This is an odd post from a local hot tub dealer who sells only 1 or 2 brands of spas, but I often get asked by customers who are shopping, what are the best hot tub brands?

I often rattle off the following names, and let the customer know if they are looking at these brands then they have done some good research and are looking at the best of the best.

The following list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, thats because they all make a great hot tub and you really can’t go wrong with any of these companies. Are there only 5 good hot tub manufacturers out there, of course not, but I wanted to limit myself and this post to what I think are the top 1%, cream of the crop spa brands out right now.

I used a few factors in deciding one who to include on this list, mostly it came down to experience with the brands over my 15 years in the industry, as well as company longevity, overall quality, and product innovation.

2017 Best Hot Tub Manufacturers

Watkins Wellness

hotsprings_spas

Watkins Manufacturing now Watkins Wellness is one of the older names in the business, and sell a huge volume of hot tubs in North America. They make 2 great long standing brands in Hot Springs and Caldera Spas.

Watkins made the push in the last 2 years to really transform what the traditional hot tub design looks like. With the help of the acclaimed BMW design group they redesigned the high end Hot Springs Highlife Series models and created the NXT spas in 2015. In 2016 they worked with BMW again on redesigning the Caldera Utopia Series units which look absolutely amazing. Watkins has really put a lot of thought into the overall comfort of their spas, I think whether you go Hot Springs or Caldera you will get some of the most comfortable seating in a hot tub out there.

On top of their 2 premium lines in Hot Springs and Caldera, Watkins also manufactures one of the best selling rotomold 110v plug and play spas in the industry; Freeflow Spas. If you are looking for an affordable (sub $5000) easily portable hot tub, Freeflow has some really well built models.

HotSpringsSpas.com

Calderaspas.com

Freeflowspas.com

Jacuzzi

jacuzzi best spas 2015

You can’t have a top 5 list of hot tub brands without Jacuzzi, they pretty much invented the product category. The Jacuzzi brothers pioneered the hydrotherapy pump system way back in 1956, when hot tubs were just wine barrels. Today they continue to produce world class spas, and their new j-500 series designer spa is one of the best looking hot tubs on the market right now.

http://www.jacuzzi.com/hot-tubs/

Bullfrog Spas

bullfrog spas best hot tub companies

BullFrog Spas has not been around nearly as long as some of the other hot tub brands on this list but they are well deserving. This Utah based spa manufacturer started up in 1996 and quickly made its mark on the industry for its innovative take on hot tub jetting systems. Having patented the JetPack Bullfrog made it possible for hot tub customers to basically build their own spa hydrotherapy experience. Each spa has Jetpack consisting of a different jetting system, these Jetpacks can be taken out and moved from seat to seat, or upgraded for different Jetpacks as new styles are released.

http://www.bullfrogspas.com/

Dimension One Spas

D1 hot tubs top spa brands

Even though the long time independent D1 spas was recently acquired by the Jacuzzi company it is still a separate hot tub brand. Dimension One is a major innovator in the hot tub industry and came into the market based on a belief that they could produce a better spa shell. By partnering with the Bayer company the designed a durable polymer material to use for the spa shells. They called this material Ultralife and give it a lifetime warranty. You will have to like white, as it is the only color it comes in.

http://www.d1spas.com/

Marquis Spas

marquis-logo

Marquis is an independent employee owned company that has been making a quality hot tub since 1980. Like most of the other spas on the list they have been around a long time. They have been rated #1 in initial quality by the independent Trade Certified Organization in the Spa category that rates the top spas manufacturers in the industry. Their exclusive HK40 40 gallon per minute HOT ZONE jets are some of the most powerful jets in the industry and their idea of high flow low pressure has made them one of the top spas when it comes to deep tissue hot water massage.

MarquisSpas.com

Again this list is presented in no particular order and is just to be used as a reference for shoppers looking to learn ONE hot tub salesman’s opinion on the top hot tub manufacturers and brands in the country based on 16 years experience in the industry. If you are looking for a quality , therapeutic backyard hot tub experience you can not go wrong with any of the companies above. You should also make sure that you buy your spa from a good local dealer who has a good service department and been around for a good amount of time, as a hot tub brand is only as good as its dealer.

About the Author

JayB

Jay is the retail sales manager at Precision Pool Construction and has been running the store for the past 9 years. He has been in the pool and spa industry for the last 17 years and is CPO certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

In addition to his pool and spa experience, Jay is an accomplished solo singer/songwriter who has been featured on various Boston radio stations and has played in some of the areas best music venues. Check out the tunes here

Connect with Jay on Google +

28 Comments

  1. Hi Lonnie,

    I do not know who makes the Divine Spas but they do kind of look like a Clearwater Spa, so maybe that is who makes them for Costco?

    I would strongly advise you to find a local hot tub dealer in your area as you will have a much better hot tub experience that way. Costco does not do complete delivery (just curbside I believe) or offer service after the sale which is very important. Look for a dealer that has been in business a while and sells a spa brand that has also been around a while. They don’t necessarily have to sell one of the brands above but make sure it is a brand that has been in business at least 15 years and you can find information on. Hot tubs like any appliance are complicated machines and if you do have issues its good to have an experienced professional ho tub dealer to back you up.

    I would highly recommend visiting a couple of pool and spa forums and asking questions. Check out http://poolspaforum.com and http://whatsthebest-hottub.com/forum/ they have a lot of great insight on different manufacturers and types of spas.

    I hope that helps.

    -Jay

  2. I know they are an online brand but that is about it.

    On the poolspaforum.com and other like forums they don’t get the best rep. I would not recommend buying any spa that you are not buying from a local dealer. You need someone that can support the product. Also, the brands that are sold by pool and spa dealers are usually top class.

    So while I don’t have first hadn knowledge of Dr. Wellness spas I would recommend not buying online. Plus you won’t get a complete deliver, it will mostly be curbside.

    -Jay

  3. Great comments above and I wish I had read them 2 years ago. I bought a Divine hot tub in 2014 from Costco and have regretted it ever since. Poor quality craftsmanship and over all product. I had a Cal spa for 15 years which was simple durable and well made. At the urging of my teenage kids went to a Fancy 100 plus Jet system from divine and have regretted it everyday. I do not recommend buying such items from Costco. We love Costco and do a majority our of shopping there but not longer items like hot tubs. A local dealer is the way to go.

  4. Hi Chris,

    Both brands have been around for a long time, Hot Springs is made by Watkins which is the largest manufacturer in the world. I am not a huge fan of Artctics insulation system, I do not believe it can match up to full foam. Also with full foam you give the heavy plumbing more structural support so it is very unlikely to get leaks from bad glue joints and such.

    Not saying Arctic is a bad spa, it is not just saying there are things that Watkins does with their Hot Springs and Caldera Spas that make is a better option.

    Hope that helps and sorry for the delay.

    -Jay Broyer

  5. Do you know anything about Starlight hot tubs? I see a 7 person, 115 jet one on Wayfair and other online retailers. I am also looking at the Divine one from Costco (Looks very similar to the Stralight one – 7 person – 115 jets). Thank you.

  6. Hi Marc,

    I do not. However I will say with all the options available to you I would HIGHLY recommend buying from your local hot tub dealers. You want to buy a brand that is trusted and been around for a while so you know 5 10 15 years down the road you can still get service.

    Also your dealer will give you a lot of things you can’t get from Costco or online. Delivery right to your spot, setup of your spa, installing things like cover lifters and straps.

    Also when something goes wrong you have someone to call. Wayfair is not going to be able to help.

    Brands like Hot Springs, Caldera, Marquis, Bullfrog all have lines that are priced very competitively. Even if you go into the rotomold 110v spas, which I LOVE. Look for a local dealer who sells Freeflow, Fantasy, Nordic, or Dreamaker spas. All are great brands backed by excellent companies and are sold by independent professional spa dealers that know their stuff. Some of those rotomold brands I mentioned have spas that start at $2495!

    So I would say buy based one, size, layout, and budget….but always by a hot tub from a local dealer.

    Hope that helps,

    -Jay

  7. Thanks Jay. I found out they are both made by Clearwater Springs, but not same warranty as the ones they sell through dealers.

  8. Hi sorry for the delay.

    Both are great brands, in fact both are the same company as Jacuzzi bought Sundance a few years back. Although make sure you are comparing like models and series to each other. $7000 for one and $9500 for the other seems like you are not comparing apples to apples as far as each brannds series.

    For example in Jacuzzi you have the J series that start at j200 series and go to j400 series.

    And Sundance has the 680 series up to the 980 series.

    In this scenario you wouldn’t compare the Jacuzzi j400 series to a Sundance 780 series. As they are 2 different levels of spa.

    What you want to look for when comparing series to eachother is the length of the component warranty (usually tops out at 5 years on top of the line spas), as well as other components like, circ pumps, built in sanitation (ozone uz, mineral, ect.) and the overall fit and finish of a spa.

    Hope that helps.

    -Jay

  9. Hi Jay,
    I purchased a Tuff Spa TT 250 from a company in Arizona, are you familiar with with this co/ model?

  10. Any suggestions on Bullfrog or Hot Springs? I have narrowed it down to the 2 but heard Hot Springs is made in Mexico so not sure that affects anything. Also heard Hot Springs does not have any Leak Warranty. Just your thoughts, thanks so much. Oh, both are local dealers, one an independent who sells the Hot Springs and the other has 2 locations and they sell the Bullfrog.

  11. I actually used to sell the Bullfrog Spas and I really liked them they are well built. The jetpack system is cool in concept but in my experience people didn’t really mess around and switch them around the spa very much. And buying additional packs is VERY expensive. From a service point of view having a bulk (not all) of the plumbing inside the spa is nice. However in regards to traditionally plumbed spas like Hot Springs I have not seen a glue joint or plumbing leak just happen for no reason. It is SO very rare that a full foam spa develops a leaks outside of the tub freezing and cracking a pipe due to ice damage. So I would not let that really factor into your decision.

    I like both brands a lot, I will say the Watkins Factory in mexico is one of the nicest cleanest manufacturing operations you will see out there, and they just did a bunch of improvements to not only the facility but with the staff. It is quite the operation. My advice would be, find the layout the works best for you, and the dealer you feel the most comfortable with. Your relationship is not going to be with Bullfrog or Hot Springs it is going to be with that local shop you buy it from so that is the most important part of the decision.

  12. We are looking at a ThermoSpa, 5 person. It has Jacuzzi pumps. Has removable side panels that make it easier to work on. We live in Arkansas n don’t have terribly cold weather. We have been told around $12 thou. Then they called today n offered 10 thou if we accept a color they already have. Opinion?

  13. Hi Frances,

    I am not a huge fan of Thermospas to be honest, before they were bought out by Jacuzzi they were based up here in New England, and a lot of people got burned by their sales tactics. For me it always comes down to this; No Local Dealer = No Local Support and that is very important.

    Also Thermospas uses old shell molds and are way over jetted, they actually charge more for more jets which actually makes the spa less powerful because it is diluting the power. And the jets they do use are all what I call bullet hole jets, no adjustment at all. I hate to be the guy who bashes competitors but for that kind of money there are so many better choices than a Thermospa.

    -Jay Broyer
    Precision Pool

  14. Hi Jay,
    I am thinking of purchasing a plug ‘n play spa as I eventually in several years want to put in a built in pool and spa so I don’t want to spend a fortune on a temporary spa. I would also like to keep my costs down which it seems the plug in will do. Would you recommend it and if so what brand and or model would you suggest?

  15. Hi Gail, you are the perfect candidate for a rotomold plug and play. They are light and easy to move when you start doing your pool project as well as being able to plug into any outlet.

    We sell Freeflow Spas here which are made by Watkins (makers of Hot Spring and Caldera)

    They are simple, built to last and backed by a great company. I would go to Freeflowspas.com and search for your local dealer.

    -Jay

  16. Sorry for the delay Nick. I don’t think they are a bad spa, I just don’t like the way they choose to sell them with those traveling road shows of high pressure national sales teams. They rent out big civic centers and dump 70 spas into the local market with no dealer support.

    I would say the product is decent, I think you can find better fit and finish and performance at the same price point, but my problem is more about how they sell them.

    Hope that helps,

    -Jay

  17. Hi Jay, thank you so much for answering all these great questions. I am totally overwhelmed with what is out there. We live in the Midwest and Winters can be brutal. I like the Hotspings spas with the Ace salt water system, any feedback on these? Also Bahama Spas and L.A. Spas are in consideration. All from local dealers. They are all almost double the price than comparable Divine or Evolution spas at Costco, and they are fully loaded. I am aware of your thoughts about buying at a local dealer. Just trying to figure out if justifying almost double the price is worth it. Thank you, Jay!

  18. Hi Nele,

    The Hot Springs with ACE is probably the most expensive hot tub in the industry. I would take the $2,500 the ACE system costs and put that towards a better spa. Maybe instead of looking at the Highlife Collection on Limelight from Hot Springs, take a look at their Hot Spot line. I sell Caldera and their Vacanza series are the same spas as teh Hot Spots (same manufacturer), these are great fully insulated spas, very roomy seating and top of the line equipment. I don’t know Bahama Spas and have had only limited experience with LA Spas.

    I would much rather see you sacrifice a few bells and whistles and get a spa from a top manufacturer than get a Costco Spa. The manufacturers have to cut lots of corners with insulation (it may say full foam but it does NOT fill the whole cabinet, not even close). The use cheaper pumps and pc boards, ect. It may look similar on paper but under the hood it is a much different story. Below are some value and entry level lines from top brands I would recommend looking at that might fit better in your price point.

    Hot Spring Hot Spot Spas
    Caldera Vacanza Series
    Marquis Eseries or Celebrity Series* (Celebrity has no insulation so you would need to add some)
    Bullfrog X series
    Jacuzzi 200 series
    Dimension 1 @home series

    Or how about a rotomold spa like Freeflow? They are made by Watkins as well, same company as Caldera and Hot Spring.

    This is an industry where the quality difference in how things are put together varies wildly and there is a HUGE drop off after the top 10 or so brands and an even bigger dropoff with online or big box. Plus hot tubs are a complex piece of equipment, it will need service at some point, and you will want someone in your corner to help you when something happens.

    Hope that helps,

    -Jay

  19. Those are technically Freeflow spas just with cheaper components and less insulation. I would recommend finding your local Freeflow dealer as you will get the same spa with better components for not much more and then actually have dealer support to back up the product.

  20. Sorry for the delay on this one. Love nordic spas, great molds, good components and a good price point. Not thrilled about their plywood bases, I wish they would use a plastic sheeting or something. But otherwise I really like Nordic.

    Can not comment on Tropic as I have not seen them in person. Just make sure you by from a local brick and mortar so you have dealer support after the sale.

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