HotSpring® Spas Review (Features, prices, pros and cons and more...)

We’re often asked about HotSpring® spas and if they're worth the extra money compared with cheaper mid-market spas.

We sold HotSpring® spas at Spa World™ in Australia for many years and, while we no longer sell their products, we do know a lot about them. We also care about helping our customers make good decisions, so we wrote a quick article on the topic.

In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd, the parent company of Spa World™. You can see the list of the brand owners at the bottom of this article. All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (20 July 2020) and may change without notice.

Who are HotSpring® spas?

HotSpring® spas is a brand of US-based Watkins Wellness™, the world’s largest manufacturer of spa pools.

HotSpring® were early innovators in the spa industry.

In 1978, the company introduced the first fully-insulated hot tub with underwater lighting and top-loading filters. Today, these features are industry standards.

In 1984, they launched Moto-Massage®, the world’s first moving hydrotherapy jet.

According to its website, the company now has the largest network of hot tub dealerships in the world, with authorised sales agencies and service locations worldwide - including in Australia.

HotSpring® New Zealand is based in Auckland, where it has a warehouse, distribution centre, showrooms and service centre. It imports spa pools and swim spas directly from Watkins Wellness™ facilities in Mexico and the US and distributes them throughout Australasia and Asia.

Who owns HotSpring®?

According to the HotSpring® website, HotSpring® is owned by Watkins Wellness® – which is in turn owned by MASCO® Corporation.

HotSpring® Spas New Zealand is a New Zealand Limited Company incorporated in 1980 and controlled by US-based MASCO Corporation – a joint venture with Watkins Manufacturing Corporation. The managing director of HotSpring® Spas New Zealand is Dale Paretovich.

Where are HotSpring® spas made?

HotSpring® Spas are made by Watkins Wellness® in the US and Mexico.

What spas does HotSpring® sell?

HotSpring® sells spa models in a variety of sizes and with varying specifications.

At the time of writing it had four spa ranges listed on the HotSprings® New Zealand website – Freeflow®, Limelight®, Hotspot® and Highlife®, as well as its range of Endless® Pools swim spas.

HotSpring® also sells CalderaSpas® (a private label range) and Endless® Pools swim spas.

HotSprings® range of spas:

  • Freeflow® is HotSpring®’s entry-level spa range. This range is manufactured from rotomolded plastic.
  • Limelight® and Hotspot® are its mid-market spas, which are made in Mexico.
  • Highlife® and CalderaSpas® are its premium line and these ranges are made in the US and Mexico.

How much do HotSpring® spas cost?

HotSpring® doesn’t show prices on its website so it’s difficult to know at a glance how much their spas cost.

HotSpring® do have a feature on their New Zealand website (we couldn't find it on their Australian one) where you can view spas by price range, with spas grouped into one of the following price categories: $5k to 10k, $11k to $15k, $16k to 20k or $20k+.

It’s not a user-friendly system but at least you can see which price bracket the spa you are interested in most likely fits.

If you want more specific pricing you will need to visit one of their dealerships or ‘request a quote’ via the HotSpring® website by filling in a form with your name and contact details.

We think buyers deserve to know upfront how much a product costs, which is why all our prices are transparently displayed on the Spa World website.

How much does a HotSpring® Highlife® spa cost?

For this article, we will focus on the Highlife® spa range and if they are worth the extra price compared with mid-market brands of similar quality and specification; such as Vortex Spas®, Signature® Spas, Oasis® Spas and Galaxy™ Spas.

As mentioned above, Spa World used to sell HotSpring® spas so we have a fair idea how much they cost.

We can tell you that, according to our 2019 price sheet for HotSpring® spas, there is a large range of pricing within the HotSpring® Highlife® brand – starting at around $18k for the Jetsetter to $28k+ for the Highlife® Grandee.

HotSpring® spa prices

You won’t find these prices on the HotSpring® website, but we've listed the HotSpring® Highlife® spa prices below (according to our 2019 price sheet) to give you an idea of how much they cost.

HotSpring® Highlife® spa prices (in AUD):

  • HotSpring® Jetsetter 3-person spa – $18,799
  • HotSpring® Jetsetter LX 3-person spa – $23,995
  • HotSpring® Prodigy 5-person spa – $18,799
  • HotSpring® Triumph 4-person spa – $19,899
  • HotSpring® Sovereign 6-person spa – $20,999
  • HotSpring® Aria 5-person spa – $25,399
  • HotSpring® Vanguard 6-person spa – $25,399
  • HotSpring® Envoy 5-person spa – $26,499
  • HotSpring® Grandee 7-person spa – $28,699

As mentioned, these prices are from our 2019 HotSpring® price sheet from when we used to sell their range. For more up-to-date pricing you're best to check with your local HotSpring® dealership.

HotSpring® Highlife® vs mid-market spa: Price difference

So, what’s the price difference between a HotSpring® Highlife® spa and an equivalent mid-market spa?

We think it’s around 30 to 40 percent more for a HotSpring® Highlife® compared to a similar mid-market spa.

As a test, we chose a model in the middle of the HotSpring® Highlife® range–the Aria®–and compared it with the Vortex Nitro, which is equivalent in size and specification.

The Vortex Nitro is selling for $17,949NZD while the Aria was $27,216NZD, according to our 2019 price sheet.

It's safe to say you could pay around $10,000 more for the Aria® over the Vortex Nitro – and that’s before you add on any extras. That’s a significant extra investment.

Of course, prices vary by dealer, so you'll want to do your own research. But it does make you wonder why there is such a price difference if they're of similar size and specification. Read on to learn why this might be.

HotSpring® Highlife® vs mid-market spa: Running costs

There is little doubt that HotSpring® spas have very low running costs.

All Highlife® spas feature ‘full foam’ insulation and a low-power filtration pump.

HotSpring® takes great pride in the fact that all of their spas have ‘tested’ running costs and these costs are certainly among the lowest in the market.

Other spas with low running costs include Bullfrog® and Jacuzzi® Spas which also feature high levels of insulation. If low running costs are important to you, you should check out these brands too.

In our experience, taking a moderate climate such as Sydney's, you may expect to spend $20 to $30 less per month or $240 to $360 less a year on the running cost of a HotSpring® spa compared with a mid-market spa. Learn more about spa pool running costs.

Over the lifetime of a spa (around 10 years on average), that’s a saving of $3,600 – not nearly enough to make up for the $10,000+ difference mentioned earlier in this article.

You could be better going for an insulation upgrade and adding a heat pump to your mid-market spa. Learn more about this below.

This is just an estimate based on many years of customer feedback. There are many factors that could influence these costs such as climate, usage and the temperature the spa is set at.

How to reduce spa pool or hot tub running costs?

If you are buying a mid-market spa but want the low running costs of a HotSpring® spa there are a few ways to achieve this.

You can opt for an insulation upgrade, and/or fit a heat pump. Heat pumps cost approximately $2,500 but would drop the running cost of a mid-market spa to about that of a HotSpring® Highlife® model.

Assuming a $10,000 price difference, you could invest in a heat pump for your mid-market spa and still be well ahead.

HotSpring® Highlife® vs mid-market spas: Construction and quality

When it comes to comparing quality, there are several parts of a spa to consider.

Let’s break them down:

  • Shell construction. HotSpring® spas use ABS backed acrylic in the construction of their Highlife® shells, whereas the mid-market spas mentioned above use fibreglass-backed acrylic. All brands claim that their system is the best. In our experience, they are all very similar and indeed, all brands mentioned offer the same shell warranty which means that the manufacturers probably agree!
  • Framing. HotSpring® Highlife® spas now feature an injection-moulded plastic frame (they call it a Polymer structure), which is considered the benchmark for spa pool frames as there is no chance of rotting. Vortex® and Signature® spas also use injection-moulded plastic frames.
  • Pumps and equipment. HotSpring® use LX® jet pumps and Laing® circulation pumps, whilst Signature® spas use Aqua-Flo® pumps, Vortex® uses SpaNet pumps and Oasis® Spas and Galaxy Spas use LX® pumps. In our experience, the quality of all of these pumps is similar. HotSpring® have their own proprietary control systems, whereas Vortex uses SpaNet® and Signature®, Oasis®, Galaxy® spas all use Gecko® control systems. All are top notch and are of similar quality.
  • Jets and control valves. HotSpring® jets and control valves are very high quality. However, in our experience, the jets and control valves used in the other brands listed are of no lesser quality.

HotSpring® Highlife® vs mid-market spas: Hydrotherapy

The quality of the HotSpring® hydrotherapy experience is very high. In fact, in our opinion, the only brand that comes close is Jacuzzi®.

Both companies are very large firms that have been operating for decades and in that time, they have certainly developed deep know-how in how to maximise the hydrotherapy benefits of their spas for massage, muscle relaxation and reducing tension.

The other mid-market spas we've mentioned also have very good hydrotherapy when compared with entry-level spas on the market, but they wouldn’t reach the standard of HotSpring® spas.

Does HotSpring® spas’ superior hydrotherapy experience justify the price difference? It would be hard to say objectively.

It comes down to your personal preference and needs. We would recommend that you ‘wet test’ a range of spas and make your own decision.

HotSpring® Highlife® vs mid-market spas: Automatic water maintenance

HotSpring® Highlife® spas feature its FreshWater® automatic sanitising systems as a standard feature.

This is an advanced salt water chlorination system similar to that found in many modern swimming pools.

There are two factors that we would like to point out about the Freshwater® system.

The first is that it is not chlorine-free. It is a system that turns salt (NaCl) into Chlorine (Cl). If you wish to own a chlorine-free spa, then there are other options available.

The second is that the Freshwater® system is not totally automatic. The titanium cathodes that turn the salt into chlorine need to be replaced every 4 months and, at between $130 to $150 each, they are not cheap.

You'll also need to test your water regularly and adjust the system to avoid over-chlorination, which can damage the spa.

In contrast, the other brands mentioned feature a combination of ozone and UV automatic sanitisation.

You will need to add small amounts of sanitiser to each of these spas, but you do have the option of chlorine-free sanitisers if you dislike the smell of chlorine. This article goes into more detail about ozone and UV systems for spas.

HotSpring® Highlife® spas vs mid-market spas: Filtration

This is another area that HotSpring® does very well. They use proprietary ‘Tri-X’ filters which are long-lasting and machine washable.

These filters are expensive though. A quick search online shows they are around $100 each and you’ll need to replace five of them.

HotSpring® claims its Highlife® range is ‘bypass-free’. This means that all of the water goes through the filters and none goes through the filter bypass vents in the footwell of the spa.

HotSpring® claims that this gives cleaner water. But, in our experience, we've seen little evidence of this being the case.

Are HotSpring® spas worth the money?

HotSpring® are very good quality. There is no doubt that HotSpring® Highlife® spas are, in many respects, better than the mid-market spas we have mentioned.

However, in our opinion, there is not enough of a gap in quality between the HotSpring® and similar mid-market spas to justify the 30 to 40 percent price difference.

In summary:

  • They will certainly provide lower running costs than a mid-market spa – unless you invest in a heat pump, in which case running costs will be similar.
  • Most would find the quality of hydrotherapy (particularly the powerful Moto-Massage® jet) in a HotSpring® spa better than a mid-market spa. But it does depend on personal preference so you should ‘wet test’ the spa to decide for yourself if it is worth the extra investment.
  • The water maintenance and filtration system in the HotSpring® is excellent. But, once again, only you will know whether saving a few minutes a week in maintenance is worth spending so much more over a lower-priced, slightly higher maintenance unit.
  • You should also take into account the extra costs of replacement parts such as Freshwater® cartridges and Tri-X® filters.

In conclusion

HotSpring® Spas (like Jacuzzi® Spas and Bullfrog®) are exceptional spas. If you are happy to spend the extra money - we doubt you will regret your purchase.

However, if price is an important factor for you, it’s worth considering whether you need to spend so much more on a HotSpring® compared with a more affordable mid-market spa.

Especially when, with some added insulation and/or a heat pump, you can still have a great spa experience but for a fraction of the cost.

Overall, as we often say - buying a spa is a very personal experience. It's up to you how much more you need to spend in order to get the best spa experience for you.

We hope this article has helped you in your decision-making process, and of course, we invite you to try out a Jaccuzzi® or Vortex® Spa in any of our showrooms as you seek to find the perfect spa for you.

DISCLAIMER In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd, the parent company of Spa World™.

All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (20 July 2020) and may change without notice.

The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd: Oasis® Spas trademark is owned by Oasis Leisure Products Pty Ltd. Artesian Spas™ trademark is owned by Artesian Spas. Bullfrog® trademark is owned by Bullfrog International, LC. Signature® Spas trademark is owned by Spa Industries Pty Ltd (SCS). HotSpring® Spas trademark is owned by Watkins Manufacturing Corporation (Watkins). Galaxy® Spas.

Affiliations: Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd. The Jacuuzzi® brand is owned by Jacuzzi Inc. and exclusively licensed for use to Spa World™ in Australia and New Zealand.

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