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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Thank you for this site. I am looking at a Twilight 7.2 from Master Spa. The tub they have in stock does not come have a circulation pump. Should I steer clear and order one with?

Hi Maria
We don’t recommend adding the Circ pump, its just another layer of complication to do a job the other pumps can do just fine…

Hey thanks for all the information on this site, local Master spa dealer has a refurbished 2018 HL 7 for $9,500 cdn. Is the HL a good tub for hydrotherapy, any differences between that model and today’s HL model? Anything to make sure of when getting a refurbished tub or do you recommend used tub from dealer? Thanks

Hi Cody
The HL range, is a decent quality spa, but if your main aim is hydrotherapy, then you need to be looking for something from the Master Spa Twilight series. Buying second hand is like buying a second hand car, you need to know what your looking for to avoid a lemon!

I want to an expo today put on, they said, by Master Spas. Holy hell, the “car salesman’ experience was just horrid. Push and not listening to questions. I eventually asked for a different salesperson, but the whole thing was so off-putting. the 40yr + local place here sells only Hot Springs and after that experience with Master Spas, I’m not sure what to do…

Hi Matt

What to do…. First stay clear of HotSprings!
Secondly, we can get between you and the salesman on our private buyer service and make it a pain free experience.

Thank you for the offer, Kevin. I’m going to keep a wide berth from any dealings with that company. I know they’re up on your list in build quality, but I just can’t deal with a company that does sales in that manner.

Thank you again for all the info.

Hi Chris, When I last wrote to you, in the summer of 2018, I provided a list of the hot tub brands that were available in our area, and indicated that I was leaning towards the Coast tub. You replied agreeing that Coast would probably be the best choice for me. We decided to buy a Coast Elite 50 Jet “Apex B” tub. Bottom line, I agree with you, it is a well-built, quality tub. Would I buy another one? No. Here are the reasons: 1)      Warranty. We had a pump seal leak. Coast refused to cover the cost to replace the seal under warranty, because they… Read more »

Good evening, Thank you for your site! It’s been very helpful as I have started searching for a new hot tub (currently have a Vita Joli that is about 10 yrs old). The hot tub is at a rental cabin so has taken alot of abuse over the years. I’ve narrowed it down to the Precision 67 by Master Spas (final price incl tax 6969) and the Retreat MS by Nordic (final price incl tax 6191). Looks like the R value is much better on the Precision, but I live in the Atlanta area so it doesn’t get too cold.… Read more »

Hi Rebecca
That is a great price on the Precision 67… I’d buy it now! But, as for your question regarding the magnets, sorry not sure on that one!

Bought a tub ,american spa through Home depot. Oct 4-Dec 4. Are they just blowing smoke about being able to meet that date. It just seemed easier to order from them. I like using hd credit card,as I can pay it or not. Is american any good? Not my first tub ,but I hope to get 5 years out of it….

Hi Michael
American spas are really typical of mass merchant hot tubs, The shell construction is not great I want a self-supporting shell, this one is cradle supported and worse still it uses High-density foam on the shell for its support structure. This is a nightmare because if you ever get a leak this foam is structural and it makes it really hard (sometimes impossible) to find and repair leaks. Mass merchants are never a great place to buy hot tubs…
Blowing smoke on delivery times, no idea, sorry.

Hi there,
it seems that hot tubs are an american thing. But Europeans want them too. 🙂 My climate zone is similar to Canada and I would like to use hot tub in winter too. Can you recommend any hot tubs that can be bought in Europe?

Hi Mantas
It will depend on where in Europe you are, big place, maybe not as big as Canada 😉 But I know Master Spa have a dealer network all over Europe, so they would be a good place to start.

Hello, I live in southern NH. A local dealer has Strong Spas that they sell. Are they a different Strong Spa than those sold at Costco?

Hi Rick
I would suspect that they are one and the same.

Hi there I was looking at the vortex aqualap swim spa and the description of where it is made etc. sound very different than the previous review you have given ie) being made in China. Can you elaborate at all? Thanks

Looking to buy a hot tub in the UK. Looking to spend £10-£13k. What would be your best recommendations?

Thanks for a very informative site!

Hi Dan
You don’t say where you are in the UK, we would recommend these guys who carry the Master Spa range. Model names differ to the American market, but it’s the same kit.
The Hot Tub Superstore
+44 1253 599330

Thanks very much for this. Spoke to them today and it sounds promising. How would you compare their evolution vs legend vs phelps ranges?

Thanks again for your help

Hi Dan
I think you are asking about the UK versions of master Spa. Think the evolution range is the European version of the Twilight Series. So that range is biased towards hydrotherapy massage. But seen one in the flesh, so cant help any further to be honest.

Hi Chris Stumbled upon your pretty awesome site! Never been a hot tub owner before but wanting one for therapeutic needs, 6-7 seater for family of 5. We are in Oakville,ON and narrowed down our search to the Jacuzzi J345 model. Got a final price of $17500 which includes their UV-C technology & ClearRay protect ozone generator and lots of extras like upgraded ProLast cover with lifter, steps, starter kit of supplies as well as delivery and the electrical install too. Seems like we are in the neighborhood of the cost of the other brands we looked at once we… Read more »

Hi Daniela
The price on the J345, is on the high side, but that is how the market is for early delivery, just a fact of how things are right now. Good tub though. Coast Spa are also decent, but the problem you are going to have with those guys is the lead time. Most dealers are no longer taking orders for them, as the lead time is out to 2022!

Hello … Any thoughts on Aspen Spas in St. Louis, MO? Also, what brand(s) of components does Master Spas use?

Hi Mike
I don’t know Aspen Spas in St Loiuse. It looks like they sell Pinnacle, which are a middle of the road mass merchant tub, using Gecko control systems, which are not a nightmare, but certainly not the best.
Master Spa, use Balboa heating and control systems, market leading by a long shot.

Hi Chris, we are looking at two different hot tubs and both seem to have same warranty. One is from Aqua living and it’s the dr wellness tranquility series ($6k delivered). They don’t have a local office in Alabama and appear to be built in Tennessee. At times they are difficult to contact. The other the artesian Kona for about $8500 but I can buy local from family leisure. Thoughts on these two?

Hi Chad
Aqua Living a retailer of low-end mass merchant tubs. Dr Wellness, is one of those brands that they stock.
I think you’ve answered your own question, if they are difficult to contact before you have made a purchase, I doubt that they are going to be very helpful post sale.
I’d go with the Artesian any day of the week. The price, you might be able to talk them down a few hundred from the 8k


I didn’t see where you mentioned the “Jacuzzi” brand… do you recommend the Jacuzzi J-245? Thanks for your help!

Hi Jen
Jacuzzi, are on the way up in our opinion. They will be on our good guys list, once we have been able to conduct a factory visit to confirm their build quality and quality control procedures. Just not been able to hook up with them with all the turmoil of Covid…

First of all we would like to give you a compliment with this website. It’s very hard to find some good reviews on hottubs and this site is really unique.
We would like to buy a hottub, but in Belgium are mostly dealers from chinese hottubs or big players like Hotspring of Wellis. In Holland is a factory who sells there baths without dealers. It’s called Silverspas. They give a 10-years warranty on everything, even on the consumption. Ever heard of it and can you tell me if it’s worthwhile?
Thank you allready!

Hi Dieter
No real information to offer you, it’s a brand that I have been asked about only twice in the last 5 years. Only thing I would say is ask them a few of these questions.
1. What’s the R- value of the insulation, you want it to be similar to building codes for homes in your area.
2. Is the shell self-supporting? (it should be)
3. Is the pluming glued and clamped? (it should be)
4. Finally who supplies the heating and control systems (you want it to be Balboa, world leaders)

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for your answer. In meanwhile, I’ve found a showroommodel Master Spas Twilight Series 6.2 with 5 years warranty. I think you recommend that one?

Hi Dieter
Yup, that’s a tub we often recommend on our private buyer service.

Hi Chris
Uk help please…your reviews seem the most helpful but please can you help me decide whether to buy a jacuzzi 335ip or a vita spa prestige. The vita is nearly £2000 cheaper and similar spec. Better pumps apparently…quality insulation and longevity with a good massage for bad backs are key. These are our favourites of the brands we’ve looked at….hot springs, platinum, aspen, Hydrapool…but your classing of vita spa has worried me please advise. Thank you so much

Hi Naomi
They are middle of the road, cradle supported shell and lower R-Value insulation system. If they are priced like mass merchant spas then ok, but if they are being sold as a higher-end then I would look elsewhere. In this case it sounds like it is priced in the right bracket.

Thank you so much for your reply Kevin its £9250 for the vita and £10750 for the jacuzzi (got £500 off from asking, they seem to have plenty of stock) We don’t want to spend that much money unless we absolutely have too. The blue max insulation seems good, lower R rate but longevity and ease of fixing….but the running costs are important to us. The pumps are better quality, not entirely sure why jacuzzi use LX pumps, purely for cheaper parts? we simply want a quality 4-6 person tub with one lounger and the best we can get for… Read more »

Hi Naomi
It sounds like you have done your research, and to be honest, the saving in electricity would take years to recoup the initial extra investment. Enjoy the the Vita. Happy Hot tubbing 😉

Thank you however after reading loads of info on here I’ve found our uk master spa dealer…is the Legend 7 here in the UK the same as your twilight 8.2? It seems to tick all the boxes and same price as Vita 8995 available feb 😍. Think this might be it! Do you agree? X it’s not too far from us maybe 1.5 hrs away

Hi Naomi
Think it is, just slightly different seating configuration. Probably the best option.

Naomi, I’ve just got the Legend 7 from Hot Tub Superstore – would highly recommend it.

We’re looking for a small 4 person hot tub for our rental near Shelton, WA area. We’ve gotten a quote from Aqua quip for the Sundance Denali 680. They state their product is superior to the Artesian, Clearwater and Arctic. But it looks like you’re lumping Sundance into the worst category?

Hi Steph
Sundance is overpriced and full of proprietary parts with a mid-end performance, and sit firmly in our ‘Messy’ group.

Hi Kevin: of the list of favs, which ones have the strongest therapeutic jets. Not looking for the heat and socializing aspect need the high strength therapy/massage

Hi Edward
If your in the market for a strong therapy spa, then it really has to be Master Spa’s ‘Twilight Series’ Something like the TS7.25

Thank you, Talked with the guys at your recommended site in Kitchener; premium wholesale, they also recommended the MP (Michael Phelps) as the best, But I have never heard of them.

Hi Edward
Master Spas – Michael Phelps signature swim spas, really are top of the line, along with the price tag!

Tropic seas spa vs. south seas spa?

Artesian seams to make another line of spas called tropic seas spas rio 751l. I’m wondering how this compares to the south seas 748l? Are they the same quality? Why the different line? Is one more of a budget model?


Hi Michael
The tropic seas is, as you say part of the Artesian group, as is the South Seas, many companies take this strategy to increase market exposure at differing price points. Both use much the same tech.

Anny suggestion about Platinium Spas ?

Last edited 13 days ago by Jake

Hi Jake
Not a brand we see very often, the last guy who asked about these, was from the UK, and looking at the same dealer! I think it’s a rebranded offering of the Artesian brand of spa. If it is, then it a good tub. I checked out the specs from the website, and whilst the info is basic, they do list it as having Balboa on board. Balboa are head and shoulders above anyone else in the heating and control systems used in Hot Tubs!

Thank you 🙂 My dealer sell Artesian as a basic hot tubes (the best he said) and Plastinium Spas as cheaper options. Yes, i will buy in UK. The is another seller- Wellis (Hungarian brand) – any suggestion about it?

Hi Jake
Wellis is really not a good spa, they are a mass merchant outfit, with poor, at best mid quality fabrication. Things like, hose’s being measured and cut by hand, shells that need cradles to support them, and the plumbing doesn’t even have clamps to secure the pipes. Also, they tend to be loud, the pumps sit on a steel frame, and that tends to resonate the sound and vibration.

Thank you. I bought Artesian hot tube – Nevis 45

Hi Chris, I live in the northeast and am looking at a HotSpring Vanguard or Grandee. Do you like this brand?
Thank you,

Hi Justin
Hotsprings tubs, are all middle of the road mass market kit, and as such best avoided But if you want a tub now, then there really is not much choice out there from the quality brands.
Not sure where you are but maybe via our Private Buyer Service we could find you something better.

Hello, I am looking at a Sunbelt hot tub. What do you think?
Thank you for your time.

Hi Ya Sunbelt is like everything in the middle, they do 1 or 2 things the right way and cut corners on a few. They do a hand-rolled shell, and they clamp the plumbing lines so 2 good things, but the rest is a mess… The parts list is an issue, they use ACC heating and control systems this is a deal breaker for me, this is an expensive and critical system on a hot tub, if it is not Balboa it’s not a good buy. Balboa holds some key patents that simply puts them head and shoulders above any… Read more »

Thank you. I was going to pay about 6000.00 for the LS500 series

Hi Chris, I live in Vermont (brrr) and am looking for a hot tub to help my neck and back. After reading all your comments I’ll just pass by the hot spring model and ask about the 3 others on the table: a Bullfrog x7 (no jet pack) for $8624, a Viking Legend 2 $7495 or Viking Heritage $8900 or a Nordic Spa- tbd model- same price range. What’s my Best Buy?

Hi Ya
Viking uses a plastic pedestal supported shell it’s ok but should be a lot less money than they generally charge, I’d rule those out on this list. Both Nordic, and Bullfrog are decent enough, as you have already worked out, Avoiding the Jet Packs on the Bullfrog range. Nordic is a good spa. Bang for the buck, the spas are good value and durable as hell, it uses good parts and good fabrication (with a rotationally moulded shell) the only end that they are weak on is the insulation.

Chris, Kevin – lots of great info here. I’m in the Seattle area and have had trouble finding dealers for Master Spas or Artesian (Black Pine sells Artesian Tubs but based in Tacoma WA, ~40 miles from where I live). Any recommendations on where to find these tubs in the Seattle metro area? And would you recommend against buying a tub from a dealer ~40 miles away with regards to service and support?

Hi Ya Unfortunately, we don’t have any other options on local dealers other than the ones you have already found in Tacoma, they are not on our All Star list, as they carry brands we would not recommend, but if you stick to Artesian, then you should be fine. However, we deal with a wholesaler for Master Spa, who covers the whole state for sales and service, we can get the best possible prices via our Private Buyer Service. We also maintain a database of service, and instal technicians. With these assets on the ground, we can do anything, we… Read more »

Any thoughts on Hatana hot tubs and their quality?

Hi Bill
I would say that it’s a white label, cheap Chinese import with a Hatana Spa sticker on stuck on it.

Hey Chris, I’m looking at getting a plug and play hot tub for me and my wife as we’re renting and modifying the house really isn’t an option. First off, I couldn’t find much on your site talking about these (I’m guessing because it’s a pretty small part of the market), what’s your take on the 120V plug and play? Second, I’m in London, ON and was originally looking at a local dealer selling the Marquis V65L but after finding your site and reading through a lot of your stuff it sounds like I might be better off going out… Read more »

Hi Jesse 120V is as you say a very small segment. The main thing that you need to think about, is it up to the job of keeping the water warm in your area? Also, I’m fairly sure you can’t run the heater, and the pumps at the same time, only so much power available form a 120v system. I’d walk past the Marquis dealer, certainly until we have had a chance to visit the factory, but they just keep on ignoring us when we try and hook up with them. The guys in Kitchener, are on our ‘All… Read more »

I can’t seem to find much about Passion Spas – they have a selection that includes some models with two lounges, which I’m looking for. Any thoughts about this company, which seems to be European but has the spas manufactured in China and sold in Europe and the US? They’re sold at a place about 100 miles away from where I am, and I wonder about their quality, reliability, and ability to get repairs.

Hi Phil Chris had a chance to look at the Passion spas range in Vegas, last year at a show. lots of proprietary parts and nothing that really impressed. High-density foam is a bad option, especially when sprayed on the shell. they do it because the shell is not great. The foam hardens and supports the shell but if you ever have a leak you are in trouble, big time. it’s a cheap way to build a tub. We would not have it on our short list. As for a dealer being 100 miles away, he may as well be… Read more »

Thank you very much for taking the time for this great reply, Kevin. Your advice is really valuable and welcome.

Hi folks, what are your thoughts on Canadian Spa Company regarding quality, insulation etc? Thanks

Hi Gwen
Canadian spa company’s products are made in China, low quality manufacture, low quality parts, just cheap…but decent marketing!
Unfortunately they are made almost entirely in China and while I have some other issues with them the big one is shell quality, if you don’t have a good shell, to start with, then nothing else really matters.
Hook up to our Private Buyer Service, and let us find you a way better tub.

Any thoughts on the Wellis brand?

Hi Edward
Wellis is a mess, thin shell with all these shell supports everywhere to keep it together, which they try and pass off as good thing! honestly, it’s just low end in every aspect. You don’t say where you are, but I bet we can find you better options via our ‘Private Buyer Service

Thanks for the info, I’ll steer clear of the Wellis. I’m in Orlando. Also looking at a Jacuzzi 245, Hot Spring Pulse, and Master Spa Precision 8. Any suggestions?

Hi Edward
I’d add HotSprings to your avoid list too, much the same as Wellis.
For Jacuzzi –
Orlando Hot Tub Store
100 Obrien Rd Suite 103, Fern Park, FL 32730
+1 407-720-6119

For Master Spa, we use for all our Private Buyer Clients in your area. Hook up to our service, and let us find you the best possible price.

Had a Wellis! Sent it back as it’s horrendous. Noisy, bad insulation and two support legs pushed up through the seats.

Hey Chris,

Have you ever reviewed or look at West Coast Spas?


Hi Jon The West Coast stuff is gonna be middle of the road, I really will not recommend a spa that is not using the Balboa control and heating system, it’s solid system that really outperforms everything else out there. They use the Waterway system, whilst waterway make great jets, their heating and control system is second tier. The other point that catches my eye is the insulation, they are talking about Radiant Barrier, and quoting an R value of 16, I find that a stretch to believe. But anyway, compare that to building code requirements for your house in… Read more »

Hey Chris, I’m trying to decide on a PDC Trainer 19D swim spa vs PDC Synergy FX219. These are pretty pricey. Any thoughts?

Hi Jim The PDC Trainer 19D, I assume you mean the Master Spas H2X Trainer Series? Not a PDC Trainer 19D? In terms of performance. The master Spa Michael Phelps and the PDC True swim are top for flow rates, nothing in it, then the H2X Challenger series then the H2x Trainers. Mixed use, hot tub and Swim Spa, it’s a complex question. With such a large investment, I suggest you take up the Private Buyer Service, typically we not only save you money, on what is frankly a huge investment, but can also walk you through all the various… Read more »

Hi Chris, are you familiar with Sunrise Spas? They are made in Canada out of Grimsby ON

What specific apprehensions do you have about Hot Spring spas?

Hi Chris Their business model is basically 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 of the parts and the availability… basically, ensure you get money from the customer forever at what every… Read more »

Marquis actually isnt having any issues in the factory. Running very smoothly actually!

Hi Allayana
So wish they would respond to our requests to do a factory tour.


What are your thoughts on Hydropool spas and Four Winds Spas? I am having trouble finding reviews. Are they not as mainstream as other companies? We have been to two stores in the Raleigh, North Carolina area and are planning to visit another. I would love any insight you can provide as far as the quality. The two models we are looking at are the Hydropool serenity 5900 and the Four Winds titanium II. Thank you!

Hi Erica Hydropool are an excellent marketing company, hence, this question pops up all the time. They fit into our ‘Messy Group’ and as such best avoided. The biggest issue we have is with the strength of the shell. It requires supports, which lead to stress points and later down the line a cracked and leaking shell. If your tub starts out with a weak shell, then you have to ask what else have they scrimped on? Four Winds, similar story to above, is not a really bad brand and they do have some good qualities such as the insulation… Read more »

Thanks for the info on Vortex Kevin. A friend of mind is recommending Integrity spas and swin spas. Not a lot of info on them online, just wondering if you had any insight into this company. I have looked on your website and haven’t seen you comment on them, but if you have, sorry if my question has already been asked. Thanks

Hi Jeff
They use a ‘no name’ control and heating system, this isn’t a good sign, the shell is cradle supported, and again not a good sign. However, it seems they do glue and clamp the pipes, which is a good sign…
Performance wise, don’t expect too much in the way of therapy massage, even from the top of the line models.

Hello Again 🙂 There is a dealer that is willing to sell a Vita Grand Hot tub with upgrades for $6500. It’s actually in stock which is nice! Is that a good price? He said they are normally 10k. I see that’s in your mid range, would you still recommend it? I’m wanting a tub for relaxation and therapy jets.

Hi Buddy…
Vita Grand hot tub, is middle of the road in terms of quality and performance. Don’t think he would ever sell one for 10k, certainly not pre Covid. Last price someone quoted to me was 8k. So on paper your $6500 is a decent price,

Hello, sir. What are your thoughts about HYDROPOOL?

Thanks for your insight and passion. Refreshing!


Hi William They are owned by a big equity investment company out of the US. This company is great at marketing, advertising, and branding, which adds a lot to the price of your tub… They are firmly in my great marketing companies, have alook at this page. Shell wise its is a middle of the road cradle supported shell, the insulation is low R-value and inexpensive and would never meet code in any regulated industry, the parts are good. so really a mixed bag, it does not meet my standards for a top-end tub and the pricing is not in… Read more »

I get that three years ago Hydropool was purchased by a private equity firm that also owned Jacuzzi and several other manufacturers. And I get that historically, Jacuzzi has always spent big dollars on marketing. The idea being that when you purchase a spa from one of these high marketing budget companies, you end up getting less bang for your buck. You’re also pointing out several areas where Hydropool is lacking in quality. Specifically, you mention concerns related to the shell strength of their tubs, as well as low R-value of their insulation. Can you please tell me if these… Read more »

Hi John
From a consumer purchasing advice position, I’m not sure its relevant what they did three years ago, it more important to give information on how your tub is likely to be when you make that purchase now, and in the coming months.
Blockbuster and Woolworths were once great brands…

Hi Chris, Thanks for all of the very useful information. I had narrowed my search down to either a PDC or Twilight Master Spa. Low and behold, a Master Spa dealer in southern Wisconsin whom I talked to is getting in a TS 7.2 and they will deliver in the next 3-4 weeks! $12,200 is price, including cover, stairs, chemicals, delivery and install which I think is fair unless you say otherwise (ie. supply/demand due to COVID increasing price significantly). The real reason I am emailing is I am putting this in my backyard to the side of my house… Read more »

Hi Eric
Good price for a TS 7.2 with virtually immediate delivery…
For the base you want a good solid flat and level surface, the best option is a 4” concrete slab. You can go onto pavers, but its vital that the subbase is prepared well, so that none of the pavers settle after construction. The last thing you want is the pavers settling on one side and putting the tub out of true!

Do you have any thoughts on vortex spas? Thanks

Hi Jeff
Vortex Spa’s, I’m sure it’s a Chinese white label product, that has various labels stuck on it to add variety to a poor tub!

Hi! We literally just started looking at hot tub’s this past Saturday and of course they are behind on building them, so it seems we don’t have many choices right now if we want it soon… But right now we are between a caldera tahitian and a catalina carlton. The Catalina seems too good to be true as it is almost $3000 or more less than a caldera… Any insight on Catalina Carlton’s? Thank you so much!

Hi Holly
Catalina is an unknown. I have reached out several times but these folks never get back to me.
They are produced in Johnson City, Tennessee in a large facility of some 320,000 square feet, they also make Wellness, Premium Leisure and Hudson Bay Spa’s all of which really land in the mass merchant quality bracket.
caldera is part of the Watkins hot springs group the best thing about them is there expert branding, marketing, and advertising… The Caldera’s are built using proprietary parts which makes it a no go for me…

thank you so much for the reply! We are headed to Scioto valley in Columbus Ohio this Saturday… I think we might stick with the bullfrogs… I’m just not sure if we want to go with the jet packs or not because of the issues with mold I have seen online! Thanks again!

Hi Holly
Bullfrogs do a line without the ‘Jetpacks’ Happy shopping!

thank you!

Avoid Catalina like the plague! Returned mine after too many issues to mention.

Looking for a hot tub in the Salt Lake area. Currently have a refundable deposit holding down a Jacuzzi J-280 for 8k. Curious if we should continue to shop. I was looking at the passion joy spa and was curious how that compares. Are there other brands we should be considering in this area? What would require the least maintenance? And what sort of energy efficiency should I be looking for? 7ish seats. Budget 8-10k. Happy to pay for assistance if you believe you can find us an incredible deal.

Hi Richard I got a look at Passion spas at a show in Vegas last year, they did not stand out to me, good control and heating but they have a cradle supported shell and cheap insulation. Jacuzzi is in a weird place with us right now, they used to build low to mid-grade tubs but over the last couple of years they have changed a lot of how they do things. Now they are, on paper anyway, doing a lot of things right. The only reason we do not have them on our go-to list is that we have… Read more »

Really appreciate this site! For what it’s worth, we had a Marquis Everyday Spa for 7 years and in that time pretty much everything that could fall off of it did. Every jet but 2 broke, the dials to turn jets on and off broke, the balboa controller broke, the heater died, and the control pad went bad. Never did leak and at least the balboa stuff was easy to source and relatively inexpensive. Pretty disappointing though as a previous cheaper hot tub lasted the 5 years we were in the home with never an issue. We have limited options… Read more »

Have any suggestions for a good alternate to a nordic classc series tub? In my area (Wisconsin/Minnesota) those are unavailable we’re told until next summer.

Thanks for the site–it’s been a great source of info!

Last edited 28 days ago by Dave Chapman

Hi Dave
We have a factory direct dealer, who we have negotiated great prices with via our Private Buyer Service. We can get great prices, or fast delivery right now. The covid issue spreads far and wide, right now getting any decent quality tub is months away, or you have to pay a premium to get it fast. Its sucks, but that how it is right now.

Hi Chris, Appreciate the information posted in this site. I live in Louisville, KY. We are empty nesters looking for a round , 3-4 person size (can be a 5 , but willing to go smaller and pay more for quality). In other words we are looking for a quality , round tub on the small 72″-76 diameter. we like a deeper tub 34+” if possible and advice on a recommended local dealer. I was looking at the Viking 3 until I read this site. Nordic Crown series seems liek apossible candidate but I have no knowledge of better manufacturers.

Hi Randall
I’m struggling to find a decent round tub from a supplier anywhere near your location, the best tub as a round unit is going to be the Artesian 627M, but dealers are well away from you in Nashville!
An alternative, brand, that is in our top group has a local dealer, see the link below. Via our Private Buyer service, we can always get a lower, whatever the local dealer offers you. But they don’t do a ‘round’ tub

Hi Chris,
I own a ski vacation home at Big White. We have an old Pacific Spa there, which should be replaced soon.
The only two dealers i found in Kelowna, BC have either Arctic Spas or Jacuzzi. Your feedback what to get for a rental place on a ski hill (cold) is appreciated.

Thank you

Robert & Carol

Hi Robert Arctic spas have always had a decent performance and jetting package my problem with the spa has always been that the jets and most of the parts are Chinese and the electronic heating and control system is a proprietary part, there are no clamps on the plumbing and almost no insulation… It’s an inexpensive spa to build a very expensive brand because of the tons they spend on marketing and branding and just not a high-end quality product. From the two you have available, the jacuzzi is the best one for sure, good shells and good parts with… Read more »

Hi Kevin,

thank you for the feedback. I just found out there is as well a cal spa dealer in town. Would i be better off with the cal spa over the jacuzzi?

Thank you

Hi Robert Chris did a factory visit, to be fair it was last year, and due to Covid, hasn’t been able to make a return visit as of yet. But here is what he had to say on Cal Spa. “I was at the factory Jan 2019, middle of the road, they did not make the cut for my recommended brand. I saw Cal Spas this year and did the factory tour and they are really working at the quality control and back-end support for their customers which is great to see but it’s not going onto my number one… Read more »

Wow, so glad I found this site. We’re doing a backyard redesign and were hoping for an in-ground pool, but the fact that we’re in the 100 year flood plain made getting a permit impossible. I’m now trying to decide between a swim spa and a hot tub. First tub I looked at was a Dimension One Amore, but I see they rank low on your list.

Do you have a recommended dealer in Austin, TX, and if so would your personal buying service be a benefit here? Also, do you have reviews on any of the swim spas?


Hi Michael
Buying a swim spa, is a considerable investment, and as such I would really advise you to take up the Private Buyer Service, we will be able to advise on the best product, then negotiate for you the best possible price.

We are looking for a 7-person spa with one of the brands you recommend above at a price that is under 8k. Is this realistic or should we up our budget? We are located in northeast USA (Philadelphia area).

Hi Amy
With an 8k budget, its going to tight to find a quality brand tub with a capacity for 7 people. Hook up to our Private Buyer Service and let us have a crack at finding you one!

Chris, thank you so much for this incredibly helpful page! I’m doing some research (in the hudson valley NY) and have my eye on a Wellis Leo plug and play. I’m hard pressed to find much information on Wellis and was wondering if you have an opinion? Thank you so much in advance!

Hi Heather
Wellis is mass merchant quality with lots of weird parts and poor to mid end fabrication. great marketing though! There are better options out there for sure. In your area we have access to factory direct pricing on Master Spas. We can get you to price point, not available to the general public via our Private Buyer Service, check out the link, you have nothing to lose.

hi there, this site is very helpful. I live in Ireland, and every brand for sale in Ireland and Northern Ireland seem to be on your “messy” list. i’m stuck for choice. I’m looking for a 6-7 seater with salt water. i move into our new house in late feb, and delivery in time seems to be an issue. Do you have contacts and recommendations here? Do i have options in other countries?

Hi Richard 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 Spa Marvel… Read more »

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