The brands I like and dislike and why

The brands I like and dislike and why

There are 3 kinds of hot tub companies.

  • Ones that are great marketing companies building midgrade spas at stupidly high prices
  • Ones that build mid-grade mid-priced spas. 
  • And ones that make great hot tubs in the middle price area. This last group is always where you want to be because its the best value and the best tubs. 

The great marketing ones are often owned by big corporate equity investment firms that apply a very simple business model that is very profitable for the shareholders but not a good thing for the guy buying the hot tub for a few very solid reasons.

The hot tub brands I consider to be in this messy group that IMHO is your worst options are: HotSprings, Caldera, Limelight, Endless pools, Arctic spas, Dimension One, Sundance.
Their business model is this:

  • Create very expensive Branding, marketing, and advertising campaigns that are seamless and harmonious and make the products appear to be a cut above the rest. They are super good at this even knowing what I know when I get immersed in their marketing I’m even impressed.
  • Go to a cheap to build places like Mexico, or china and get parts made that only fit your hot tub so you can control both the cost fo the parts and the availability… basically, ensure you get money from the customer forever at what every high price you dictate because they have zero options.
  • Build to a mid-grade standard but have lots of magic, like goofy flippy floppy jets, miracle chemical reduction systems, wifi automatic systems etc.
  • sell the spas only through high-end retail stores.

When you buy these overpriced spas you are really paying two things… You are paying half for the hot tub and half for the massive marketing and high-end retail costs… you literally are spending half your money on smoke and mirrors. and these tubs are nowhere near as well built as the really well-made spas.

The hot tub brands I consider to be in the middle group are: American Whirlpool, Vita, Maxx, Viking, Dynasty, Premium Leisure, Pinnacle, Strong etc 
Their business model is simple:

  • Build a mid-grade mid-priced spa
  • Usually, they do one or two of the expensive things (shell, plumbing, insulation, parts) really well and cut corners on usually the shell construction and insulation.
  • Some of these are reasonable buys some are absolute shit shows, its a risky group not only between brands but we see some real quality control issues with this middle group and there are a lot of lemons that get through into the market.

The hot tub brands I consider to be in Top Group: Artesian, Twilight, Garden spas, getaway spas, elite, Master, Healthy Living, Clarity, PDC, Coast (pending factory inspection), and then a bunch of fringe guys like Bullfrog, Beachcomber, Nordic, Marquis (undergoing factory revamp and having issues right now)

These guys are in the sweet spot of building to a high standard with good quality control and not blowing their brains out on the shitty 90’s style marketing and branding bullshit.

  • These guys spend the money on the build:
    • They use good nonhardening full-foam insulation- expensive but the highest R-value
    • They hand roll shells with Vinyl ester resin cores and build them strong enough to support their own weight.
    • They use efficient plumbing systems that greatly increase flow rates and they glue and clamp the plumbing lines.
    • They Use good reliable expensive OEM parts that are easy to source and competitively priced.
  • They often sell through lower overhead operations 
  • Their marketing and branding is hit and miss and scattered, it does not have the polish (or the cost) of the high-end marketing guys.

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Hello….We are in the market for a smaller hot tub due to space limitations under a covered patio. Do you think the Twilight 67.25 or South Seas 743D would be too small for 2 adults under 5’8” and a teenager? Also which one would you recommend? No one has these on the show room floor so we are unable to try them out for size. Thank you!

Hi Patti
The Twilight series would be my choice if you are biased towards a hydrotherapy massage experience. But the South Seas is also a good quality option. I’m sure both will be big enough for you guys.

I am planning to retire to Florida and have always dreamed of having a hot tub to go into every day. I have read your writings and see that MASTER SPA – Twilight Series is your preference for first time novice hot tub owners. First of all, is that correct? Second question has to do with noise. The HOA’s are saying hot tubs may not be allowed on the lanais because it may infringe on the HOA noise ordinance. Any thoughts on that? Which ones are the quietest ones?

Hi Rebecca
We are involved with tons of hot tub sales in Florida, that’s not something we come across. I would suggest talking to the homeowner’s association directly to get the exact requirements from them.

Hi Kevin,

Do you know what type of electronic control system and jets and plumbing is the Master Twilight 8.25 equipped with? Do they use Balboa and Waterways? I do appreciate your time and expertise.

Thank you,


Hi Vitality

Heating and control systems are all Balboa.
Many jets in Master Spas like the Cyclone jets are Pentair or G&G Industries (both now Balboa) and Waterway. Master Spas have customized some of the jets with their own logo added to the standard jet such as found on the Min-Storm and Poly-Storm jets.

What about Hydropool Hot Tubs? They seem to have a lot of stores; are they fall into a small/regional subcategory?

Hi Michael Hydropool is owned by a US equity investment firm. its run of the mill and should be priced closer to the mass merchant end of the scale than the high end. The shell is a thinner cradle supported type the parts are OK and the insulation is cheap gimmicky low R-value. The Self-cleaning thing is gimmicky, remember it has nothing to do with water quality it just removes debris from the floor as all tubs do, more modern systems simply stir the floor with jets and frankly every hot tub even the cheap crap, filter water and “self… Read more »

I am looking at buying a Coast Apex curve hot tub, and was just curious on your thoughts of it!

Coast Apex bench Curve Retail $13k

Coast Apex bench Curve, great look but the use of space is not as good I like open barrier-free seating, and the jetting package is a lot fo the little 1.5″ low flow jets so the massage package is not om par with the like of Mastr Spa Twilight series.

Thank you for great insights! I am very new to this, and choosing my first hot tub. I wonder if hot tubs in US and Canadian markets are the same and if your review is applicable for both. For example – I looked at Sundance, Beachcomb and Master spas, and for me it did not look like Master actually invested in it hot tub build as I would expect. Unlike Sundance and Beachcomp, Master spas did not have Waterway jets, the frame is untreated food, no full insulation and stapled thin plastic bottom. Sides are as well look like brittle… Read more »

Hi Michael
Nope, tubs for USA and Canada built the same way, and reviews reflect the real world.

I didn’t see Bullfrog spas on your lists?

Hi Perez

Here is the link to the Bullfrog review

Hello…what about Catalina, dr wellness or Hudson Bay? Have you heard of these?

Hi Jessica
Catalina, Wellness and Hudson Bay are all run of the mill mass merchant build standard like most of the stuff out there.
In fact are all made by the same company.

Hi Kevin
I’m taking your advice and was interested in the Master Spa Twilight TS 7.2. I went on their website Q/A submission section, to find my local Pittsburgh, PA dealer and ask some pricing questions. I received an auto email back with the Master Spa factory direct sales link and number. So it looks like there are no dealers in my area. What’s your experience with factory direct sales and no “dealer”? My first thought was it may be cheaper but was unsure.

Hi Steve
We use the factory direct route for tons guys on our Private Buyer Service, without any problems, we get great pricing too.

Hi, your opinion of The American Whirlpool 471 would sure be appreciated.

Hi Richard
American Whirlpool is ok middle of the road, but not built to the standard of the really good stuff. The shell is a cradle supported lower end, the insulation isn’t great but that won’t matter so much if your in a warm area…
Performance-wise again run of the mill, a normal mix of high flow therapy jets and lower end low flow small jets.
Have a read here for more detailed information.

I wanted your opinion on the Wellis Spas. In doing some research they are getting into the US market and have been the industry leader in Europe. I am looking at a Wellis City Line London. Some of the highlights then mention are Polyurethane frame, 2 piece 3 HP single speed pump, UV light sanitation, triple-layer insulation, ABS molded bottom. So I’m looking at how the hot tub is constructed from an established industry leader in Europe. They also have bluetooth, LED lights, Aroma Therapy, WIFI APP controlled, touchscreen controls. For the price of a spa at 7800 it seems… Read more »

Hi Kevin
I actually had a look around a load of Wellis tubs, not sure if City Line London was one of them, just before Christmas in my local dealer. He had about 20 on display, looked really nice, but he would not let me pull the covers off to look inside…
Wellis is mass merchant quality with lots of goofy parts and poor to mid end fabrication. great marketing though!
Proprietary parts are a real issue, check out this page, and watch the video halfway down where Chris is talking about parts.

Looking to buy a tub. I’m a first time buyer and am intrigued by the info on your site. I don’t live near a big city, so I have limited dealer options. Only 3 dealers that I can find and they only sell HotSprings, Caldera, CalSpa, Marquis, FreeFlow, and Jacuzzi. Which brand do you recommend of those?

Hi Andy

From that list, Jacuzzi is the only one we would recommend. You don’t say where you are, but we have some great contacts and might be able to add into that list Master Spa.
Check out our Private Buyer Service

Jut found this site. Live in Maryland. Looking at a 5 seat thermospa or an aqualiving dr wellness spa. Thermospa has three pumps, aqualiving 2. Or am I better off looking at home depot or costco. Thermospa and aqualiving have approximately a 12 – 14 week wait

Hi Bea

I would steer clear of all the options you have mentioned.
Look for a shell that does not require supports to hold it together, plumbing that is clamped and glued, Balboa Heating & Control systems, and if you are in a cold area you want Icyene open celled full foam insulation ideally.

Looking to buy a hot tub right now, unfortunately options are very limited at this point due to COVID, looks like lots of people upgraded their backyards and inventory is nil to nothing. There is one Arctic Spa tub (Eagle) available and I am waiting on a listing of Master Spas that hopefully will be available end of January. Not sure about pricing of the Twilight series yet, and comparing salt water options with bromid and chloride. What is your preferred water solution? I do believe 2 pumps are essential. Living on the south Shore of Nova Scotia, options are… Read more »

Hi Katharina Saltwater Spas Steer clear of salt water systems in hot tubs, they are well suited to swimming pools, with their constant UV exposure, but not good in a hot tub. Go for standard tub, then use Spa Marvel. A standard system in hot tubs puts your chlorine at 5-6 parts per million and salt systems get you to 3-4 ppm (along with the maintenance nightmare) but Spa Marvel gets you to near drinking water levels at 0.5-1 ppm. Don’t fall for the marketing hype of “new” salt systems or other “high-tech” water treatment systems. Instead go with the… Read more »

Swim Spa for Cold Mountain Climate in Canada

I am looking for a good quality swim spa that we can lounge for a great massage, and then be able to swim and get exercise. I am looking for top quality of product and low maintenance. Any advice?

Hi Troy
With your specific requirements, and such a large financial investment, may I suggest the best option would be to enrol on our Private Buyer Service. We can then guide you, in detail on the various products, and negotiate with the dealers on your behalf, ensuring the best possible price

Was just looking at some of these other high quality spas before committing to one. I really like the Twilight 8.25 after watching your review and that’s what I was leaning toward. However, I just saw the Coast Cascade 2. Seems like a really cool spa. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this model as and how it compares to the twilight? Thank you!

Hi Spencer Both great Spa’s, you might struggle to find a Coast, unless you have already found a dealer with a pre-order in the pipeline. Factory orders are way out into 2022 now. If you are looking for a hydrotherapy tub, then its got to be the TS 8.25. People often ask me why I so often recommend the Twilight and it comes down to value. In my opinion, there is nothing on the market that can touch it from a value perspective. There are other tubs (including others in the Master line-up) that have good components, good insulation, strong… Read more »

Hi. Any opinions on Sunrise SPAs? We are looking at a 4400S model. Thank you.

Last edited 13 days ago by Cristian

Hi Cristian
Sunrise spas, its run of the mill cradle supported shells, lower-end insulation like most of the stuff out there…
Given your location, I would put insulation as a priority, have a read here, where Sunrise are specifically mentioned.

Thank you Kevin. Greatly appreciated! One more question. We are also looking at a Master Spa Twilight Series 8.25 however the price delta compared to Sunrise is quite large. We were quoted around 15k including delivery. Is that a fair price – I am in Ottawa?

Last edited 13 days ago by Cristian

Hi Cristian
It’s a more expensive tub, but way better in fact that’s one of the best therapy spas out there right now. Excellent price you have there too.

Thank you Kevin. We ended up going with the Master Spa twilight 8.25.

We are looking at a Viking Auroa 3. First time buyers, so middle of the road for us seems to fit. Local dealer gets good reviews. Does this tub give you any worry?

Hi Darron
Viking, they build mid grade tubs, and the price should reflect that, and if you have a good local dealer I’m sure it will. The biggest issue it has a low end plastic pedestal supported shell, our view tends to be start off with a good shell, and then build from there…

Price is good. Other than the shell, are there concerns in plumbing, pump sizing? We are installing 220v 50 amp, so I feel heat will be Ok.

Hi Darron
The shell is your worst part, partly due to the fact they don’t glue and clamp the water lines, but do spray it with the cheaper foam that goes hard, to help protect and strengthen the shell. The downside is it’s a nightmare to fix a leak if one of those lines comes loose, rember they are not clamped and glued. 220v 50 amp is standard requirement for any full-size tub.

I am curious about Freestyle spas 204LX in Canada, your thoughts?

Hi Marc
Its a Watkins product. Watkins is a great marketing and branding company but in general, they build a mid-grade product that is sold for high-end prices on the back of massive advertising and marketing money.
I’m sure in your area you can get into a Master Spa tub, for similar money…

Hey Kevin, thanks for the prompt reply. We are also considering ordering a Beachcomber 590 spa from our local dealer in Moncton, what would you recommend similar locally?

Hi Marc
Just done a very quick sweep of your area, and there really isn’t much choice. You do have a master Spa dealer, but they are over in Flecthers Lake just north of Halifax, I guess about a 2 hour drive away!

What about Aqua Living?

Hi Patty

Just steer clear of Aqua Living, all hype, marketing and low quality manufacture.

What are your thoughts on the tropical sea spas? They look like they are part of the Artesan family but I would like your thoughts on the differences and recommendation.

Hi Kevin
As you say, Tropic Seas Spas are part of the Artesian group of products. Decent stuff, just keep away from the models with foot domes… take up space, and you will be kicking them & tripping on them!

Hello Kevin. Thank you for your valuable insight. Do you have an opinion on the Futura SP88 6 person spa or even Futura in general? Two 6HP motors, 80+ jets, ozonator. The price is around $8,400 but it is in stock. We were looking at a Caldera Marino model at $8,600 at a different dealer which I see you currently have listed as high cost middle of the road quality. All very confusing, your help is greatly appreciated.

Hi Stephen
To be honest, Futura, they are not on the radar. But they list as a Marketing company, not a manufacturer. Maybe it’s a white label import and the ‘Futra Spa’ branding added?, Really not sure on this one.

Hi there,

Was quoted $13k cnd for a clarity precision 8- is that a fair price?

Hi Jess

Yup, thats a fair price right now.

Hi, we are considering the Master Spas Twilight 8.25 but also liking the Michael Phelps Legend series for the extra jets and 3 pumps. Curious if you have an opinion between these two? we used to have a precision 7 but recently moved so in the market for a new tub. Definitely looking for more jet power and therapy than we had with the precision 7.

Hi Nicole
Both great tubs, the Michael Phelps is the ‘all bells and whistles’ range for master spa. Extra jets and 3 pumps is not going to give you a better massage experience over the TS8.25, but they certainly fill the bill for looking smarter… You are really paying for the bling.

Kevin, this site is wonderful. Thank you! I have opportunity to get a Caldera Vanto in Feb from a shop near me in Berkeley, CA. Otherwise who knows how long I’d have to wait (6+ months minimum, I’d think). I know you listed them in your “dislike” column. Strong feelings? Seems reasonably well reviewed online.. I watched your video about parts and OEM and what not. Figure if it’s well built and has warranty I won’t need them for a while. Is it just about the OEM vs price gouging proprietary parts? Or do you think they’re not very well… Read more »

Hi Vlad Caldera, are on our radar right now, I’ve been having a number of conversations with some large dealers, who are selling a good number of Caldera. They are telling me, that they are well built units, we are in the process of trying to get one up to us, or if this covid ever clears, we will go and check them out either at the big dealer we are talking to our directly at the factory. So in summary, they are not on our run away fast list, and may even enter into our good guys list sometime… Read more »

Thank you, Kevin! Super helpful. Follow up question: It has two 1.5hp pumps. That’s not “super weak” right? We don’t need intense pressure or anything, but don’t want it to feel like a trickle either, I suppose.

Hi Vlad
Those pumps are not going to give you a deep muscle tissue massage, but are going to fine for a relaxation sort of experience.

Do you know anything about Integrity Spas? I am looking at one called the Tahitian. We are cost conscious but want to walk the line of value and quality. 5-6 person hot tub. We have therapy needs. Any recommendations?

Hi Sherry
Integrity Spa’s. They use a low cost no name control and heating system which is a bad sign. The shell relies on cradle supports, and the insulation system is a low-cost cut corner as well… There is a lot of stuff out there like this unfortunately. The one thing I do like is that they take the time and effort to properly glue and clamp the plumbing.
If therapy needs are high on your list, you should really be looking at the Master Spa Twilight Series.

Thanks so much for pointing me in a better direction. I guess the chances of getting a hot tub any time soon are slim to none but I’ll check out the Twilight series.

Hi Sherry
The lead time typically for Master Spa is around 200 days right now. Depending on where you are, we may be able to shave a chunk of time of that via our private buyer service.

I’m in the market for a hot tub. I’m willing to wait due to the increased demand due to COVID but don’t want to make a poor buying decision and don’t want to wait forever. Timing on the financial side on my end delayed things until now…but I’m ready to buy ASAP.

Is the Personal Buying Assistance the way to go here or should I just read the forums to make an informed decision?

Hi Michael
On the Private buyer service we not only advise, but go looking for the tub, and negotiate on your behalf.

Hi, I am looking at a Glacier 80 spa, would you have any information abot them and would it be a good tub to buy?
Thank you.

Hi Mike
Glacier Spa’s are not something we come across, but I had a quick dig around, and the y do use Balboa heating and control systems, which are market leaders in their field. I’d be asking them about the insulation, all I can find is Glacier thermal shield, but no explanation of what that is, this is an area where corners are cut to save on cost. Also ask about the shell, ask if its self-supporting, it should be, along with glued and clamped plumbing lines.

Hi Kevin/Chris, thanks for all the information on this site! My partner and I have been shopping for a hot tub and swim spa made/sold in Canada. We have narrowed it down to Artic Spa Eagle and Hudson Swim Spa vs Hydropool 570 and 14″ AquaSport AX. I know you aren’t a huge fan of Arctic, but don’t seem to mention Hydropool, so am interested in any insights you have. I’d also be interested in other Canadian recommendations if you have them. Thanks in advance and happy holidays!

Hi Peyton Hydropool – Is owned by a US equity investment corporation and the best thing I can say about it is they have great marketing, branding, and advertising that they spend a lot of money on to convince folks that this middle of the road unit is high end… For a swim spa, better to stick to Master Spa or PDC to be honest. I know they are not Canadian, but it’s a big investment and you want to get it right. Maybe hook up to our private buyer service and we can guide you with much more detailed… Read more »

I wouldn’t buy hydrospa, it’a built with inferior parts and charge premium prices. I agree great advertisement. Stick to quality when purchasing and avoid the gimmicks.

Hi Kevin,

Been reading through your reviews in addition to others I’ve found online. Looking for a spa mainly for therapeutic needs, bad back and knees.

From your site took a hard look at Master Spa Twilight 6.2 or 7.2 vs Artesian Antigua Elite

I really don’t want anything bigger than 84″ x 84″. I actually like the MS Twilight Series 6.2 for size but then wonder if I’ll fit at 6’2″ tall Hence looking at the 7.2

Any recommendations on which direction I should go?


Hi Rich
If its really for therapeutic needs, then go for the Twilight Series. For not so much more money, I’d go for the TS 7.2, or TS 7.25 Most second time around buyers don’t buy a tub with a lounger!

Thanks for the recommendation. This is actually going to be my first spa 🙂 Now to see if I can actually get one in 2021 here in NY.

Hi there, thank you for all of the information on hot tub brands. I am in BC, on Vancouver Island, and would like to buy a Canadian brand hot tub.
I see you have mentioned Coast (pending factory inspection). Have you been to their factory and are they still in your top brand group?

Hi Pat
Coast are still in our top group pending the factory inspection, Covid-19 has put pay to that for the time being. Just also be aware that coast factory orders are out to 2022 right now!

Hello Kevin,
I’m looking into the Viking Tradition 2 spa. I was just wondering what your opinion is regarding Vikings Spas as they seem to be reasonably priced. Thanks in advance.

Hi Brian
Viking, are middle of the road, reasonably priced for what they are, not the best or worst option to go for.


I am a first time hot tub buyer and I know nothing! From some basic research, I am thinking about the Artesian 956L, Master Spas Clarity Balance 9, or anything comparable you would recommend. Please help! I definitely want something around 9ft long that comfortably seats 6 adults in the $10,000 range. I would appreciate any recommendations!

Hi Nicole
Both tubs you mention are great units, depending on where you are, they might be a tight fit for your budget, and I would expect the Artesian to be over your budget to be honest. Of the two, I would choose the Master Spa

Hi Kevin – trying to decide between Clearwater Spas (resort series: orlando or monaco) vs HotSpring (Highlife Collection: grandee or envoy). I favor HotSpring due to quality, efficiency, however I’m interested in Clearwater due their multiple jets and “hydrotherapy” focus. PDC also an option in town but I rank it lower then the other two. Whats your take?

Hi Mike Clearwater seems like a decent build on paper, I haven’t looked at one yet so I’m not sure to be honest, don’t hear the name often. I did reach out a while back but I never got replies from them. Foam on everything is worthwhile, it might make repairs a bit more difficult but if you go for a good open celled foam you can just pull it away if you need access for a leak and reapply on site. Other thing I noticed is that most their lines do have a lot of jets but the majority… Read more »

Hi Kevin – I am looking to buy a 15′ swim spa. I am currently looking at 3 manufactures:

  1. PDC Summit SX15
  2. Master Spas Trainer 15D
  3. Endless Pools X500

I will be using it for mostly exercise (swimming, etc), relaxation and of course family time. I live in NJ so we have all 4 seasons. What are your thoughts? Any clear winners from your perspective?

Hi Guy
From that list, I’d rate them in this order.
1. Master Spa Trainer 15D
2. PDC Summit sx15
3. Endless Pools X500 – to be honest it’s a way behind the other two.

When spending so much money, on what is really a long term investment, consider our Private Buyer Service, to give you in depth advice.

Hi Kevin,
We are looking to buy our first hot tub. I don’t see anything about the brand Aquarest. Do you have any comment on them? We haven’t heard of many of the companies you recommend and are now doing more research. Thank! Kim

Hi Kimberly
Aquarest is not a brand we see very often; I’ve just had a quick look at them online. They are using cheap components for sure; I recall someone mentioned they are using Balboa heating and control systems, which if they are, then that brings them up a little in my opinion. But I cannot see any mention of any decent control or jetting systems. I am guessing it is a really cheap option.

Hi Kevin, We are looking to purchase a swim spa (with 60″ depth at least) for a home we are building near Denver and would love your advice on brands (mainly Masterspa vs Passionspa). We were pretty much set on Masterspa but have a problem. AquaSpa is the only company that’s an authorized dealer for MasterSpa in that area. Not only do they have poor reviews, we were not impressed with their professionalism. Also, they require that the CUSTOMER book their own crane for installation. This seems absurd to me and a set up for installation problems. Is this a… Read more »

Hi Linda Passion spa, they showed in Las Vegas last year, Chris had a good look around a couple of their tubs. Whilst not a nightmare, they had lots of proprietary parts, then they spray the shell with High density foam for insulation, sounds good, but what they are trying to do is strengthen a weak shell. As for their Swim Spa, not something we have seen up close. As for the crane, all the dealer is doing is booking it for you and charging you his mark-up for the privilege! The whole Master Spa range of swimmers are top… Read more »

What do you think of “ThermoSpas” brand? The “Park Avenue” layout is unlike any other I have seen. The double wide lounger seems unique with it’s blanket of jets. There are hydrotherepy programs and it is not just a handful of jets shooting at the same place on your leg. Ever seen anything like it from a brand you recommend?

Hi Andrew I would put Thermospas in with mass merchant groups, lots of tiny low flow jets that give you a good jet count but low performance, an insulation system I would not want anywhere near a cold winter and cradle supported shell which creates weak points It’s a fairly unique design, cant think of any mainstream quality brands that offer that sort of design. Don’t be sucked in by tons of little jets that do nothing other than look the part. For massage, the number of jets means a lot less than the size of the jet. little jets… Read more »

Thank you very much Kevin! I gave a call to the local dealers for the 4 brands you recommend, just to see what they had to say. Lead time right now is 3-4 months basically. Then the Master Spas dealer said that they had one that was a customer cancelation being delivered after Christmas. Wouldn’t you know; it’s a Twighlight 8.2 for 10k OTD. So we are going with that. Thanks again for the excellent site.

Hi Andrew
Result on brand, timecale and price. Enjoy…

Hi Kevin
A few questions, we are looking to purchase and install a new hot tub brand selection is limited in our area. It is between a Bullfrog A8L, a Jacuzzi J575, Artesian Dove Canyon and a Caldera Geneva. Which would you recommend. From what I have read you do not like the Bullfrog’s tub construction, do they still make them with the plastic you mentioned or have they transition to Acrylic? Also be interested in which you think has the best water care/filtration system.

Hi Sal
The Bullfrogs achilles heal is the jet pack system, have a look at this page.

Caldera is part of the Watkins hot springs group the best thing about them is there expert branding, marketing, and advertising
Bettr to stick to Artesian or Jacuzzi.

of the below brands – do you think a few are the best value pricing? Seems everything new me starts at around 8k:( I found a store that carries nordic.
Artesian, Twilight, Garden spas, getaway spas, elite, Master, Healthy Living, Clarity, PDC, Coast, Bullfrog, Beachcomber, Nordic, Marquis.

Hi Steve
Pricing right now is all over the place, especially for tubs that are available now, or have been pre ordered by the dealer. Factory new orders are 8 months plus for many and well into 2022 for others.
That’s a long list Steve, I’ll come back to it when I have an hour spare.

Is there a round spa (we like the barrier-free seating style round tub affords) that has multiple depth of seating (I am short and prefer not to be confined to a booster seat and my husband is tall) AND a brand you might know of which still has some manufacturing capacity/doesn’t currently have a year out delivery time frame due to COVID? I realize that may be asking for a lot! Also our existing cement pad from our old tub may be a bit short on one end (because we want a lid lifter this time and thus have to… Read more »

Hi Sheri
Round tubs are a rare thing these days, not much call for them. Have a look at Nordic, they at least offer a selection to choose from.
As for the base, it needs to support the whole surface area of the hot tub, no overhange.

Hi Kevin, Great site! My wife and I just installed a new inground salt water pool and built a new deck. Now all we need is a quality spa to finish it all off. The pad is already poured and is 82 x 82 so the spa footprint has to fit this. So far I’m looking at the Jacuzzi J-345 and got a price of about $8,300 for what they call a custom color and the American Whirlpool 270/271 for about $7k. I just reached out to Master Spa and received a text back from them telling me to check… Read more »

Hi Chuck
I’d go Jacuzzi over American Whirlpool, the best quality tub in your list is the Balance 7 for sure, but be careful as it’s an 84×84 tub, so your pad is a smidge too small…

Thanks Kevin. The footprint for the Balance 7 is 84 x 84 or is that edge to edge? Lastly, do you feel there is a significant difference between the J-345 and the American Whirlpool 270? What are your concerns about the WP? Based on what I have read, it seems like it easy equal to if not better than the J-345, but that’s why I’m asking an expert like yourself before I make my purchase. I appreciate all of your help and speedy response! This is a great site!

Hi Chuck
Have a look on page 37 of the pdf user guide, this shows you what you need regarding dimensions. And have a read here for information on what Chris thinks of the various brands, American Whirlpool sits in the messy group, cant recall if its actually mentioned directly. But a quick run down on them, they are a lower end unit with cradle supported shells, no clamps on the plumbing and low R-value insulation

This is extremely helpful. American Whirlpool is listed in the middle, not the messy group. He does have Sundance in the messy group which I believe is Jacuzzi correct? I know Jacuzzi has improved lately, so where would you place them today? Messy, Middle or among the best? Thank you!!!

Hi Chuck
Jacuzzi have been making inroads regards quality over the last year or so. Subject to a factory tour, they will be in our top group. Tour has been delayed due to covid… Hopefully soon we will all start to get back to some sort of normality.

This is great stuff & thank you! This past week I spoke to a salesperson at my local Master Spa dealer. I was interested in the HL7 as I’m on the computer all day and really want a spa that has good shoulder hydrotherapy. He quoted me just under 10k for the HL7 and then said it will be discontinued soon. But also that its the best spa Master Spas makes lol. How does the Twilight series compare to HL7? And is there a maker/model thats as good for what Im purchasing a spa for? My budget is 8k and… Read more »

Hi Tammy The 10k for the HL7 is the going rate right now, often much more for an in stock immediate deliver tub, as much as 3k more! As for therapy, if that’s your main goal then it has to be the Twilight Series. People often ask me why I so often recommend the Twilight and it comes down to value. In my opinion, there is nothing on the market that can touch it from a value perspective. There are other tubs (including others in the Master lineup) that have good components, good insulation, strong shells, etc. but something no… Read more »

Thank you so much for all of this information! It’s really helpful. I have been considering purchasing a used 2019 Clearwater Spas 76L hot tub and haven’t been able to find much info on it. Do you have any feedback on that spa or on Clearwater Spas in general? Thanks in advance!

Hi Meg

Clearwater has nothing I would recommend.

It’s going to be the same quality as home depot or any of the other price point spas.

Hi, I took your advice and put a deposit down on the getaway Ocho Rios SE. I paid $6200. I have no idea if I got ripped off or not. Can you tell me if this is a fair price? I jumped on it because it’s in stock, everything else is a couple months wait for delivery. Thanks!

Hi Mack
No, not ripped off, good price in the current market.

Hi Kevin, Can you comment on makes/models available on Wayfair Canada? I see Supreme 5-Person 38-Jet Hot Tub by Aqua-Rest and Tierra 5-Person 60-Jet Hot Tub with Ozonator by Lifesmart. Really appreciate your tips.

Hi Kari
Any thing from Wayfair Canada is going to be mass merchant stuff, nothing is going to be great, there are going to be fair better options out there. Check out or buyers guide.

Hi, i love your site, great info thanks. Curious what you think of the Aqua Catalina Luxory Carleton model? I was leaning towards the Masterspa model based on strong specs and reviews (incl yours) but this Catalina seems to check a lot of the same boxes — strong fiberglass construction, dual 7 HP jets, balboa thingy, ozone sanitation etc, incl bluetooth, lights fountains, all that silly stuff. But seems like can get it for <10k, whereas others like MasterSpa TS 7.2 more like 15k+. How do you compare them? Thanks v much.

Hi David The TS 7.2, all high flow jets, not the case in the Catalina, if you are looking for real hydro-massage, then its got to be the Master Spa. People often ask me why I so often recommend the Twilight and it comes down to value. In my opinion, there is nothing on the market that can touch it from a value perspective. There are other tubs (including others in the Master lineup) that have good components, good insulation, strong shells, etc. but something no other tub has is the jetting package. You can make a massage tub a… Read more »

Just bought a twilight 8.2 from a tub show in Connecticut! Delivery by Christmas, woohoo! Thanks for the advice, your recco key!

What about Signature Spa’s

Hi Clayton
Signature is one of those middle of the road brands that are, in my opinion, overpriced. At the same price point you can get much better quality from someone like Master Spas or Artesian. They use terms like hydro-lock plumbing which means they don’t clamp their plumbing joints. They do use full foam insulation but have a cradle supported shell so it’s a mixed bag.

I was looking for info on Jacuzzi spas. You’ve mentioned the Sundance and Dimension One spas (both owned by Jacuzzi, I think). I’m assuming it fits in this category with Hot Springs etc being an over marketed spa in high end retail stores. Their jetting on their higher end spas look great and are marketed as a step above all the rest. Your no nonsense reviews are fantastic, just want to see more!

Hi John
Jacuzzi is just getting onto our good guy list, in general, it was always a good shell, but it had a crappy proprietary heating and control system that was a shit show and the spa was overpriced. Since they moved to the Balboa heating and control system, it’s still a bit overpriced but at least it’s well built and has easily sourced parts.

Watch this space regarding the videos, Chris is working on some new onesright now!

Hi Guys,
Find you info so insightful….just in the market for a tub. Live in the interior of British Columbia and have been back and forth with Jacuzzi, Arctic,Coast, Beachcomer….frankly totally confused by all the stuff I keep reading and the spiels from sales guys.Just looking for a good basic tub on a budget of no more than $14K Canadian. Please, point me in the right direction!!!
Many thanks

Hi Dave
Why not hook up to our private buyer service, and let us deal with those pesky sales guys on your behalf?

Thanks Kevin, don’t think i need that service…i can deal with those guys. Just wondering in your opinion which would be the best way to lean..I know you guys don’t favour Arctic..Beachcomer with their no access 3 sides you don’t recommend … I had a quote with Jacuzzi on a J235 but starting to wonder if I should hold off and go back to square one seeing some reviews i have seen of Jacuzzi on other sites.

Hi Dave
Jacuzzi is just getting onto our good guy list, in general, it was always a good shell, but it had a crappy proprietary heating and control system that was a shit show and the spa was overpriced. Since they moved to the Balboa heating and control system, it’s still a bit overpriced but at least it’s well built and has easily sourced parts.

I’m looking at a 2020 D1 Journey for 6k out the door. Seems like a better build than any other 110v tubs I’ve researched against. Thoughts on that model?

Hi Cameron
Dimension 1 are ok ish, that have a bit of parts list which is proprietary, and that’s not great, but they, I believe are using on the bigger 240v tubs the Gecko control system, which again is not top tier, but again not a nightmare either.
Things to look for on a good tub…
Self supporting shell
Glued and clamped pluming lines
Balbao heating and control systems
Insulation, that has an R value in line with the building code for your house.

Thanks for the reply Kevin! I prefer 110v for ease of hook up and because I’m located in North San Diego, not foreseeing need for heater to be running while jets are going. It seems that most manufactures don’t build their 110v systems as well as they’re 220v variants as they see them as budget tubs. What brand/ specific models would you recommend I look at? It’s very difficult to find info on the specific items you listed above without traveling around looking at them all.

Hi Cameron

Look at the Jacuzzi range, they have the J-325, 315 which are decent.
Garden Spas by artesian the Azalea or Camelia
Master Spa Getaway series Bar Harbor SE, Ocho Rios SE
Bullfrog X5L or x6R

Awesome! Thank you for you time and considerations Kevin!

Any update on Marquis? You posted two years ago that you were unsure and they were having some transition issues.Curious about their Celebrity line… thanks

Hi Gary
We are still on the fence with Marquis. We have been trying to hook up with them & they were stonewalling us last year. This year, as you know, COVID has struck so we have still be unable to get to the factory or speak to them unfortunately.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x