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The Brands I Like and Dislike and Why
Who's doing it right and who's just full of it? It makes a huge difference which manufacturer you purchase your new tub from; are they a company making solid tubs or just a high-end marketing company that happens to sell hot tubs?
There are 3 kinds of Hot Tub companies; Ones that are great marketing companies building mid-grade spas a stupidly-high prices, ones that build mid-grade/mid-priced hot tubs, and ones that make great hot tubs in the middle price area.
This last group is alaways 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 the messy group that are your worst options are:
HotSprings, Caldera, Limelight, Endless Pools, Artic Spas, Dimension One, Dynasty
Their business model goes something like 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 even I'm 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.
The Hot Tub brands I consider to be in the middle group are:
American Whirlpool, Vita, Maxx, Viking, Premium Leisure, Pinnacle, Strong
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.
(This is 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 the TOP group are:
Artesian, Twilight, Jacuzzi, Getaway Spas, Elite, Master Spas, Healthy Living, Clarity, PDC, Coast (pending factory inspection), & then there are a bunch of fringe guys like Bullfrog, Beachcomber, Nordic, Marquis
These guys are in the sweet spot of building to a high standard with good quality control and not blowing their brains out on 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.