Hot Tub Ratings Sites and Hot Tub Discussion Forums, Sorting the Bullshit from the Bananas

The ratings you see on a Rating site reviews can be anything from anyone and most of the time if it is really bad review or a really good review it’s either a competitor posing as a customer or a dealer posing as a customer, these fake reviews are not isolated they are rampant some studies suggest that as much of 50% are fraudulent.

The discussion forums are populated by hot tub sellers, they have a Bias and an agenda it is in their best interest to knock brands that are taking money from their local markets so the Expo guys Like Master Spas are public enemy #1 because they have numerous dealers who  travel the country selling at these massive sales.

When a company comes into a market, does and Expo and sells Half a million dollars worth of hot tubs in a weekend the local retailers go bananas! Especially when they sell at thousands less than the high priced fancy showrooms. Local retailers see this as unfair competition and they vent their anger on the discussion forums and ratings and review sites by posing as customers, and bad mouthing the brand that is stealing millions from their local markets.

Forbes reported that even Amazon is suffering from a massive increase in fake reviews anyone can create a fake email and an account on Yelp, or any other rating site or discussion forum using a VPN and totally skew the real data concerning the reliability of a product…

So what are the review sites and Discussion Forums sites really worth?

Unfortunately in the Hot Tub world with the exception of regulated groups like the BBB, Consumers Digest, and Consumer affairs they are almost bullshituseless and the unregulated discussion forums are even worse, in fact the discussion forums are heavily controlled by certain companies, usually the same ones building cheap products and hiding behind high profile branding and marketing and are full of the very same guys who are losing millions to the Traveling road shows, expos and tent sales.

Remember the experts on these discussion forums are sellers of hot tubs, it is in their interest to band together against the guys doing expos in their markets!!! They have a BIAS.

Expo events are taking millions of dollars out of these guys pockets and they are furious.

While the advice and recommendations from the hot tub guys on the forum discussion sites is almost completely useless the reality is the discussion forums can give you a wealth of information on what tubs are working reliably and which ones are failing in the field if you know how to look at the data instead of listening to the half truths, spin and marketing…

On the forums they say Hot Springs is great because the forum is full of hot springs dealers, Hot Springs is arguably the best at the branding, spin and hype so it makes sense that part of their strategy is to have their dealers be prevalent on the discussion forums. The same experts will say Master Spa who is the biggest guys doing Expos and tent sales in their backyards is crap because they are all pissed off at Master because they keep coming into their markets and taking millions of dollars out of their local markets so it’s all heavily biased self serving information…

Look at the real data…

I went to the first 10 pages of the two top forums and only looked at who is needing help fixing their broken spas… this is a true unbiased snapshot of what is working and what is falling apart…

Guess what !!!

The Watkins group (Hot Springs, Caldera, hot spot etc) is arguably the worst with a whopping 34% of the posts asking for help fixing these midgrade spas with all the fancy branding and marketing… The Jacuzzi arguably the next biggest culprit of supplying mid grade spas wrapped in gorgeous branding and advertising is the second worst with 21% of the broken spas. These numbers are wholly disproportionate with their market share these tubs are failing again and again.

Meanwhile, there are 0 customers with Master Spas, and around 2% for the other brands I recommend asking for help because their hot tubs are working reliably… Yet the experts on the discussion forums will tell you that Master Spas are poorly built crap and in the next breath say that Artesian and Marquis which are built much the same way with the same parts are good because those two companies are not taking millions out of their local markets…

It’s not hard to see what the truth is and what is just more of the same hype and bullshit that is prevalent in the world today…

Check out the raw data without the input of all these pissed off dealers…

Number of customers requesting help fixing their broken hot tubs

Data culled from:

11:45 est 11/08/17
12:25 est 11/08/17,21789.0.html

forum Data


  1. Chris – we are looking to purchase a hot tub for our home on the Outer Bank right on the water. Our contractor is suggesting a QCA tub that the local dealer tweeks to work well in salt environments. What do you think of QCA spas?

    • Hi, Michelle.

      Nothing against your contractor but I would not take advice on a specialized product like this from a general contractor, and almost always these “recommendations” have a referral fee attached to them, it’s not uncommon in fact it is the norm… I have 8 or 10 contractors that refer me business and I always throw them a referral fee, its an advertising expense… The fact that he is referring a brand like QCA and saying they tweak it for salt environments makes me roll my eyes… any of the top tubs are built to this standard already the fact that a dealer needs to tweak a brand to be able to operate in a salty environment speaks volumes about the original quality of the product.

      I had a look at the brand online and just from the surface there are issues. They are using an ABS plastic shell, these were all the rage 20 years ago they were supposed to be cheaper and reliable, they ended up just being cheaper but they had a lot of issues. they are not gluing and clamping plumbing instead they are using old internally glued fittings and again a less expensive insulation system.

      check out these guys they are the best in the area.

      Hot Tubs Inc
      Status HTU All-Star

      I spent 4 days with these guys and talked a lot about tubs, and customer care, these guys have the right attitude and as a HTU All-Star if you by from these guys and Gt Hot Tub University Approved on your original invoice you can always fall back on us if you have any issues that the dealer cant solve for you.
      Details from Google Maps
      1925 Norfolk Dr, Owings, MD 20736
      +1 410-257-6513
      3.7View in Google Maps
      38.68327, -76.63295

      • About ready to pull the plug and purchase!

        Just watched all of your videos and have a few questions?!

        Can you please answer the following questions/concerns?
        1. Floor model/show model/warehouse model
        They quote a different price for each …what are the disadvantages/advantages?
        2. Hydrolic lift vs. rock it lift?
        3. Clarity vs. healthy living?
        4. High end rotomould suggestions?
        5. Recommended dealer(s) in our area?
        6. Options after base price? What to add and/or stay away from…..I.e. ozinator and circulating pump
        7. Mostly used by 2 people/lounger

        Thanks for all of your knowledge and help!

        • Hi Patty

          1. Floor model/show model/warehouse model = why not often they have good prices and the stuff done to a demo spa is the same stuff you will do to yours in 6 months.
          2. Hydraulic lift vs. rock it lifts? stay away from hydraulic lifts, they are crap, they destroy your cover and are always lifting the center so you don’t get a good seal on the cover, try and get a simple top mount lift and try and get aluminum brackets, not the plastic ones, they are hard to find, let me know if you cant
          3. Clarity vs. Healthy Living? Clarity- roomy, great for really getting a lot of people in. open barrier-free seating. HL contoured seating good for tall people, smaller footwell better message (more high flow jets) other than that they are the same.
          4. High-end roto mould suggestions? rotomoulds are strong and reliable shells but typically they are lower end performance wise and a lot of them are simply cheap crap. I like Nordic and Getaway, getaway edges it out because they simply spend more on the insulation package.
          5. Recommended dealer(s) in our area?
          Hot Tub & Spa Emporium – Rocklin Store
          Status: HTU All-Star

          I met with these guys personally and have had many conversations with them. They carry Twilight, Healthy Living, Balance, Trainers, Nordic Spas which are brands we like.
          Details from Google Maps
          500, 6620, Lonetree Blvd, Rocklin, CA 95765

          +1 916-899-3242
          4.3View in Google Maps
          6. Options after base price? What to add and/or stay away from…..I.e. Ozonator and circulating pump… None, they come with everything you want.
          7. Mostly used by 2 people/lounger… up to you try one wet and see if you like the lounger, first-time buyers often buy loungers second time often don’t.

          Happy Hot Tubbing

      • Chris
        do you recommend all of the tubs they sell and also do you recommend any particular tub for a home sitting right on the ocean on the outer banks?

        thanks so much for your advice. My contractor is the first to tell me he has no clue just that the company he gave me is recommended alot in the area but he suggested i do my homework

  2. Hi, I love your site! we live in Smithfield, Virginia, 23430, and cannot locate a hot tub dealer that sells anything other than jacuzzi, sundance, etc.
    I searched for local dealers for Marquis, Artisian, Master, and cal spa with no success. We did look at the costco ones and after the video we are uncertain.
    The tub we are interested in is just for a family of 4, and would love something that can work on my neck.
    I don’t see much discussion on the number of pumps or jets, but the idea of more is better is stuck in my head!
    We had an old hot tub in the past with perhaps 12 jets and the computer panel crapped out. can you give us some guidance?
    Thank you!!!


    • Try these guys for a master and if you really want top neck and shoulder and massage in general look at the twilight.

      as for more pumps being better…not so much read this.

      Backyard Living
      Status: HTU All-Star

      I have personal met these guys a few times, they come highly recommended.
      Phone: 309-433-9047
      Details from Google Maps
      902 IAA Dr, Bloomington, IL 61701
      +1 309-433-9047
      View in Google Maps
      40.5017, -88.95481

  3. This is a great website. So much information out there and this helps to focus it all. But would still like some experienced opinion.

    I just had spinal surgery so I’m really looking for a spa that is focused on hydrotherapy. While my kids may use it, I really only want the jets for that focus. As I live north of Chicago, what I’ve been recommended from the retailer’s I’ve talked to is Sundance Optima, Lazboy Renew or Hydropool 720. What are your thoughts?

    • Hey David

      The hot water is one part and that can be good for the area but remember if you have inflammation in the area the hot water will aggravate it and increase the inflammation, you will want to be cautious to ice the area afterward if it’s inflamed. and definitely, need to consult with the doctor or surgeon with regards to when and for how long and what temp. DO NOT TAKE THE ADVICE OF A MEATHEAD HOT TUB SELF PROCLAIMED EXPERT (ME)…

      Similarly, the jet action needs to be highly controllable preferably a diverter valve and try and get a lot fo high flow jets.

      hydro pool and lazy boy are both made by hydro pool and Sundance was bought by jacuzzi, I don’t one for the crap parts and the other two for the old tech like self-cleaning nonsense and crap insulation.Backyard Living
      Status: HTU All-Star

      I have personally met these guys a few times, they come highly recommended.
      Phone: 309-433-9047
      Details from Google Maps
      902 IAA Dr, Bloomington, IL 61701
      +1 309-433-9047
      View in Google Maps
      40.5017, -88.95481

      • Appreciate the feedback and the note to the medical profession. I am fully cleared.

        I also found a Caldera and Marquis dealer that is further away bit willing to make the drive. Any thought on those plus the Master Spa that backyard living sells?

        • So you really need to look at the jetting and flow control when you are looking for the massage. the big expensive hi flow jets really make a longterm difference to muscle mobility. but when you get more than 5 or 6 of the big jets you really need flow control to be able to steal all the pump for the main seat.

          I’m like you… broken and sore and for me, the monster jets in the floor with the ability to put a big 6 hp pump onto them are my best friend esp for lower back and glutes.

          Both those spas will be reliable and well built but the Upper end of the Masters (twilight, LSX)will outperform the Marquis.

  4. Catherine Prince

    I am looking for a small hot tub, 5-6’ x 7’, that is best for deep tissue massage of the neck, shoulders, and back. Do you think Bullfrog’s A5L with a deep relief, neck blaster, and gyrossage jet pack will do the trick? Would like to stay under $10k. Thanks so much for all your great advice!

    • Performance wise the little neck jets don’t really do much I like to see some good mid flow jets (4) with the ability to divert a lot of fo water to them, neck, shoulders are a big mass and you need enough flow to really move that muscle mass to get good long-term improvement.

      all in all BF is a good spa but forget all the bullshit about higher flow rates, its a trick…. if all that pipe were in series (one long peice) then yes the reduction in the amount of pipe would make a difference to the efficiency and flow rate but its not… most of the pipe in in parallel (side by side) so the distance of the pipe from the motor to the jet is almost identical. I dislike the fact they are using duplicity and the reality is the jets packs offer zero improvements over the current model, no advantages at all and several disadvantages including a big restriction on where the jets can be located and 10x the price to customize the seats! if you buy a tub with mid and high flow jets you can change the jets for $30 instead of $700 for the stupid pack. I love real technological innovation that offers a real-world tangible benefit but in my opinion, this is fake innovation for a marketing ploy more than anything else. add to that the ABS plastic shell that is so weak they need to put pedestals under it to keep it from falling apart and it’s just not a brand I can get behind.

      • Catherine Prince

        Great insight…thanks so much. What hot tub would you recommend based on my size constraints 5-6’ x 7’ and my need for serious deep tissue massage of the neck, shoulders, and back? I saw a Marquis Spirit but the closest dealer is in Lakeland, Florida and I’m in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I also saw a Hot Springs Jetsetter NXT and that dealer is local.

  5. I live in salt lake city and it seems like we have every spa brand out there within a 30 min drive. I would like it to seat a minimum of 5 (we have three younger kids.) I liked features of both the Artic and Bullfrog spas but I was very skeptical of the sales reps and what they said. Then I found your website and Im sure glad I did! I want to get the best spa out there for my family and money isn’t an issue. From your site I have learned what brands to stay away from. Are there any dealers here you recommend I go to? What spa would you recommend for my family?

  6. I live in salt lake city and it seems like we have every spa brand out there within a 30 min drive. I would like it to seat a minimum of 5 (we have three younger kids.) I liked features of both the Artic and Bullfrog spas but I was very skeptical of the sales reps and what they said. Then I found your website and Im sure glad I did! I want to get the best spa out there for my family and money isn’t an issue. From your site I have learned what brands to stay away from. Are there any dealers here you recommend I go to? What spa would you recommend for my family?

    • you have a couple options in Salt Lake City there is an Artesian dealer down there they make a great hot tub good shells, good Plumbing, good insulation, and good parts. There are also three independent subcontractors that just repair hot tubs in don’t sell anything they just fix hot tubs and that’s always a good resource to have in an area too. It allows you the option of going outside of your local market.

      Status: Unverified

      No idea what is up with the dealer but the brand is solid Artesian is one my goto brands
      Details from Google Maps
      6905 State St, Midvale, UT 84047
      +1 801-838-7727

      • Hi. I am very close to buying now and have shortlisted between the Master Spa MIchael Phelps 7 and the Artesian Antigua. The sales men are putting on the pressure selling their own brands – especially the Artesian dealer pushing the helix jets. The price is around the same. Any thoughts between the two please?

        • Wow Lou good shopping you have identifir=ed two great spas that are very very close from a performance standpoint and a build standpoint.

          First forget the jet bullshit, they are the same, and for the most part so is everything else.

          But there is one big issue and last your \i would have warned you off both of these spas for it.

          Its the circ pump. its bad tech and I never ever recommend a circ pump system for a ton of reasons. last year both units came with a circ pump so neither brands were on my recommended list. This year you can order the Phelps with the hi-flow filter system and that makes it a no-brainer, the circ pumps are crap, its bad tech that marketing has made it sound like a good option but the failure rate and customer satisfaction levels are way-way better with high flow filter system. read this…

          • Ha ha – I got so close!! Both are 2017 stock clearance (so discounted) and both have circulation pumps. I thought I’d nailed it!!! Is this a real deal breaker would you say? Thanks again

    • Hey Richard, I live in West Haven (north of the SLC). My wife and I were also looking for some time at spas in the area, and felt a bit overwhelmed at the variety and availability of so many options…sometimes to many aren’t always a good thing. After some research, we knew we didn’t need fancy LEDs, a radio, or WiFi connection…those were all cool bragging rights, but for 2 tired parents w/ 2 wild little boys, they weren’t important. We went with the Healthy Living 5 person with a lounge, and thus far into it, love it. If you’ve got any simple questions, look me up on FB. Good huntings!

  7. Mark,

    Darn you and Master Spa! 🙂 That neck jet in the Twilight is no JOKE! It sold me in seconds. In case other people are interested, I liked Twilight more than Heathy Living for 2 reasons –

    1. Twilight’s neck jet seat (which was very important to me bc I get migraines from my neck) lets you sink in to the seat. I am 5’6 with a longer torso than legs and I LOVE that in both the 7.2 and the 8.2 I can relax in the seat and my feet hit the jets on the bottom. Even if those jets are off I can secure my feet down there so I don’t start sinking/floating up – a weird quirk of mine but something that I appreciate! Sometimes I wish there were handles to place your hands in to relax without that worry. 🙂

    2. Healthy Living’s seat with the neck jets is actually designed differently. I am glad I decided to sit in the empty HL and not just assume it would have been like the Twilight. The contour of the seat is very different and I couldn’t sink low enough in it for the jets to hit me in the same spot as the Twilight. It is also less comfortable IMHO. However, the neck jets were SOOO superior to anything else, I would have purchased the HL if my DH said no to the price tag of the Twilight.

    I believe I got a good deal on a 2018 Twilight 8.2 at $9,800 and change before taxes. This include the cover, steps, cover lifter and delivery/setup. We added on the WiFi package at $300 extra as well. I had to choose from in stock options (lucky me the option I wanted was available) and I was given an Expo price because they just came back from the expo, but then they took over $1,000 off that price. I am sharing this price so others can benefit from knowing what they can haggle on. Also, Mark if you are every comparing the HL and Twilight feel free to use my thoughts.

    Also, DO due diligence on ALL Hot tub places people. I went to a dealer specifically bc they had Marquis. I had already tried out a Bullfrog (which was nice) but the Marquis dealer has less stuff “included” for $2,000 MORE on the exact same Bullfrog as a smaller shop that I visited two days before.

    • Hello, was the $9,800 Canadian or US? I’m trying to get a baseline of what I should expect to pay for a Twilight 7.2. My wife really wants a tub with neck jets.


      • Hey Jae

        that was USD down in Georgia

      • Yep Jae, It was US dollars in GA but it was a discount bc of a floor model from a recent EXPO. The paper they had showed this tub at $13,000 normally before expo discounts. Honestly I am not sure if it was a good price or not anymore bc Mark hasn’t responded to it but I am happy with the price in comparison with what I’ve seen elsewhere and with other brands. Also, I was impressed with the place that i bought it at. That is just as important because they will be the ones honoring the warranty.

  8. Hi there . We are in St Johns NL canada and are trying to find a good dealer for tubs out this way. We have looked at a few spots and seems like the selection we have is Beachcomber …..arctic spas…bullfrog and hydro pool. There is also a small selection of marquis spas even a 435 on sale right now. We are looking into mid range with not to many bells and whistles

    • jesus that’s 2 from the rock today 🙂

      the beachcomber or marquis, but stay away from the beachcomber Hybrid.. they will try and upsell you but its bad tech stay with leep.

      • Three from the rock! Hot tubs pro in Mount Pearl, NL have the beachcombers. I was about to buy the hybrid based on monthly operation costs, but after seeing the comments on here it makes me think twice. The guys I know with the hybrids all tell me their power bills and they are half of those who I know without a hybrid so there is something there causing the difference. Size and specs seem similar. Will have to investigate more.

        • The likely reason for the better efficiency is BC uses the full foam Icynene insulation, the other guys have partial foam perimiter or mylar or it could be down to usage. With the hybrid option, you lose the ability to reclaim the motor heat and the equipment is at risk in power outages very quickly.

  9. Hey Chris,

    I am wondering what you think of Bullfrog. I really like their X line, we have a limited budget are they seem to be made well. Thoughts?

    • I should add that I did a wet test and love the neck jets. The only other tubs I’ve seen with neck jets is the Four Winds Brand. I hold a lot of tension in the top of my neck and appreciate those jets. We looked at almost every brand today except Master (sorry).

      • the Dynasty and the Twilight have the best neck jets out there, good mid flow jets that are interchangeable and have loads of flow. Unfortunately, I could not with all good conscience recommend the dynasty, the one I reviewed wasn’t exactly stellar.

        The problem with most neck jets is they are the little low flow jets and they just do not move enough water to really work well.

    • Middle of the road.

      I like the parts list and the insulation but don’t like ABS shells. these shells need to be supported with props and pedestals to keep them from breaking, I want a good hand rolled fibreglass shell.

      • Thanks! I didn’t realize bullfrog had ABS shells. Shows what happens when you get to the end of the day when looking. I have been meaning to stay away from those shells. I’m heading out to a Master Spa dealer (hopefully tomorrow). You are getting me excited about the idea of the twilight series. I just hope It’s in my price range.
        Did you have any thoughts on Four Winds? I double checked and their spas are acrylic.

        Thanks again for your help!

  10. Sorry to piggy back onto this blog stream:

    But, starting to look at hot tubs in Columbia, MO

    we are 2 hours drive from St Louis and Kansas city, MO

    local options: dealer 1: Sundance and Caldera
    dealer 2: marquis, Jacuzzi, Nordic
    dealer3: Hot springs
    dealer 4: catalina
    dealer 5: Passion spas

    of course , the 2 hour drive is not insurmountable either

    This would be for a family of 4 with 2 teenage boys ( and their friends); so several people. Looking at one that holds at least 6 people.

    Also, would like to buy as good a quality as possible; ie, would like to buy right/best to start with.

    any help would be appreciated

    also about 30 miles away is a dealer with Master spas

    thx , mark

    • Hey mark

      No worries dude welcome!

      So let’s reform your list…

      (Sundance, Jacuzzi) (Caldera, Hot Springs) these are the same companies and the problem I have with both companies and all four brands are two things.

      1. These corporate meatheads are so smart that they figured out the most profitable business model for a hot tub company. In fact, if this was a blog about investing in the hot tub industry these guys would be my number one superstar pick! it’s funny what perspective does though because as an end user these are mid grade spas that cost twice as much as they should because of the money spent convincing people that they are great saps!
      2. Part of the profit model is to make goofy parts that just fit their hot tubs instead of spending the money on good readily available top end parts. This does two things for them. It lowers the cost of producing the product, and it lets them fix the price for parts at whatever they want to charge because you cant get the part anywhere but through them, and the parts are nowhere near as reliable as the good OEM stuff.

      I would personally never put myself in a position of having one source for parts. If you stick with the top OEM brands Like Balboa, Waterways, and even CMP then you will have better reliability and if you ever have an issue you will have lots of competitive places to buy the parts.

      Marquis has good parts good construction and is on my good guy list. curious where did you find marquis, I did a search of the area for you and only found a Master dealer and the other ones you mentioned. send me the details so I can update my database

      Nordic only does entry-level roto mould shells but the build a good entry level spa, the only thing keeping them out of my top list is the insulation which is a combo of old school down and dirty poly foam 3/4″ or so on the shell and some weird fibre batton stuff hanging inside the skirt.

      Passion spas. No idea, I have never heard of them but it’s very rare that these little regional guys build to the right standard, they do not do enough turnover to afford to innovate or indeed to implement innovation when it comes down the pipe.

      So that would leave me with the Marquis or there is a Master dealer here:

      Above & Beyond

      Details from Google Maps
      203 Armour Rd, North Kansas City, MO 64116
      +1 816-421-4011
      4.3View in Google Maps

  11. Any thoughts on the Max 471 unit? We are looking into Master/ Max hot tubs but not sure if the bells and whistles of steel frame, etc, are an up-sale or if there is something comparable in a different brand that has a solid dependability track record. Looking to stay in the 8k to 10k range. Needing a tub that has shoulder jets and a good set up for back relief. We are in Atlanta and are looking for a solid dealer that has a good service record. Are there any recommendations on either dealers or brands?

    • Hey Ken

      The low R-value cheap batton style insulation on the Maxx would right away make it a no-go for me. This trend of trying to fool people into believing that a big air gap is an insulation is bonkers… insulation is all about cutting the air up into pockets so that the heat transfer is slowed dramatically. the pitch about trapping the heat in there is also bonkers because you do not need that big empty area to reclaim the motor waste heat, you should spend the money to fill the area, get a great r value then reclaim the heat through the ozone system which all spas do anyway…

      these are not much I like you, you have three master dealers about 200 miles away and there are 2 local independent service guys there. In areas like this where you have resources on the ground, you can buy out of the area and if the dealer is good at communication it can be a good scenario.

      • Thanks for all the great info. I have been trying to locate a dealer and service organization to purchase and warranty a Master (would also consider Marquis) hot tub in the Wilmington, NC area. No luck so far (just B.S.).

        Can you recommend anyone?

  12. Hello…Hot Tub shopping this weekend in the Dallas area after researching and reading your insight and wanted to get your thoughts on Marquis Vector 21 v94 at versus Artesian Grand Cayman at from their Island series. Both brands seem to be high on your list, but was quoted about 1500 dollars higher for the Marquis and wanted to get your thoughts on the two (or possibly, is there another Artesian in a different line more comparable)?

    • So first off both these brands deserve your business they build good spas and are comparable performance wise.

      If you want to split hairs I would veer away from the vector 21 only because of the goofy parts which could be an issue to source down the road. they also renamed everything to confuse people but there does not seem to be any real innovation or anything dramatically different than current tech except the look…

      • Hello

        I am reading your advice from the UK where we seem to have less resources for information so thank you. I am researching a spa purchase mainly for therapeutic reasons and have so far looked at Coast, Artesian and am visiting a Marquis dealer shortly. Are there any particular models that you would recommend please and am I right in thinking that you would steer towards the second two over Coast?

        Thank you

        • Def the Artesian or marquis over the coast. model wise comes down to what you want to use the spa for, talk tot he local sales guys. generally more of the big jets means more expensive and better perfromance.

          • Thank you. I have also found a Master Spa Evolution 1 and Michael Phelps 7 at a great price via a dealer who look pretty decent (I’ve watched your video about choosing a good dealer). Would you rate Master over Artesian and Marquis please or equally? Thanks again, your website has really helped me with this purchase.

    • Chris your information is great! I’m in Southern CA a little south east of L.A. I found a Marquis Broadway that I really like but I have no idea if the price quoted was good or not. Since none of the retailers will tell us prices without our giving out our email addresses, how do we know even what the MSRP is?
      The dealer is asking $5200. Delivery includes set up, a cover and start up chemicals for an additional $500.
      P.S. Hope your wife is feeling better

      • Price seems good. I like the brand did you see that at Coastal Spa and Patio Store?

        look at the Nordic here as well.

        Spa Tek
        Status: Unverified

        We know nothing about these guys but for entry level spas the Nordic brand is on our good guy list.

        Nordic does entry level well made spas.
        Details from Google Maps
        21401 Budlong Ave, Torrance, CA 90502
        +1 310-539-7727
        5.0View in Google Maps

        • Actually I was at Spa Max (AKA Rick’s Pool and Spa) in Corona. I really liked their no pressure approach! I asked lots of questions as I read your website on my iPad and their answers agreed with yours.
          Looked at the Nordics online. Their jet patterns don’t look like they would help my fibromyalgia & arthritis issues as well. The Broadway hits the back and legs, my worst spots!
          Also, what is it with round hot tubs? The jets are boring and it looks like I would be sitting in a bubble bowl!
          BTW, while at Spa Max, I tried sitting in a tub in a lounge position and the Broadway in the Adirondack seat and the lounge got uncomfortable real quick. Of course it was without water but still.
          Thanks for making me feel more secure in my decision!

  13. Hi,
    Thank you for the reviews and the useful information.
    We’re a family of five and we’re looking to buy a spa.
    I’m hesitating between the Grand Bahama 33 jets (Artesian Spa) and the HL-8 by Master Spa.
    Could you please advise what are the main differences between the two Spas and which one is better?

    Thank you!

    • So from a build standpoint, they are even.

      Performance wise the Grand Bahama is higher than the Healthy living and slightly lower than the Twilight spa which is the next line up from healthy living.

      • Not sure how to start a post so hope you see this. First, thank you for your wealth of info it’s been hugely helpful. After all the reading, I’m leaning towards a marquis elite hot tub for a mix of leisure and therapy. Two questions. First the dealer iclosest to our home in Michigan city in is the hot tub company in Mishawaka. Do you have any knowledge of them? Second, what’s your opinion of the Microsilk feature? My daughter has psoriasis and wondering if it’s worth it. Thank you so much!!

        • Hi Patricia!

          Good tub but I would not bother with the micro silk.

          for Psoriasis use aqua finesse, i swear they use in right out of the bottle for eczema

  14. Thank you very much for your site its been a huge help to sort through all the bull shit. I live in Edmonton AB and am looking at a sundance spa the maxxus 850. Just curious what your thoughts are on it.

    • Hi Myles

      Man Edmonton is just been busy as hell this week, you are the third guy I spoke to there.

      I’ll be honest there are just no brands in my top tier there, no Marquis, or Artesian or twilights, or masters. the best bet is beachcomber locally but man those guys are nuts on the price and the performance only goes ot the mid-upper level on my scale.

      I did a bunch of digging and spoke to three local companies and th a big sale comes through and these local independent service companies have sprung up to handle the delivery and on the ground, parts swapping and repairs.

      We are seeing this in some areas where state fairs, big tent sales and expo type events happen a lot and it can be a good thing for you the end user because these independents do one thing only… fix hot tubs and they are usually better than most retailers 🙂

  15. Thank you for this site, it has been a great resource in looking for our first hot tub. We are looking at the Marquis e-Series 435 tub. I choose this brand based on some of the information I found on the site. There are a couple concerns I was hoping you address.

    1. Did I read correctly you recommend Marquis?
    2. Is blown in insulation a good thing or bad thing? Seems like it offers the most insulation but does it affect the maintainability of the tub?
    3. The base isn’t wrapped. Appears it sits on a flat plastic shell but the painted wood is exposed. The one sample tub had a couple small bare spots. The sales guy said we have to move to Signature line for the fully covered plastic shell, we would rather be in the price point of the e-Series. Seems that over time it could absorb moisture. My tub will be install on a deck so there shouldn’t be standing water. Not sure if this is a valid concern or not.
    4. The other tub we are considering is Master Twilight TS6.2, are Master and Marquis tubs on the same level?
    5. Also the website states it has 1 pump but the sales guys said it would have 2, I’ll have to double check

    • Hi Greg.

      both brands are built very similarly.

      the master beast it out at the higher end of the Twilight line but in the mid-end stuff, it’s very similar.

      I toured the Master Factory and they opened their whole operation up so we could verify what they are doing but the Marquis guys won’t let me in which always makes me wonder what they are hiding 🙂

      That is absolutely the most expensive and best insulation method and does not affect the maintenance issues because it is a special expensive foam that does not harden.

    • Hi there, I am looking for advice on a swim spa purchase. The Master Spa dealer in my area had a questionable show room. the water in the wet test Michael Phelps pool was less than inviting. I ruled them out because I want to try before I buy. That said, my top pick is the endless pool swim cross, I trust and like the dealer. Plus their shop is top notch. I also like the Hydropool Aqua trainer. Facility and dealer are acceptable. Can you give me some guidance, what else should i look at? Im trying to keep your “component”quote in mind, but I’m struggling. Let me just throw this out there… Thermospa ? I think I know better. Help please!

      • Hi Sue

        I had a look around the area.

        Hydropool I would not have on my short list, good parts but a thin cradle supported shell and the insulation is the cheapest available. man stay away from radiant insulation systems there is a good reason why this stuff is not used in regulated industries like primary insulation in construction…

        Not thermospas, Endless pool is good but was just bought by Hot Springs Watkins group so that puts a lot of unknowns out there, and the reality is the Phelps 60″ deep swimmer is just so far ahead of anything out there for build quality, water flow, programmability for interval training that if you are going to spend the money its the best out there by a mile. that whole Phelps thing wasn’t just a paid endorsement. It really was in the true sense of the word a collaboration to build a swim spa good enough to be of value to competitive swimmers. they did hours and hours of training and modifying with Phelps and Bob Bowman and that swimmer is truly in a call of its own.

        I get that seeing a dirty spa can put you off but 2 things… 1. if you run a retail store at some point your display spa will be cloudy the water off. I’ve had a group of people come swim in my swimmer and right after they are out its a mess for half a day while it cleans up because they were covered in sunscreen and lotions and wore t-shirts full of soap from the laundry… I know Ryan the owner of Aquahaven and they usually do a great job but they are also busy out fo market with fairs and stuff. Ryan said they are going to have a Phelps set up to swim in in the next week or so.

  16. Hey! I am looking at a couple of different models in the Jacksonville Fl area. 1.)Bahama Spa’s twin Palms, 2.) Catalina Spa CL360, 3.)SouthSeas 519 P, 4.)Vita Spa Joli. Really didn’t want to put a huge amount into a spa, but really want quality. Just wanted to see if you might have any suggestions on these 4 tubs. We owned a Vita Joli along time ago and enjoyed it, but it conveyed with the house when we last moved. Thank you for your time! -Lisa

    • Hi Lisa.

      a sick wife, busy week here is the short of it 🙂

      the only brand i like there is these guys :

      Splash Pools and Spas
      Status: Unverified

      Artesian is a good brand but we don’t know the dealer and have not reviewed them.
      Details from Google Maps
      8030 Philips Hwy, Jacksonville, FL 32256
      +1 904-737-9999
      3.7View in Google Maps

      But you have 3 local service guys, these independents mean you can buy any tub with a good compliant parts list and likely have a good service level.

  17. Thoughts on South Seas Spas?

    • not on my good guy list dude, mid grade.

      see these guys:

      Cedar Works Spa & Sauna
      Status: Unverified
      Brand: Marquis

      We don’t know these guys but they carry marquis wich is a good spa.
      Details from Google Maps
      4065 W 11th Ave #16, Eugene, OR 97402
      +1 541-485-6800
      4.3View in Google Maps

  18. I don’t normally comment on blogs (Bs- Lots-Of-Garbage) but I am breaking the mold here. I’ve owned a Jacuzzi and a Master Twilight. The Master was disaster. Couldn’t get service, warranty requests were ignored, two pumps and SIX service call to get the thing to function. THIS IS FROM DAY ONE. It took four and a half months to even get the thing to work. My call were not returned, my emails went unanswered. ONLY after I involved the BBB did I get any response at all. I’m in the market for a new hot tub and Master will get no consideration at all.

    • You know its funny.

      I always say a great brand with a crap dealer is worse than a mid-grade brand with a good dealer.

      It sounds like all of your issues here were dealer related… no reason any new spa of any brand cant be fixed or replaced in a week.

      what was it that was wrong?

  19. Chris, my wife and I have been looking at Twilight, Bullfrog and Marquis. A 4-5 person w/ a lounger, and a bit deeper than usual, I’m comming in at 6’6”. Any other recommendations for trusted dealers or brands? We are in the Ogden, Utah area….it can get cold as balls in the winter! Thanks boss!

    • Hey Nate.

      The Twilight or the Marquis for sure out of that lot. the Bullfrog has a thin ABS plastic shell with pedestal supports to keep it together and the other 2 brands have hand-rolled fibreglass self-supported hulls… Miles better and more expensive to build.

      The advantage of the Twilight is there is better jetting, and the twin diverters mean you can divert a whole 6 Hp pump tot he main captains seat and the same with the other pump to the foot monster jets. check out this video I shot of my Twilight.

  20. You have convinced me to buy the Master Spa. What is my choice in Greenwood SC area? Can I buy one from a dealer 2 hours away and have it serviced by a local person?

  21. Hi – what can you tell me about Mira and Clearwater Brand Hot Tubs – I can;t find anything on Mira at all. Thank you!

    • Hi Jacey

      Never heard of Mira so I did some digging. it uses a good parts list but I hate those ABS plastic shells with the polyurethane backings, cheap to build but not strong enough to support its own weight, they usually have to put props and supports under the shell to keep it from breaking. I want a good hand rolled self-supporting shell. And some goofy green tech insulation they allude to… likely radiant or cheap batton insulation.

      funny enough I just looked at the other one and Clearwater is doing the same kind of pedestal supported shell and radiant barrier insulation.

      I cant recommend either of these.

      I looked at at least 20 places around Philly and NJ and i see all the usual suspects but only 2 gems…

      -Click the square on the upper right corner of the map to view larger map
      -zoom in on the map to your area
      -click on the markers I dropped and read the info I put in
      – You can toggle on if you are looking for just service, or just a good brand or a Hot Tub University approved Retailer which means we know these guys and they are doing good work, we stand behind them by offering our help if you ever buy from one of our endorsed dealers and you need help. It’s a new system I’m trying out!

      • Fred J McCullough

        Chris, OK, going to try the Reply function. Not sure how to get in the Q & A queue. I have 20 year old Hot Springs, Soveriegn. After about $ 2,000 in various repairs (not counting covers), but jet and circulation pumps, pump shafts continually failing and leaking……..time to get a new Tub. Went through this Great site in depth. So……desire a 4 person. Not keen on stereos, bells, whistles, etc. Three big Rochester dealers carry; Hot Springs, Bullfrog, Fantasy, Hot Spots, Innova, Viking, MAAX (?) Vita, Dream Maker, Jacuzzi. I get the impression you are not impressed. Dealer (Colley’s) in Buffalo has Marquis and so I;m looking at Broadway, E-435, E-425? It will be Outdoors and I do have 240 – 30 amp at the site. Thoughts? Thank-you

        • Hey Fred.

          Sorry about the crap interface I am not a computer guy and I made this mess myself, I have a guy fixing it and making it a bit more friendly 🙂

          That Hot Springs would have goofy power to the site, it would have had 2 lines a 30 and a 20 (I think)

          The problem is you need a 50 amp for every other tub on the planet… Talk to a sparky and see if they can put the 30 and the 20 back together in a pony panel and then run a 50amp GFI from the pony tot he tub…

          I’m not impressed with the choices If we can get you to a good parts list and away from the goofy proprietary parts it would be good. The ones that do have good parts in that list have other issues like ABS pedestal supported shells or cheap batton style or reflective foil insulation… I always try and at least get the 4 main things in a tub.

          I went through like 30 places from Buffalo to Syracuse and there is just not any brands I would buy or sell. I guess if I had to it would be a Cal Spa from these guys. I toured the Cal Factory this month and while they are not in my tier one group, they really seem to be making strides towards a better customer care and quality control process, we declined to put them in my tier one group but if they can reduce their skews (they have a bizarrely high number of spas for their volume) and clean up the back end they might become a player again.

          Hearth & Homes, USA
          Details from Google Maps
          9844 River Rd, Utica, NY 13502

          +1 315-798-8887

      • Hi Chris, I’m also going to try the Reply function. First off Thanks for all the great information This Sight Rocks! I’m a first time buyer and do not know much about what to look for. I’m located in the Greensboro NC Area and there is not a lot to choose from. Is the Vita Spa Monarque 500 a good option? Thanks

        • Hey Nick

          I’m on the beach so I’m gonna make this quick, i need some R&R 🙂

          Vita is not a brand i would carry buy or sell :-0 You really want at a minimum the big 4 things and they fall down on two of them. I also hate those old school floor domes! omg we got rid of those in the 90’s because you trip on the damn things all the time, you bleed tons of heat through the floor because you have the hot water running under the foot well and the damn jets are useless for feet anyway… the only way those tough old feet of yours are going to get and real massage is with a dedicated 10″ monster jet with ta diverter system to allow a whole pump to power it up.

          Man i must have gone through 40 stores in your area and beyond and there is very little out there try these guys

          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…

          7963 Fayetteville Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603

          +1 919-772-7745

    • Hi – I am looking for a hot tub in the Mahopac NY area. This is my 1st hot tub. I am looking to spend between 5-8k after realizing that 5k may not provide a decent hot tub. I would like to hear you recommendations. I think your go to brand master spa might not offer an option in my price range. What do you think about Coast Spa with an option to fully insulate? I was thinking of the element. What do you think about a lounge seat? Does it take to much room and not usually get utilized or is it more a personal preference? What do you think about pre owned hot tubs offered by dealers? Would that allow to get a higher end tub in my budget or cause concern about misuse or defects?Also are there better times to buy or promotions and is there is significant difference in prices between dealers? I will be mostly be using the hot tub. My wife will use occasionally and I have 2 small kids who will eventually use it. I would probably like to entertain once in a while as well. I appreciate your thoughts.

      • The lounge seats are funny first time buyers buy them second time don’t, they take up a lot of room and the reality is you are floating… things like loungers and countoured chairs matter very little in a water environment.

        coast with full foam is a not a nightmare, they are not in my recommended brands but certainly better than a Hot Springs Jacuzzi type set up with all the goofy parts lists.

        There is a dealer for Master about 76 km away im not sure if they service your area but they should have somthing in the price range.

        East Coast Spas Inc.
        1424 Easton Road, Suite 300, Horsham, PA, 19040
        Phone: 732-823-8606
        Your local Master Spas dealer is 76.2 miles away.
        Dealer match type: assigned zip
        From Database: masterspas

        • Do you recommend beachcomer? I cant seem to find a dealer of Master Spa in Kingston Ontario….do you know closest dealer? I also heard coast spa covers leak and you get a ice dam out front of your spa. Any truth about this? Enjoy your vacation…i am in Mexico myself currently where I spend winters. Since i only need a spa between April and November, should I consider a plug and play model?

          • I Like beachcomber from the build quality standpoint if you stay away from the Hybrid models, but performance wise they really only build up to the mid-upper end for massage.

            For that usage time a plug is fine if you don’t care about the massage end that much, you just can’t flow enough water on a 110v system for the hi flow therapy jets.

            Kingston I know well, I grew up in southern Ontario and have friends there.

            In the are you have Maxx, Hydropool, Sundance all brands I would not have on my floor for one reason or another.

            There are two local pool shops that do service for hot tubs, likely because the expo is there a lot usually this generates a pretty robust independent service industry and that can be a good thing if they are on the ball.

          • Thanks for the Follow-up Chris. I am also from Southern Ontario…(St. Catharines…Niagara Falls area…Pelham actually). Been in Kingston for 33 years now.

            You indicated that you are not a fan of the Beachcomber hybrid units. Can you tell me why that is?

            For a 110 V plug and play tub whom would you recommend in my area. Coast spa seems to have units but I don’t see beachcomber having any.

          • Beachcomber hybrid is old tech and I would order it without this “Upgrade” its bad science… pumping all your water outside of the insulation envelope makes zero sense and you lose the ability to reclaim the motor waste heat and you have a higher risk of fast freeze up equipment damage in power outages… All this downside so you can stuff a little more insulation in an area that already has 3-4x more insulation than 80% of the hot tub! and they are out to lunch on pricing. read this review.

            110v means very limited usage in the winter for you there. these 110v heaters cant keep up with the heat loss, on a cold day you only get 10 to 15 mins on the best ones before its not a hot tub anymore.

    • Hi Chris, I live in a small town. 2 main options are Clearwater or West Coast Spas. I need an inexpensive durable hot tub for my over night rental. I don’t need all the bells and whistles that renters can end up breaking. I’m looking for basic, no nonsense, easy to maintain. Do you prefer one company over the other? The basic one from Clearwater I’m looking at is ES93L apx $7,500 and the basic one I’m looking at from West Coast is Salinas apx $5,500. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

      • Hey JP

        I’m on the beach for a week of R&R so I’m gonna keep this short the 9 am daily special rum drink is calling from the pool bar :-0

        For you the parts are key, rental units take a bashing, also look at going to a rotomould shell… safer for slip and falls as its textured and always looks clean and its indestructible… for rental its perfect.

        I look around the area and there is not much to cheer about out there, but you do have a good local guy who does service for all brands.

        I’m not over the moon with either brand but the salinas would be the better of the two.

  22. You guys have been soooo helpful! Thanks to you I have narrowed it down to two…
    Marquis Epic
    Master Twilight 8.2

    Is there an obvious choice in your opinion?
    PS. One is much less expensive than the other but I want the BEST option!

  23. We live in the Jacksonville, FL area and are in the market for a 6 person hot tub. We have looked at a Dr Wellness and a South Seas, but I am now doing my research before purchasing ANY! I felt like I have heard a few sales gimmicks since shopping…

    I am blown away at the negative reviews online about hot tubs in general. This has been more difficult than any purchase I have made for my new house thus far!

    What brands would you recommend in our area?

    • This negative review culture is sickening… Review sites are worse than useless because everyone abuses them…

      These guys carry a bizarre mix of brands which is always a bit worrying esp when they have these goofy parts brands like Hot Springs and Caldera… service nightmare but if they are a big player they might have it dialed in and they do say they carry Marquis which is the only one there I would look at.

      that’s all I see…

      There is a Master Dealer in the south and there is an independent guy there doing service called so you might work out something there.

      • Why is it that I can find little to no in depth information online about the major hot tub brands?

        Price comparisons ….No

        Technical specifications …No

        Quality of construction,components…..No

        Give us your name and number for more info……Yes Yes Yes.

        • Hi Steve.

          No one want you to have that info… you should see the massive pressure I am getting from brands out there asking me to go away LMFAO!!!

          The pricks want you dazed and confused because when it comes down to sales guys instead of product quality, spin and branding instead of real science, and half-truths and lies instead of reliability.

          Price is a different kettle of fish… it changes dramatically regionally because of distance from the factory, local costs like rent and taxes, the volume of sales and quality of after support…

          That’s what this site was all about… cutting through the bullshit and looking at the real science behind the spin and marketing… I’m so fed up with all the bullshit!!!

      • Awesome, thanks for the info! We had planned to go to Unique to look at their Marquis options after some online research yesterday. We were thinking of looking at the SouthSeas too which is made by Artesian, but I’m assuming, since you did not mention that, you aren’t a fan of them either.

      • Awesome, thanks for the info! We had planned to go to Unique to look at their Marquis options after some online research yesterday.

        We were thinking of looking at the SouthSeas too which is made by Artesian, but I’m assuming, since you did not mention that, maybe you aren’t a fan of them? What are your thoughts?

  24. Hello! We are in southern NH. We are looking for an outdoor luxury hot tub that seats 7-9. The extra room or seat is hard to find. We want something large for entertaining, therapeutic and the only brand we saw that fit the mold was Coast. But I’ve read the filtration process/stress runs high of used daily. And the cost of replacement will have you pocket shocked. We also want something that won’t blow you around the tub because there’s no foot leverage on the base like a Bullfrog for instance. Any suggestions?

    • Hey Pete.

      Coast is a mixed bag, the jetting on that tub is middle of the road, there are only 5 of the expensive hi flow therapy jets and a few mid flow and loads of the inexpensive low flow jets.

      I do not like the pressure side filtration, its old technology being recycled. 90% of the industry abandoned this tech 20 years ago to move over to suction side filtration.

      check out the M{legends or the therappol from these guys.

      Crocker Sales Co. Inc. (nh)
      672 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, NH, 03054
      Phone: 603-423-9777

  25. These are the dealers in the area of Breck. I know a Bullfrog A7L can fit. I was also looking at a Caldera Geneva. There are not a lot of reviews save Heavenly. I plan to buy the hot tub over the Memorial Day sales. Can you give me a little guidance. I just have no clue about the dealers. I also don’t know much about the dealers. From what I have read on your site Caldera is the best brand avail followed by probably Bull Frog. I was hoping for a Marquis, but the closet dealer is in Boulder.

    Heavenly Times Hot Tubs & Billiards – Artic
    Maximum Comfort Pool & Spa – Hot Spring
    Affordable Mountain Hot Tubs – Jacuzzi
    The Hot Tub Company – Caldera
    Rocky Mountain Hot Tub Company – Bullfrog

    • In that mix it would be the Bullfrog I guess, but I really hate that ABS pedistal supported shells… Caldera is part of hot springs and not on my recommended list but sometimes in my old age, I get the name confused with Marquis, none of those brands are my tier one 🙂

      Dude, I met this guy last week, he is opening up all over Texas and he is knocking it out of the park down there.

      He sells master.

      Primo Hot Tub & Swim Spas
      22315 Gosling Road, Spring , TX , 77389
      Phone: 281-466-2618

  26. Looking to purchase new spa in Baltimore MD area. Currently looking at Master Spa, Bull Frog and Hot Spring spas. I like the Master Spa but when I look at the BBB for the local dealer, it looks very disappointing. The Hot Spring dealer has great reputation and BBB rating. Bull Frog – I like the jet packs but the pricing is high to get the tub I want . Seems like every time I find the perfect tub, I find reviews, BBB or another vendor shooting down the Spa. Whats your thoughts?

    • Hey Don

      Its a nightmare out there.

      Ya know I always say a great dealer with a mid grade brand like Hot Springs is better than a great brand with a crap dealer. That being said I don’t usually put much merit in rating and review sites, although the BBB is one of the more reliable… The problem is they can be heavily influenced with no basis in reality. I think from the reviews i read this dealer does a lot of expo shows in remote areas, these things typically generate a lot of grief because they are selling into a remote market, but in the local market they may be fine.

      product wise, Hot Springs is a goofy one, lots of goofy proprietary parts and they are the number one brand on all the discussion forums for people with broken spas looking for help… a whopping 34% of all the requests from owners looking for help fixing broken hot tubs are the Hot springs group of companies… These things are very well branded and marketed but they use a cheap proprietary parts list and the only people who can get the parts or do most service are their dealers… so you really need a great dealer, and the tub will not be as reliable as a brand using Balboa control and heating systems.

      The bullfrog is the opposite, good parts, and they glue and clamp the plumbing but that ABS plastic shell is a deal breaker, and they are under powered and mid performance.

      There is no two ways about it the master is the best spa of the three esp if you want high end therapy massage and are looking at Twilight, the jetting on the spa and the pressure in the main captains seat and the floor jets will absolutely blow those other brands away. The HL line will compare nicely to the other two.

      Last thing, you have the fall back of me, with either the bullfrog or the Master we can help you, because they are industry standard parts and systems, I’m great with communication and can get you info and help if your dealer shits the bed, just drop me a line and I’ll wack them with my big stick and they will step into line.

      • I’ve read all you info. on hot tubs and decided on the Master Spa 8.2. Thanks sincerely for your help. I can”t seem to find a reputable dealer in the Wilmington, NC area for Master Spa (I found a Bullfrog dealer, but the shell material is a no-go). Can you recommend one?

        • Hey Dennis

          Order with no circ pump.

          I’ll see what I can do I have a guy that has a guy that might be able to help you 🙂

          I’ll make some calls to the pool companies down there and see what I can find as well.

          • THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

          • Sorry to bug you, but have you had any luck finding a source for Master Spa tubs in Wilmington, NC? I guess if I can’t find a Master Spa I should consider an Artesian or a Marquis. They don’t seem to be represented in Wilmington either. I’m flummoxed, anything you can do to point me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

  27. Jenny Lorenz-Rudkin

    Hello from Central Missouri. We would like to purchase a 6-7 person tub. Although it was at a dealer (not Costco), we recently looked at a Strong Spa and we were extremely excited about the “shoulder top jets” (my husband has rotator cuff issues) as well as the fold-away steps and towel storage. Another great feature we really liked was the hard life-time warranty cover because we had heard of so many issues with the soft covers molding, cracking etc. We also like the fact that half of the cover folds in each direction rather than the whole cover creating “a wall” on the side of the tub. I saw your video on Strong Spa though and it sounds like you aren’t that enchanted with them. So, knowing the features that caught our attention, is there a brand you would recommend that maybe has any of the Strong Spa features I mentioned?

    Thank You for your expertise! 🙂

    • Hi Jenny!

      Good job. so few people come out of shopping with good info.

      I love the reverse molded neck jets there are a lot of brands that have these but they need to be the mid flow jets the small ones cant do enough for the deep muscle you need t move a ton of water, there are a couple spas out there that have the good mid flow jetting in the shoulder seat and a few even have diverters so you can really hammer the water to that chair. the reality is you need to move a pile of water through the shoulder jets to make any long term difference.

      The fold away steps are cool, but that means there is no insulation in that whole area, and once you open the spa you will never fold them away.

      The tub also has very little insulation… just an inch or two so the=at simply means heat loss, there are no magic bullets out there, every tub reuses motor heat no by the same method, it gets injected into the tub through the air intakes and o=zone system when the pump is running, and when the pump is not running then there is no heat being generated to fill that cavity and now you are loosing heat like mad because there is no insulation… you don’t need that massive air space to reclaim motor waste heat its just a cheap way to insulate a spa…

      I do like the hard top cover but its does not offset the bad, the reality is good cover will go 5 years and with a few tricks you can get out to 7 years, and they are a lot lighter.

      I went through every single retailer in the area and there are not a lot of great choices near you.

      But go 30 or 40 miles out and there are a few good choices.

      Frankly if your goal is therapy and esp shoulder massage you need ot check out the Twilight series spas they are really in a class of their own.

      Master Spa is carried by these guys:
      Pools Unlimited Llc
      534 Enterprise Drive, Jefferson Ctiy , MO, 65109
      Phone: 573-636-7665

      A little further out these guys carry marquis but they also carry Jacuzzi… weird combo the Marquis are great the Jacuzzi are not on my recommended list

      Columbia Pool & Spa
      1200 Business Loop 70 W.
      Columbia, MO 65202
      (573) 874-6972

  28. Love all the information here! My husband and I are looking for our first hot tub. We live in the Tri-Cities Washington (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland), and it looks like we have three dealers here – one selling Jacuuzi and Dimension 1, one selling Sundance, and one selling Arctic and Coyote. We are not handy people and are going to need support with maintenance and break downs. We are looking at the $10k range. Wondering what you would recommend with the dealer options we have here locally?

    • Hey Janell

      Go a little further afield and you have three guys each carrying one of my top rated spas. I would not have any of those ones on my short list, all of those guys have gotten away from the really good reliable parts like Balboa and gone to no-name parts so you can only get your parts from them… these systems are nowhere near as good as the TOP OEM stuff and you have very limited options for replacements. In my opinion, it’s a big big issue I would never sell or buy a brand that is not using good readily available parts list.

      1. These Guys carry marquis spas, one of our top rated brands.

      Inland Pool & Spa Centre
      80996 N Hwy 395 Hermiston, OR 97838 US
      Phone: 541-567-3222 Website:

      2. These Guys Carry Tidal Fit Swim spas so they might be able to get you Artesian again one of our go-to brands, they also sell Hot Springs and jacuzzi which I would stay away from…

      Walla Walla Sew, Vac, and Spas
      102 E Main Street
      Walla Walla, WA. 99362 US

      Telephone: 509-529-7755

      3. Cal Spas, these guys are new to my top list after doing a comprehensive factory tour and giving the whole thing a good once over we are confident that they have increased the QC and are putting out a pretty good spa.

      16 N. 3RD ST
      YAKIMA WA 98901 USA
      PHONE: (509) 225-7727

      • Hi,

        We live in Newport ri and are limited with retailers. This will be our first hot tub purchase We found 2 hot tubs, locally, we are mulling over. One is a vacanza 20176 tarino, seats 5, with 23 jets, single pump ($5999). And the other is a Nordic encore ms ($6100). Which is the better buy?

    • What are your hot tub recommendations for the Topeka, Kansas area? Thanks for all your excellent advice.

  29. Hi my name is Jenna and I live in Wilmington NC. I’ve been shopping around for a hot tub but wanted to check if you have any recommendations for retailers or brands in this area? Thanks

    • Wow tough crowd out there, I can’t find any of the 4 brands I really like, The closest is Nordic but they really only to the entry to mid-level.

      You do on the other hand have t a crazy number of service companies out there so you could look at buying out of the market, its that or hot springs, caldera and I would go out of the market before I went that route.

      I’m going to hit up a guy I know that might be able to find a solution out there for you.

  30. Hello, my husband and I live in Huntsville, Al. He is retired military and has all the aches and pains which go along with marching and running during his career. We are looking for a hot tub which will help him. I went to go a spa expo in the fall and they sold Masters Spas, but were out-of-town. This part concerned me and I wasn’t ready to buy and I wanted to do more research. I have been to our local pool/spa stores and more confused than ever. I am so glad I happened upon your site yesterday. I appreciate all the good, honest advice and information. This has given me a lot to think about! Do you know a dealer around our area who can help us decide which spa meets our needs?

    • The Expos can be good or a nightmare depending on the brand and local back up.

      In your area you have 2 local companies that specialise in service of all brands and the Master is a top brand from a build quality standpoint so if the price was right its not a bad way to go, the reality is a great dealer is all about communication and knowledge, the actual boots on the ground service is the easy part, its all the little bits helping you with information that dealers near or far usually suck at 🙂

      These guys carry Cal Spas, just make sure you order the full foam upgrade.

      11010 HWY 231-431
      PHONE: (256) 746-6387

      Ill have a poke around and see if I find anything else.

      • Good Afternoon, I appreciate your quick response. Allstar Pool and Spa in Gardendale and Trussville, Al said they come to Huntsville every Wednesday. I just didnt know if there was a reputable dealer closer to north Al. I am very impressed with the Twilight series because of the Bio-Magnetic therapy system. Thank you for all your help.

  31. Would like your thoughts on a small spa mfg company in Phoenix AZ called “Altera Spas. They appear to offer a relatively well constructed hand rolled shell and top of the line components. Looking at their large swim spa combo model. Thx in advance for your input.

    • I’m not sure, never come across them but I will have a look at the website and see what they say.

      You email address does not work, don’t worry i don’t spam 🙂 ping me on and ill give you some more options.

      right off the bat I don’t like some of the things they say on the site.

      the first is telling people that you can drop it right on the ground… there is simply no way unprepared ground will settle evenly.

      Rewind.. I just called and spoke to them because I just didn’t want to give you nothing, a swimmer is a big purchase.

      The shell is hand rolled vinyl ester resin core and self supporting, this is great, and they glue and clamp the plumbing which is great but its all downhill from there.

      You really really want a Balboa control system, there is simply nothing else out there that is better they are using a chepo system, and the insulation is crap. reflective foils are not effective at containing heat in a system, see this article

      Dude this is what it appears to be, cheap and cheerfull with a good dose of bullshit… no chemicals??? really??? lies!!! the enzymes are great and will get you to .5ppm of chlorine which is drinking water levels and safe but they are full of shit when they say 0 chemicals and that makes me distrust everything else.

      Ok i just searched your area to see what other brands are good out there and realized yer in Henderson! I’m in LA right now typing this and am coming to Vegas Friday 🙂

      Dude Artesian is right there, there is a dealer called Creative spas they Sell Artesian, this is one of my goto companies and by far the best bet in your area.

      I tried emailing you some stuff but your email is not right.

      • Hi and thanks for the work you do to maintain this site! I live in central NJ and there are many places to buy hot tubs and weeding through it is crazy. I’m looking to get a moderately priced yet reliable 5-6 person unit for around $7-9K. Mainly will be used by teens and me/wife for relaxing. suggestions on focus and this area? I’m also willing to drive to eastern PA.

        • Hey Jack

          Sorry for the late response, I swear this is becoming a job!

          My goto guys out there: These Guys carry Master it is one of my tier 1 brands.

          East Coast Spas Inc.
          1424 Easton Road, Suite 300, Horsham, PA, 19040
          Phone: 732-823-8606

          These guys carry Cal Spas, which has always been a good build on paper but have suffered a lot of quality control issues, I just toured their factory in LA last week and they have put a lot of time and money into this end of the business so they are getting close to our tier one Brands. Make sure you get the full foam upgrade, don’t buy into that bullshit about radiant barriers this stuff was virtually banned as a primary insulator in the housing industry in the 80’s.

          C & C POOL & SPA LLC
          3001 NOTTINGHAM WAY
          HAMILTON NJ 08619 USA
          PHONE: (609) 245-8714

          • Thanks! I’ll connect with them. I did see a Marquis V94L for $9800 at Rix Pool and Spa and really liked it – bit more then want to spend. Seem okay and seems you’re good on Marquis?

  32. Hi Chris,

    Reading your blog is really interesting! Even for the little frenchy that I am ! thanks for all your hard work and investigations that help us making the good choice !

    My local (french) dealer distributes Marquis and Platinium Spas. Have you erer heard of the second brand ?


  33. Looking to purchase an above ground spa for the Phoenix area. I have 14 fused vertebrae and occasional muscle spasms, so looking for something therapeutic for me, but also good for family and friends. Want to accommodate up to 6 adults, with at least one lounger. Also like to keep cost around 5k. Could you recommend a top brand we should buy?


    • Hi Viki

      That sucks about your back, I hope it doesn’t cause you too much aggravation.

      Your shopping list is too long for that price point, anything at that price that is the size you want with good therapy jets is going to be closer to 10k.

      I would say try and find a used spa if you find any post up the link and I’ll have a boo for you.

      • Thanks for your info. Huge bummer about the one I want costing closer to 10K.

        If I start looking for a used one, what brands would I look for? Master Spa, Marquis, Artesian? In that order?

  34. Coast spa Seabreeze or Beachcomber 340? Thank you

  35. I personally think that the biggest reason local dealers dislike the hot tub expos is because of the dishonest sales tactics used by these salesman and the people that put on the event. They also misrepresent the level of service that they will receive after the sale. How can you take care of a customer in Oregon if your location is in MS? At best you can subcontract service and delivery to local independent companies where results are not directly in your control and often very poor.

    I’ve personally spoken with doezens of people who have had a very difficult time with the lack of service and support from the expo people. From delivery to warranty work, many people have been hosed by these expos.

    Their advertising makes it appear that numerous manufacturers are all under one roof competing for your business. This is simply not true. They were actually sued and had to change the language in their ads due to false advertising by saying that many manufacturers were represented. Now they just imply with intentionally ambiguous words. Look at the website for 888-spa-sale and tell me if you come away thinking that there will only be one brand and no pools or bbqs.

    The website is literaly spa pool and bbq but they never have any pools or bbqs, and it’s always all just one brand of hot tub. When you ask where the bbqs are they say, “oh, our bbq guy didn’t make it to this event”.

    It costs a lot of money to travel this production around the country and put all of these professional commission only salespeople up in a hotel and store these hot tubs. Add in the $60k+ in television ads they run and it becomes an expensive event. Yet the sales guys say, “this spa is normally $17k but this weekend only it’s $7k”. The reality is that they could probably get a better deal on the same spa from a local dealer. That spa has never actually been sold for $17k. The sales guy will say anything because as of Monday you will never see him again.

    At my local store I know my customers by name, what hot tub they have, and where they live. I know that anything that I say in my sales pitch, I will have to answer to. I have accountability. A traveling sales guy does not. I personally know some of these guys and they know they are shady and that they lie. They laugh all the way to the bank.

    I’ve personally posed as a shopper at numerous hot tub expos to learn about what they do. I also sold master spas for a couple of years, so I know the actual price vs. what these guys say at the “expo”. Half of everything they say is either an outright fabrication, or stretching the truth beyond reason.

    Anyway, I just wanted to post the other side of the coin on this topic. Hopefully you actually are unbiased and will let this comment post. Every single word that I typed is true from experience. I’m a 22 year veteran and pride myself on my industry knowledge and experience.

    • Hi Steve

      Some good insights and I think the reality is the truth is somewhere in between your dire doom and gloom and their gimmicky spin and marketing 🙂

      – In some areas where they have a good independent service guy it can be very reliable, the truth is great dealers are about communication, most of what a customer needs after the sale is reliable information in a timely fashion. The truth is the actual on the ground service for 99% of calls is easy.

      – These can also be great places to buy for people who do not need a lot of back up and support almost any handyman in the trades can do most service their selves and almost every major city now has several independent service guys and the level of service from these independents is often better than retailers… its all they do is fix spas so it is their priority… Frankly, a lot of retailers have crap levels of service… buying local is rarely a guarantee of good support.

      – Yes, there is def a lot of misinformation and half-truths. surrounding who they are and what they are selling, Its the one thing I do not like about these events, there is very little accountability and customers really need to be diligent about getting everything in writing.

      – The reality is the pricing is a better than retail and about the same as a good warehouse direct location, but its a lot less than a lot of the heavily branded mid grade lines being peddled as high-end products.

      – Its great that you have a good family location and it sounds like you really know the industry and that you take great care of your customers, I also know it sucks when these guys come into your local market where your family lives and where you built your business. But you also need to understand that you are an anomaly. There are way more shitty dealers out there than good ones like you, and the reality is buying from a great dealer is awesome, but in a lot of cases buying from the expo or buying from a crappy dealer is about the same.

  36. Hi, I live in Denver and am looking at a STRONG SPA Summit series S45 and it seems to be about what I need…don’t care about the music and lighting as much as 4 corner seats, good jets, durable in cold weather and good maintenance. The local place in Lakewood offered life-time warranty and they will set it up, etc…I am just not finding much info on the 85 x 85 x 36 summit series with the upgrade cover.

  37. We just moved down to lower slower Delaware, building a smaller home. My wife and i decided to finally get a hot tub. What do you recommend down in this area?

  38. Can I please ask one last question before spending the $$. We looked at the Marquis V94 and it seems value priced at 10,000 but I really liked the Epic spa but it comes in at 14,000…I notice the jets are quite different in the V94, is it still a good tub??

    Thanks…4,000 worth 🙂

  39. Hi there, thanks for the great info on your site…so much to learn. We are in London, Ont and are looking to buy in the next few weeks. We sadly don’t have a local Master Spa dealer. We do have Marquis, Bullfrog, Beachcoomber, Hydopool, Sunrise and Hot Springs…We could drive to Kitchener to buy the Master Spa but you have said a good local dealer is key too..what would be our best option??Thanks and keep up the great work!!

    • I said a good dealer is critical there are lots of dealers that are great at 200 miles away and lots that suck next door 🙂

      of that group the only ones even on my short list would be the Marquis, then the Beachcomber I would not even consider the others for various reasons.

  40. Hi Chris, great site and I’m trying to read everything but still feel overwhelmed. I’m near Cincinnati, Ohio and there is a Watson’s dealer in town and that is about the only dealer in town. Their main brands they carry are Hot Springs and Viking they carry a couple Innova, Fantasy, and Signature as well but not many. Are any of these recommended or am I better off going out of town and transporting one myself? Thanks in advance for all your help and information.

    • Man, I am not a fan of any of those brands, if you are even halfway handi and have a good dealer who knows his stuff you can have a very successful long distance dealer relationship.

      A great dealer is about knowledge and communication, not proximity.

  41. Great videos and data, it’s frustrating how little information is actually out there on the internet, about hot tub facts and best practices.
    With that said, we are looking at 4 potential hot tubs and would appreciate an experts feedback.
    Caldera Cantabria, Hot Springs Grandee, Sundance 880series Aspen and Bullfrog A8.
    All 4 have local dealers who have been around. I have yet to grill them with the 20 questions I now have, but so little is out there for true side by side comparison of these tubs. From the outside they seem similar. Exception being the filters, only 1 for Hot Springs replace yearly at $60, 5 in a Hot Springs, they are ceramic so apparently you can clean in a dishwasher. They get replaced in 5 years. I didn’t dig into Bullfrog and Caldera filters yet.

    • Hot Springs and Caldera are the same groups of companies, and Sundance is jacuzzi group, I’m not a fan of this equity investor-owned groups, goofy proprietary parts and mid-grade shell construction. the Bullfrog at least uses a good parts list, better insulation but again it’s those damn poly or ABS backed shells that just not in the same world as a good hand rolled fibreglass shell…

  42. Sorry, meant my salutations to Chris in my post. Need a another cup of java.

  43. Hi Mark,
    We need to replace our Collingwood, Ont hot tub and have been doing a lot of research (thank you for your site!). In the area we have Arctic, Beachcomber, Sunrise and Maax. I cannot find a Masters dealer nearby. What are your thoughts on Maax and of those manufacturers which would you recommend?

  44. Fantastic video , Chris! I have been on both of these forums before while looking for a hot tub and I can say that your words ring true. Thats why I (and many others) are glad we found your site. Keep up the great work! BTW- My new Master Spa Twilight 8.2 should be delivered in the next few weeks. We cant wait!

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