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.