high end. also, the Nordic insulation while not horrible is a lot less expensive and lower R-value than the Marquis.

      I would expect to pay $1000 more for the marquis so it comes down to what you want to spend, both are well built and reliable but again the marquis will be more efficient.

      Ther jacuzzi I would not have on my short list.

  34. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for all of the information that you have published here. I have spent a lot of time on your site….
    I am a first time hot tub buyer and have narrowed my search down to Master Spas.
    We are a family of 4 (kids 6&8). My dilemma is trying to figure out the difference between the twilight and health living series. I am looking at the 84″ models and the upcharge to go to twilight is at least $1k. I have no local Master dealer in Denver so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around what the differences really are. I understand that construction and components are basically the same between the lines. Do you have any advice or suggestions etc.
    thanks!!
    Eric

    • Hi Eric

      It is all about performance.

      The HL spas are like most top-end spas, a nice mix of the small jets, the mid-sized jets and the big therapy massage jets. the performance is great and for normal people with normal aches and pains it going to be an awesome spa, It has 2 pumps and one pump controls one side of the spa and the second pump controls the other side.

      Twilight is a bit of an extreme, there are almost no other spas out there that have such a huge number of the big expensive hi flow therapy jets, these jets flow 6 times more water than the smaller jets so it needs bigger pumps and plumbing and crazy flow control systems so we can divert an entire 6 hp pump just into the captains chair. it also has the massive foot jets that again you can divert an entire 6 hp pump to… this thing is a hi-end therapy massage machine.

      Both tubs are great and remember most top brands do not do anything in the crazy end like Twilight so it is a bit over the top.

  35. Hello – thank you so much for all the great information! My question is around spa water maintenance. I have read and watched as much of your information as I can find, thank you!

    I believe you recommended using ahh-some according to directions, to purge the lines, during a drain/fill, and also on a new tub first fill.

    After that, I believe the main component of your maintenance is using AquaFinesse. Do I have it correct the benefits are being able to use far lower levels of harsh sanitizers and also pH buffering, and then also possibly longer time between drain/fill. This all sounds great!

    I have some questions about your routine for ongoing water maintenance other than doing the correct dosage of AquaFinesse once per week? How often do you test your water and for what things? What other products do you use, for example what do you use to add/maintain the low level of chlorine 0.5ppm, what do you use to increase or decrease pH and TA as needed?

    I am thinking it will be difficult to test for 0.5ppm of chlorine and maintain at that level, and I would love to hear more about the rest of your plan, and also if you were to buy a new tub today, would you invest in the @ease inline system or stick with your current routine?

    Thank you so much!

    • My wife has asked me to install a tub in such a way she can only see the top of it. That means I need a smaller tub — maybe a Hot Springs Prodigy (I can get a good deal on a 2016 floor model), a Marquis Reward (a 2017 flier model) or a TS 6.2 (your favorite) because these are smaller and lower (only 33-34” high). Two questions: are all of these good options and, if I am going to sink it into a deck, how much of an access area do I need to allow for maintenance/repairs behind the access panel? Thanks!

  36. Chris, just want to say thanks. I have watched every Youtube video you have put up and appreciate them all!

    I have every confidence with my decision to buy a locally made Marquis spa thanks to the information you have provided.

  37. Hi – great site and thanks for all you do! We are replacing a 20+ year old Great Lakes spa. We are in Cherry Hill, NJ (Philadelphia area) and have used All Seasons for service and chemicals, etc. and have been happy with them. They are Sundance and Vita dealers but I am not married to them if there are better quality spas out there. I need a spa for therapy so I was very interested in the Vita Rendezvous. Do you have an opinion on that model and would you suggest something else?

    • Wow I dont know what to say.

      there are so few spa retailers around you and all the sites crash when i go to them.

      There are also an insane amount of local independent spa repair centers.

      The good news is you can buy anything from anywhere with that many local service guys you should be able to have great service and back up, these guys are usually better than retailers because all they do is fix hot tubs…

  38. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for a very helpful website. We are in Santa Fe, NM and would appreciate some advice to replace our 1991 Sundance hot tub. We are looking for a smaller tub and don’t need many jets/therapy (we rarely even used the jets in our old tub), but are looking for decent quality at around 3-5k.

    We have a Marquis dealer in the area, but we went to take a look and he didn’t seem very knowledgeable about the brand. That, combined with being more expensive, left us feeling a bit leery. Is there a specific Marquis line or tub that you would recommend for our needs? The 4 person e-series and vector were similarly priced at $6k.

    I can’t find a Master or Artesian dealer in the area. Can you recommend any other dealers I may have missed?

    Also, I know you don’t like Sundance, but how does it compare to Costco/Home Depot, especially considering they are ½ the price?

    Thanks for your help!

  39. Hello, Thanks again for all you do! Sorry for the double post, but my post on November 25th may have been confusing.

    Basically we are looking for any dealers you recommend in the Saint Louis, MO area.

    Also, we want a nice quality tub, serviced by a quality dealer, but we don’t need too many of the bells and whistles, so wondering if you can recommend a certain “line” within your top 3 of Artesian, Marquis, and Master. Or, for our needs, is there another brand to also consider if we cannot find a good fit (price, dealer, etc..) in the top 3.

    Thanks!

  40. Great information here. We actually went with a Vita Joli after reading through this site. Since we are in the South, insulation wasn’t as big as a concern. And we have a great dealer who has had Vita for 10+ years. Also, the tub is quite powerful, and we tested against the Master, Marquis, Coast. For small hot tubs, this one seemed to have the most juice and a 2 pump, 2 speed system. At the end of the day, given all of the middle of the road manufacturers out there, I think the dealer relationship is super critical. My best advice for those shopping is to check and double check on dealer support.

  41. Hi! I am a new hot tub buyer. Looking for a 2-3 person, lounge-seat, outdoor model. Most seem to be in the 200-250 gallon range, which would be nice. I prefer non-triangular, but not die-hard on it. What brands would you suggest? I will be living near Rapid City, SD.

  42. I totally apologize for the double post, for some reason my first one disappeared , so I decided to right again. Thanks you for answering. If you had a choice and your budget was between 5-6k is their another spa better than the Nordic encore LS? Also are they known for actual therapy??

    • hey Scott

      most of the Therapy is the hot water 🙂 the massage aspect the nordic retreat is pretty god. the only other one in the range i like is the Getaway Ochos rios… its a copy of the retreat, but with better insualtion…

  43. Hello. My husband and I are in the market for a new hot tub. We recently got rid of a Saratoga Springs hot tub that we had had for 15 years. We live in Syracuse, NY and our weather can be brutal in the winter. We went through two hot tub covers just because of the weight of the snow. My husband has a bad back so we are interested in a therapeutic type spa. Which hot tub would you recommend? and where is the closest dealer? Thanks

    • Hi Mel

      sorry, wish I could be more help but there are not a lot of great choices out there. lots of great marketing companies and mid-grade build but none of the superstars.

      I would go see how long the dealers have been carrying their lines, go with someone who has not moved lines in long time…

      Brand-wise I would look at:

      1. The Artesian spas from: http://www.thepoolspashoppe.com/index.html good tub if they sell them. (not sure though cause the website is crap and the links are all broken… makes me wonder)
      2. The Bullfrog at https://www.tarsonpools.com/ – good parts and insulation, just not a fan of the shell.
      3. cant decide, there are issues with all the rest

      • What do you recommend for tub dealers in zip code 68501. I’ve had Sundace suggested by some friends. I’m looking for a quality 5-6 person tub. I don’t need stereos and shit, I just want a good quality tub.

        • Hi Shaun

          Years ago they would have been in tot ok group but since they got bought out by the company that owns \Jacuzzi its all about profit… mid grade propriatry parts, and plastic shells, not a brand I would sell or buy.

          You have some good options out there. In fact this is the first time i have had a customer in an area with my top three goto brands!

          #1 Master spas… Hated in the industry because they steal loads of cash from dealers markets but the reality is they build a super reliable tub with a great parts list that you can get easily anywhere. check out this article on why they get so much bad press…

          #1 Marquis spas again built right and unless you are looking at the crazy hi end massage spas like the twilights from master then they are going to be as good… both these two brands are built the same way with the same great parts lists.

          #1 Artesian Spas Again same gear and same reliability…

          #2 bullfrog If it wasn’t for the crap plastic sell these guys would be in the running even thought the stupid jet packs are a gimmick…

          • Hello Chris,
            We are retiring to Hayesville, NC. 28904. We now live in Duluth, Ga. 30096. A lot of companies here will deliver to Hayesville. We want a hot top with lots of jets, good quality to last, Don’t care about fancy add on’s. need price to be $7,000.00 to 8’000.00. Thanks Don

          • Lots of brands and sellers down there but there are three top brands.

            These guys sell master, one of my top brands:

            David’s Home Entertainment & Recreation
            2566 Asheville Road, Waynesville, NC, 28786
            Phone: 828-452-5534
            david@davidshomeentertainment.com

            These guys sell Artesian again one of my goto brands:

            The Great backyard adventure:

            305b Airport Rd.
            Arden, NC 28704
            phone: (828) 676-2764

            https://www.greatbackyard.com/locations-hours/

            These guys sell LSX

            Swim Spa International
            6228 Airpark Dr. Suite B
            Chattanooga, TN 37421
            Phone: 423-355-8930
            Fax: 423-744-8703
            swimspainternational@gmail.com

  44. Hello,
    We are in the Memphis Tn area. We have been looking at the Hot Springs Grandee vs the Tropic Seas Spas Fiji Elite (I think a brand of Artesian) the price difference is significant! I don’t want a cheap problem oriented hot tub. I want a standard good tub that’s worry free but not wanting to spend a fortune either ——> Hot Springs is pretty expensive. I would like to know your opinion on the Fiji Elite please. Thanks so much!!

    • Ok so I don’t even know where to start here, you are all over the map looking at the top Hot Springs against the lowest end of Artesian…

      First, off I prefer Artesian over Hot Springs… reliability wise the Artesian is going to beat it by a mile, and because the Artesian uses top North American parts list you cant be held to ransom for a goofy parts list like on the Hot Springs… I would sell Artesian I would not sell Hot Springs.

      Look at the higher end Artesian or the Higher end Marquis (they sell them at http://memphispool.com/caldera-spas-hot-tubs/) I would go with either of those two brands over the Hot Springs any day…

      • Thank too!!! Had no idea the Fiji Elite (Tropic Seas made by Artesian) was the low end. I’m not looking for low end for sure. Thank you for your input. There is hardly anything on internet abt Tropic Seas. I’ll look into the others as well.

  45. First, thanks for all you do on this site. I have owned a used tub for about a year, it is really nice and has served us well, and we got it really cheap, but there are two small leaks, and I am growing tired and sloppy of checking and adjusting chemicals every day. I learned the tub has full foam insulation, so troubleshooting the leaks is a no go.

    I am looking to get a new hot tub now from a local dealer. I am focusing on your top three brands, Marquis, Master, and Artesian. Based on my criteria, do you recommend a certain model or line within those brands, or any other brand outside your top 3. Here are my criteria:

    Must have:
    Very low maintenance, such as needing to check and adjust water chemicals once per week at the most. Drain, clean and refill no more than 2x per year, preferably less.
    Quality parts and repairable if needed.
    7-8 seats or more, no loungers – we love the social aspect of large groups of guests hanging out together in our tub.
    Cool off bench/seat, at least one.
    Foot jets
    A cover that is very easy to take on and off.

    Nice to have:
    adjustable jet pressure
    Lights, but not a light show
    low energy consumption (maybe a hard shell cover)

    Not needed at all:

    Music
    Water Features
    Light show

    Thank you in advance.

  46. We are in Southwest Virginia, closest dealer is Aqua Pros in Salem, Va – Any thoughts on this dealer. It carries Marquis Hot Tubs. Will be using for hot tub for help with joint pain and of course stress relief. We want a lounger as well. Because of space limitations we are going to be looking at Marquis E- Series 322 and Marquis Signature Series Spirit Hot Tub. What are Pros and Cons of each? What would be a fair price for each. Thank You ! JoAnn

    • unaware fo the dealer but Marquis is general is a good spa. the spirit would be a decent therapy spa the other one is a basic hot tub.

      pricing is hard to say but I would expect the 5995 for the entry level and $6995??

  47. Hi Chris,

    Have you done any research on West Coast Spas? I’m looking at the Monterey 3.0.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Julie

      I had not seen it but right off the bat the circ pump, the salt system and the radiant insulation make it an absolute no go… I could live with one or two of these techs but the radiant insulation is a kill for me, this stuff is cheap and not suited to purpose… almost all of the northern US states issued warnings about this crap when it was being touted as the next miracle insulation in the 80’s and it was basically banned in as a primary insulator in houses… a hot tub needs better insulation than a house because the temp difference is greater, therefore, the heat transfer rate is higher.. this stuff is cheap junk.

  48. Hi Chris –
    great job on this site. We are getting electrical quotes done for the work to install the tub (MS 8.25 Twighlight – my previous post Oct 30). I have 100 amp service and this tub is supposed to draw 50 amps – is the majority of that heater or the 2 6 HP pumps? I was considering converting the tub to NG heating to avoid having to upgrade to higher amperage. What are your thoughts on going to natural gas heating? What should I expect for the upcharge to NG?

    • Excellent site, thank you for all the great info!
      What do you think of the Marquis Vector21 V94?
      It’s relatively new, so just looking for your thoughts on this model…

      • The vector 21 I have not laid eyes on but I am going to assume its built like the rest and is a good all-around spa.

        There are a lot of goofy things that really don’t seem like they are anything different than any other spa just new words and funny shapes 🙂

        That being said the jetting looks good and I am assuming the big ones are still high flow therapy jets so it looks like it is specced out ok. I am not a fan of the volcano jet in the middle these were all the rage in the 80’s and everyone went away from them because they are a tripping hazard, I guarantee you will curse that jet taking up all the foot room and getting in your way…

        • I just got a master spa Twilight 7.25. When putting iron my concrete pad I have a 1/4 inch wobble from the back right corner to the front left corner. I am concerned that if I just fill it that it will stress the shell. My local dealer advised to cut a pressure treatedboard into 8 1/4” – 0 shims and to shim it 1 shim per foot. Does this sound correct to you?

          • yeah that’s not a bad idea. you could also just dump a wheelbarrow of crusher dust down and level it then put the tub on it and then trim out the edge with thin slats or a bead of concrete or silicone to stop the crusher from washing away

  49. I am looking to replace a 4 person Jacuzzi hot tub. The problem is it is located in Greece. The only 2 brands available are Jacuzzi and Hydropool. Do you have any ideas on how to locate any of your higher rated hot tubs there?

    • LOL Hydropool in Greece??? 🙂 they cant even sell in the local market here worth a damn what the hell is the small regional guy doing over there??? LMFAO

      You could order something from here and ship it… what kind of pricing are they trying to get over there?

      • 5200 Euros, which is about $5800. I’m afraid the shipping costs would be too much. Thank you.

      • What do you honestly have against Hydropool? I see you literally bashing the crap out of them in every opportunity you get.

        Hydropool does sell EXTREMELY well where I am, we sell approx $2-$3m out of our store ALONE, and I can easily vouch that, Hydropool is in fact an extremely good product.

        Is it outdated in its insulation/filtration? Yes.

        Does it provide an excellent massage that genuinely helps you and relieves pressure off your muscles? Yes.

        Legit, I have been quietly browsing this website for quite a while, I ALWAYS see you bash Hydropool, did they not give you a contract to sell them or allow you to service there product? Why are you so salty?

        Thanks,

        • Hi AR

          You answered your own question, the insulation and filtration systems are outdated and cheap, I am consistent in what I endorse… It’s not brands I endorse it is clarity in marketing and building to the right standard…

          I ab 100% against the cheap mylar insulation systems, They have proven to be ineffective and by telling customers that its a good system is simply dishonest… all the studies and most of the Northern US states and the Canadian Mortgage housing authority issued formal warnings against this insulation type when it was hammering the hell out of the Housing industry in the 80’s for a company to now touting it as a good insulation system in a hot tub is simple dishonesty…

          The same goes for the pitch about the self-cleaning floors and pressure filters… the reality is this again is old outdated tech and marketing the spa around half-truths and spin is simply not a good thing, add to that the cradle supported shell and it is simply not a product I would even consider putting on my floor, there are simply better-made spas for the same money.

          I have never approached them to buy their spas, there are about 4 brands I would sell because there are about 4 that do all the right things and the rest simply do not come to the mark.

          I get you are a successful dealer and that’s awesome… the reality is I always say a great dealer with a mid grande brand is better than a great brand with a mid-grade dealer.

    • Great site and tons of great info… i live in south Florida and are looking for a 6-7 person with lots of light… sub 8k? Any brands or places come to mind?

      Also what do you think of starlight hot tubs or essentials hot tubs (strong spas)?

  50. Hello! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise! With no Master dealer in the area, we’ve decided on the Marquis Epic…What do you think of MicroSilk? Does it really work, and is it worth the extra cost?
    Thank you!

    • Microsilk is not bad but its nowhere near as good as the aftermarket stuff. I would not buy it, i would use aquafinesse or mineralux

  51. Thanks for your website and information. Can you advise me on a brand an dealer for a spa in Missoula, MT. Brands locally sold by local dealers include: Hot Spring, D1,Bullfrog, Caldura,Freeflow, Vita Spa. Thank you.

    • Hot Springs caldera freeflow all the same group… Funny enough the Freeflow is a decent sp but their “higher end brands” in my opinion are highs “brands” which simply means they have created a beautiful brand and marketing and pitch and wrapped these mid-grade products in the warm brand blanket of love… the reality is some companies spend the money on the build because they are not as good at the branding end which is great for you, the really sharp businesses know that the most profitable business model is to build a mid-grade with lots of parts that you cant buy anywhere else and wrap it in lovely bullshit spin, branding and marketing… Most of the guys in your area are great at the branding and the spin but most of the products there are a bit of good a bit of bad and a bit of ugly.

      If I had to choose one it would be Bullfrog but Im not a big fan of any of those brands. 🙁

      Sorry!

  52. We are looking at an Artesian that was flooded on the showroom floor during Harvey. They replaced a couple of things, dried it out and said the warranty was still the same. Not sure about trusting the reliability on the spa after this even with warranty Thoughts? It is a good price

    • Tough to say… the price should be like 50% of new… its definitely a gamble so make sure you are paying for the possibility of that.

  53. Chris, I’m debating between a Healthy Living 7.5 and Clarity Precision 7. From a material, construction and component standpoint, why would I pay the extra money for the Healthy Living model? Is there a significant difference in quality between the two? Their warranties are different. Does that say anything? I know the mold seating shape is different but that is less an issue for me than the actual product. Thanks for your help.

  54. Hi Chris,
    First, thank you for all your hard work on this website! I can see from all your posts that Master Spas produce quality products. I have read positive mentions about the new getaway series all the way up to the twilight series, but I was wondering your thoughts on the Legend Series particularly the discontinued LSX model. To be honest we would have purchased exactly what you recommended in your video (TS 8.2) if we could have afforded it, but unfortunately it is not in our budget. We were really looking at purchasing it for the hydrotherapy/massage purposes because my husband might be able to compete with you on all things banged and broken in his body and is really hoping it might provide relief. Anyway. we have an opportunity to buy a nicely cared for used LSX model from a private party, but it is a few years old. We live in Wisconsin and the hot tub would be outside year round if this would influence your thoughts one way or the other. Thank you for your time and again for this very unbiased and informative website.

    • The LSX spas are solid spas and perform well, they are actually a higher end model that the TS normally my argument would be that the TS is better bang for the buck, but the LSX should work well and performs well.

      • I’m looking for a large hot tub with decent hydrotherapy staying under £9k.
        I tried a jacuzzi j455 which was way above my chimney pot.
        I did not like the cramped seating.
        I’m more of a open plan setup person but with a much bigger tub I might be able to get a wider lounger.
        I’ve placed a coastal spas freedom into the equation as I also want a deeper tub.
        It’s a bit over the price I wanted to spend and can’t find much recently about their reliability and actual performance.
        Catalina cl7 also in the choices and artisan range and elite spas perhaps.

        • The Artesian out of that lot for sure, but if you can find a master dealer in the area look at the Clarity spa… massive mount fo foot well space and nice open seating… brand new shell and its all about space…

      • Been looking for a new tub to replace a generic big box stores old tub. 2 local dealer in Tampa FL area have artesian and their own made spa manufacturer direct and the other jacuzzi and caldera. I contacted master spa and there doesn’t seem to be a dealer within several hundred miles. We have a budget up to around 10k, any advice would be appreciated. I have read most of the site as well as a few others and feel reasonable will informed but still on the fence.

        Thanks

        • Artesian for sure out f that lot, the big fancy brands with the big fancy branding and marketing are building mid grade spas and wrapping it in lovely branding and trapping you for life with cheap proprietary parts… Dont drink the Koolaid man they are wither spending the money on the spa or the spin and the bullshit you cant do both.

  55. Hi Chris –

    thanks for putting together the website. It’s a great resource. I am not having much luck with these posts, as this is my third attempt – hopefully it will go through. My wife and I are getting our first hot tub and decided on the MasterSpa twilight 8.25. Wanted to get your opinion on the:
    1. Hot tub itself
    2. Does the MasterPur add on ($1200) add value? We would like to lower the water chemicals as much as possible but unsure if this helps enough.
    3. Annual cost for chemicals living in south western Ontario.

    Thanks, MM

    • Hi and sorry for the crap site, I dont know my arse from a hole in the ground when it comes making a good efficient site 🙂

      I love the TS tubs, and the 8.25 is fantastic, good build, good insulation, and outstanding performance check out this video i shot of mine.

      https://youtu.be/tsFC5S3AYZo

      stay away from the masterpur, you need a circ pump system for it and circ pumps are nothing but trouble.

      depends on the system you use… you can on that tub be around $20-$25 easy

      • Ever heard of the “spa man” at a dealer in northwest Washington?
        What do you think of the marquis e-series 545?

        • never heard of him, but like the Marquis in general.

          performance wise it is like most spas, a good mix of high flow and high pressure jetting.

  56. We are looking to by a used Master Spa. I think it may be as early as a 2004, if it is would the parts still be available to fix it.

  57. Hi Chris,
    I have a dealer that wants to sell me a MS Twilight at a great price but how can I know if he’s an authorized dealer? Since you’re a dealer can you vet the info he gave me? I dont want to post his info here but can send to you via email if you want. Please contact me if you are able and I can send the info to you.Thanks!

    • Hi mark

      yer pretty demanding for a free site with one guy 🙂

      it doesnt really matter if he has a new one for sale you can get warranty. but just ping master to find out.

  58. DO NUMBER OF JETS AND PUMPS MATTER?
    I’ve been narrowing down my search and based on what’s available at local dealers I’ve focusing on artesians. There are two dealers near me that sell different models (I like the 6-7 person no lounger models). I have seven and the difference seem to be in the number and types of jets and the number and types of pumps. I outlined the seven models below. My primary reason for the spa is massage therapy, secondary is family time/social. From the information below – can you tell if one is better than the other. Is there any below you would stay away from?

    two South Seas models –
    850B model – 50 jets 2 pumps (4.8 dual speed & 5.0 one speed)
    860B Model – 60 jets 3 pumps (add another 5.0 one speed)

    two tropical seas models –
    Fiji – 51 jest 2 pumps (4.8 dual speed & 5.0 one speed)
    oahu – 64 jets three pumps (adds 3.0 one speed)

    two from the island series –
    Grand Cayman – 65 jets and 3 pumps (6.0 one speed, 3.0 one speed, and 24 circ pump)
    Grand Cayman Elite – 32 – 62 jets (you select the number of jet you want) and three pumps (6.0, 4.8, 3.0 all one speed).

    lastly from the elite series –
    Piper Glen – 66 jets and 5 pumps all 3.0 one speed..

    I really appreciate your help. I feel like I’m over thinking this, but would hate to spend this kind of money without thinking it though.
    Thanks

    • I had the same thoughts about hydrotherapy, decided on the Island Elite series (240V 60A). You have three individual pumps, so you can turn off pumps to vacant seats AND you can control the volume and pressure from EACH pump using a variable control knob at each equipped seat. The air pressure is also individually controlled. It all makes the tub more energy efficient when one person is using it most of the time. Another 3-4 weeks and my Antigua Elite should be up and running!

  59. Do you know or have any opinions on the Maxx Spas? Looking at the 7000. Sales person said it has the three pumps. It has the steel frame with the wrapped insulation. 5 year parts and labor. 7 year on the shell I believe. This company has sold this brand for 25 years. My sales guy was also the owner of the company and has owned it for years. He has that model with hard cover, delivery, chemicals, steps, and rollback(for cover) for $6995. When regularly priced around $10k. Thoughts?

    • Maxx is like most brands, not a nightmare but not on my A-list either.

      The insulation is very inexpensive and caps out around R8 or so, they do not clamp the pressure lines.

      Steel frames I am also not a fan of, typically we use heavy frames to support thin shells, I can’t find any info but I bet they are not hand rolled fibreglass shells…

      The price of $5995 seems on par for this type of build construction

  60. Ordered the Antigua Elite from the Artesian Island line of hot tubs, based on the research done on this blog and inspecting the floor model at a dealer in Charlotte. It was either the Artesian or the Master Spa, but decided on the Artesian based on the layout and dealer incentives.

  61. Our local dealers do not seem to offer your favorite brands. One that we spoke to today recommended the Hotspring Twilight series- we are looking at the Flair model . What is your opinion?

    • Hi Roxanne

      Hotsprings is not a brand I personally would buy r sell… proprietary parts, and welll just too much money for what it really is, the branding and marketing is awesome and if you could soak in the brochure id say go but the reality is their are spas that spend more money on the spa and less on the branding bs…

  62. Great job Chris…it is appreciated

    just removed my 15 year old Beachcomber 7 person. I now have a opening waiting for a new tub, platform and 240v service in place. I am thinking small no more than 4 person tub. Located in Cornwall, Ont and have a Beachcomber dealer 1 hour away. Locally we have Sundance and Hydropool as well as a small manufacturer Sunclass also sells Arcticspa. I also have a good tech I have used over the last few years when needed.
    Just when I think I have it all figured out I return to your site and….out goes another idea. So I thought why not just ask the Wizard of Tubs for his recommendation???

    • Chris … I know you are busy man….I made my choice so no sense answering the question could you remove my request from Oct.20th Thanks

      • Hi Peter

        I am a busy man but I dont have anything from you that is outstanding.

        My oldest unanswered post is Oct 25th.

        sorry dude something must have gone wrong.

        • Looks like my last 2 posts have been deleted or just didnt show up as well. Either way, I appreciate the info you’ve supplied so far.

          • No i was on vacation 😉

            this is a labour of love not a job although its starting to feel like a job 🙂

  63. Hi, I live in Littleton, Colorado and I’m comparing Caldera Salina to Sundance Chelsee hot tub. Which would you recommend? I can purchase the Caldera through Costco via a local dealer with cover, lift and steps for 9,100 or the Sandance from a local dealer for 9,995 with cover, lift and steps. Is insulation better on one or the other, water maintenance better on one or the other? Yearly upkeep pricing similar?
    Thank you so much for your expertise and information.

    • Both are well branded spas with loads of proprietary parts, and dont really meet my criteria for a brand I would spend my money on.

      I like to see a good hand rolled fiberglass shell and a good parts list. I want to see money spent on the tub instead of the warm branding blanket.

      either will serve you similarly I would make sure the dealer has been dealing with the brand a long time… the goofy parts list makes the dealer supper important.

  64. Extremely helpful information, lots of misleading or contradictory information out there and not sure what to believe. I’ve been looking for a smaller size hot tub (max 78 inches wide) to fit in my 3 season room for leg and foot injury therapy. Have been to look at all the major brands (Hot Springs, Bullfrog, Caldera, Jacuzzi etc.). Finding that the smaller tubs are more money, have less jets and I don’t want to be stuck in a lounge all the time. Major factor is seating and jets for the legs and feet with the insulation being less important since it will be indoors. Have heard a lot about water filtration and chemical delivery and not sure what system is better. I live in southeastern Massachusetts so north of Boston is not a good option. Any suggestions for a brand and model that would work for me?

    • Hi Kate

      first forget the on board miracle chemical systems on all the brands, All of them are pretty good and none of them are anywhere near as good as the aftermarket stuff… spa Marvel, aquafinesse, mineralux… all very good systems and they work in any tub.

      As for brand if you want foot massage you want the big monster jets in the footwell and you need the ability to divert a whole pump to them… feet are tough old dogs and most foot jets are useless.

      The TS 67.25 is a monster, and built right, it has better jetting and more available power tot he therapy jets than most big tubs.

      try these guys

      Crocker Sales Co. Inc. (ma)
      9 High Street, Woburn, MA, 01801
      Phone: 781-933-2006
      hk@crockersales.com
      http://www.crockersales.com

  65. Wow…this site is such a welcome relief in the search for real info regarding a hot tub purchase. We just bought a home in a small mountain community. There is a local dealer who sells Sundance spas. We were leaning toward the Edison 680. But, since our property is going to be a short term/nightly/weekly rental which will handle to 8-10 people at a time (including lots of families with kids), they are pushing the sales pitch that we need the Hanover 780 because of the filter given the amount of use its going to get. They insist that over time, the higher upfront costs will result in overall savings over the years. It’s a $2000 swing…which we would gladly spend if there really is a big enough difference between the two…and if there is truth to the larger filter is that much better to justify the cost.

    And a follow up question…there is another dealer about 45 minutes away that sells the Hot Spring brand. Any thoughts about the Vanguard or Sovereign in comparison to the Sundance line?

    Finally…your thoughts about going with the one local Sundance dealer in a small mountain community…paying the higher costs…but getting local, first-name service…vs buying a product online at a savings and having it installed by a local licensed contractor/electrician.

    Thanks so much for the great and informative website!

  66. We are currently looking for a new spa and getting a lot of information on your website. We are novice hot tub users. We live in Kansas City and so far looking at stores here we have found 6-7 people hot tubs to be 20k plus. We are hoping you can point us in the right direction.

  67. Hi Chris,
    Looking for a good Hot Tub option in my area code 98550. Any recommendations? If dealer is not close, any recommendation for online or box store next best alternative?
    Thanks,
    Bill

    • I swear i get more people in this area of the us trying to find good brand than anywhere else in the US, sorry man resistance is futile, wrapping your product in a solid brand is what makes money and apparently that end of the country is particularly suited to selling.

      Find a dealer that has been carrying the same brand for years and has the solid reputation.

      but if yer reasonably handy or have someone that is buy a good spa with standard parts list and buy oyut fo market.. the spa will be better built last longer be more efficient and keep you out from under the thumb.

  68. Absolutely an amazing, helpful site! My wife and I began the search for our 1st hot tub today. We live in Bristol, TN with Johnson City, TN and Kingsport, TN both within a 30 minute drive. So far we looked at dealerships that sell Caldera, Hot Springs, Jacuzzi, Dimension One and Hawaiian Breeze brands. After reading through some of these posts it appears that all of those fall into the “proprietary parts” category. I believe the closest Master Spas dealer is in North Carolina. Would it be worth the drive to get the Master Spa and then have to figure out how to deal with issues down the road or should I just go with one of the local guys?

    • A lot depends on how long the store has been carrying the brands… when you go to the dark side and buy a hot tub with a proprietary parts list then you really need a dealer local with a history of dealing with that goofy parts list or you are in trouble. a lot fo independent service guys won’t touch these brands so the dealer is key.

      With a good OEM parts list, you can always get parts and repairs are plug and play so if you have access to a handy person or are one you can venture further afield.

      • Thank you so much for the quick reply. One more question for you if you don’t mind. What about ThermoSpas? I’ve seen their ads on tv and they make them look amazing of course but when I mentioned them to a couple of dealers we talked to yesterday, they were quick to dismiss them, which I expected because they are the competition.

        • Thermo spas is not a brand I would personally sell or recommend.

          The insulation system is a perimeter system they will sell against full foam systems by claiming it is hard to find leaks and to service but with the Icynene foam its not the case, the truth is its just a lot less expensive to do perimeter systems…

          The controls are good but the fact that they still use an air blower is a big warning sign. air blowers are cheap systems that blow cold air into the tub (even the heated ones are too cool), they are noisy and are used because it ups the jet count and adds value when selling but the reality is no one really uses these anymore except usually mass merchants and on-line guys.

          The 10 year warranty is pro-rated which means you pay after the first year 100% coverage for the first (1) year, 75% for the next two (2) years, 50% for the following three (3) years and 25% for the remaining four (4) years

          Also the labour aspect is only one year… You would be better with a 3 year parts and labor

    • I am in the same boat. Have a cabin in Townsend, TN. With a 20 year old Artesian Spa hot tub with 1 bad motor and a bad heater. Local dealer, The Great Backyard Place, advised they do NOT service soas this old. Local repair guy is having trouble finding a replacement heater. Would love to consider Master Spa but closest dealer is same person in Waynesville, NC. and the mountains kind of get in the way!!!
      Any comments on Artesian Spas manufactured by May Manufacturing. Obviously I will be on my own after 20 years but maybe that is the norm in the Spa industry.

    • We are first time hot tub buyers and live in Kansas City. We are looking for a 6 seater hot tub and would like to stay under 10k. Hot Springs Spa in KC was recommended where we should buy one. After going there and learning we would have to spend 20k we stopped looking until we found your site. We are hoping you can point us in the right direction.

    • it depends on a couple things.

      the first is if you are handy or have a handyperson you can count on and want to do your own parts swaps (on the good brands they are plug and play and easy to replace)

      if you do you can save a pile on buying out of market, remote dealers will view these deals as Bonus deals and typically will go cheap.

  69. Do you have any experience with Signature Spas? I’ve been told they are a line of Artesian, but can’t find any evidence to support this.
    Thx and great website!

    • unknown… artesian seems to be lending the name out I think… I need to look into it, If it is built by them to the regular standard then ok but if its just a cash grab endorsement then not… it s on my to do list but i do have a job as well 🙂

      • Did some more digging and they are their own line, not a sub. Do all the right things, though-self supporting shell, full insulation, non-proprietary everything, glued/clamped plumbing. Also entirely made in the USA.
        Thx

  70. Hello! We were just quoted $6500 for a Clarity Spas Precision 7 by Masters Spa at an expo in Dallas. What are your thoughts on Clarity Spas by Master Spas? Is this a good price? It is an actual Master Spa or something of less quality? The other brands we are looking at are Jacuzzi and Bullfrog. Thank you!

    • Hi there

      Clarity is a brand new shell design this season and is probably the roomiest spa out there.

      The good thing about master is they build all the lines doing the right things. the only thing that changes really is the jetting and performance.

      The price is very good and for a good all round spa thats great for entertaining its a good buy for sure.

  71. Hi! I live in Austria with limited hot tub options. We found an “Infinity 560” (similar to the Antigua) made by Artesian Spas based in Las Vegas. We found some bad reviews online and now we are reconsidering if we should buy it. So my question is, have you heard of this brand? If so, what do you think?

    • See I generally like the build quality of the Artesian stuff but I keep getting weird feedback about the sub line they are building. Im not sure about them and have not had time to check them out.

  72. Thanks for the info ,Chris. You’ve pretty much sold me on the Master line. Can you tell me if I have a local dealer near me? I live in Tacoma WA and the only thing I could find is http://Www.spapoolandbbqshow.com which doesn’t look like a dealer to me. Again, thanks much for the advice!

  73. New hot tub buyer here, limited options out here in Dubois,PA. Only Hot springs and caldera available at the local dealer. I know that both are in the category of overmarketing. If you had to choose, which would you?

    We do have limited space of a 7′ x 9′ area and the Hot springs sovereign would fit. We were wanting a tub for 6 if able. IF we moved the location to the other side of the patio,would have about 12′ x 12′ and fit any size.

    They are asking about 11k for the sovereign and 14k for the caldera Tahitian. I would love to get a master spa but only saw availability at a convention center about an hour or so away.

    • same company for both brands… If the local dealer has carried the line for a good 5 years minimum then you might be ok… The issue with these brands that use these goofy parts is that most service companies won’t fix them so you really need a reliable dedicated local guy…

  74. Hi Chris,
    I’m SO glad we found your site. Its been extremely informative ! I have been looking at 2 different brands. Beachcomber and Master Spa. I can get the 578 fully loaded directly from the factory for about 11,500 usd. I asked for pricing from MC for the 8.2 and was quoted around 8k for the basic . Not sure if there any any MC dealers around. The website points to a spa show. Opinions on both for value and rep?

    • So from a construction standpoint, these two spas are very similar, both hand roll self-supporting fibreglass shells with vinyl ester cores, both you Balbo heating and control systems, glue and clamp the plumbing and use Icynene foam insulation…

      The 3 differences:

      – Hybrid with the pumps outside on the beachcomber is old tech being regurgitated as new, it is bad technology… you only gain a tiny amount of foam in a location where the foam is already twice as thick as the rest of your hot tub and for that you trade off the ability to reuse the motor heat, this already is a bad trade, the little bit of extra insulation where it is already overinsualted offers nearly nothing while the loss of the motor heat is huge… disconnect the heater on the master and it will stay above 80 from the waste heat it reclaims… add to this the risk of equipment freeze up in a power outage and the fact that you are pumping your nice expensive hot water outside of the insulation envelope into a virtually uninsulated step makes this just bad tech done for a Unique selling feature.

      – Performance. The beachcomber tops out performance wise like Master spas next line down called healthy living. a good mix of high flow therapy jets and regular jets. the twilight is in another world… the jest package alone is worth twice as much and the performance of the main chair on the twilight literally flows twice as much water as the top beachcomber… the Beachcomber is a well-made hot tub the twilight is a well-made therapy massage spa.

      – The pricing is batshit crazy…. I saw beachcomber summer sales pricing and laughed so hard I almost pissed myself, the suggested retails are arbitrary and massively overinflated… and you are not getting the TS for 8k 🙂 that’s a price to get you in the door you should pay around 11k and the BC should be a grand cheaper.

  75. Our Sundance 1999 Optima finally went. We had a week without power and hit 30 below several years ago which resulted in some problems, but we limped along until now. It was good to us but now it is time to replace. Our deck is 8′ X 7′ 8.5″. I mainly soak and look at the stars, meteor showers, and mountain views. Wife like’s massage. Our son and his friends have an interest in periodic use also (socializing, but sports recovery too). Mostly used in winter time when we are off. Work too much in summer. We are out of Salida, Colorado. I’ve studied your site to avoid the unnecessary stuff; thank you. That said, which brand would you recommend?

    P.S. I best the videos are nice but just so you know, some of us live where the internet is horrible and we just can’t watch them. Written information is great for us.

    • No worries, I type a lot too 🙂 and my Buddy Elon is going to make internet free and highspeed and everywhere 🙂

      Most of the stuff around you is middle of the road, couldnt find any of my top brands there.

      try and find someone who has had the same brand for 5 yrs +

      • Thank you for your time. The place we bought our prior tub in Pueblo is still there. When we asked about service he said yes, they did it, but the truck would come out of their place in Colorado Springs. We may just go with them again because the only problems we had really weren’t their fault. Again, thank you for providing your insight and expertise to everyone.

  76. Hi Chris – What a site! I’ve been cruising every topic and video for several days – thank you!

    We want a therapy (massage) spa, 7×7 is the space we have. I’m like you, lots of ortho stuff – six spine surgeries, metal in my wrist, too. I joke I’m the bionic woman. We live in Los Angeles (but my husband is a fellow countryman of yours, born & raised in Edmonton AB.)

    Going on your recommendations, I want a brand that uses easily replaceable, quality parts; a self-supporting shell; glued & clamped plumbing; and suction side filtration. In terms of insulation, with this being L.A. I’m ok compromising away from full foam insulation if that helps open up more brand options, but I don’t want to totally sacrifice energy efficiency, obvs.

    We don’t appear to have a Master Spa dealer in our area, so would love your recommendation on brands to look for that would provide good therapy, and good quality here in LA LA Land.

    Also, are you familiar with LA Spas? I don’t see anything about them on your site. Probably they don’t fit the bill, but maybe?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Me and you are kindred souls! all my major bust-ups were adrenaline-fueled idiocy so I guess its all my own fault 🙁 My wife’s fam come from Lethbridge maybe yer my fifth cus 6x removed 🙂

      I wasn’t up on them so I did a bit of poking. They don’t say much on their site about the important things, just a lot fo side track and bells and whistles crap.

      looks Like a Geck control and def, not an insulation system I would sell in a cold climate. likely not a nightmare brand just more of the norm…

      • Thanks, cousin. 😉 LA Spas also doesn’t have a self-supporting tub, so based on what you found plus that, I think they’re out.

        With Master not available here, what would be your recommendation for a really good THERAPY (massage) spa available in Los Angeles that would hit most of the major points of importance ( easily replaceable, quality parts; a self-supporting shell; glued & clamped plumbing; and suction side filtration.) Like I said, this being L.A. what is needed in a cold climate is probably less of a priority.

        Again, thanks for your fantastic site! – Jessica

        • Actually, just found a Master TS 7.25 for floor model at a place about an hour and a half away, for $7698 (including steps, cover, delivery and 1 year chems.) Is that a decent deal, or…? Being as there’s no Master dealers here, it’s a drawback. But there are plenty of spa guys around L.A. Not sure if that’s a great deal or not.

  77. Thank you so much for this site!!
    I am a first time hot tub buyer and trying to decide between the Hot Spring Relay $6000 or the Saratoga Spa Regent $6345 both are a 6 person spa and include cover, lifter, stairs and delivery. I live in Saratoga NY (upstate) so the winters can be pretty harsh and I want to get the best spa in this price range. The Saratoga Spa has features like more jets and lighting on the outside but I am unsure which will be the best option. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!!

    • IDK both I have issues i guess the HS if and only if the dealer has been carrying the brand for 5+ years… these things use goofy parts and a lot of service guys will not touch them…

  78. Thanks for your informative site!!! I live in Barrie Ontario and based on the reading from your site so far I am looking at a Beachcomber 550 or 725 or Marquis e-series 545 or vector21 V84L. I am not able to find the material that beachcomber uses for the shell and the salesperson for Marquis (also an Arctic dealer) is selling the vector21 as superior due to it’s fibreglass shell and the e series as fibreglass reinforced acrylic. Will this be superior to the Beachcomber? The beachcomber will be a couple thousand more dollars…but truthfully think I like it and the dealer a bit better.

    • any of those tubs will work well, My preference is the marquis from a performance standpoint and they are very similar from a build standpoint, I prefer to stay away from external pump systems.

  79. Hello, thanks so much for the website and info Chris…I live in Moncton, NB, and there is a special edition Coast Spa Freedom at a local dealer I have been looking at. The only other somewhat quality tub in the area is beachcomber. Is Coast Spa the same as West Coast Spa? When I research Coast Spa it appears to have a good shell, hand rolled self supporting with good components (balboa waterworks etc) and has clamped lines and the company/dealer has them spray foam extra before they take possession (this is what the salesperson said anyways).

    Seems like a good tub, 62 jets with 3500$ of add on’s for free (cover steps aqua finesse kit etc) they dropped the price from 10,900 to 9500$…thoughts…you mentioned in an earlier post that you don’t like the old side filter…is there a reason…the website talks this up as though the dirty water never goes back into the tub etc….any thoughts would be appreciated…thanks. Brian

    • Coast does not to a great insulation system and although the rest sounds good on paper never been a big fan.

      The Beachcomber is a better spa but Hot Tub Universe sells masters there, they have a couple hundred customers in Moncton and have better spas and better service levels, I hear they are opening a store there in the spring.

      902-576-5115

    • You see a lot of times manufacturers will keep an outdated system because the cost to update is too high and because a clever marketing guy can put a good spin on it and if it convinces the customer that it is new and good then all of a sudden they have what is called in marketing circles a “unique selling Point” Often times things are not really done because they are better, they are done because they are less expensive and they have a good “spin” to them which means you can make people believe in it, and if people believe it and you’re one of the only guys doing it then you have a unique selling point and that can close deals!

      The first example of this is the filtration system, It is an old pressure filter systems and the “spin” Coat has put on it is great!! People love the sound of a “pressure filter” housing, heck it’s filtered under pressure! It must be good! The reality is almost all of the industry has moved away from this filtration system and moved on to “suction side” filtration.

      There is one big difference between the two systems: On older “pressure filter” systems the water is filtered on the pressure side of the pump and on suction side filtration it is filtered on the suction side of the pump! That means that on this older pressure filter system the water goes through the pumps and through the equipment before it gets filtered!!! The accumulation of debris in the pumps and in the heater elements can cause damage and it just makes sense to filter that water prior to it going through the equipment! That is exactly why 95% of the industry abandoned these old pressure side filters decades ago and moved to suction side filtration, it filters the exact same amount of water but it does it before the debris goes through the heater and the pump.

      Another pitch they use is that when you remove the filter the debris from the filter won’t fall into your hot tub water. Its silly because the debris falls into the filter housing and when you put the clean filter in and turn it on half of that debris gets blown into the tub anyway 🙂 not that it matters, the little bit of debris that falls into a hot tub or the filter canister when changing the filters gets re-trapped in a few minutes…

      The next bit of misleading craziness is that they say that it is 100% filtration! This is just using a buzzword to fool you… How all filter systems really work is the water goes through a filter which cleans all the debris out of the water, then that water gets dumped back into the tub so right away it gets mixed into the unfiltered water… over time more and more water is filtered and after a few hours there is no debris left. The only way to really have 100% filtration is to pump the water through a filter into another container, then once it is all filtered you can put it back into the hot tub… This is simply dishonesty and they should not be claiming it is 100% filtration it is marketing Spin all of it… It is a cheap outdated filter system with a nice pretty bow on it…

  80. Hi. My wife and I are about to buy a new hot tub and my parents suggested your site. We have a Sundance we picked up for free but it won’t stop leaking. We were about to buy a HotSprings spa when my folks recommended your site. I live in Klamath Falls, Or. any thoughts or suggestions?

  81. Great info on this site- thanks

    Please tell me your though let’s about Hot Springs – Highlife Envoy?
    Also looking at Coast and Bullfrog??

    • Don’t like Pinnacle guy dumped a load here and went bust, good parts but that’s the best of it. The Beachcomber would be my goto but man are they overpriced.

  82. Hi Chris! I just placed an order for the TS 7.2 and I have room for a TS 8.2. I am the tallest person in our family of four at 5′ 10″. Is there any benefit to paying the extra to get the 8.2? Price difference is $500, $9,800 for 8.2 vs. $9,300 for 7.2. Just thought I would get your opinion, thanks for providing all the great and helpful information.

  83. Buying a hot tub is a nightmare. Thank you for your site! I’ve been reading through and I still feel like there are more options than I know what to do with.

    I live in Bend Oregon and we’re looking for 7+ seater that we’re going to drop into a small berm in our back yard. Our budget is flexible (up to 13K), but I want to make sure I’m getting the best value and quality.

    I love that you focus on the dealer and not about driving their price down. I’m a firm believer in finding a great dealer with great service.

    I’ve seen Hot Springs, Jacuzzi, Bull Frog, Marquis and more in my area.

    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

    • Of that lot I like the Marquis, its the best built of them and it uses a good easily sourced parts list.

      • I just noticed we also have Artesian here … it’s through the same dealer that was pushing Jacuzzi on me (they didn’t even care to show me Artesian). I’m guessing even if you like Artesian … it’s probably not a great dealer.

        Still like Marquis in this scenario?

        • either are good tubs. they would be 2 of my goto brands

          • Rec’d a bid on an LSX-800 from Primo Spas: $14,571 (add-ons include the Granite DreamStone skirt and AfterGlow Jets) Nothing for the LSX-2009 trade-in…they’d just “take it to the dump” Seems a bit high, so think we’ll keep shopping… or, fix the 2009 for $965.

            Thoughts?

  84. Your site is amazing…thanks for all of the information & videos.

    I need a bit of help pushing me to decide on the correct replacement spa. We’ve had a Master Spas LSX (v. 2009 with the original X-treme seat) for years, but the circ pump is shot…and one of the other pumps is also needing to be replaced.

    Thinking about sticking with the LSX-series, but going down in size to the Phelps-700, since there are just 2 of us at home now. Good therapy jets for our old-age back problems is our major need (both at the neck and lower back issues). We enjoy bells-and-whistles (like the look of the lit jets/cup holders of the LSX-700, for example)

    After a visit to the new Master Spas dealer in San Antonio, we are wondering about your thoughts on the Twilight 7.25…especially since there’s not a lounge seat (rarely used it in the LSX.)

    Both have a smaller footprint than our original LSX…thought we were “set” on the 700, until we saw your Twilight video. Hell, now we’re even considering the Phelps-800 and Twilight 8.25. Any recommendations for which would be best for back therapy / more bang-for-the-buck?

    • I love the twilights and think bang for the buck it is the best-performing spa on the market.

      It’s not that I dislike LSX, its a well-made spa with top components I’m just not sure if you need to spend the extra cash for a great spa.

  85. I can choose from three brands here in my neighbourhood: LA spas, Artesian and Vortex spas. Which one would you prefer? Thanks.

  86. Hi Chris,

    We live in Swansea, MA 02777 and are just starting our journey to find the right tub. Can you give me a list of tubs that are close to us? We are looking for a 7-8 person tub.

    Thanks,

    Andrew

    • You have some options down there.

      your local guy seems to be mostly a pool guy, can’t even find a brand of hot tubs. best Brands would be master and Marquis, both built right Master will have some higher performance models that Marquis doesn’t offer but in the mid-end they are fine.

      my first goto would be these guys: for a Master

      Crocker Sales Co. Inc. (ma)
      9 High Street, Woburn, MA, 01801
      Phone: 781-933-2006
      hk@crockersales.com
      http://www.crockersales.com

      Then try these guys for Marquis

      APOLLO POOLS AND SPAS
      8 Harding Street
      Lakeville, MA 02347
      GET DIRECTIONS

      CALL US
      Phone: 508-923-7381

      • Thanks for the input. Leaning towards the Marquis Euphoria. What are your thoughts on this one. We were quoted $13,599.00. I thought it was a bit high. Thoughts?

        Thanks,

        Andrew

        • That seems like a high price to me but not outrageous, the reality is you need to let a retailer make enough that they can afford to take care of you 🙂 I find a lot of time when the price is too low the dealer is lazy… lmfao

      • Hi Chris,

        Settled on Master Spas 8.25. Is $9595 with paying $500 upgrade for extended warranty to 5 years and cover lifter. Is that a good price?

  87. Hello! I have a person selling a 6-7 year old Spa Dimensions hot tub. It’s the “Chairman” model and they say they paid $15K for it brand new. They’re asking $3000 for it. Do you think this is a decent tub and worth the price?

    Thanks

  88. We live in Kington, ON and I don’t think there’s a Master dealer in this area. Therefore, after talking to many people, St.Lawrence Pools and Spas came out as the best dealer in town. Their best product seems to be the Hydropool. We considering the H570PSM – Self-Cleaning – Salt water Bromine system E-Z Ultra with the Tranquility Package. The quote we got was for $12,399 before taxes which includes the delivery, cover and steps. I’m curious to know your opinion on this, considering Master Spas isn’t in the area. Unless you know a company that would deliver to Kingston. Also, how much would a Master Spas LSX 800 cost approximatly in comparision? I understand it’s a much higher quality but a ball park number would be great. Thanks, Sylvain

  89. Looking for good plug and play – I live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. We are right in the middle of three of the five great lakes so it’s cold and lots of snow. The only choices I have are online, Nordic dealer (in the states) who has a good selection of plug and plays such as All In 110V Sport, All In 110v Retreat etc., Coast Spas ,Hydropool and bullfrog. That’s it!

    What would you recommend and why? We want no bells and whistles. Just using it to stay warm. Don’t even like jets.

    Thanks…

    • Nordic is great except the installation is not great.

      Coast I don’t like the old pressure side filter systems.

      Hrdropool I don’t like anything except the parts list

      Bullfrog I don’t like the cradle supported shell.

      its really hard to find brands that really do all the right things.

      Re think the 110v option, in the cold climes like the Sault they get cold really fast on cold days once you take the cover off.

      try and find a Getaway Hot Tub Ochos rios… basically a Retreat with better insualtion.

  90. Love the website, info and videos. Have been reading all of the comments in each section. I live in Washington state (Seattle suburb) and am looking for a hot tub more for relaxation a few times a week. Size for 4-6 people. Went to a fair just to see what’s out there before coming across this site. So many options, very overwhelming. You seem to really like Masterspa, but I can’t find any in the area besides what I think is an expo. You also like Marquis, which has a dealer nearby. I’m hoping to keep the price in the $6-9K range, is that a reasonable expectation for a balance of value and quality? I don’t even know where to start with models. Are there other brands/models to consider? I prefer to buy from a dealer (that I like) after reading up. Thanks so much!

    • $6-9k is a big range, at the 6k mark be careful it’s a dangerous price point. there is a lot of junk in that price range but there are also some real gems.

      If the main goal is r&r then stay away from bells and whistles and big jet counts, keep to something simple, well build and efficient.

      6k-7k go for a Getaway roto mould spa, arguably the best put together entry level spa out there. in the 8-9k then go to the Marquis or a Master

  91. What is your opinion on West Coast Spas? We live in Arizona outside of Phoenix. I’m looking for a spa with good deep massage therapy jets. I’m in a networking group with someone who’s the dealer for West Coast Spas. I would like to honor him with my business if I decide his Spa is the best way to go. I am just trying to research the best brands at this point and gather information before I make my choice. I was also thinking about Hot Springs which my friend has and loves or the Legend series of Master Spas.

    • West Coast there is not any info on, sorry but see if they do the 4 important things at least… Hand rolled self-supporting shell, good north American parts, full foam insulation and glued and clamped plumbing.

      Hot Springs, I would never put on my floor, they are one of the groups that are getting cheap parts made that just fit their spas.. they reliability of the parts is worse and they now have you on a hook for life because you can only get parts from them… good scenario to make big profits… A bad scenario for the owner.

      Master I like, great build quality, top end parts, clamped and glued plumbing, and hand rolled self-supporting shells, plus if you want to they do so many lines you can get anything from entry level right up to insane therapy spas like the twilight series.

      • Thank you, we just went out and bought the Legend series LSX 800. After reviewing all of the things you point out to look out for when buying a hot tub, it just seemd like the best choice. We decided to go for the bigger one with the better therapy jets, it wasn’t that much difference, just a few thousand. Some of the reviews on the other sites are so bad it does scare me a bit but all of the hot tubs have good and bad reviews so you can’t really go by that I’m thinking. If I focus on the build quality and jets, Master Spa wins out. I can’t look at those others hot tubs with the skimpy Jets and be happy after I saw the Master Spas.

        West Coast Spas does not have a tub that is hand rolled. They do not clamp their plumbing. They also use perimeter insulation. The volcano jet is on the floor which I hear overtime because of stress can lead to leak possibly. Also I like how Master Spas have an actual pan under the tub instead of just a thin plastic sheet. I’m concerned with mice coming in and eating the wires and things. I like the idea of a solid pan. Master spas’s also vent the hot air from the motors outside the hot tub and West Coast Spas do not do that, which was another considering Factor because I hear Motors that are overheated don’t last as long.

        Those were the main points I was considering when I picked Master Spas. I’m going for longevity and I figure with the better build quality there the better pick. I probably paid too much but I purchase the LSX 800 with everything including the stereo and Wifi, UV filtration cleaning system and a little side table attached to the tub for $13,900. They said that was $1,000 off the price normally it’s $14, 900. They threw in the stereo and WiFi for free along with the cover and the table and the steps. It’s the larger 94 by 94 size with 4 pumps. My husband didn’t fit comfortably on the lounge seat of the 84×84 one because he’s tall, six foot one. If you’re going to spend the money you might as well spend a little more and get the better one I figure.

        Another quick question , do you think I can take advantage of the heat coming from the motor somehow to create something to warm the towels? Just trying to get creative. Thanks for all your help!

        • Hi Kristine

          I that’s a great idea with the towels 🙂

          for now throw them in the dryer 10 mins before you go out and then throw them in a cooler to take out with you 🙂

  92. Hi! Ive asked a question previously about brands and we listened and kept looking. Thank you. Now we have arrived at Marquis. Head is still spinning with the options. We thought we came across one we liked after spending hours in the store. We liked the feel of the jets and the feel of the seats. We came back here to read. The Marquis Vector 21 series. You stated in another reply its old tech and such. My question to build on that is, what is your opinion on the Laminar Flow that Marquis is advertising on these spas? Is it a negative? or is it neither good or bad? I know you said you hadnt seen a vector 21 in action but Im sure you are familiar with this type of flow. Again, thank you for any help you can offer.

    • The tub is fine i just laugh at how they changed the names and looks of all the jets and controls to make it sound new 🙂

      also on the 94’s they use volcano jets I dont like,m you trip on the damn things all the time, they are better if they are in the side of the footwell..

  93. Ok Great. I will look into those brands. Any idea on what we’re looking at for costs?
    Thanks for your reply and the great info you have on here

    Eddy from Toronto

  94. I’m from Toronto and looking at the sunrise, IPG and Coast tubs. Can you comment on these which would be the best.

    • sunrise is ok except the insulation, IPG is a buying group, not a manufacturer I think hydropool or sunrise build their line now. Coast again the cheap insualtion…

      dude in Toronto you have all the good ones, there are master, Marquis, and likely Artesian…

  95. Hi, new to page and to purchasing a hot tub. I live in Toronto Canada and t here is a Marquis Promise spa floor model on clearance for 10K Canadian with constellation lighting, aroma infusion, cover lifter and durawood step II hinged. They told me that they have stopped carrying them because they are now carrying Four Winds hot tubs. Is this a decent price, and/or do you know anything about Four Winds?

    • Yeah four winds had a lot of problems with the plastic shells, they were using good insulation and good parts but I would not personally buy anything that did not used a hand rolled self-supporting fiberglass shell we had 15 four winds shell failures in our area and if the shell goes you are screwed.

      buy the floor model.

  96. Love the page – thanks for your dedication and awesome answers!!

    So I’ve read almost all the posts. I live in the greater Indianapolis area. I have narrowed our search to a Master Spa; Twilight or Clarity – but not sure which one yet. We’re going to go try them out.

    This I don’t understand based on advice you’ve given others (SEE BELOW). There are manufacturers and there are dealers. There is no “middle man” or manufacturer selling direct. So why would this local “dealer” (?) say “We are the factory”? when I asked him if he had a showroom and how many years of service, what brands he represented, etc.

    Can the factory sell direct?

    “We are the factory. The factory is 1.5 hours away in Fort Wayne. We have selling Spas in Indianapolis for 25 years. The factory has been there since 1978. We have 2 full-time service technicians that service just central Indiana. We do only carry Master Spas. That entails 7 different lines of hot tubs from our most basic Getaway Series to our top of the line Michael Phelps Legend Series. We are the largest manufacturer built in the United States. If you have anymore questions, call or email. We would love to earn your business. Give me a heads up on what time would be good for you.

    • Hi Chris

      Typically Master does not sell direct but there are some big dealers that sell “factory direct” or “warehouse direct” and who knows in their local area they may. The reality is as long as the price and the service are good who cares?

      Twilight and Clarity are vastly different spas, twilight is all about therapy massage, clarity is all about room and entertaining. Both are well built well insulated spas.

      • Indiana HotTubGirl

        Great thanks for the reply! I feel you’ve done all the legwork/research I would have normally done so THANK YOU a million! We’ll definitely be checking out our IN Master Spa dealer asap!

    • Hey there. Thank you so much for your website, it’s amazing, so much useful and realiable information here that I haven’t found anywhere else! So we live in Montreal, Canada, we’re buying a spa for the first time and we’re willing to pay as much as needed for a good spa. We need something for 5-6 people, well insulated for winter, light if possible (because it’s for a reinforced terrasse), and we’re looking for something top of the line. HotSpring looks really nice, but we’re afraid it might only be the looks, the nice jets might break too soon. Or Arctic, looks too old fashioned and i’ve read you don’t like them… or Sundance. How about CoastSpa, so far they have offered us the best service, in this one store they seem to repair several brands of spa. There is also Jacuzzi, trevi, and severals others around here… choosing is so difficult and confusing. Could you give us some advice please?????

      Richard

      • Hi Rick

        The truth is all the brands you know by name are known because they spend a pile of money on branding and marketing which means they don’t spend enough on the hot tub and charge too much 🙂

        You have a couple good independent service companies out there fixing spas, that means you don’t necessarily have to rely on local retailers.

        The truth is a good dealer is critical but a good dealer is not about how close they are to you. Great dealers are about strong communication and knowledge, the reality is most of what you need from a support standpoint is someone to talk you through teething issues… the actual service is easy on a spa using a good parts list and similarly, diagnosis is easy over the phone, then it’s a day or two to ship a part and any local handyman can put it in… the good spas are plug and play parts.

  97. I’m looking at buying a used Sundance Maxxus or ArcticSpas Summit. Could you tell me anything about build and component quality of these? Also how would they compare to a Master or Artisian? Thanks from Alberta, Canada. Love your site!

    • So Sundance and Arctic are both goofy proprietary parts, that takes them off my list right away, Arctic Don’t even clamp the plumbing lines and only uses a few inches of the expensive foam insulation instead of filling the cavity. They charge a ton for these tubs and frankly, I can’t see why…

      What I like about the Marquis and Masters is they spend the money on the hot tub. hand rolled shells, expensive parts list that you can source anywhere, lots of insulation, and glued and clamped plumbing… these four things make a big difference to long term durability.

  98. Hi Chris
    So thankful for your site. Live in Anchorage Alaska and on the verge of buying a tub from HotSprings, or Sundance….Then I found your site. Not sure of other brands available here in Alaska as I have been inundated with the Sales Pitch from these two brands. Costs here are quite a bit higher due to shipping, so willing to spend the right money, but want the right Hot Tub. Best recommendations?

    • Both spas use a proprietary parts list. so instead of spending the money on the top parts that really last, they have their own special little parts that just fit their spas so they can own you for life for replacements.

      There is a master dealer up there

      Alaska Spa & Bath Company
      1657 E. Dowling Road , Anchorage , AK, 99507
      Phone: 907-562-7727
      jrice@akstovespa.com

  99. We are in South Central Alaska (Anchorage area.) We have been researching for a while, plus spent all day yesterday at the state fair talking to dealers about Caldara, Beachcomber, Sundance, and Jacuzzi. Except for Beachcomber, these are local dealers with Service and technicians. Speaking to all of them, we narrowed it down to the Makena Caldara spa which would run about $12,200 (state fair price, usually about $14,500), delivered to our home, set up on our prepared site with class on water treatment for owners. That’s about top of our budget.

    However, we also have researched and like Artesian Tropic Seas Waikiki, which would have to be shipped from Seattle to our home, then we’d have to hire local tech to assist in setup (unknown cost yet.) That unit runs about $8,350 + additional shipping of about $1000 or so. Pricewise, obviously the Artesian is less money– but my wife is concerned about doing it on our own, without a local brand rep or service shop. What do you think about these two choices? (We have read your general comments favoring Artesian more than Caldera.) What are risks of having tub shipped by barge and trucked to our home for installation on our own? Other considerations? Other tIps or links about outdoor Arctic winter use? Thanks, so much, very happy to have discovered HTU!

    • Caldera Sundance and jacuzzi all suffer from the dreaded proprietary parts… cheap parts that just fit their spas so that they are guaranteed your parts business for ever… I would never ever have a spa that did not have the Balboa/ waterways parts.

      man, they are also charging you a fortune… these things are not rocket science… any handyman on site with a meter and a good dealer on the phone can diagnose and put parts in, esp if they are using the good parts.

      If you have a handyperson, or are one then buy a brand with a good oem parts list and a dealer you can get tech support from…

  100. Info on a used hot tube…. 2013 master spa 8.2 its at an estate sale. Info was hard to find I it. In the sale it said never used. Not like i believe it. Sale is on Saturday. What should i look for in it. What kinda build did they use then? waterway and balboa? Thanks for your help

  101. Hi, love the site! I’ve learned a lot that’s helped me make some sense out of what originally seemed like a muddled mess.

    I’ve been looking into getting a Marquis spa, specifically either the Promise or the Euphoria (my current favorite). My local dealer would be Parrot Bay Pools & Spas out of Fayetville, NC.

    Any insights on the specific tubs or the dealer?

    • They both look like great tubs, this is getting into what is personally going to be good for you… I am unaware of the dealer standing. sorry!

  102. Thanks so much for the great site, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from reading it while getting ready to buy a hot tub. I was hoping to take my turn asking for your advice now that I have enough specifics to ask good questions.

    My wife and I are looking for a small (3 person size is fine) tub with an emphasis on good therapeutic jets. She’s had health issues in particular.

    We have the ability to run 240V if needed. We also have natural gas near the site, and could extend that, if any of the options include natural gas for heat.

    Our zip is 97222 which puts us in close range of several stores including a few highly rated ones. The top 3 in terms of local ratings sell:

    – Marquis (I see you rate this brand pretty well)

    – a dealer that has Artesian and Nordic brands in that size, both of which you seem to like but not as much as the Marquis? Is that particularly true with the emphasis on therapy jets?

    – This place called West Coast Spas (www.westcoastspas.com) that appears to manufacture their own brand? I don’t see any reference to it on this page, are you familiar with them? If not, how do you advise determining their build quality compared to the others? I’ve already asked them about proprietary parts.

    Would love any advice as to distinguishing between those choices. Thanks very much

    • The Artesians and the Marquis are very similar and both would be reliable, the rest is personal… keep in mind the more large jets the more expensive the jet package, try and stay with fewer big pumps as oposed to many pumps, diverters that let you control flow the seats are good as well…

  103. Het i found out more about that spa. It’s a 2013 twilight 8.2. They say it has 2 jet pumps and one circulation pump would that be right? As well that makes it 4 years old now. Where they made right back then? Waterway jets and balboa pack?

    Thanks again for helping
    Curtis

  104. Hey Chris;

    Thanks for providing such excellent information and a site for people to get some expert information on tubs. Much thanks to you, I have purchased a Healthy Living Tub for my home in Northern Alberta. It was tough finding a Master Spa dealer, but they are willing to deliver 9 hours north of Calgary.

    Cheers!

  105. Great site and wealth of information! Had a Viking Aurora 2 from ~2007 that we loved the size/layout of (and even had Waterways and Balboa control that you like!), but sadly after sitting idle for a couple years after moving, the start-up had too many issues and we’re looking for hot tub #2.

    We don’t have a lot of options around here (zip 61061, northwest IL) and ones we haven’t ruled out yet are Jacuzzi, Caldera, Sundance, Viking, Hot Springs. Pretty much all the ones you don’t think highly of and may end up with something bigger than our original. Since it seems we may have to go with one that uses proprietary parts, I’m wondering if you feel these parts and construction are truly inferior, which is why you don’t rate them high, or is it mainly just because they are proprietary? And, if these are our choices, are any of them truly superior to the next?

    • the best parts are also the most expensive. there is no reason to go to another parts list. the good ones work really well and yes they are far superior. the only reason to do a proprietary parts list is to save mo ey on the build and to guarantee profit down the road because they always have to come back to you for parts. it’s funny if you go to the discussion forums and look in the section where people ask for help you will find a disporortiante number of people look g for help with the brand’s with sub standard parts… what goid for the bottom line is often not what is best for the end user…

  106. Hey can’t find any info on a master spa m5700? There is 2015 model for sale what are they like? They say never used…… still be 2 years old so what kind of price would be fair? Thanks

  107. We live in the mountains outside of colorado springs at 8500 feet. Im considering a viking spa. Our budget is limited to a max of 6000 dollars. I see it has some of the components you recommend like balboa power system, but lacks some of the other traits you mention. It sounds like it has good warranty and the dealer was great. Is this a good purchase to consider or should we wait another 3 years or so for a different brand when we have more funds?

    • 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…

  108. I’m a first time hot tub buyer. I like to do comprehensive research before I buy, but there is very little reliable information on hot tubs available. So, thank you for this site!
    I live in Mississauga and there are a plethora of hot tub dealers in my area. I agree 100% with your views on quality components like Balboa and Waterways. That being the case, which manufacturers and series would you recommend for the best quality parts and construction for a 6-7 person tub? I’m willing to pay for quality and am looking for a fun hot tub more than a therapeutic hot tub. Thanks!

    • hey Rob.

      on my phone so excuse the poor response.

      in you area there are tons… Master has a couple dealers and so does marquis. both good brands

      • Looking for best “brand” and “dealer” in Indianapolis, IN. Have you heard of Royal Spa…made here in Indy. I just want one for 4 people, smaller, best filtration that runs 24/7, and energy efficent. Any info you can help me with?

        • Sorry for the delay been away 🙂

          I quickly looked at Royal, not impressed, looks like they do good shell but old style mechanical packs, circ pumps, and perimeter insulation are all inexpensive ways to build spas, old school pressure side filtration as well… A lot of spin and misinformation to justify an inexpensive build.

          These guys sell artesian, and you are right By Master spa Factory in Fort Wayne…

  109. I would like to have an inground hot tub/spa. Would it be more cost efficient to buy the shell and add the components and hire someone to do the installation or find a good dealer and buy and have them do everything? Do you have a recommendation for make of inground unit? I live around the Chattanooga, TN area. Thanks!

    • This is really something outside of my expertise, it is more like building a pool than a portable hot tub.

      You could buy a tub, remove equipment and replumb it to a remote equipment site, best to get someone in locally to advise.

  110. Hello and thank you for all you do to help in the crazy world of hot tubs!

    I have a private sale opportunity for a brand new Master Spa Model HL7 being offered at $6000. Buyer says they purchased for $10K and come with cover, stairs and start up kit. What are your thoughts on this model and price?

    Thanks! Dragan

  111. I’m trying to decide between the following models, and I suspect all are around $9000

    1) I live in North Florida where it rarely ever gets cold, so the hot tub sellers are saying NOT to get full foam insulation. Is this correct?

    The models are;
    2) Sunrise Spas; Paragon-Essence model, add; LED Sunlite, 03/UV sanitizing system, Microsolk, cover. Price unknown yet.
    3) SouthSeas Deluxe Class 860L add; lighted LED and Pillowfall, Diamond AOP, cover, cover lifter, do NOT add full foam due to heat of Florida weather. $9,000
    4) Shoreline Spas 863L add; LED backline jets, Clear Sanitation System. Price unknown.

    NOTE: South Seas Spas (Artesian) has the shortest amount of warrant coverage when compared to the other brands.

    • In warm climates, there is still the advantage of the plumbing being supported which cuts down on leaks down the road, and there there is no disadvantage, in fact, the full foam systems usually have better motor cooling than the perimeter systems that trap the motor heat in the insulation envelope.

      South Seas I am unsure of, I haven’t seen he spa yet but I generally like Artesian… forget warranty some guys build it into the price of the hot tub some let you have the option of building it in… Typically an extra year should cost $300

  112. Looking at a Caldera Geneva. Local brands are hot spring, caldera and Nordic. Nordic tubs look way lower end to me and I don’t even desire to try them. I know caldera and HS are both Watkins brands. Concerns with one over the other?

    • Wow, I searched your area and frankly, there are no super brands. those two are as good as anything around and the differences are primarily personal preference.

      There are however 2 good local service guys that do work on any spa brand, this can open you to buying out of the market and saving some money.

      The reality is a great dealer is more about strong communication and knowledge, the actual repair and is pretty straight forward and can be handled easily by a local repair center.

      • Okay I’m positive I’m not doing this right but don’t know how to start my own question….apologies to all
        Looking for best hot tub for cold Minnesota. Only really need 2 or 3 seats but use it almost daily for chronic back and neck pain. I’m from central MN St. Cloud would be largest city but Mpls/ St Paul isn’t out of the question. Looking for brand, model and dealer recommendations.
        Our 15 year old Cal Spa is finally dying and too costly to resuscitate. My search list thus far includes but not limited to Cal Spa, Arctic,Master Spa, ThermoSpa, Caldera,Sundance….. I’m lost. Too much contrary information on all. HELP! I’m so confused and overwhelmed and my back is killing me.

  113. Oh my gosh! My head is spinning! I’m so glad I stumbled oaths website!

    I’m looking to purchase my first hot tub, and I’m flying blind and solo. I don’t have a clue about hot tubs and I’m trying to wade through the information without any real heal here.

    I’m in San Diego, Californina and have been looking at Jacuzzi versus Cal Spa. I’m seeing brands listed on here that I’ve never even heard of and I’m wondering if there is another brand / dealer I should be looking at.

    Are you familiar with what direction I should be looking in my market? This is a big purchase for me, and I don’t want to throw my money down the drain here. I want to buy it right and not have to worry about it failing and falling apart on me.

    Thank you for any guidance you can provide me. I sure do appreciate it!

    • Hey Rachel

      It’s not your fault, it is a spinny world out there It does my head in the crazy shit you hear companies saying 🙂

      I always look at the build cost, forget the marketing spin I want a guy that is spending the money on the hot tub!

      If you want great build go to the Beachcomber dealer here: or the Artesian dealer here.

      These are both good solid well build spa lines. The Artesian will have some higher end performance models than beachcomber available.

  114. I’m looking at getting either the Artesian south seas 735 deluxe series for 6k or the spa manufacturer Inc octoround for 4495. Same number of seats, comparable number of jets and lights. I know from previous posts that you generally like the artesian brand. I’m on the fence about this manufactures tub. Spa manufacturers inc. has been in business for 30 plus years, they say their components are balboa and it is a hand rolled fiberglass hull with 8 layers. It has 3 pumps 9 horse power. He said that they only usepanel insulation on the cabinet walls which is concerning to me. However, I live in clearwater, fl where our most severe winter snap has us at 35 degrees for maybe a few days. I’m going back tomorrow to ask a few more questions. Thoughts? Advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey

      never heard of them but there are lots of these little local guys. first thing… the numbers are B.S. there are not 3x 9hp pumps 🙂 not enough electricity… and 8 layers of fiberglass???…LMFAO…

      When the first thing you hear is bullshit it usually does not get better…

      The artesian is a known quantity and works well.

      • Hello ! I just found this blog! I am looking to buy our first tub. we want a basic not many fixtures tub that have good quality. Our budget is limited to $5000. I have a Thermospa guy coming to see us tomorrow but I am reading no many reviews about them.
        I live in the Boston area so winter is an issue and we would like to use it. It will be outdoors.
        What do you recommend?

    • Phillip Weinstein

      I am down to two tubs. Celebrity Vegas or Hot Springs rhythm. Only hesitation on the Rhythm is the seating with the “cool down seats”. Prices are similar. What say you and thank you!

      • The Celebrity is a Marquis, good solid tub with the right parts list and build method… my choice for sure out of that pile

  115. I am a handy guy, so I tend to work on things myself. There isn’t a Master dealer near me, so would you buy out of state and just maintain yourself? I am in the Jackson, TN area which is between Memphis and Nashville.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • This opens it up a lot. as long as you have a good dealer that answers their phones and knows their stuff you can get a really good deal, buy out of your local market and save a ton… Great dealers are about great communication and knowledge not about proximity…

  116. Hey great site! I’m in the Boston area and looking for a 5-7 person tub, 7′ x7′. Looked at Jacuzzi 300 series and Hot Springs so far. Hoping to spend $7-8K but may not get that price. Floor model etc would be OK. Questions-

    Nobody advertises prices so it is hard to price shop. Seems like a scam. In your experience, can you negotiate much off what they quote you? It’s kind of like price shopping for a mattress, hopeless. I would have thought I could go to websites and just price shop and order what I need. Then find a local service guy if needed down the road.

    Wife is pushing for salt water tub, but I am not aware that this would be better than Cl/Br. I assume salt water is gimmicky and undesirable, correct?

    Maybe not within your knowledge, but i have a 240V tub I’ll be removing, I can it unwire for extraction. I am planning to connect the new tub myself as I think it just involves electrical connections and water proof housing. Am I missing something as i don’t know if this is discouraged. I am an engineer but not an electrician.

    Thanks for any advice!

    • The pricing thing is tricky it’s a very messy product to buy, a lot of spin marketing and bullshit and not a lot of guys really spending the money on the build.

      The salt water systems are old tech that is being re-introduced it lets you get to around 1-3 ppm of chlorine or bromine. The better systems stand alone aftermarket like Spa Marvel or Aquafinesse which can get you to .5ppm (drinking water levels) see this video… http://www.hottubuniversity.com/chemical-free-hot-tubs/

      the older tubs sometimes ran on 40 amp lines check your breaker it likely needs to be 50 amp for modern tubs. I would advise getting an electrician (admin covers ass for future litigation 🙂

  117. I am looking at spending between $6,000-$7000 on a nice hot tub made with good quality. I have been looking at the Tropic Seas by Artesian Maui or Waikiki. The only difference between the two is the Waikiki has 6 more jets, foot blasters instead of regular foot jets, and a third pump just for the foot blasters. In your opinion is it worth $700 for that or is it a waist of money?

    Also, Speakers in the tub with Bluetooth. I have heard that it is just more to go wrong with a tub. With so many other music options out there is it a bad idea to put speakers in the tub where they will always be exposed to moisture? That is an extra $500 and again not sure if it is really worth that.

    Is there anything in that price range that you would compare to the quality and features of those two tubs I am looking at? I live in Indiana…

    Thanks in advance for your help!!

    • I would way rather 2 big pumps with a diverter than 3 pumps, read this article: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/small-pumps-large-pumps/

      The stereos are pretty reliable since they went Bluetooth but you are correct they are not the best value for the money there are better options although it is cool to have it integrated…

      • The pumps for the seats are all the same. The added pump is for the foot blaster. The Waikiki has footblasters with a 3 HP pump just for those. Where as the Maui just has two regular hydrotherapy jets running off of the two pump system. Is the footblaster set up really worth the $700? Not necessarily the extra pump. Is there any other brands or hot tums you would recomond comparable to the quality and price of either the Waikiki or Maui by Artesian? Or for the money are the Tropic Seas my best options as far as quality and expense?

        Thanks again!!

  118. Hi! I’m looking in I two spas, the Arctic Spas Summit, and the Coast Freedom. Which would you recommend? I live close to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the Arctic dealer has a technician that drives through my town daily. The Coast dealer that was nearby just switched to Cal Spas, which I know nothing about. My dad had a Coast spa, and really likes it, and I like the filtration system.

    Any recommendations?
    The Summit quite came in at around $13k, and the freedom (from the no longer Coast dealer) was $12k. I haven’t yet spoken to the Coast dealer who I now have to travel further in to Winnipeg to visit.

    • Hey Jay. The cal spa is an older pressure side filtration system, the more modern spas use suction side, the only real difference being suction side cleans the water before it goes through the pump! but all spas filter systems work well to remove debris and having suction side protects the equipment better. Both dealers that carried them here dropped them within a season or two.

      Not Impressed with the Arctic. Great shell, Inexpensive foreign sourced parts, No clamps on the plumbing, Inexpensive Insualtion system and man those cedar skirts!!! If you like the look of a cedar skirt in the showroom then dont buy a Cedar skirt… It dates your purchase, a good vynal skirt looks like a new spa forever.

  119. I’m not getting the reason I’ve now left 3 posts and none are showing up? Is there some secret code, eye wink, and handshake?

    LISTEN UP TALL PEOPLE!
    1) The questions are: Seats that fit a 6’2″ tall guy; about 36″ seat depth
    2) I live in NW Florida, and there isn’t a Master Spa Dealer within 4-6 hours. If I go to a Master Spa retailer, buy a spa, then what happens when a repair is needed. Is the warranty voided by a non-approved repair shop?
    3) DRUM ROLL……I want a spa that has the 1) Fully-Insulated shell with Iceyene & motors encased, 2) pressure lines double clamped, 3) High quality American made non-proprietary parts, 4) High end controller, 5)Hand rolled self-supported shell, etc. , so where can I find that type of manufacture being sold in NW Florida? None of the brands I’m seeing being sold in my regional area (3 hour drive-Gulfport, MS to Tallahasse, FL) have high quality brand hot tubs?

  120. I’m in the Seattle area. From the spas you have recommended, we have Marquis and Artesian available. I’m looking at either the Marquis E Series (545), the Artesian Antigua or the Artesian Nevis. Do you have any preference between the Marquis and Artesian??

    I’ve tried to post a few times, so hopefully this third attempt will work. Thanks for the help!

  121. I just bought he healthy living 8.35 from masterspas directly. Very easy buying experience and easy set up. Getting stuck on the maintenance. I listened to many of your videos but How do you use aqua finnesse to regulate it easily? How often do you need to empty water? ( I have 7 family members using 2-3 times week.

    Thank you for your awesome advice!!

  122. HOW DO YOU RATE LA KONA SPA TROPICAL SERIES? THERE IS A USED 2006 FOR SALE IN OUR AREA FOR $800. NOT SURE IF IT IS WORTH THE HASSLE TO MOVE? THANKS

  123. Ok, I guess I’m missing the secret hot tub handshake.
    I’ve posted twice in the past 24 hours seeking advice before we pull the trigger for the first time and hot tub university keeps deleting it?

    Just looking for advice on the following:
    Hydropool, Arctic spas, Tidal Fit and H2X

    Just want an honest opinion on overall best value on a 14-19foot swim spa.
    Thank you
    Eric

    • Hi, Eric.

      Sorry man, I’m busy with the real world 🙂 this site is killing me!

      I don’t know about Tidal but Hydropool insulation system would make it a no go for me, and the old pressure side filtration systems and the sections in the floor are seriously old tech that 99% of the industry abandoned years ago and is now being rebranded as innovation… Here is a review on it. http://www.hottubuniversity.com/hydropool-hot-tub-review/

      I just shot a video of an Arctic spa, not released it yet but I am really not a fan of the line, they make a good shell but the parts are all inexpensive Chinese brands, the insulation is inexpensive and they don’t clamp the plumbing line… these guys market this spa as high end but I just don’t see the justification except to cover what must be a very expensive branding and marketing cost.

  124. Any concerns with arctic swim spas?
    Seems like a good solid shell, decent plumbing and insulation?
    Designs seem a little stale compared to Hydropool or H2X but is the value really there?
    They boast super low monthly operating costs $17-35 / per month to heat and clean.
    They also claim to be industry’s only spa that allows you to see exactly how much it cost to operate via your iphone app?
    Thanks
    Eric

    • Not a Big Fan of Arctic. Look at where the money is spent… Shell Great, but everything else is inexpensive non-standard parts, no clamps and very little money spent on the insulation…

  125. Any concerns with arctic swim spas?
    Seems like a good solid shell, decent plumbing and insulation?
    Designs seem a little stale compared to Hydropool or H2X but is the value really there?
    They boast super low monthly operating costs $17-35 / month to heat and clean.
    They also claim to be industry’s only spa that allows you to see exactly how much it cost to operate via your iphone app?
    Thanks
    Eric

    • Hi Eric.

      They build a good shell but the rest is magic.

      The plumbing is not clamped, they manage to convince people that spending less and using less insulation is better than spending 4x more and filling the cavity it’s about r-10 vs R30 on a full foam spa and all the parts are the inexpensive overseas parts.

      they use a salt water system which runs 1-3 ppm chlorine or bromine which is a lot higher than the newer systems and the machine is $1300! and needs regular anode replacement.

  126. In the Seattle area, we have reputable dealers that represent HotSpring, Jacuzzi, Marquis, & Artesian. MasterSpa has a goofy ‘distribution center’, where they show their product one or two weekends a year, but no show room. Which of these manufactures would you recommend?
    I’m looking at either Marquis E-Series (545) or Master Spa/Legacy (Enterprise). Any thoughts on comparing these two? I’m a bit uncomfortable buying MasterSpa Legacy Enterprise through a sales rep who doesn’t have a show room and staff, but I would consider if the Enterprise is a better product.

    • Hi William

      it doesn’t matter so much if they have the local showroom, you care if they have the local customer care and support… they are all good spas but bang for the buck that Limited edition Enterprise is very hard to touch…

  127. I live in Ontario, Canada and am lucky to have a reputable marquis dealer a few minutes from my house. Ive made up my mind id like to purchase a marquis tub. Currently stuck between 2 models of tubs. I was looking at the Vector21 and the E-Series. The Vector21 costs slightly more but includes the inline sanitation system and volcano floor jet. Do you have any opinions or experiences on the E-series line? I haven’t been able to find much for reviews on them

    • I looked at the Vector 21 and it’s a goofy tub, nothing new just the same stuff rebranded for the sake of marketing. I hate pseudo innovation but at least it’s built right… Find out what brand of jets and controls the vector 21 uses, I always wondered if it was waterways or some off brand.

      volcanoes are again old tech that most guys have moved away from and it’s common for this old tech to resurface as innovation after a while. most companies got away from any fittings and plumbing under the floor. although i see they made a raised Chanel for the plumbing which is good, the down side is they are tripping hazards and always in the way.

      Performance wise i have no idea… never seen a vector 21 in action but if you can wet test them both send me you feedback!

  128. I live near Seattle. There are no Master Spas dealers in our area. Do you have any advise about alternatives in my area. Seems odd that they don’t service a large city like Seattle.

    • I’m in the same situation as Norman in the Seattle Area.
      Seattle Hot Tubs carries the Marquis. Seattle Hot Tubs seem like a good group (located in Kirkland, not Seattle).
      Black Pine Spas carries the Atresian.
      Master Spa has a show this weekend at XFinity stadium in Everett. I’ve had some spotty communications from a salesperson from Master Spa, who said he could arrange delivery. I contacted another salesperson from Master Spa who represents this area, his phone is 952.543.0220, and he had info on how to order Master Spa in this area.

      My question to Admin:
      In the Seattle area, we have reputable dealers that represent HotSpring, Jacuzzi, Marquis, Artesian, and a goofy distribution center which can deliver Master Spa, but no show room. I’m looking at either Marquis E-Series (545) or Master Spa/Legacy (Enterprise). Any thoughts on comparing these two? I’m a bit uncomfortable buying through a sales rep who doesn’t have a show room and staff, but I would consider if the Enterprise is a better product.

      • The marquis or the artesian or the enterprise are all great spas. but bang for the buck that limited edition Enterp[rise spas are hard to beat right now… who has the best service?

    • Thanks for the quick reply. How do Marquis spas measure up in terms of shell construction, insulation, and components? There website does not provide much in the way of detailed information. Hard to understand this lack of detail in this day and age.

      • The problem is no one talks about the real issues, it’s all the gimmicks and bells and whistles…

        all the brands I recommend have one 4 things in common… well-built shells, good parts list, good insulation and glued and clamped plumbing lines, Marquis is a good solid spa in all these respects.

  129. Thanks for your informative website. I’m very interested in the Master Spas after watching your videos. I live in the Seatttle, WA area and I can’t find a dealer. On top of this, I find it annoying that the Master Spa website requires you to provide personal information just to find a dealer. Then the only dealer that comes up is for a guy who sells their product at a show. Seems inconsistent with the high quality product. What gives on their sub-standard distribution? Seattle is not exactly the sticks.

    • Yeah, it’s a big old country man and a lot of brands out there. The reality is most retailers don’t know a lot about hot tubs. They know how to regurgitate the pitch for the brand they carry but that does not mean they have a great understanding of what really makes a great sustainable hot tub…

      There are some big dealers down in the US doing these Expo sales and if you have a good local service guy it can be a good option. The problem in your area is there are a lot of the big fancy marketing brands and some small regional stuff but it’s thin on the ground for really well built hot tubs.

  130. We are re-thinking the budget… We like the Master 8.2 and Artesian Grand Bahama Elite. Both are essentially the same price. We like both about the same. Are there any reasons you would recommend one over the other?

  131. Hi, I’m looking around for my first hot tub. I saw Hotsprings SX and Aqualife 5 as i do not have a lot of space. I’m getting mixed up… Is it better if there are a lot of jets like in aqualife or is it a gimmick? And about the frame… Is it true that termites attack hotsprings wooden frame? I’ll be installing it on patio next to the garden. I live in Malta and here they do not do wet tests.
    Thanks

    • I would not expect any problems with a wood frame, and if you have termites then you want to address that anyway 🙂

      A lot of jets is usually a gimmick.. the small jets cost $10 the big hi-flow therapy jets cost $40… so actually, a 40 jet tub with good jets would be much better than 100 little ones…

  132. Thank you for your advice. We were seriously looking at the Beachcomber 590 but finally got a chance to look at Master Spas. We settled on the Clarity Precision 7 based on space limitations on our deck and budget. Couldn’t believe the amount of room in the foot well and overall layout inside!! They also had the Legacy Series but didn’t have the same amount of room in the foot well due to the configuration of the seating. We weren’t interested in the lounge option.

  133. Any thoughts on Be Well Spas made in Montreal?

    Looking at the Original series.

    Gecko controls (your second choice)

    Includes an air pump which I don’t see using in the cold season.

    Any other pros and cons you can see in the tubs themselves?

    • Never heard of them, but an air blower? usually, you only see those on the cheap stuff hardly anyone uses them anymore.

  134. I am would appreciate a brand or 2 recommendations. I have a budget of ~$7000. Looking for a “5-6” person (really 2 or 3) with a lounge seat (thinking 7′). I am in Michigan and want something that is not gonna be ridiculous to run in the winter. I have looked at a lot of different brands. Most comfortable so far is Strong SL45 and it fits the budget, but construction details are next to impossible to get. Nordic, Viking, Bullfrog, & Passion were not comfortable. D1 seems to be out of the price range. Mira M700 might be a possibility, but details are lacking and I do not get a nice warm fuzzy feeling from the dealer. Hot springs and Sundance seem to be well out of the budget. And help is greatly appreciated.

  135. Hi Gents! Love the site. I have a lead on a Master Spas TS 240 that was a demo model. The dealer experience has been lackluster over the phone and seems to hire inexperienced help to do their sales. Anyhow, this particular tub is priced at $5500 USD delivered and installed, but only carries a 90 day warranty. The tub looks like new and is currently setup at a local mall here in Castle Rock, Colorado. I am a bit apprehensive about the dealer experience and lack of substantial warranty. Does this price seem inline for what’s actually being sold? Should I be hesitant of the short 90 day warranty, or can I relax in knowing the parts used to comprise this tub are solid?

    For comparison, a brand new comparible TS240 comes with a 3 year bumper to bumper warranty on parts and 10 year on the shell, lifetime on the cabinet and run’s 10-12k USD.

    Please advise if you can 🙂
    Thanks,
    Kelly

    • So it’s a used tub and therefore you can expect to put a motor or heater in the next few years, This particular tub has generic OEM parts so you can find them anywhere which also means you don’t have to use the dealer after the 30-day mark… I am going to assume in a city the size of Colorado there are several independent guys fixing tubs… Hell call any dealer in North America and they will sell you parts. and any handyman can put them in.

      Price e is good Tub is good

  136. Could you tell me your opinion of the PDC spas? I am considering their ‘denali’ spa which is their mid-range spa. The area I am in has only two dealerships, the other dealer sells bullfrogs exclusively and I am aware of their shortcomings.Iis PDC a better bet?

  137. My wife and I are looking at a Master Spa HL628L and Marquis Spirit. They are competitively priced. The Marquis has a 160gpm pump for a 200 gallon tub. The Master doesn’t have a gpm rating for the pump and has a 170 gallon capacity. Is one significantly better than the other ?
    Thank you in advance

  138. Hi,
    Posting again! After reviewing your website I looked into the Masterspa line. I’m trying to decide between a Masterspa Clarity 8 for 7500 dollars or a Coast Mirage with 84 jets for 10,700. I love the size of the Coast but am concerned about maintaining the tub, and any issues it may have that makes it a headache. I never owned a hot tub and I don’t want to get stuck with a lemon. Which tub would you choose?

    • The Clarity is a great design, huge amount of room and better built than the coast

      • Greetings Professor Wheatley,

        Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate you taking the time. I went to the dealer you recommend and I will absolutely follow your advice and purchase the Clarity if that’s what you recommend.

        *I followed the advice in your videos and called both dealer to see if they would service a Costco tub. The Masterspa dealer agreed to a service call for 165 dollars, which provided an hour of labor. They Coast dealer agreed to come out for free.

        Now to my question, the MasterSpa dealer has 2 star Yelp rating and the reviews are less than complimentary regarding their service department. the person selling the tub is a young kid about 20 who doesn’t seem knowledgeable about the service of a tub or its ideal maintainance. He quotes the brochure very well but I’m concerned about what will happen to me once the tub is my yard and not their showroom. Especially with their reviews. Also, for a service package for the spa, to come bi weekly for the year they are requesting 2k (they will provide all the chemicals).

        The Coast dealer, is The Pool and Spa Guy, his name is Steve, he has a great rep, but only deals in Coast although he does service other types of spas including MasterSpa. He has been in business for 26 years and has had the Coast line since 1999. He seems incredibly knowledgeable about several different Spa lines and has actually recommended to me to skip many ugrades and bells and whistles that he feels are unnecessary or prone to issues/problems. He seemed very competent and trustworthy (even the MasterSpa service director complimented him to me), which I know per your videos a good dealer is important.
        So in your opinion which is more important the better built Clarity or the reputation and warm and fuzzy from the dealer.

        My second question is regarding warranties.

        For no extra charge Coast warranties the plumbing for 10 yrs, the mechanical components for 5, the electrical for 5, shell for life.

        Masterspa will only provide much shorter warranties on the plumbing mechanical and electrical, unless you purchase an extended warranty for 500 dollars which buys you a 5 year plumbing warranty, mechanics 5 yr, electrical 5 yr and the shell for life.

        My question is why the shorter warranty than Coast if it’s a better product and is a warranty of that length enough to keep me safe or should reconsider the Coast.

        Thanks in advance for even reading this missive..lol I really appreciate all your advice, your my beacon in a storm!

        Respectfully,
        Your favorite Hot tub Student

        • The Coast dealer will service the Spa bi weekly for 940 dollars for the year and he provides all the chemicals!

        • hmmm so I always say that coast on paper builds a good spa. and with a great dealer its hard to say…

          The warranty is always paid for by you, some companies put it in the cost and give you 5 or 3 and some guys don’t and give you one with the option to buy more years… It’s all the same in the end take the price of the 5 years extended warranty and add it into the total cost…

          Lifetime warranty is a bad thing… there is no legal definition for what lifetime entails… the life of the product? your life? The life of that model in that configuration? read the warranty and see what they call life…

          As for the rating, I’m not a big believer in the rating systems… in 5 hours I could create 20 emails use a VPN and create 20 yelp account and tank or rocket either rating…

  139. Hi, thanks so much for your website! I have been trying so hard to research spas but finding reliable information seems impossible. I am looking at the Coast Mirage spa 54 jets for 11k installed. I can’t seem to find too many reviews of Coast or the Mirage except for at pissed consumer. What is important to me is to have a large tub that will seat 7-10 people, I don’t need the bells and whistles but would like to use it in year round and I live in NY so winter is a concern. Do you think Coast is a good company or would you recommend another tub?

    • Coast is not a bad spa on paper but has always had a bad rap, I think there are some issues with quality control and support.

      check out The Twilight they sell it here: Suntek Pools And Spas
      1282 Rt. 110, Farmingdale, NY, 11735
      Phone: 631-249-7727
      sales@suntekonline.com

  140. First, thank you for what is one of the only informative sites on this topic. Secondly, I’d appreciate any advice you might have in choosing between a Caldera Kauai and a Master TS-240 in the Bucks County, Pa. area. I’m assured by both dealers that their spa is vastly superior to the competition. My own assessment is that the Caldera dealer seems more established than the Master Spa dealer, but that the Master TS-240 is a better product choice. Any advice you might have would be much appreciated.

    • The Caldera and the TS are both well-built spas but the Kauai is nowhere near the performance standard for the 240… That little tub is a crazy good massage spa.. who puts 2 pumps in a small tub like that!!

      On all fronts, the TS240 is far and away a better spa

  141. Great videos. I am wondering if there is a list of who does the fiberglass they way you talked about. I am new to Hot tubs, but have decided to get one. Unfortunately my budget is only around $7k. There is someone in the area with a two year old Bullfrog A8 wanting to see it for $6k. They said it was over $10k originally. No issues and need the cash apparently. I was also looking at a Vita Envie. It is a floor model and $6500 with a UV system. It does not use foam, but I have been unable to find a good monthly cost difference between full foam and thermal insulation. The Bullfrog is from a homeowner with a transferable warranty and the Vita is from a dealer that we liked. The bullfrog holds about 155 more gallons. I do realize neither of these are your ideals, but I have a budget and don’t want to buy an old hot tub. We are looking for something approx 90″x90″ and both these fit. The Vita does have a lounger, but if the bullfrog is better then I am fine with it. I don’t know if weight means much, but the Bullfrog is 758lbs and the Vita is 979lbs. I was curious if I could get some constructive thoughts on these two options. thank you.

    • The bullfrog is light because it’s a plastic backed shell pedestal supported, The Vita is a glass shell.

      I have to be honest I’ll have to look at a Vita haven’t seen one in a long time.

  142. I am looking at the Marquis either the Promise or Euphoria. The dealer is Griffin Pools in Lexington, SC about 1 1/2 hrs. away. OR Master Twilight 8.25 from David’s Home Entertainment in Waynesboro NC about 3 1/2 hrs. away. I’m in Camden, SC. Any advice. I’m 6’3″. I’m concerned about the distance from David’s though they say they do the service. Any thoughts?

    • A good dealer will use local resources, my biggie is that someone with knowledge answers the phone, that’s 90% of being a good dealer, the rest is easy, you can usually diagnose over the phone and send the part directly and any handy man can put parts in.

      Both are good tubs from a build standpoint but TS is a performance monster, look at the jetting… it has all the expensive hi flow low-pressure therapy jets, the Marquis is like most top end tubs, some expensive jets and a pile of the regular jets.

  143. We were all set to by the Grand Bahama tub by Artesian and of course, I started reading more reviews. It seems that there are many problems with Artesian customers being ticked: https://artesian-spas.pissedconsumer.com/
    What is your take? We are looking to buy from World of Hot Tubs in Guelph. If we do decide to go ahead, what is a fair price for the tub? We were quoted $11 500.

    • Im not sure how much i would listen to the reviews i perused some of them and a lot of sounds like user issues and delaer support issues.

      the pricing seems resasonable but it is always hard to say on a product like this cost of doing business is a lot different so pe]rices can vary

      • Hello! I’m thinking about trading my 2004 master spa to a updated 2017 master spa HL8. What is the price range going for? I don’t want to get ripped off. Thanks again.
        Tammy

        • Hi Tammy

          HL8 full pop is around $12k but dealers may sell for less and pricing on these products vary depending on area, the cost of doing business in NYC is a lot more than small town America and proximity to the factory can save a lot as well

  144. This site is the one beacon of hope in a shady industry. So, first…thank you!
    I’m about to buy my 3rd spa (other 2 were included in the sales of previous homes), so this is not my first rodeo. I can understand how first-time buyers feel like it’s a dizzying game of pin the tail on the donkey…and a lot of donkeys get bought/sold.

    I’m down to two choices, narrowed mainly by the intersection of the best brands offered by the best local dealers (Venn Diagram stuff):

    Beachcomber 725 Hybrid vs. Bullfrog R7L. Monday is wet test day for both, so I thought it would be fun to post here with the frustrating “slippery math” of spa shopping, and then report back with the litmus test of actually wet-testing the products. Beachcomber has NO wet spas in store (dummies), so we’re driving an hour to their Montreal warehouse. Bullfrog has several wet at the dealer.

    I want ZERO bells and whistles (waterfalls, lights, stereo, aromatherapy junk, 9 pumps, bluetooth/wireless connectivity)…just a good basic spa that performs and lasts in our crap Quebec weather. Final deals on both include GFCI, steps, lifter, cover, delivery and placement. Bullfrog is simple “place spa on pad” delivery, while Beachcomber offers free delivery (in your laneway) OR for the low, low price of $499, puts it on the pad and has a “tech” to come and do your fill and startup water chemistry and chemicals.

    SHOWDOWN:
    Beachcomber 725: enhanced package (promotion) with circulation pump and blinky stuff, but it’s more expensive for a stripped-down without the package. Positives: well-regarded manufacturer, pretty transparent website (you can price everything out without getting dealers involved), okay Gecko controls. Negatives: only a 2 year free warranty on pumps/controls. Gets pricey in the 7 series (two pumps vs. 1 pump in 5 series). Total pre-tax: $12 593 CDN

    Bullfrog R7L: Standard equipment, good pumps and controls(Balboa). Positives: choice of 4 jet-packs (admin would move that to the negative column, but I think they’re nifty), decent price, better layout for my yard (Beachcomber’s integrated Hybrid stairs have to have a fixed orientation or they charge $), 5 year free warranty on pumps/controls (Beachcomber charges $599 to bump the warranty from 2 years to 5). Aesthetically more pleasing (to us) vs. the BC’s 1980’s look. Biggest positive is price…the difference between Bullfrog and BC will pay for my electrician and foundation with $1,000 left over. Negatives: Bullfrog reviews are hot and cold (esp. regarding Jet-Packs), no transparency on the website, and the consumer is left uninformed and confused. No circulation pump (never was an issue on previous spas). Dealer is an hour away. Total pre-tax: $9999 CDN

    I’d love to hear any info or debates I left out, and I will report back after our back-to-back wet tests in 2 days.

    • wow you want a job?

      Yer just like my mate Sandy… venn diagrams indeed 🙂

      The beachcomber pricing is bonkers… i saw thier summer flyer and almost pissed myself laughting…. now it is a much better spa than the Bullfrog, especially the shell constrution.

      niether are super good performaers but both would be efficent…

      • Beachcomber wet test done. Bullfrog appointment was postponed until next week. So, if these two brands are ho-hum (I thought I’d weeded the ho-hummers out), are there any in my neck of the woods (Greater Montreal area) that you would recommend?

      • Just came back from the wet test(s). We’ve now evaluated Beachcomber, Coast, Artesian and Bullfrog, in addition to the 2 other spas I’ve owned, and those of my friends. I contacted Master Spas, and they gave me the cell number of a parts dealer that “carries the brand” in our area, but doesn’t do service. No wet test possible for a few hundred miles. Deal breaker.

        So…the big reveal? Bullfrog R7L, baby. And it wasn’t even close. I can hear admin punching the wall and pulling his hair out. But hear me out!

        Jetpacks:
        Those “gimmicky” jetpacks translate to all kinds of variations on the type of massage you want, and which part of the back/neck are targeted. In other words, the same jetpack in 6 different seats gives you 6 different targeted clusters. With 4 packs and 4 jetpack seats, that’s a lot of flexibility. Strong pumps at full, quiet at half power, the seats fit us far better than other brands, and the jets actually spin/pulsate/penetrate/massage…not always so for the competitors.

        Shell: okay…you win. it’s not fibreglass. It relies on the frame for structural integrity. 15 years from now I might have regrets. I can feel you smirking. Stop it.

        Pumps and controls: strong jets, quiet at low, Balboa controls, 5 to 7 year warranty. All good.

        Dealer: Holy Sh^#! This is the THIRD Bullfrog dealer I have attempted to work with. Just yesterday, I went to a well-known retailer in Ottawa. The son of a seacook lied on 4 occasions and was $3000 above in IDENTICAL specs. I have the papers. But he’d knock $300 off if I picked it up myself and faked an Ontario address (thereby voiding the warranty). No words. If I evaluated Bullfrog on a metric of (Product x Dealer)/2, they would get a failing grade. Time will tell, but I think this dealer’s solid.

        My body’s all kinds of beat up from years of motocross, and my girlfriend is a competitive equestrian jumper with back issues. We both felt much better relief after this wet test, and for once I didn’t feel like choking the salesperson. I think we have a winner.

        • After 17 years of having a Hot Springs spa, we are looking to purchase a new one. We are very taken with the bullfrog R7L. It appears to have everything we want. We like the warranty and the jet pack ideal. Our concern is, how does it handle through the very cold weather ? We read one review that said the we read one review that said the material on the shell cracked due to cold weather. We Live in West Virginia and typically do not have terrible winters. We can get some snow and occasionally some very cold temperatures with high windchill’s, but that is generally only every 3 to 5 years. Amy thoughts?

          • I do not like the plastic shells with the pedestal supports, I have seen too many fail over the years and most guys have moved away from this tech.

        • That’s great and I have always said that other than the shell it is well insulated and uses good parts, but every tub can change the jets… I’ve never said it’s a nightmare tub, just that it is like most of the stuff, upper mid performance and some good and some bad but it’s priced like a spa that has all the right stuff.

          Every tub has the ability to change jets in seats and customise the seating, especially something that uses a lot of the 3 and 5″ jets, in fact something like the twilight would have many more possible was to jet the seats by a long shot because each jet could be changed to any of 6 or 7 different jets types. so while jetpacks might be more flexible than a tub plumbed with lots of small bullets jets it’s nowhere near as flexible and adaptable as a really high-end therapy spa, and not even in the same universe for performance. Now compared to the Beachcomber, Coast, and artesian spas it is a close race they are all similarly powered and jetted but again nowhere near the flow rates or performance of the crazy end.

          I’m sure this will be a good tub for you and of the brands you shopped they would all be fairly comparable and you are right, a good dealer is king!

          Happy Hot Tubbing!

  145. Great info on this site… This is our 1st hot tub purchase, you seem to be big on Master Spa & Marquis, we did get a quote on a Caldera Geneva, we liked quite a bit (about $11k), what’s your take on that, vs. a similar sized/featured Marquis? And approx the price diff. We always like to quality, and don’t mind paying a few $’s more, but don’t want to spend too much more than that. I can’t find a Master Spa dealer near me in Oakland, CA.

    • Good tub and for the market the price seems reasonable.

      Build quality wise they are good sound spas, and performance wise they can get tot he mid upper level.

  146. I am looking at buying my first hot tub and am making myself crazy over researching. I came across this site and learned more in 30 minutes than I have researching all week.

    I basically have two dealer choices where I live in Cleveland, OH. The Great Escape who sells Viking, Jacuzzi and Bullfrog. The second is Litehouse who sells Artesian and Caldera. I totally get how important the dealer is bases on your advice and they both seem knowledgeable.

    The two models I have it narrowed down to are the Bullfrog X8 and the Tropic Seas Fiji by Artesian.

    I see you have a negative opinion of the Bullfrog jetpacks, but the X8 has regular jets built into the shell NOT the jet pack. It is very open and roomy, but my only reservation is the jets are either on or off, no option to increase/decrease the jets power with a control knob on top of the tub like most models. This model has the Bluetooth speaker system and tons of led’s in the jets and tub.

    The Artesian Fiji has the power adjustable knobs for the jets and 11 more jets, but less speakers and LED lights. It has one less seat than the X8 and is a bit more contoured around the body than the X8. But looks like it might provide better massage based on the look and feel of the jets.

    I would appreciate your opinion on how to decide between the two!

    • That’s crazy…. so now Bullfrog is putting jets in the shell which is the whole pitch about having jets packs!!! lmao… soon they will go back to regular jets and abandon this sytem entirely.lol

      Go with the Artesian better jetting better flow control, better shell and not so heavy of the gimmicks…

      • Hello,

        First time buyer. Looking at the Tropic Seas Spa- Kona. I have not seen many reviews on this and was curious of your thoughts. We also were considering Saratoga Spas (no specific selected yet).

        Looking forward to your opinion.

        • the tropic seas over the saratoga,

        • Hi Chris,

          My wife and I are looking for a 4 person hot tub that may not have all the bells and whistles but gets the job done for a reasonable price. Price is key for us, but we don’t want a ton of maintenance issues. We are young and don’t need it for health purposes… just to enjoy on a cold night.

          Can you give us a few good options?

          Thank you
          Thad

          • goto a simple roto mould spa, good value for the money and if they are using the right parts then they will last.., Nordic is good but the insulation is middle, Getaway is my goto brand for these as they full foam, clamp the plumbing lines and use the right parts.

    • Hey there, based on reading here I found a master dealer in my area. When I said I was interested in the Twilight I was told that the only difference in twilight and HL was lighting and for hydrotherapy HL is much better. Might be because they only had a small corner twilight in Stock but tons of HL due to a recent show. Looked at the HL 7 but honestly now have a bad taste due to the non sense. I really like the caldera Geneva both of us have bad backs so need good massage not pins and needles. Thoughts? Need to order soon… Kelley

    • I am in Staten island NY and we are limited to spa dealers. I went to look at the Artesian/ Island spa grand bahama. I like the layout and the jets. The skirt looks “plasticy” as do the matching step option, which i dont like.
      I read here that you recommend this brand. Ive scoured the internet and didnt find much in the form of reviews, but most were negetive. This is my first spa and i want to get it right.
      They are asking 9k delivered plus tax of course. Is this spa worth it?
      51 jet & dual clear footblaster
      3 pumps
      5″ cover
      Std cabinet
      12″ tranquility fall
      Dynapoint led
      Crystal AOP
      Frog @ease

      Add ons
      Umbrella – 400.00
      Top arm – 300.00

      Not sure if it includes upgraded color. The one that was shown to me had tuscan sun which is an upgrade.

      • Price is hard to say depends on where you live.

        I looked them over pretty good in Vegas a few years ago and they were building good spas, I’m not a big believer of the rating and complaint forums, every one in the industry with an ounce of savvy is throwing money and fixing and wrecking brands.\ there is very little verifiable reliable data out there on this product.. look for verified complaints like BBB

        Don’t buy the low flow circ pumps or the miracle upgraded chemical free systems.

        Try these guys, look at a Twilight spa says they are 53 miles away

        East Coast Spas Inc.
        10606
        Phone: 203-460-0514

        http://www.eastcoastspas.com

  147. Looking for entry level spa. Pretty base a few jets some lighting no bells or whistles. 4-5 person. I am located near Saskatoon, SK Canada so winter is big issue. Hoping to find something in $4-5000 range. Can I find something decent in that price range?

    • Super Dangerous price… that’s $5k Cdn which is like $3700 USD.

      So much junk at that price, a normal retailer with overhead would be hard pressed to sell you anything that wasn’t junk at that price… Maybe a Getaway Hot Tub or a Nordic but I think you will need to stretch to $6k to get something good.

  148. Hello! I am so glad I stumbled upon this site. Great information. I have been doing some research and have just started visiting dealers in the phoenix area. I am new to the spa world. I really liked the MAXX spas that I saw, but from what I read you are not a big fan. We have a Caldera dealer that I visited as well, and it seems that may be a better choice after reading reviews. Is there anyone else I should check out here in Phoenix?

  149. Took your advice and checked out both Marquis and Master Spas. Found 2 models that fit our budget and our needs. With Marquis it was the Signature “The Promise” and with Master Spa it was the HL 7.5. Is one much better than the other? Any advice as to which one to go with is much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to help by maintaining this blog!

  150. Johnnie;) & CC

    Hello, we’ve used the site a good deal as we prepare to buy Spa #2. Spa #1 was a 2-3 person Master Spa that the buyer of our house wanted included in sale. Limited space and getting the hot tub on our then massively high deck were deciding factors but we were so pleased with the spa!
    No longer can get a Master Spa from any local dealer in the Fayetteville or Raleigh, NC areas.
    Now looking at Jacuzzi J-235, South Seas Spas Deluxe 748, Cal Spas Pacificia (Escape series) & Artesian Spas Island Spas (no specific model chosen yet). We both exercise & use the spa for recovery (& get more benefit than that of course). The prices are within $1,200 of each other so with a little more time to save we could get any of these.
    Would love to hear your top picks. Thanks for providing this site!

    • Artesian out of that group, or parrot bay sells marquis.

      As a second time buyer you might consider buying out of the market because I agree with you that the Master is one of the best out there.. you can save a lot and if you have a handyman who can use a meter and swap parts the proximity of the dealer does not come into play as much.

  151. Wow…what passionate dedication. I saw that you replied to someone tonight, on the 4th of July.

    I would appreciate and value your opinion on something.

    I am having trouble pulling the trigger on a new hot tub. I want to make sure I get the best quality I can for my current budget. We live in Northwest Lower Michigan so winter is a huge concern. We currently have a 17 year old Dimension One @Home series hot tub that recently died. It worked flawlessly until one seat cracked last fall, and after repairing that it started leaking elsewhere. Finally one pump died and we decided it was time to give it up.

    Our current budget for a replacement is around 5K. Dealers are limited in our area, (two within 50 miles) one sells Viking and the other Hot Springs. Because we live in a high income tourist area the deals are also rare. We no longer wish to have a lounger so this limits the models as well.

    The best dealer in our area only sells Viking, and has been doing so for many years. I know by your comments that you are not fond of Viking, but under the circumstances I feel it may be my best or only option.

    They seem to use premium parts compared to others in this price range. They are made 200 miles from here in Grand Rapids Mi. I’m afraid my second choice would be a tub sold by Lowes or Home Depot, and I am certain those aren’t made near me or you! I do not wish to own an over priced Hot Springs tub.

    The troubling part to me is that the dealer includes the optional Reflectix “bubble” wrap, and an additional 1″ outer cabinet foam board insulation, plus a plastic bottom pan to protect from critters! (My tub will be on a solid concrete pad with pea gravel around the base.) Nothing ever bothered my current tub.

    If I decide on this brand, what if any of this is important to me? If these items are hype, it bothers me that the company even puts them in the brochure!

    The other thing that bothers me is that the brochures do not talk about the frame, the insulation, or the construction at all. They do however stress that they use Balboa, Waterways, and other US made parts.

    I realize 5K is an entry price but I would like something that is going to last, and not break the bank to operate monthly. I have seen some articles about the different methods of insulating a hot tub, and it is certainly very confusing knowing what is “needed” beyond the foamed shell which itself is not negotiable.

    Any thoughts and suggestions would certainly be appreciated!

    Thanks for a great site!

    • 5K is a tricky number, there are some good spas in this range and lots of junk.

      If the dealer is good and has been with the line for a while then it might not be the worst buy but man I hate that insulation system, esp in a cold area. I don’t hate Viking, just don’t love them…

      • My D1 @Home has the same insulation system. Just foam over the plumbing and shell. The D1 has no other insulation beyond that. The cabinet has no insulation.

        I’ve read that the Reflectix is pretty much R-1 in quality. To be fair they don’t say it actually insulates, but reflects heat back in. The foam board insulation is around the entire cabinet and is for insulation and sound. The plastic pan seems like overkill in my situation as well. These all run over $100 each……..do you think I need any of this? I could see where the foam board might help. As I said, my D1 didn’t have any of this. (It was also $15 a month to heat!) It also comes with a Mazzei Injection Ozonator as well.

  152. We’re first time spa buyers. Although originally focused on Bullfrog, forums like yours and others have made us focus on the dealer first and we found a good one locally. He carries Artesian and Marquis. From what we’d researched on the internet, we probably won’t go wrong with either, but are leaning toward the Artesian island Elite series. Any thoughts regarding these two brands of spas that might help in our decision making?

    • They are both good and once you get past that point it comes down to dealer support so call them and say you have a Costco spa that’s leaking and see what one is willing to help you 🙂

      • Thanks Admin. Since the July 4th post, that dealer has been somewhat unresponsive and keeps delaying filling any of his spas because “we’re getting the latest and greatest models in soon”. We’ve since found a good dealer in Raleigh that sells Caldera and Hotspring. We liked sitting in the HS, until we went to wet test both spas. Hands down, we liked the Caldera Salina better than anything. We like the looks of the Caldera Niagra, but have not been able to wet test it anywhere. Since I’m 6″2″, I’m concerned about the comfort in their wide headrest corner, (it’s not comfortable to sit in dry). If I’ve learned anything from you and my experience to date, a wet test trumps all!

        • A wet test is a funny thing… The truth is how a tub will affect you long term and how it feels short term are very different.

          Tubs with lots of the little jets “feel” like they are doing a lot but the reality is these low flow high-pressure jets assault the dermal layer where all the nerve endings are and therefore feel like they do a lot but they dont do anything for deep muscle mass, the shit you need to deal with if you really want mobility and range of motion improvements.

          Its funny a lot fo people moving from a regular tub with mostly small jets to A really high-end therapy spa often complain right away that the pressure sucks. It is because if you have as lot of the Big expensive Hi-flow therapy jets they are a High flow low p[ressure jet and they really do not feel like they are doing as much. But they are moving the whole muscle mass and long term you will really notice a difference…

  153. Need help in Nashville! We’re new to looking at hot tubs and have looked at both Caldera and Tropic Seas, which is made by Artesian. Or are there others brands in this area we should consider? Thanks

    • Tropic Seas over those two hands down. but you also have a Master dealer there. it’s my go-to brand… Vicki’s Pool And Spa Place

      Vicki’s Pool And Spa Place
      1134 College Street, Clarksville, TN, 37040
      Phone: 931-645-9786

  154. Hi I live in England and I’m looking at spending about £7000. I nearly got a hot springs tub as I have a local dealer, but have since seen your feedback so now looking at this dealer http://www.goodwinshottubs.co.uk. They sell elite spas. Any help from over the water would be awesome. Many thanks
    Paul

    • Even though the elite spa line is not a go to for me the dealer seems awesome, sometimes that’s more important than anything else.

      • We are just about to place an order this week for an elite passion 2 for £8795. Can I ask why aren’t you keen of the brand? It was between this and the vita prestige. Would love your opinion.

        • I assume you mean the Elite built by Maxx (now part of the Maxx collection)

          The biggest issue is the insulation system and in the UK this matters.

          Bluemax is a combo reflective and a small amount of insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective: read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good Icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

          Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically, this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

          from a performance standpoint, it would be on par with the middle to upper end

          I also do not like these steel frames, noisy and they are heat conductors

  155. Hello,

    I am a really large guy (6’4″ – 390 lbs) and am looking at purchasing a hot tub. Live in Chicago and not sure if there are specific questions someone of my size should be asking or if there is a line that might be more spacious.

    Thanks

    • Hi shane

      For you its all about big open seating and footwell space. try and find something like a Clarity spa, they have massive amounts of space in them. Also don’t go smaller than 7′ or you won’t have area to displace the water.

  156. I’m in the Nashville area and just started looking for a hot tub. I’m not sure where to start. Any recommendations in Nashville?

    • Yeah, you have an Artesian dealer and a Master dealer, both great spas from a build standpoint and if yer looking for real high-end therapy massage see the Twilight series.

  157. Hey Chris,
    Just found this site and it is awesome!!!

    First time hot tub buyer and looking for a reliable middle of the road hot tub, 6 person, with some good jets – mostly for relaxation and entertaining, but some hydrotherapy would be nice too! don’t need all the crazy lights or bells and whistles, just something that will work well.

    do you have recommendations on certain tubs? or good dealers in the los angeles area?

    thanks so much!

    • Man Seth you live in a world where spin is king 🙂

      All the brands out there are the big marketing expensive spas that are just not that well built… Some markets its all about the brand awareness and marketing and spin and unfortunately from a hot tub standpoint that’s the brands that are selling out there… Funny in such a hi-tech area.

      The good thing is thier are loads of independent service centres so you could buy from out fo market and get a reliable backup and usually the price is better.

  158. Chris,
    Do you have any thoughts on Saratoga Spas? I’m looking at the Adelphi and Champlain models. They are supposedly full foam insulation, and the factory says the plumbing fittings are glued and clamped, except for air fittings. Local dealer has been in business >20 years.
    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Good parts list and a good insulation system.

      But the shell… These ABS plastic shells made a splash 20 years ago and most people have moved away from them, they are a less expensive way to build a shell and the failure rate is a lot higher than a hand-rolled fibreglass shell. Most companies have moved away from this tech.

      • What do you know about Dimension One Spas?

        • Ok, I had to have a revisit here, been a while since the name has come up.

          The Group that owns Jacuzzi bought them and kind of lets them be the poor cousin even though its a probably their best line which isn’t saying much when it’s all big corporate investment firm shit 🙂

          Ther Big boys are not the best hot tub makers they are the most profitable hot tub companies… good for them bad for you…

          The craziness on the sanitation systems is epic… the base one with the silver ion is ok the rest are a waste of money unless you go to the UV system and that’s likely not worth the price… never seen so many words to describe ozone 🙂

          The crazy shape is done to guarantee the repeat cover business and this shit dates your purchase… on long term purchases keep it simple, fad colour or “current styling” is going to date you and you will look stupid in 3 years.

          Gecko control and heating system is our distant number 2 system but at least you can get parts for it.

          Good open celled foam insualtion system.

          All in all its better thamn most, from aeprformance standpoint again it is m,iddle of the road or ” a good mix of jets” as most people would call it.

  159. I am so confused. I am looking for a large swim spa 18_20ft with seperate hot tub. I have looked at master spas h2x, endless pools and vita swim spa. I am so confused. I live in nj and just want a good spa.

    • The endless pool is now owned by Watkins who owns hot springs and Caldera. I’m not sure if they have messed with the line much or not but typically as a big corporate entity they are all about profit and that means not so much about build quality.

      the H2X will outperform all of them for swim pressure unless you go tot he crazy end like the water wheel option on the Endless or the Phelps trainer. the VIP plate on the H2X is a great technological improvement and flows a lot of fo water. H2X also benefitted from the design program with Bob Bowman and Michael Phelps swim spa so it is easier to stay in the swim lane and can flow more water so you can get much better resistance training, it also comes with all the work out gear and at 60″ deep it has tonnes of water. Add to that the fact that it has a hand rolled shell, glued and clamped plumbing, top of the line parts list and a good icynene foam insulation system and it is really hard to best.

      Vita is middle of the road, in my opinion, steel frame I do not like, its a gimmick and noisy.

      The biggest problem I have is the reflective insulation system, it’s 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/

      Dude for a good dealer 60 minutes is nothing, especially if you have or are a handyman that can do basic repairs…

  160. This site is fantastic! I’m in Minnesota and getting ready to buy a hottub. I have narrowed it down to 2 options (after much research) and I would love your opinion…

    I’m looking at the Bullfrog X7 (the model without the jetpacks but they still tout the much less tubing involved)

    And the Sundance Chelsee 780 (which I am told was a special order that was cancelled and is a fantastic deal according to dealer)

    Both are $8,000

    What are your thoughts? Thank you so much!!

    • Bullfrog has had a lot of issues, I have rarely seen a dealer carry them for any length of time, we had two local guys carry then drop the line.

      My opinion is its a gimmick with no real advantage and a couple big downsides.

      First, there was the problem with all the stagnation behind the jet packs, big health issue, I know they are working on a way to flow water back there but I’ve have heard there are still issues.

      Second, the whole pitch is about leaks and the ability to change the jetting. leaks are most common on the floor suctions as they are in the footwell and get stepped on and abused more than any other fitting and this spa still has to have those, second a good spa with glued and clamped joints does not leak anyway, so there is no real advantage.

      Third, The pitch about being able to change the chairs and the jetting is silly… First off you can change all the jets in any tub, move them around and go between pulse and dual and rotors with easy for around $25-$45 a jet, and most spas already have a mix of chairs and guess what no one even does that, I would love to see the number on how many people actually fork over $300+ to buy and change out the packs on these things but I bet it is low single digit percentage.

      Fourth, the jet pack restricts the jets to a tiny area of your body, so to counter this they started putting jets into the shell which was the whole reason they went to jet packs in the first place!

      This is not innovation, its change to give them a unique selling feature and frankly there is no value at all to this system and a lot of problems…

      Sundance is now owned by jacuzzi.

      The only problem I have with this tub is the proprietary parts, I hate when guys build a part that just fits their spa… but of the two it would be my choice.

      I did a search in the area and you have a Calspa dealer http://www.spastores.com/contact/ and a master dealer http://www.masterpoolandspa.com Both would be better choices with master being My preference.

  161. Can I ask a question about building a hot tub pad? I’ve searched the internet but can’t seem to find the exact answer I am long for. I recently put new pavers in my yard, before I realized I wanted the hot tub. The corner where I’m planning to put the tub slopes, enough so that even to my untrained eye I know that I need to make alterations in order to properly install the tub. It seems the best way to do this is with a pressure treated 2×4 frame filled with 3/4 inch crushed rock. I’ve read pea gravel works also but they say it’s more prone to freezing and moving compared to the jagged rock which kind of inter locks and holds its shape. More importantly, what is the correct way to build this frame and attach it to the pavers so that it lasts 20 or so years? Concrete screws? Should I sister two studs together and place them on the 4x side? Or would it be secure enough to just do one stud places on the 2x side? Thanks for the help.

    • You will have a hard time fixing it to the stones, they will likely crack. Build a strong 2×4 frame and use crusher dust or type one driveway gravel (1/2″ max)

      or easier still… pull up 8′ of the stones and relay that section…

  162. First off, I love this website. I learned more from you in a couple of hours than I did in the past 2 weeks doing my own research. So thank you!!

    Spent hours/days researching hot tubs online, going to all local dealers here in Ottawa. There are so many conflicting things being said.
    Almost bought a Jacuzzi/Hydropool!

    Arctic Spas sales man was very convincing, saying their perimeter insulation can’t be beat and they are the most energy efficient tub on the market. Said that their jets are the best because they are not ball bearing (wtf!). Another good line was that Canadian made tubs are better value due to the strong US dollar. I had a good chuckle after your review and break down on their tubs debunking each of their sales talking points.

    We went to both Marquis and Artesian dealers. Both dealers are very good and within a 10 minute drive.
    I wet tested the Artesian Island Elite series (Captiva) and the new Marquis Vector21 series.

    The Vector21 felt kind of cheap and it is considered their entry level model. They don’t cover labour cost under warranty. I am 6’2″ and the seats were all too shallow for me. Their entry level model is over 11k (all in).
    The signature line was on display and looks to be a higher end tub with great jets, but was well over 14k and dealer is unwilling to budge on price. At 14k it is stretching our budget.

    The Island Elite series is almost 2k cheaper than the Signature line and has about the same warranty coverage.
    They use Helix jets, do you know who makes them?

    You have given both companies good reviews in the past.

    How would you compare the Marquis Signature line with the Island Elite series from Artesian?
    Is the 2k price difference justified?
    Would really appreciate your input.

    Thanks,
    Rob
    Rpb

    • Both good tubs.

      performance wise I prefer the Marquis, more of the high flow therapy jets and twin diverters vs. the artesian which has more jets but they are mostly the inexpensive small high-pressure jets, and only one diverter so less flow control.

      The Marquis also has 2 big pumps which are going to be more efficient than three smaller pumps read this article on the pumps…

  163. Janice Macfarlane

    We are first-time hot tub buyers and are looking for a mid-priced hot tub. With all of the information out there and all of the different brands, we don’t really know where to start! We live east of Toronto so want something that can withstand Canadian winters. What are your recommendations for the brands we should be looking at and do you know of any dealers in our area that provide great after-sales service?

    Thanks in advance.

    Janice

    • Hey, Janice.

      Toronto has lots of options, there are good independent service guys all over the place and you have access to some great brands.

      The Marquis warehouse is there and I’m sure there is a dealer, You are also close to the biggest Master spa dealer in the country, I’m sure they service the whole region.

  164. there is only one dealer in my area that sells gateway tubs so I can’t do comparison shopping. I was quoted: Ocho Rios LE for $ 3,995.00 including cover, steps, lifter and chems. I this good? How can I learn what are good and bad prices for tubs? Thank you in advance. Looking at Nautic next.

    • You will be hard pressed to meet the spec of the Getaway. Balboa control, clamped plumbing lines, and good full foam insulation. plus the nice features like the eco pure filter and the removable skirt really make it a go to hot tub.

      Most of the tubs in this end of the market are under insulated with cheap parts and ugly.

      Price sounds good too.

    • Its hard to beat the Getaway spa in that class and price point.

      This spa has it all, full foam, Balboa control system, glued and clamped plumbing and the full skirt set it off.

      Most spas in this price point are not built to this standard and the price seems right.

  165. Chris,

    Thanks for all the info. Was going to get a Hotsprings Grandee but you led me to Marquis with your info. How’s a Marquis Euphoria with steps, cover, cover lift, ozinator, inline frog, Microsilk, start-up chemicals and delivery for $11,500? Feels like I should be able to get a better price.

    Phil

    • It seems a bit on the high side, but that depends on a lot on where you are. The cost of doing business changes dramatically across the US and so, therefore, does the cost of products.

  166. I know that you have a video of strong spa from costco, but we just saw a strong spa 9191 at our local hot tub store (this store bought out another stores inventory) Would this be just as bad as the costco one you made a video of? Or did they make a better version? The closest one we could find online to compare it to was the strong spa s65. The price was 5650, delivered, steps, cover, lift, chemicals included. Thanks for any help.

    • Everything I have seen of the brand follows the same lines as far as shell and insulation which right away would take it off my list.

  167. Looking at an ( aqua rest ) AR-300, junk? good? OK?

    • I don’t recognise the control and heating system and no clamps on the plumbing. it is what it is, at that price you just know they need to be cutting a lot of corners to make anything at all.

  168. I just wanted to say…THANK YOU! for your knowledge and input! My wife and I are shopping for a new hot tub….WAS considering Vita but now moving on.

    Your information as well as others posting is invaluable!

    Thanks again!

    • Have you any opinion on AquaLiving selling Dr Wellness spas? They say they are the largest hot tub retailer in the U.S. with 36 retail locations. Manufactured in Tennessee – they sell tens of thousands. I’ve watched all your videos and asked them all my questions. They say they use all U.S. parts – Balboa parts, Waterway jets, molded Lucite acrylic with microban coating; antifungal tubing behind it; radiant coating sprayed on to hold heat; then chopped fiberglass; spray foam with 5x microbubble cells after that. They fill their tubs with water for 5 days to test them. Their prices are great — and I was sold, but they have a few lousy reviews online. When I questioned that, they said they ‘only’ have problems with 1.5% of their hot tubs — what do you think about that? The other problem is a 5 year warranty on most everything except service is only 6 months. And no local dealer or service person – only someone who travels around installing/servicing in southwest Virginia.

      • LOL The largest hot tub retailer in the US? they are not even on the radar… They might be the largest in the state… I would be surprised if they are in the top 50 🙂 Crazy this world we live in people just say anything..

        Radiant barriers were all the rage in the 80’s in the building industry, luckily the building industry is regulated and all the cold climate states and Canada banned it as a primary insulator or issued official government warning about radiant barriers being ineffectual at containing heat in a system… Lucky the Hot Tub Industry is virtually unregulated so they can use that cheap junk in hot tubs:-)

        Forget the antibacterial pitch it does nothing, and 5x microbubble is just a stupid name to make foam sound better 🙂

        So if they were really the biggest they would be in the 30,000 tub a year group and testing for 5 days would mean they had 150,000 days of testing so that would mean they would have 410 hot tubs on test at all times taking up approx 100 sq feet each meaning the factory would have to be taking up 400,000 sq feet and their entire production facility is 250,000 square feet… LMFAO! and why? if it’s working and not leaking in an hour it working and not leaking, I hate when guys spew this amount of bullshit, that alone would make me walk.

    • I’m looking to buy a Maxx rendezvous spa. Do you have any opinion on this brand?

      • The Maxx is good except the insulation system, Bluemax is a combo reflective and a small amount of insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective: read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good Icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

        Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically, this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

        from a performance standpoint, it would be on par with the middle to upper end

    • I guess I am not seeing his post that made you decide against Vita. What was the reason? I’m looking at a Maxx Vita Rendevous.

      • The biggest issue is the reflective insulation system…

        This is just an inexpensive, low r-value option that is really not suited to the purpose.

  169. Our local dealers with service are Hot Springs and Sundance. Both have sold these for 30+ years. I checked on Marquis and Master and they listed expos as their dealer.

    Given that, would you go with the brand the dealer offers- or chance an expo? I’m worried about wet testing, and I liked that the dealer will test water for free on site to help troubleshoot. This would be our first spa.

    • That’s a tough one and depends on a lot on yourself sufficiency and the quality of local independent service network and the quality of your local dealer.

      The truth is if they local guy has been selling the same brand for 30+ years they are a top dealer and know how to deal with the unique circumstances of those brands.

      If you have a good local service guy or even a handyman that can use an electrical meter and you have a reliable knowledgeable seller who answers their phone and knows their shit (like me 🙂 then you can have a great long distance romance.

    • Anytime you have a dealer with 30 years selling a specific product then you are likely good. While I do not like some things about these brands they are not nightmares and a good dealer is hard to find

  170. Hello, I am looking into purchasing our first new hot tub. I have researched many types and brands online. I found a site that sells “integrity spas” out of Leawood Kansas. They appear to have some nice options and good prices. Have you heard of Integrity Spas, and if so, can you tell me anything about them? Would this brand be worth purchasing?

  171. Hi Chris

    The closest hot tub stores are an hour away from me in Lloydminster ab. They are Beachcomber, Jacuzzi, Maxx & Arctic Spa.

    None of the hot tubs have everything you say to look for. I have visited all dealers and am satisfied that any dealer would good. They all wet test but at different days of the week so I will not have time to do them all so can you help me with making a short list?

    • If you need to buy out of market then anything over 45 minutes away might as well be 45 hours away 🙂

      Your secret for success is having a local handyman and a really good dealer who can diagnose over the phone, then just buy from anywhere and count on yourself for the little issues.

  172. Looking at Bahama spa. Sunset Cove. 3-4 person. price is 5250. looks like they may have been called something else a few years ago and changed names. Looking at good therapy massage. Dont need top of the line but is this a decent one? Has geko system. Insulation is what you suggested from what they say. Hoses clamped and glued. Ofcourse we need to look under the hood to see if that is true. Can you suggest a comparable spa or does this one sound good? Thanks

    • I dont know alot about them, but check and see if the shell has supports under it or if it is a hand rolled shell… make them take the side off.

      Gecko is my number 2 system.

  173. Neil OCallaghan

    I bought an arctic spa x-display model, with 1 years parts and labour warranty in the UK, 3.5 months afterwards it developed a fault with the shell peeling away.

    They refused to honour the warranty and stated it the shell was damaged before they dispatched it and therefore excluded it from any warranty.

    I have had to constantly chase them, they do not respond to emails, they are not interested in customer service at all.

    They are now trying to worm out of the warranty and the sale of the spa, I would tell anyone wanting to buy an arctic spa, go elsewhere, other spa companies have much better after sales service.

    • You should have recourse if the shell is faulty. Maybe try head office in Canada…

      I love how they have 24-hour service for sales but only limited for service 🙂

      24/7 Live Sales Support: 1-780-789-0340
      General Phone Support: 1-800-309-1744

  174. Hi Chris, great videos you are turning out! Thanks for the great work. Can I get your opinion on the Belize UltraRay UVC-67DL: 5-Person 67-Jet Double Lounger Spa? It has dual loungers and that is something i’m interested in. I’m not sure what jets they use, they do say that they reuse the heat that the motors are putting off. Also, the use the UV light for purification…???? Looking forward to your opinion. Thanks, Myles

    • Myles I’m having a hard time figuring out this tub.

      I think it might be a Pacific hot tub but the net says the link is still not safe, it’s using a redirect so i give up 🙂

      sorry, dude.

      • I called them today, on this tube 67DL they use Balboo controls, CMP jets, ADF motors, blowers. They don’t spray the insulating foam, I’m sure I can add more insulation if needed. They told me (without even asking them) that they don’t use weird parts that you can only buy thru them, etc. I’m wondering , since the motors seem to burn out more in FLA, maybe cut a vent hole and install a vent grate where the motor sits? It is pretty warm hear year round, maybe 50’s in the winter for a few weeks. The company is SpaDepot.com that might help you to browse their site and find some info. I think the call was worth my time. They only delivery to the front of the house off the street. I’ve used an old swimming pool solar panel as a sled with a rope thru the end tube to move a spa before on the grass, gravel, etc. you can cut it to width if needed to go thru a door way. I also went to recreational warehouse today, they only carry Leisure Bay, no Balboo controls, etc. Myles

  175. Hi Richard,

    I’m looking at purchasing a CaldreaSpas Tahitian – seems like a good deal but it’s a floor model from 2016. Should I be concerned?

    What’s your thoughts on Bullfrog A7 & Jacuzzi J345?

    Thank you
    Stan

    • So the first group uses a lot of proprietary parts not my recommended course of action. see this video for why I don’t like them.

      Bullfrog uses good parts list but its a pedestal supported shell and I really do not like the jetpacks, limited area where the Jets can go, old school loop plumbing and all so they can fix the problem of leaky tubs… Anyone who is glueing and clamping the lines already solved the leaking tub problem and all the jets are removable so you can already customise any hot tubs jetting for a lot less money than buying those packs… It just seems gimmicky to me, no real advantages and some drawbacks.

  176. We have a house in the Outer Banks of NC that is used as a weekly rental. The house is located 1 mile from the beach.

    There are 2 dealers that we have gone to so far. One sells Jacuzzi, interested in the J-series 360 – or higher that have the foot jets and lounger. It is a husband and wife ownership, they have been in business for over 25 years, selling Jacuzzi since 1998. They offer the weekly service needed for incoming guests for a fee. 5 year warranty.

    The other dealer is a hardware store that has their “Outer Bank” specific hot tubes. These tubes are made by Sea Crest and Dynasty. Their tubs are basic no frills tubs. They say they took the water fall, head rest and handles that allows you to control water flow of jets off so there is less for the renters to break. They do not offer their own service but carry all of the parts, so we will need to hire another company to do it, cost is similar to the other business. They at one time had the Jacuzzi brand tubs. 2 year warranty.

    There is a $3,000 price difference between the two. We of course have heard the Jacuzzi name but have never heard of the other ones. Both places include full delivery set up. Both tubs have 2 pumps.

    Do you have a recommendation on how to pick a tub for a rental home? While saving $3,000 sounds enticing, I don’t know the life expectancy of them.

    Thank you

    Mary

    .

    • Hey Mary

      The Sea Crest and Dynasty would not be on my recommended list, I recently did a video on the Dynasty.

      The Jacuzzi are what they are, but a great dealer can make all the difference if they have been jacuzzi that long they know the quirks and will likely keep you happy.

      • I had my husband watch your videos. We found a Master’s dealer in Virginia Beach and ended up with a healthy living HL 8. The arm seats were awesome. Can’t wait to have it installed. Thank you for your videos.

  177. I’m close to replacing my Dynasty Spa Excalibur Series Lancelot 3000. I’ve had it for 10 years and looking to switch it up.

    I’m down to Jaccuzi J-345, Caldera Utopia Series Tahitian or the Bullfrog A7. As you know the price range is approx 13-16K, which would you recommend and am I missing out on any better choices.

    Thank you
    Stephan

    • These are all well-known spa brands Because they spend a lot of money making sure they are well-known brands.

      In Toronto, you have better choices for sure. Talk to Griff at Premium Wholesale, see the master TS series. I know the guy personally and vouch for him.

  178. Dave Shoemaker

    Question. Looking at Vita Spa Envie 500 series. Price is $8500 for floor model, that includes, lift, cover, stairs, delivery, 3 months of chemicals, nature II, test strips, and removing my old tub.

    Is a Vita tub and good quality tub, and worth the money. I livein Michigan with cold winters.

    Apologies if this posted a few times. Not sure what I am doing wrong

    • Again like most brands out there it is middle of the road.

      They do a great hand rolled shell with a vinyl ester resin barrier that’s great, and they use a good parts list balboa heating and control system and waterways jets.

      But the insulation is a mix of radiant heat and some small thermal mass. The redient heat systems are just inexpensive and nowhere near as good as an Icynene foam system.

      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, especially installed vertically and without a specific air gap 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/

  179. Hi Chris,

    We are new to the hot tub scene and as you’ve mentioned several times there is a lot of BS out there regarding these products. There are a few brands that I’ve been referred to by owners of these brands, they are Beachcomber, Coast and Bullfrog. They all seem happy with their products. The Beachcomber and Bullfrog buddies have had their tubs for almost 10 years. The Beachcomber buddy uses the Aqua finess product and I must say his water is always clean. I live on Georgian Bay, between Owen Sound and Collingwood, so I do get real winters. I have 2 young children. I’m looking to spend no more than $10K. I don’t see a Master dealer near me. So what do you think Beachcomber or Coast? or is there another brand or dealer near me I should check out? BTW I am often in Halifax, so I may have to pop by your place.

    • HI Richard

      Georgian Bay is old stomping grounds for me I spent many a summer cruising from Port Severn up to the Benjamin Islands… awesome.

      Of the lot Beachcomber but again stay away from the hybrid system the only reason it rates better on the CEC energy testing is that the CEC test parameters test at 60 F so the test tells you very little about the heat loss and lots about the filtration pump… Because beachcomber hybrid uses a low flow circulation pump it rates better than the non-Hybrid model in testing but the reality is the integrated system they sell through Costco is a more efficient cold water spa and has the ability to filter a lot more water if you get into heavy usage like parties or just a lot of bathers.

      The Coast always looks good on paper and again the only thing that keeps it off my top list is there always are complaints about the factory support to dealers, spoke to 2 ex-dealers personally who dropped the line because of it although that being said a really good dealer will cover over that shortcoming.

      Bullfrog is my least favourite of the group only because it’s gimmicky and overpriced. the cost savings of using a loop jet system is a lot, the shell is a thin pillar supported shell and this tub should be mid-priced but the branding and marketing have driven the cost up. the reality is the Beachcomber and coast spend more money on the tub build. I also find the stupid jet packs really limit where the jetting can go. They also continue to be haunted by sanitation issues behind the jet packs.

      Do me a favour and get yer friend to pop out the easy to chage jet pack and run your hand over the surfaces behind the pack and tell me if it feels slimy or rough… Maybe shoot a video and I’ll feature you in an article 🙂

      • Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the quick reply and thanks for the great info.

        So just to confirm the non-hybrid Beachcombers they sell at Costco are ok in your opinion?

        My buddy with the Coast mentioned that he went with them because of the commercial grade sealed filtration system as opposed to the other brands (including Beachcomber?) that have floating filters that allow the filtered debris to return to the water when the pumps are off “recontaminating” the water. Is there any truth to that?

        In regards to the Bullfrog, I highly doubt I’d get behind the jets, its my brother-in-law’s tub, I don’t think he’d be too happy with me looking under the hood! 😉

        • Ya could have been a star Richard 😉

          This “Closed filtration” and 100% Filtration, and Pressure side filtration are all old recycled technologies that were abandoned by 90% of the Market years ago. Now it is coming back because guys are marketing it as “new technology” It happens all the time

          This is just using a buzzword to fool you… How all filter systems really work is the water goes through a filter which cleans all the debris out of the water, then that water gets dumped back into the tub so right away it gets mixed into the unfiltered water… over time more and more water is filtered and after a few hours there is no debris left. The only way to really have 100% filtration or “Closed filtration” is to pump the water through a filter into another container, then once it is all filtered you can put it back into the hot tub…

      • Good Morning,

        First, thank you for this site, I had no idea there were so many options and things to consider when buying a hot tub. I am in the market right now for a hot tub. I live in Suffolk County NY. I recently looked at the Viking Spa Heritage 2 and I’m wondering your thoughts on this spa. I’m heading over to see the Master Spa today. My budget is 7k and I would really like a company that will service the product. I will take any advice you can give.

        • Hey, Latoya.

          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…

  180. Thanks for a lot of the comments above. Very helpful while I research my first hot tub purchase. I am trying to not break the bank all while still purchasing a quality product. I am not buying a hot tub to have a world class massage or ease pain but simply to have a relaxing place to spend time with family and friends. My requirements for a hot tub are simply (at least I think so):

    1- Efficiency (don’t need to see my elec bill skyrocket)
    2- Reliability (quality parts I can buy anywhere and make simple repairs/maint myself)
    3- Overall value

    Unfortunately I don’t have $8K+ to just drop on a hot tub and am hoping to stay closer to the 5-7K range which I know limits my options significantly. I was hoping you could provide a few brand recommendations that I should really focus in on that would all be using quality components with solid insulation for my lovely Chicago, IL weather (wouldn’t mind taking a soak while it snows).

    Thanks

    • Tyler look for a Rotomould, with the money you save on the shell construction you can get a good parts list and good insulation.

      The getaway Hot Tubs I like a lot then the Nordic.

      • We are military moving every few years. Our new house in No VA has wiring where an old tub was located. I’d like to get a hot tub that I can enjoy for a few years. It’s not really a long term investment, I’ll be moving again in a few years. Would these rotomolds be a good place to start looking?

        • For sure, Rotomoulds have come a long way and are easy to move and if they use the right parts mix and glue and clamp the plumbing lines and use a good full foam they can be efficient.

          There is a new line Called Getaway Hot Tubs, they do all the right things and they look nice, and they use a full skirt to really make them look right. Nordic also build a good one but the insulation is not as good.

  181. My husband and I are looking at hot tub and swim spa options for our backyard to help with long-term health and fatigue issues. The information on your site is helpful, although so comprehensive it makes my head swirl a bit.

    Our local pool store (small town in Central Florida) recommended Swim Spa Manufacturers in Clearwater, which is about 2 hours away. http://www.swimspamanufacturers.com/swimspas.php

    I’m not sure what to make of their products, based on what I’m reading here. The two main things going for them seem to be long-term business and high BBB ratings. However, I’m wondering if their technology has kept up with the times, and I’m wondering how to know. And I saw they are against full-foam, which you recommend.

    • I have never heard of these guys so I picked up the phone and spoke to the owner 🙂 nice guy and told be all the bumpf.

      The good is the component list, they use Balboa packs and pumps which are a nice brand that’s easy to find and source replacements for and that control and heating system is reliable.

      They have a bit fo a weird way of making the shell and although it’s not my favourite way to dance it seems like they make a decent enough shell… self-supporting, using 7 layers of glass and a vinyl ester resin against the acrylic which is good, they then glass in a 1/2″ plywood sheet on the base and this one kills me they glass in 2″ schedule 40 PVC pipe along the sides 🙂 I really would like a hand rolled glass but it seems like they are going so far overkill on the layers that it’s likely a sustainable shell no matter how unorthodox! But again this is simply based on what the nice man on the phone told me 🙂

      No they use nylon flex hose into the old manifold and jet sockets, again this is an old way to do it but not a bad way, again I would like to see a barbed internal fitting glued and clamped, and really if the joints are glued and clamped we don’t really even care if the hose is poly tubing or nylon flex, actual tubing failure is rare.. its all about the joint between the pipe and the fitting.

      The insulation is bad… There is no way would I sell this anywhere but a warm climate, and even then this is not going to be an efficient tub.

      Now they say “a picture takes a thousand words” and if that’s not quite what they say it should be 🙂 because these photos spoke volumes. The jetting and performance is going to be very pedestrian I would not count on a good swim. With two old school Jets used for the swim stream, this tub is not going to have a great swim current, it will choppy, low water volume at high pressure and it will be harder to stay in the swim stream without proper shell contouring. The internal design is full of hard angles and weird protrusions taking up a lot of space and no doubt making the water turbulent and affecting the usable space a lot. also the jetting in the massage seats is again pretty low end. I also noticed it uses an old school pressure filter system.

      The long and short of it is this. If you want just a small pool with very limited swim ability and you are not interested in all the other workout you could do against the current, and you live in a warm climate this tub would not be the worst thing out there and better than half the stuff out there. But… If you want to swim, use resistance training equipment against the current for core and upper body workout, or do water aerobics and if you want to have a good therapy massage seat then this is not the swimmer for you. It’s also shallow at 50″ shell height (about 43″ of water) I really find the 60″ depth of the top swimmers makes a massive difference in the usability of the product.

      • Hi!! I am looking at MAAX spas and the Master Spa as options for purchase. I have not seen much on MAAX spas and was wondering what you thought of them in compared to the Master Sap. We live in Nashville so we do get some cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer!!

        • The Maxx is good except the insulation system, Bluemax is a combo reflective and a small amount of insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective: read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good Icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

          Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically, this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

          from a performance standpoint it would be on par with the Healthy Living line but The master stuff spent a lot more on the insulation package and that just will save you money on the long run.

          • Hi, I’m in Ireland and there’s no Master Spa unfortunately… Any comments about the Canadian Hot Tubs brand?

            There aren’t too many brand options here. It’s them or Hydropool, Arctic. Wellis or the very expensive Hotspring.

            Thanks, Lisa

          • Ya know Im not a fan of mass merchant tubs but the Canadian Spa is absolutely the best of that lot, good hand rolled shells, and good parts.

      • Thank you so much! I was going to call them, but wouldn’t have gotten half this much information and wouldn’t have been able to make much sense of any of it. So, I’m very appreciative of your checking in to them, and explaining what you learned so thoroughly. Do you have any swim spas you recommend? Of the concerns you mention, I’d be willing to save some money by compromising on insulation, because we do live in a very warm climate. But you’ve convinced me that the Balboa parts and better swim current are worth spending some extra on. Also, since I’m 5’10 and am the shortest member of my family, I think the 60″ depth would be pretty important for us.

        Thanks again for your thorough research and informative reply!

        • Hi

          You live by my MOMMY 🙂

          If you see her say Hi she will be wearing pastels and driving around in a golf cart 🙂

          There are not too many brands doing the 60″ depth. and really the guys who invented swim spas are still leading that pack by a massive margin.

          Let me see what I can find.

          • I will definitely tell her Hi if I see her 🙂 And I’ll look forward to any further information you find. Would “the guys who invented swim spas” be Master Spas?

          • So the story goes but I think I was the first really 🙂

  182. Revolution Spas?

    • Revolution builds a roto mould spa similar to Nordic spas, Getaway Hot Tubs Dream Maker etc.

      The good:

      These shells on all Rotobmoulds literally last forever.
      They use Balboa heating and controls.

      The Bad:

      They don’t clamp the plumbing lines
      Friction fitting for heat is a gimmick.
      Very little money spent on insulation.
      Low performance and jetting.

      If you are going Roto mould, getaway hot Tubs are great, Nordic is great except the insulation is upper middle while the getaway uses a top full foam system.

      • Thank you. Those are the tubs one of the major companies near me sells. I live in the North Olmsted Ohio area. Is is possible to get a tub for me to relax in after a day of work for around 5k or less?

        • For sure. Again be care full at this price point, if you buy a 5k spa with lots of bells and whistles it will be junk.

          Personally, I would go to a roto mould shell and save a pile there then you can get something with a good solid reliability and efficiency.

          The rotomoulded spas are all durable from a shell construction standpoint but the Getaway Hot Tubs is by far the best insulation system and also uses good parts and clamps the joints… next would be Nordic, a close second except the insulation system…

      • I can not find any information on getaway hot tubs!

  183. Hi what is your thoughts on a Viking hot tub? We are looking into this brands for our first one?

    • Hi Erica

      They are a Middle of the road spa.

      They use a plastic shell, the video looks like an ABS shell. these were all the rage 10 years ago, and most of the top end has gone back to Fiberglass, They offer a lifetime guarantee on the shell and every time I see that word I worry. Lifetime guarantee means nothing, it has no legal definition, it can be interpreted to mean almost anything including the lifetime of the product which means as long as they are building that model without changing it 🙂 give a 5-year guarantee over “lifetime” any day 🙂

      They use good parts.

      They do not clamp the plumbing lines

      They use a small amount of insulation and a barrier wrap.

  184. Hey, I see the mass amount of comments on this page and really appreciate the time you must put in replying to all these people. I am currently looking into buying a hot tub spa for the first time. I live in Canada where an average of 3 months the temperature can get to -45.. yes really extreme weather conditions. I need help in picking the right spa for my area, and the weather it will encounter. Currently the only big name brands close to me are Arctic Spas, Polar Spas, Beachcomber, and costco brands. There is a small town local dealer that sells hot tubs. But I feel I do not know enough about the equipment to make a decision. I got a quote from Arctic Spas for around $13,000 which I feel is extremely expensive. This does include shipping and install.. If you have any information on buying a spa where weather conditions can get be so extreme I will really appreciate the input. Also I would appreciate your opinion on a $13,000 valued spa. Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Morgan

      I have a hard time with the price of the Arctic Spas. For that kind of money, I would want to see a lot more money spent on the tub.

      – They do a good hand rolled self-supported shell so they spent the money on that end.
      – The insulation is 3″ of expanded foam so they spent mid money there.
      – The Jets, fittings and filtration systems are Rising Dragon Brand once of the cheapest in the world so they are not spending the money there
      – The electronics are a no name brand likely from China so they are not spending the money there.
      – They don’t even bother to support the plumbing or to clamp the plumbing lines so they are not spending the money there.

      Sounds like it should be a mid-priced spa to me unless they are just spending a fortune on branding, spin, marketing, and gimmicks 🙂

      Yer in Fort Mac! You only have one local guy there the Coast and the Cal are not nightmare spas or talk to the ladies at Empress hot tubs in Calgary and just get yer service done with a local…

  185. Are there comparable brands to Master? Or do they stand above the rest? Thanks!

    • I am purchasing a Hot Tub for a beach house. We are right on the Long Island sounnd and the tub will be subjected to rather severe weather from time to time (Noreasters etc)
      Any considerations regarding weather??

      • Hi Dean

        Noreasters eh? those puppy’s roll right on up the coast and smash into us on a regular basis 🙂

        The key thing here is a good full foam insulation, and get some good hurricane straps for the cover for when the storms come. While you can buy them online the best is to go and get a couple 12′ nylon straps and put a couple hooks either into the base of the spa if it is built right or into the deck and when she blows put the ratchet straps on.

        Go see the boys at Suntek, good brands good service. http://www.suntekpoolsandspas.com/

  186. HI, Thanks so much for this amazing site!!!! I have been researching tubs for a while now and found this gem the other day! So thanks, I totally appreciate your expertise. SO I am considering purchasing a Master 87.3 or a Hot Spring Envoy. I was wondering what you think the better buy is and cleaning system. Masters Eco Pure vs Hot Springs ACE. Thanks again.

    • Hi Andrew

      I’m not a big Hot Springs fan, They are one fo these brands that have these goofy proprietary parts made for their hot tubs instead of using the expensive but super reliable OEM parts like Balboa heating and control systems and Waterways jets, fittings, and hi efficiency plumbing systems. When a manufacturer does this it to cut the cost of building the p[roduct and to trap you into only being able to source parts from them. see this video that explains why I am aginst this.

      As for the chemical reduction systems, ACE is a salt water system, these were all the rage back in the 90’s because it let us go from 3-5ppm of chlorine to 1-3 ppm of chlorine but all they really do is make chlorine or bromine and there are a lot of service issues. Everyone moved away from the tech 10 years ago but a couple guys have gone back to it and rebranded it as new 🙂 tits the old recycle the technology deal… the truth is the best advances in hot tub water care of the last 20 years have been the aftermarket stuff… I would not buy into any of the onboard miracle systems. They all are pretty good but none are near as good as things like Aquafinesse mineral system which you can use in any tub.. or even stuff like spa marvel enzyme systems… See this video on the various systems.

      The Master also has a new UV system called Mast3r Pur that uses the same technology that water treatment facilities use to treat municipal drinking water. It is showing some real promise.

      Look the reality is Master spends a lot of money building a great hot tub and backing it up, Hot Springs spends a mid amount of money building a hot tub and a lot of money on spin marketing and hype… see this video on the different kinds of hot tub companies.

  187. Thanks for this great information. We are looking at either a Hot Springs Pulse or a Master HL 7.5. The Master we can get for $7,495 and includes cover, lift, steps chemicals and haul away of our old tub. What are your thoughts on the HS Pulse as well as that price for the Master? Thanks!

    • Hi Ryan

      That’s a solid price on the HL and although the Hot Springs are better marketed, the Master is better built. The problem is there are two successful business models for hot tub companies. One is to build a mid grade spa and market the hell out of it, and the other is to build an awesome spa but then you don’t have as much money left to market it. Unfortunately, the mid grade spa with great marketing is the best business model for profit and the big guy like HS are all about the bottom line 🙂

      I’m not a big Hot Springs fan, They are one fo these brands that have these goofy proprietary parts made for their hot tubs instead of using the expensive but super reliable OEM parts like Balboa heating and control systems and Waterways jets, fittings, and hi efficiency plumbing systems. When a manufacturer does this it to cut the cost of building the p[roduct and to trap you into only being able to source parts from them. see this video that explains.

      • Hi Chris, thanks for the reply. Devil’s advocate here – are you biased towards Master because you sell them, or do you sell them because you are partial to them? I just see sites like these (http://www.poolandsparatings.com/spas.html) that rate otherwise, and then see the power difference in the pumps between Hot Springs and the HL and have to wonder.

  188. What a great site – we can scoop up a Master HL 8 for $7,495 delivered and installed, with cover, lift kit, stairs and chemicals, along with haul away of our old hot tub. Good deal or push harder? Our other options were a Hot Springs Pulse or one of the Sundance models, but don’t think you’re a fan of those. Thanks!

  189. Hi…. can’t express enough what a great service you’re providing. you’ve educated me tremendously and saved me from a couple of bad decisions. Sadly no Master dealer anywhere near Dallas, Texas… but there is a Marquis dealer as well as Artesian.
    I’ve visited the Marquis dealer and took a liking to their new line called Vector 21 Series… it is newish …and the marketing is just plain goofy…. but wondering if you’ve had any experience with them. The 2 dual speeds pumps aren’t huge…just 2hp… same pumps as in the Marquis Signature series. The ability to push via control knows all the water of a single pump into a single chair seems nice… but just wondering if it’s gonna be ‘all that’. thanks again for your service!

    • OMG, I just watched the video… Never heard so many ridiculous made up words and bullshit in one video! lol

      Now I like Marquis but that tub is just goofy marketing… loads of spas have diverter valves that move the water around and while calling them V3 Throttles sounds cool if yer 10 years old for us big people it’s the same thing 🙂

      And the pumps are tiny!!! 3.2 amp high speed is super small pump the big ones are 12 amps or more… I’ll be honest there is nothing new here despite the hype and nonsense and it’s seriously low power spa so dont expect much performance.. its a bot of a weird one really… hyped up like its going to be a high performance spa but powered like a chevy sprint 🙂

  190. Hi
    I would like your comments on 3 different hot tubs
    Artesian Island series
    Sundance Cameo
    La spas Heet
    I live in Sweden and want to buy one of these spas
    Kind regards
    Andre

    • Hi Andre

      Sundance is owned by the same company as jacuzzi and Dimension One, they are ok but the parts are goofy proprietary parts that you can only get from them and the proprietary parts are never as good as the Balboa and waterways OEM parts.

      Artesian is a good spa good parts, well made.

      LA is mid grade, gecko control system which is mid, and a cheap perimeter insulation system using batons instead of expanded foam, it blows my mind how in the Homebuilding industry there is no argument expanding foam is the most expensive, longest lasting and highest R value yet in the miracle world of hot tubs where apparently the laws of physics are suspended guys pass these cheap systems off as better than expanding foam…

  191. We ate looking at 2 different hot tubs and would really like your opinion! Nordic Hot tub Encore and the Hot Springs Envoy. Both are about the same amount and we like the jets on both. We live outside of Chicago but tub is protected and we have a concrete pad that our old hot tub Sat on. What are your thoughts?

    • The Nordic. The Envoy uses a difficult to source proprietary parts list designed to ensure you can only buy parts from them. The nordic on the other hand uses the top north American parts list. both insulation packages are similar.

      • Thoughts on coast spa? They claim to be the world’s best built spa, or is that as true as world’s best coffee from the local gas station?

        • You know on paper they build a good spa. the parts are good, and they glue and clamp the joints on the plumbing and they have an available upgrade for a full foam package. The shell is a goofy one instead of hand rolling multiple layers of glass they use a vinyl ester resin then spray glass and put metal in and spray bonding resins…. I would say it’s likely a good shell, not as good as a multi-layer hand rolled shell but certainly better than most fo the shells out there.

          But… for some reason they can never shake the bad reputation, they consistently have bad reports about the level of support from the factory side and it is not just the ratings and forums are I mostly ignore, the dealers I have spoken to report the same.

          • thank you for the great report on coast spa, it waas either them or a twilight or legacy, from master spa and ive read your thought numerous times on those so i think i know where i should go!

    • We will be buying a hot tub in the next few months but are having electrical work done at the house in the near future. I’d like to run the power for a hot tub at that time. I see varying power requirements for tubs but I’m wondering if it would be best to just run a 240V 50 amp circuit which meets the highest requirement I see on spec sheets and then I’m not limited on which brand/type of tub to buy. With RV’s that had 30 amp systems we would often hook up to a 50 amp outlet with an adaptor with no problems. Does the same hold true for hot tubs?

      • Good catch dude because builders always spec it out for the cheapest which is a 40 am because that drops you to 8AWG cable…. get the to run 6 AWG 3 conductors plus a ground typically called 6-3 cable and make it Copper… aluminium sucks for high current surge devices. Also, keep in mind local code may have a rule that the GFI outdoor breaker be a minimum distance from the tub (here it is at least 5′ away) also make sure they leave at least 15″ of cable on the outer wall…

    • Also looking at Nordic brand spa and need assistance. Both my wife and I are in early 60’s with some arthritis. Live in upper peninsula of Michigan. Want for therapy year round use with very good insulation R value. Looking at Nordic Crown XL with 30 jets and T-20 certified Nordic Wrap insulation and Arctic Summit Legend Select with 61 jets. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

      • Hi Brad.

        The Nordic is a far better product than the Arctic, It has a better parts list and they hand-clamp the plumbing lines. Frankly, I am not a fan of Arctic, cheap Chinese parts, no clamps on the plumbing, it’s really a mid grade spa imo.

        That being said neither have great insulation… I know they have a pitch about a magic fairy that lives in the big air space where the insulation should be that makes free heat but the truth is it’s a cheap insulation system… its only 3 ” of insulation or about R15 try and find a good full foam system you can get to R30+

        See if you can Find a dealer for the Getaway Spas, same build quality as the Nordics but full foam Icynene insulation system.

  192. Hello,
    I’m confused concerning a brand and hope you have some insite. I’ve looked at and think I’ve found the tub that suits me best and has the best local support in my area. On the surface is says its made by Artesian Spas and hits all the main selling points that you recommend (parts list, shell and insulation) As I researched it more it’s actually Tropic Seas Spas selling under the Artesian name. I imagine if they’re willing to put the Artesian name on this brand they’d meet the same requirments as tubs sold on the Artesian website.
    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • ooo not heard of that ill have to look into it. but my gut says no, lots of times companies will sell a cheap line and use the name to add cred… that’s a red flag and I might need to re-evaluate my recommendation of that brand if that’s the case…

  193. Chris, thanks for all of the information you provide that is not available anywhere else. I live on Long Island, NY and the only dealer here for Master Spas is Suntek Pool and Spas. And the Marquis spas dealer is GPM Pool & Spa? Are you familiar with either of these dealers? The price I was quoted for the Twilight 7.2 series is $9500 USD. Is this a fair price? Thanks!

    • $9500 is a good price for the area, It’s expensive to do business there.

      I’m not personally aware of the companies but just see what you can find for local reviews and BBB.

  194. Also now debating between Beachcomber and Artesian. We are located in Erin, Ontario. Is one line better than the other?

    • They are both good tubs but if you go beachcomber stay away from that stupid “hybrid” system. this is a classic example of old technology being dragged out of the closet after the whole industry has moved away from it in favour of better technology and one meat head rebranding it as innovation… No one puts the pumps outside the spa anymore because you can not reclaim the motor waste heat, you pump your hot water outside of the insulation envelope in the middle of the winter and in power outages your equipment is prone to freeze up 10x quicker than pumps that are under the spa…

      • I am confused as I thought the Beachcomber tubs were the only tubs who put the pumps outside of the spa. All of their models do this and it is proprietor as no other spa can copy this idea, therefore other spas haven’t moved away from it because they haven’t done it. They have been doing it for a very long time and have had no issues with equipment being more prone to freezing up. I also like that this option leaves room for the entire spa to be insulated underneath. We live in the country and get several power outages a year and have not had any issues……

        • Hi L

          Nope. They Trademarked the name “Hybrid” that’s all… 30 years ago when I was in this industry lots of spas had the pumps outside, but then everyone moved them inside to protect them from freeze up, reclaim the waste heat from the motors and to better contain the heat in the system. when you put the pumps under the spa the small amount of insulation you take out is in the corner where it is 3-4x thicker than 90% of the spa… it barely effects the overall R value and is more than traded off by the loss of the waste heat generated by the motors and the fact that you are pumping your hot water outside of the insulation envelope of the hot tub.

          While you may have been fortunate in never having a freeze up during a power outage there is no arguing the science. Pumps in a step with minimal insulation will for sure freeze up much much more quickly than pumps underneath 350-500 gallons of hot water… it’s a no brainer… IMO The whole Hybrid thing is bad tech and done to provide a unique selling feature more than for any scientific reason.

          • So, we went to the Beachcomber Hot Tub Outlet in Oakville today. Michael, the salesman, was telling me that I can get a Beachcomber 750 for $12 999 by going over to Costco (block or so away) with him and is not a hybrid model but the rest would be the same (saving me $2000 off hybrid pricing in shop). He said that he would be the one looking after me once I purchased the product. A non-hybrid, following your advice = good but this whole thing sounded a bit fishy to my husband and I. Thoughts?

          • Hi Val

            It’s all true, The Beachcomber in Costco is the same except for they Hybrid and frankly I do not like the Hybrid, it is bad old technology rebranded as new innovation.

            The Costco version at $11k is comparable to what you can buy any of the good brands for but keep in mind, the top Beachcomber while I like the build and quality has never been a great performer, their best tub is still a mix of low flow and mid flow jets with only a few of the expensive hi flow therapy massage jets.

            This has always been my argument… Mass merchants are never great prices on hot tubs… They do not do enough volume and the $11k price tag on the Beachcomber backs this up… they either have cheap spas at retail prices or in this case Good spas at high prices.

            One good dealer will sell more hot tubs than all the Costco’s and home depots across Canada combined, they do not get good prices for a lot of reasons… read this article…

  195. Hi there. We are interested in the Artesian line of tubs and torn between paying the extra for the platinum line or sticking to the Island line. Also, the tub will be used by myself, my husband and our 3 kids but we are not sure what size to go. Any suggestions. The Antigua seems like it would fit us but will the extra room be preferred? Also, how much difference does size make to the heating factor/cost?

    • the size only matters when… Sounds like the beginning to the punch line of a joke doesn’t it :-)… anyway it only costs more with the cover off really, so if you want the space and are going to regularly pack people in go for it…

      As for the two sub-lines, there really is not a lot of difference. from a performance standpoint they both seem fairly similar, a lot fo the cheap small jets and a few of the high flow therapy massage jets… I would have expected the higher end line to be all hi end therapy massage jetting but there does not seem to be that much difference

  196. We are in the market to buy a hot tub and remodel our outdoor space. We have looked at two brands, one sold by a local dealer an the other included in a bid for the entire space, which are Viking spa model Royale and Vita model Monaraque. Would you recommend either of these or keep looking?

  197. Would you please give us your opinion on the Marquis Spirit spa? Is the Micro Silk upgrade worth the extra expense?

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  199. Pam Miller