What's the Best Hot Tub

Author Topic: First Time Purchaser Help  (Read 741 times)

aug0211

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First Time Purchaser Help
« on: December 02, 2018, 12:22:48 pm »
Hi everyone,

First time poster here. Have read through existing threads (including the beating the dead horse portion) and would like to arm myself with a bit more information before I get out there into the show rooms.

Grew up with a Hot Spring at my parents’ place (they still have it - going strong for 15 years now). My wife and I are thinking it’s time to add one at our place. We don’t want to spend money just to spend it, though I am normally one to pay a bit more to have more potential/features/quality/reliability in a product. The main source of buyers’ remorse that I am susceptible to is “I wish I had added that feature!” With that said, our budget is in the $10-15k range (and if there is something mind blowing that is a “must have,” we can go up from there.

Our daughter has cerebral palsy and we are hopeful for potential use down the road to help her relax her muscles (high muscle tone). There will also be some assistive devices in the tub (daughter is deaf with cochlear implants, so water-proof cochlear implants will be in the tub - people use these in pools all the time, but I’d like to consider harshness of water in the decision of chlorine vs salt). We are a four person family and entertain often, so a larger tub would be preferred.

We’re located in Central Ohio and year-round use is a must-have for us.

Before going in to see the dealers, I’d like to arm myself with some info so that I am not eaten alive :-) The research I’ve done so far indicates that hot tub purchasing is not too different from car purchasing, in that there are many factors that can influence pricing (product, inventory, dealer location/shipping cost, demand, etc), negotiation is to be expected, and test drives (wet tests) are a must. I generally like to have my info together ahead of time, to avoid long, drawn-out trips where dealers are selling me on whatever they have on the floor and are trying to move. Of course, on-site experience is critical but prep ahead of time is important to me.

Questions I can think of (please add your own questions and answers that I should be asking but don’t even know to ask yet):
  • Brands - what all should we consider/what is trusted and quality? So far I’ve short listed Marquis, Hot Spring, Caldera, Bullfrog, and Jacuzzi - but I honestly don’t know much, these are just names that seem to be popular/trusted on the higher end of things
  • Specific models? We like fancy lights and gadgets and all that, though hydrotherapy is also a big factor for our daughter’s future use. Size is a factor, too (6 or 7? 8? people), with budget of around $15k or less if possible (can stretch if required)
  • Chlorine vs. salt water?
  • Dealers - any recommendations (or warnings) about dealers in the Central OH area? So far, I’m aware of Scioto Valley, Leisure Spa Backyard Living, Recreations Outlet
  • What else am I not asking that I should be asking?

Thanks to everyone for the help!
« Last Edit: December 02, 2018, 12:27:04 pm by aug0211 »

Hot Tub Forum

First Time Purchaser Help
« on: December 02, 2018, 12:22:48 pm »

Spatech_tuo

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2018, 01:00:07 pm »
You have a very good short list. Just be careful that you don't fall in love with any one in particular BEFORE you wet test.
220, 221, whatever it takes!

Sam

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2018, 02:33:21 pm »
Yep, sounds like you are are pretty prepared.  Those are all good brands.  I would personally recommend staying away from saltwater.  It sounds good in a sales pitch but everything I've seen and heard has been negative, outside of one dealer who posts here who has had great success with them.  I think there are other less expensive and more reliable ways to achieve the benefits of salt without the corrosive nature of salt.

The only other thing I would add:  While it's true that some dealers in our industry come across as the classic "used car sales" type of place, don't walk in the door assuming that they all are.  There are quite a few great, family run operations that don't play those games and truly try to sell a customer the best spa for them and start with a very fair price up front.  Not all dealers jack their price up in the hopes you don't negotiate.  I'm not suggesting that you don't try to get a better deal, more so that it may be a minimal amount at some places compared to others.

I commonly run into customers who hammer me on price and I come up with say $500 or something and they are offended because the guy down the road took $5000 off.  The truth is that the guy down the road lied to them, but sometimes it's difficult for customers to understand that.  I can pretty much assure you that any dealer saying that they are knocking $5k off the price of a hot tub is most likely feeding you b.s.  We don't have those type of margins in our industry that we could discount by that much and still stay in business.  People really want to feel like they got an amazing deal are superior shoppers. Some unscrupulous dealers prey upon that instinct.  I refuse to play that game.

aug0211

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2018, 08:41:11 pm »
Thanks, all, for the feedback already.

We were able to see Hot Spring and Jacuzzi tubs this weekend. We’re interested in the Grandee NXT and the Envoy NXT (can’t decide if we want a lounger or the more open space - will have to wet test of course).

Also saw Jacuzzi, though we had wanted to see a 500 series (J-575), but the dealer did not have any 500s on the floor. Said he just didn’t sell them because they were too pricey. We understand there’s an upcharge for aesthetics and maybe not so much for function... but we’re paying over $10k for a luxury item, so the whole thing is kind of vain if you think about it, so it doesn’t seem crazy to me to say we want more lights and atmosphere to help create a relaxing environment.

We’ll go back to wet test the two NXTs and probably will wet test a 400 series Jacuzzi. I told the salesman that I’m nervous it won’t really give Jacuzzi a fair comparison, be he’s trying to convince us that we won’t notice the difference.

I also came across D1 (Dimension One) last night while researching. Wow - those look interesting. Any thoughts on the brand? I understand they’re under the same parent company as Jacuzzi. Their Bay lineup is enticing with interesting layouts. Any feedback on D1?

Tman122

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2018, 08:08:48 am »
I also came across D1 (Dimension One) last night while researching. Wow - those look interesting. Any thoughts on the brand? I understand they’re under the same parent company as Jacuzzi. Their Bay lineup is enticing with interesting layouts. Any feedback on D1?

As good or better than those you have listed.
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wmccall

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2018, 08:57:16 am »
Hi everyone,


Thanks to everyone for the help!

Hi neighbor, welcome to the forum.   In my many years here, and even more years running a home pc repair business in Columbus,  The Hot Spring tub has been the main one i see when a customer has had it for 15 years or more.  The HS dealer here in Columbus has a great reputation as well.   We are fortunate to have to very good reputable dealers here in Columbus that are just a few hundred yards apart.  My wife and I were set to buy an HS back in 2012 as our 2nd tub, but found the Sundance Majesta from the nearby Sundance/Jacuzzi dealer fit us better. That and the fact that they let us wet test any tub in the store helped make my decision.   I think between Scioto Valley and All Season out in Hilliard you will find something you like.

wmccall

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2018, 08:59:37 am »
Thanks, all, for the feedback already.

We were able to see Hot Spring and Jacuzzi tubs this weekend. We’re interested in the Grandee NXT and the Envoy NXT (can’t decide if we want a lounger or the more open space - will have to wet test of course).

Also saw Jacuzzi, though we had wanted to see a 500 series (J-575), but the dealer did not have any 500s on the floor. Said he just didn’t sell them because they were too pricey. We understand there’s an upcharge for aesthetics and maybe not so much for function... but we’re paying over $10k for a luxury item, so the whole thing is kind of vain if you think about it, so it doesn’t seem crazy to me to say we want more lights and atmosphere to help create a relaxing environment.

We’ll go back to wet test the two NXTs and probably will wet test a 400 series Jacuzzi. I told the salesman that I’m nervous it won’t really give Jacuzzi a fair comparison, be he’s trying to convince us that we won’t notice the difference.

I also came across D1 (Dimension One) last night while researching. Wow - those look interesting. Any thoughts on the brand? I understand they’re under the same parent company as Jacuzzi. Their Bay lineup is enticing with interesting layouts. Any feedback on D1?

It appears you have already found All Seasons.  They have been nothing but great to me from a few years before I purchased my Majesta, they helped support me with my 2003 Dynasty tub after that dealer went under.    Good luck in your shopping.

wmccall

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2018, 10:26:39 am »
You have a very good short list. Just be careful that you don't fall in love with any one in particular BEFORE you wet test.

He is very lucky in having 2 premier dealers less than a mile apart that encourage wet testing.

Michael Russell

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2018, 07:11:20 pm »
You may well have read over my thread with my experiences...

I highly recommend wet tests where you can. Ideally with both you and your wife in each. My wife was a little thrown off by the idea at first. Going into a busy store and getting in a swim suit....

It was not a bad experience at all. Most stores offered after hours, or late hour visits. 2 of the 3 we wet test had back rooms that they setup the wet tests in. One was just me in the middle of the day by my own choice as I was passing through town of a further out dealer..

All said. Find a dealer you like and trust. Make sure the tub is comfortable; its really hard to judge comfort in a dry hot tub. Make sure it will fit you long term and medical needs of your daughter.

Insulation was a big point for me. Living in Ontario I insisted on full foam insulation.

Your budget is pretty large so you should be able to get into the largest tubs with lots of jets! I avoided salt water in the end for me it came down to the advise I was hearing from most dealers was they don't see the need... After about 6 weeks with my tub now I have to agree... Maintaining the water is pretty easy.....  (ok I had some clarity issues last week but I got over that ;-)

Cheers,

Mike


aug0211

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2018, 09:28:42 am »
Hi everyone,

We're getting into setting up wet tests. Pricing is the next step after/during that.

Can I get a list of ballpark ranges to expect for fair pricing on the following? I know pricing can be a big range, so I will keep that in mind. I'm just hoping to collect as many data points as possible to make sure I'm not *way* off in my discussions.

Hot Spring NXT Grandee
Hot Spring NXT Envoy
Jacuzzi J-575
D1 Amore Bay
D1 Sarena Bay

Thanks!

Spatech_tuo

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2018, 12:00:50 am »
Hi everyone,

We're getting into setting up wet tests. Pricing is the next step after/during that.

Can I get a list of ballpark ranges to expect for fair pricing on the following? I know pricing can be a big range, so I will keep that in mind. I'm just hoping to collect as many data points as possible to make sure I'm not *way* off in my discussions.

Hot Spring NXT Grandee
Hot Spring NXT Envoy
Jacuzzi J-575
D1 Amore Bay
D1 Sarena Bay

Thanks!

What city/area are you in?
220, 221, whatever it takes!

Tman122

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2018, 07:55:58 am »
What city/area are you in?

Somewhere by Bill, ain't he a buckeye?
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Spatech_tuo

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2018, 02:23:21 pm »
What city/area are you in?

Somewhere by Bill, ain't he a buckeye?

Aha, I guess I should have scrolled up.
220, 221, whatever it takes!

aug0211

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2018, 05:15:34 pm »
Sorry, yep, I'm a buckeye.

Any ballpark numbers out there?

aug0211

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Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2018, 08:07:26 pm »
Well, we wet tested four tubs today:

1. Hot Spring Grandee with ACE salt system - we both floated a ton, and fought to stay in the seats. Also realized we really want a central hub for feet if it’s an open layout. We do love the exterior styling and the remote control of the NXT line, but the rest was not workable. This seemed like a no go, unfortunately. *Note: we will consider the Envoy, but cannot find one to wet test which is a must for us.

2. Bullfrog A8 - the quality was noticeably lower than the Hot Spring and tub felt small. Jet strength was not consistent across the jet packs and the control panel was all but unresponsive. Miserable to work with. This was a no go for the entire brand, unfortunately.

3. Jacuzzi 470 - this started to get better. No remote control which was a bummer, but we did not float nearly as much as in the Hot Spring. Jets did well and the speakers (option) were surprisingly a nice touch. The dual waterfalls were nice and we enjoyed the waterfall more than water spout options in the Hot Spring. Enjoyed the high-back styling. We noticed more “divides” between each seat which helped us stay put. We also liked the individual jet-level of customization for water power - big win there (and in Sundance).

4. Sundance Optima 880 - possibly the top pick from what we tested, maybe a tie with the Jacuzzi 470. The cabinet looks like it’s from the 80s, which I could not get over. The no high-back styling like the Jacuzzi offers. The jets seemed better than the Jacuzzi. We did not have float issues, and again enjoyed the waterfall, though it was only a single and not double like the Jacuzzi. We did like the built in grab bars as well (potential focus for us as a family where accessibility is a concern). Excited about the scent option and bubbles as nice touches. As listed on Jacuzzi, enjoyed individual jet power customization.


Next steps:

1. We would love a Hot Spring NXT, as the exterior styling and remote control are top notch. It would probably have to be the Envoy, which we cannot wet test, so we have to wait on that most likely and see what 2019 might bring to our dealer’s floor.

2. Jacuzzi 500 series is a strong contender - dealer does not have any to see, which is a concern, but after testing the 400 series, we are thinking we should have a good feel for it (does this make sense?) and just want the styling touches.

3. We are really interested in the 900 series of the Sundance spas. Specifically the 980 Kingston and Claremont. Dealer is supposed to get a 980 in next week, so we’ll check it out.


Key Learnings:

1. Wet test is critical, we learned that we float. We did a full 180 on the foot hubs and now they are very attractive to us.

2. Control panel - using it while in the tub was important to test. We learned which ones were usable and which ones freak out.

3. Cool down seat - must have for us!

4. Salt water was a bit different but not massively.


Questions:

1. Any chance the salt system in the Hot Spring caused our float issues? Or is the salt level too low to impact buoyancy that much?

2. Thoughts on Sundance? Sounds like they are a step up from Jacuzzi? Are they reputable/top tier/going to last a long time/good customer service/etc?

3. Dealer mentioned that darker shells would show dirt quickly/easily and was recommending a lighter shell. We were nervous about sun glare but don’t want to be fighting with water marks on a darker shell non-stop. Is the dealer right? Or full of it?

4. Pricing? I know everyone is hesitant to touch this, but I’d love to hear whatever input might be out there. What have people paid for Jacuzzi 500 series? Sundance 900 series?

5. Other brands/tubs/recommendations to check out?

Hot Tub Forum

Re: First Time Purchaser Help
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2018, 08:07:26 pm »

 

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