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Wow, I'm so confused. Where do I start for Hottubs?


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Hi all. We're looking for a new Hottub. We live in Canada in a major city. Lots of choices here. I'm not sure where to start.

We started looking at Arctic because we thought they were good. And than that guy all over youtube basically shits on them and calls them garbage. So we stopped looking at them.

Than I started looking at Bullfrog, but they seem priced high for what we want (m series) and no room for budging on price. I dont like the salesman, so that might have something to do with it.

Than I looked at Artesian, but I'm a big guy and the loungers don't look like I'll fit.

Than I looked at MasterSpas, but they seem a bit 'off the back of the truck' sort of thing.

Currently looking at Hotsprings. How's the brand?

 

Any help guys!!?!?

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16 hours ago, Cyclical said:

And than that guy all over youtube basically shits on them and calls them garbage.

You do understand that he gets paid for that, right? Arctic is a decent tub. Not my top tier, but a good spa from my experience. Most mid range spas use pumps built by someone else, jets built by someone else, controls built by someone else... so it really boils down to construction. Frame, cabinet, shell, insulation, extras. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

16 hours ago, Cyclical said:

Than I started looking at Bullfrog,

Lots of people buying bullfrogs these days. In my experience they are not that great and have issues with the removeable jet packs. I've heard they addressed these issues, but couldn't say myself. But they seem to be a good marketing ploy.

16 hours ago, Cyclical said:

Than I looked at Artesian,

Another mid range tub, nothing special, like arctic. 

16 hours ago, Cyclical said:

Than I looked at MasterSpas,

See above. Masters used to have a metal frame, not sure if they still do, but they put a plastic bowl on the bottom that holds (corrosive, chemical treated) water any time there is a leak, and causes the frame to rust. Not sure if that's better or worse than the wood everyone else uses.

16 hours ago, Cyclical said:

Currently looking at Hotsprings. How's the brand?

The only top tier brand you listed. But can be expensive to fix once out of warranty.

The most important factor, as I have said many times, is the dealer. Choose poorly there and it won't matter what brand it is, you will not be happy. So find the good, reputable dealers and go test some tubs if they have anything on display right now. 

Also, be prepared to wait until some time next year to get it by all accounts.

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48 minutes ago, RDspaguy said:

You do understand that he gets paid for that, right? Arctic is a decent tub. Not my top tier, but a good spa from my experience. Most mid range spas use pumps built by someone else, jets built by someone else, controls built by someone else... so it really boils down to construction. Frame, cabinet, shell, insulation, extras. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Yes, he is a master spa dealer, so I'm well aware.

48 minutes ago, RDspaguy said:

Lots of people buying bullfrogs these days. In my experience they are not that great and have issues with the removeable jet packs. I've heard they addressed these issues, but couldn't say myself. But they seem to be a good marketing ploy.

I agree, they look nice. It don't see what's special about them. I don't think the movable jetpacks matter to me too much.

48 minutes ago, RDspaguy said:

Another mid range tub, nothing special, like arctic. 

See above. Masters used to have a metal frame, not sure if they still do, but they put a plastic bowl on the bottom that holds (corrosive, chemical treated) water any time there is a leak, and causes the frame to rust. Not sure if that's better or worse than the wood everyone else uses.

Master seems low end mid tier from my research.

 

48 minutes ago, RDspaguy said:

The only top tier brand you listed. But can be expensive to fix once out of warranty.

 

Are they a good brand? Why expensive to fix?

48 minutes ago, RDspaguy said:

The most important factor, as I have said many times, is the dealer. Choose poorly there and it won't matter what brand it is, you will not be happy. So find the good, reputable dealers and go test some tubs if they have anything on display right now. 

Also, be prepared to wait until some time next year to get it by all accounts.

 

How's Jacuzzi? Saw one in person and for the price they seemed pretty good. Good warranty, too.

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Top tier brands like Hotsprings and Jacuzzi can be expensive to repair. During Warranty period research call out/trip fees charged to service the warranty. This can range from free to $160. Ask if the warranty is pro rated over the life of the warranty. They can be expensive out of warranty because they use a lot of proprietary parts and you have to buy parts through the dealer. Mid range spas like Artesian, Hydropool, Sunrise Spas might have some proprietary parts most can be sourced and swapped out with generic parts made by the same manufacturer. Things like topsides might not have the same shape or fancy logo but will work just fine. Dealer reputation is critical. Do they provide their own service or do they source their service to an outside company. Trust is very important. 

What extras are they offering? Delivery, Cover lifter and install, steps, start up chemical kit, GFCI spa box (especially Hotsprings as their "Special" 20/30 amp GFCI breaker can be hard to get in Canada and expensive) are all things you will need and can add up $$. Work your best price on the spa and get these things added in at the end if they are not already offering. Most will include the extras. 

Ask the sales person if they are working off Commission. Makes them really uneasy and I love it. Remember the sales person's job is to get as much of your money as possible. The more they get the more they make. Once the dotted line is signed you will likely never see that person again and will be dealing with a CSR or a Service Dept. going forward if you are dealing with a larger pool AND spa retailer. Don't be afraid to walk away. Take the deal to the limit and walk away. Leave your contact information and a good sales person will call within a few days and ask what more they can do to earn your business. Make them work for your money. Then you will know if you are getting their best deal and can then decide if it works for your needs and budget.

Having said all that If you have the budget Jacuzzi would be my recommendation for the spas available in the Ottawa Area. I would also look at Artesian and Hydropool (owned by Jacuzzi but Made In Canada. Sunrise Spa also Canadian made and Jacuzzi owned). Trevi Spas are re-labled Dynasty spas and also worth a look IMO.

Jacuzzi also seem to have the best resale value if plans ever change down the road. 

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4 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

Top tier brands like Hotsprings and Jacuzzi can be expensive to repair. During Warranty period research call out/trip fees charged to service the warranty. This can range from free to $160. Ask if the warranty is pro rated over the life of the warranty. They can be expensive out of warranty because they use a lot of proprietary parts and you have to buy parts through the dealer.

Will do, good advice.

4 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

 

Mid range spas like Artesian, Hydropool, Sunrise Spas might have some proprietary parts most can be sourced and swapped out with generic parts made by the same manufacturer. Things like topsides might not have the same shape or fancy logo but will work just fine. Dealer reputation is critical. Do they provide their own service or do they source their service to an outside company. Trust is very important. 

I thought Artesian was 'high-end'

4 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

What extras are they offering? Delivery, Cover lifter and install, steps, start up chemical kit, GFCI spa box (especially Hotsprings as their "Special" 20/30 amp GFCI breaker can be hard to get in Canada and expensive) are all things you will need and can add up $$. Work your best price on the spa and get these things added in at the end if they are not already offering. Most will include the extras. 

Ask the sales person if they are working off Commission. Makes them really uneasy and I love it. Remember the sales person's job is to get as much of your money as possible. The more they get the more they make. Once the dotted line is signed you will likely never see that person again and will be dealing with a CSR or a Service Dept. going forward if you are dealing with a larger pool AND spa retailer. Don't be afraid to walk away. Take the deal to the limit and walk away. Leave your contact information and a good sales person will call within a few days and ask what more they can do to earn your business. Make them work for your money. Then you will know if you are getting their best deal and can then decide if it works for your needs and budget.

Good idea, thank you.

4 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

Having said all that If you have the budget Jacuzzi would be my recommendation for the spas available in the Ottawa Area. I would also look at Artesian and Hydropool (owned by Jacuzzi but Made In Canada. Sunrise Spa also Canadian made and Jacuzzi owned). Trevi Spas are re-labled Dynasty spas and also worth a look IMO.

Jacuzzi also seem to have the best resale value if plans ever change down the road. 

Jacuzzi seems the cheapest out of everything here. 16k includes EVERYTHING except the speakers, which don't interest me.

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21 hours ago, Cyclical said:

How is Caldera everyone?

Caldera is owned by the same parent company as Hotspring (Watkins).  They share many of the same components under the hood, heck even both websites look similar (same engine behind both sites).   I believe Caldera spas are built in the same mexico facility as the Hotspot and Limelight spas (but I'm not 100% positive, someone correct me if I'm wrong).

In my opinion, Caldera's Utopia class of tubs fits the niche between the Hotspring Limelight and Hotspring Highlife tubs. 

As a product engineer, I'm a Hotspring Highlife fanboy - they may be expensive to repair, but they are also built with various quality components these days such as a polycarbonate tool-grade frame which will not rot or rust like competitors wood framing or galvanized steel framing.   I wanted a product built to last decades of daily use and didn't want something which will rot away after a decade in the sun and water exposure (note - arsenic is no longer used in pressure treated lumber, thus the wood frames and bases are far more susceptible to rot when exposed to moisture).  But I'm also not someone who ever intends to service this spa personally to fix an issue - if it needs repairs I'm calling out my dealer's experienced techs to work their magic, because I don't have time to mess with the tub (time is money and my time is worth more enjoying the spa than fixing it)

However know that Hotspring's biggest claim to fame is their proprietary motomassager jets.  You won't find them on any other brand of spa out there.  Some people could care less about them, others can't imagine a tub without them.   And they're only available on the Highlife (and two entry level Hotspot models).    Caldera Utopia class is a great alternative for people who want a Watkins flagship spa, but don't want the motomassager jets (which do have a limited lifespan before replacement)

As others have mentioned - be sure to research the local dealer as they are typically responsible for warranty labor costs, NOT the manufacturer.  Your experiences will vary greatly based on your local dealer so be sure to spend time researching them extensively.  Warranty info, call out fees, even online reputation from existing customers in yelp/google reviews.  The dealer is almost as important as the brand you buy - so if you get a bad vibe from the dealer walk away and find another one.  In my experience I managed to save 20% and find a better Hotspring dealer equidistant from my rural location haha (no haggling needed, every dealer operates on different profit margins and markups).

 

Gif of those sexy motomassager jets for attention haha

Hot_Spring_Moto_Massage.gif.dd6b2d0c939bfb0838a067be5b393f76.gif


Note - if you like Jacuzzi you might want to check out Sundance, they are Jacuzzi's sister company and share many of the same components (much like Hotspring/Caldera) - Sundance Optima series has had a long reputation as one of the best therapeutic spa collections in the industry

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I would agree that Hot Springs and Jacuzzi are top brands. I would have to disagree with my midwestern  friend that Artesian is mid tier.

Some tubs made by Artesian are certainly mid grade, the Artesian Elite and Island series are on the top quality end IMHO. I have an Artesian Island series and it's top quality. Self supporting shell, Balboa components, full foam insulation and decent layouts. I have a Nevis and the lounger is comfortable and at my 5'7" height, I can't touch the far foot jets. They are easily 8" away from my feet so for me, those jets don't do much therapy until the air is on and then I get some massage action. Not a big deal as the knee and thigh jets offer plenty for my replaced knees.

I like the fact that there are only a few proprietary parts in an Artesian and that those can be replaced with off the shelf parts if necessary. I'm not a fan of expensive proprietary parts in anything and hot tubs are no exception.

Check out Sundance and Dimension One. Those are good quality tubs.

When I was looking, I checked out more tubs than I can remember. The dealer experience was why I didn't go with Hot Springs or Caldera. The Sundance dealer only would do home showings with brochure's, etc (stupid Covid) and if I can't poke, prod, touch and feel the tub and it's construction, I wasn't buying. Unfortunately, Bullfrog didn't have anything in my size requirements but I liked the tub and it's construction. The redesigned jet packs looked more reliable and had less nooks and crannies for mold to form.

A good dealer is very important too. If you are not comfortable with the dealer (and an uninformed salesman is a sign but a pushy one may not be) then I would continue to look. You might have to travel some. My dealer is 90 miles away from me (and services my area) simply because the locals either had poor reputations or performance, uninformed staff, product lines I didn't like or no inventory on the floor. For me, the Artesian offering hit all my check boxes and so far, in my limited service experience, has been top notch. (not the tub, had an air bound pump that the tech walked me through the repair within 15 minutes of my initial call)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Marquis is also a decent brand. I looked at several and liked what I saw for the most part. Unfortunately, All I could see were 8' tubs with goofy features (Belagio falls, etc) and I couldn't get any idea of I would fit in their smaller tubs because of unavailability.

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