What is the Best Hot Tub to Buy in Canada? An Unbiased Look at the Top Tubs for Canadians
As you’ve read about hot tubs in your search for one to call your own, you’ve no doubt realized there are a variety of hot tubs out there, which in turn are manufactured all over the world.
But if you live in Canada then you will understand why Canada is a very specific market for hot tubs. Ask any Canadian: the country is dominated by its weather and any hot tub purchase you make must be considered through that lens.
“What is the best hot tub to buy in Canada?” is a question we get at Hydropool on a regular basis. Our head office and our production factory are both located in Mississauga, and we have been around since the late 1970s, so we are well aware of the competitive hot tub scene in the country.
The answer is that there is no one answer, no one hot tub that stands objectively above the rest. We will explain that in more detail right off the top in this article. But we know you want to know what the best tubs in Canada are available to you, so in this piece, we have broken the tubs down into two main sections:
• The best Canadian-made hot tubs for Canada
• The best non-Canadian made hot tubs for Canada
It might seem strange to read about our competitors here in this way. We are doing this because we understand you will want to consider the options if you’re trying to buy a hot tub. We have always understood there will be competition in the hot tub marketplace. As a result, we want to give you an unbiased presentation of some of the best hot tubs out there for Canadians.
Is there an Ultimate Hot Tub in Canada?
“What is the best hot tub in Canada?” is a very specific question. And the answer is there is no one hot tub we can point you towards that is unquestionably the best. Any company, including Hydropool, could come out and make that claim – and many do! -- but there would be no 100 per cent objective reason or standard to justify that the claim is legitimate. This is part of the reason why it can be difficult to shop for a hot tub, because one of the first things a customer must do is figure out who is legitimate and who is not in the marketplace.
Here are a few reasons why it’s not possible to point to the one “best tub in Canada.”
• Motor Trend magazine in the car industry selects the “car of the year,” for example, but there is no similar such recognized award for Canadian hot tubs. Consumer Reports does not review or provide guidance on hot tubs. The New York Times owned-Wirecutter, which focuses on product reviews, doesn’t list the top tubs available, instead offering a story called “how to shop for a hot tub.” So an objective standard hasn’t been established yet.
• The “best” will change for each customer. Every company’s lineup of hot tubs offers multiple different options and sizes. As we discuss some leading manufacturers below, you’ll note that each offers multiple lines or levels: usually a base, mid-range and high-end model. Is the “best” one the value-model that offers the most for the money? Or is the “best” the one with all the bells and whistles at the high end of the market? There’s sufficient range in the market that as a customer, you need to decide what you’re looking for first before you can commit to buying – (which you are, of course, or you wouldn’t be reading this).
What makes companies that sell in Canada unique is that they must be equipped to have a hot tub that can handle cold weather. If it’s -20C outside and you want to sit in your hot tub and keep the water at 104F next February, you will want a hot tub that can handle that kind of workload. We know this from more than 40 years of experience operating in Canada!
Three of the Best Made-in-Canada Hot Tubs
These are three quality manufacturers, each made in Canada, in alphabetical order: Arctic Spas, Beachcomber and Coast. We’ll go through them each in turn:
Artic Spas: The company’s slogan is “Hot tubs engineered for the world’s harshest climates.” So right off the bat you can see they have targeted Canada and markets like Canada around the world as a focus. Arctic emphasizes its form of insulation, which is a perimeter-style insulation modelled after the way we insulate our homes, designed to trap the heat from the hot tub’s pumps in the cabinet of the tub, where it can be used to heat the tub’s water (Hydropool uses a similar technique, but we employ a thermo blanket for the same effect). The company also has a web-based sanitization system called “Spa Boy” that allows you to control your water sanitation with an app on your phone and eliminates the need for testing strips.
Artic Spas is based in Edmonton, with its major production facility in nearby Thorsby, Alta. Relatively new in the market, it’s been around since 1994. From least expensive to most expensive, Arctic Spas makes hot tubs sold as Core, Classic and Custom. They also sell swim spas which they call “all weather pools,” where you can swim while tethered, with all of the pools on offer being 14’ in length (this is a bit unusual, Hydropool offers a range from 13’ to 19’ and most swim spa companies do the same). Relatively unique in the market is that the company offers a real wood cedar cabinet as an option. The Artic published price range is from $8500 – $28,250.
Beachcomber: This company has more history. Around since 1978 (the same time Hydropool was born), Beachcomber’s head office and production facilities are based in Surrey, B.C. It sells the 300 series, 500 series and 700 series, with a base, mid-range and premium line. It also features the LEEP portable model (LEEP stands for Leaders in Energy Efficient Portables). Beachcomber often emphasizes the longevity of its tubs – as an example, the company points out “we do not use pillows, metal rails, or pop-up speakers, prone to wear and tear” on its website.
On its multiple Hybrid product lines (LEEP tubs do not feature this), Beachcomber moves the plumbing and motor of the tub to underneath the steps leading into it, which allows for easier access for repairs over time and lets the company insulate all four walls of the tub the same way (Hydropool’s thermo blanket technique accomplishes the same thing: If you want to read more about the various types of hot tub insulation, click here). Its published price range is $8,299 to $23,000. There is no Beachcomber swim spa or pool line.
Coast Spas: A second-B.C.-based hot tub company, Coast operates out of Langley, B.C., just outside of Vancouver and has since 1994, the same time that Arctic Spas opened up. The company has 20 models, with a Traditional, Curve and Infinity Collection, as well as a line of swim spas it bills as its Swim collection. The Traditional offers a patio series with a shorter height of 30” so that it can get into condos or tighter spaces. Many of the company’s tubs feature a sweeper jet at the bottom of each tub, which is intended to make sure debris doesn’t settle and is instead blasted up into the tub’s filter (Hydropool does this, but offers a patented vacuum feature that works in tandem on its self-cleaning lines). The company also offers an “Infinity Edge” which is a lip around the tub that catches water and reduces any clutter around the top of the tub. The swim spa lineup features spas from 12 feet to 20 feet long. Coast does not publish its pricing, at least that we could find.
Why Should You Consider Buying a Canadian-made Hot Tub?
There are several good reasons why in any country you may want to consider locally-made hot tubs. Among them are:
• Lowered shipping costs: Hot tubs are large and shipping costs can add up, especially in a country as big as Canada. When buying this is something to ensure you ask about pre-purchase.
• Market understanding: In the hot tub industry, companies typically build their tub to be able thrive in their home country first. It would be extremely difficult for any of the companies listed above to have lasted as long as they have if they couldn’t serve a local market.
• Take care of home: A desire to support local industry. Local companies are job-providers in local markets, and for many customers this a good reason to buy from Canadian companies.
What Should You Look for in a Quality Hot Tub?
Our best advice on how to shop for a quality hot tub includes the following tips:
• Understand what your needs are first. For example, you will want to answer the following questions before you decide to buy:
• Do you want a hot tub for your whole family to enjoy?
• Is it for you and your partner to relax in?
• Are you looking for good massage or just want the pleasure of a warmed outdoor bath?
• Will you use it extensively in the winter?
• What is your price range?
• How much time and effort do you want to spend cleaning and maintaining your tub?
• How much room do I have for the tub itself?
• Has the company been in business for a long time?
• If the company has been in business for many years, you can feel more assurance that the hot tub dealer has established standards for quality and service.
• Has the hot tub been manufactured with your location in mind?
• California is the world leader in establishing standards for hot tubs through an agency called the California Energy Commission. If you want to sell in California, for example, a company’s hot tubs must pass the CEC’s level of testing (note: All Hydropool models are CEC-approved). We suggest taking a similar approach to California when you shop for a hot tub, asking questions to ensure that any product you’re considering is actually capable of handling Canadian weather over time.
The Best Hot Tubs for Canada from the United States
There are, of course, many companies outside of Canada which manufacture quality hot tubs. Since we offered three Canadian companies, we wanted to offer three from outside Canada which might also suit your needs. These companies below all are based in the United States, but each have lines of tubs that we believe are well-suited to Canada, again in alphabetical order.
Bullfrog – Bullfrog is based in Utah, which may seem a far stretch from a company building products capable of handling a Canadian winter. But the company is known as an innovative, design-oriented company, with six different classes of tubs, and Canadians may well find something suitable for them within that vast lineup. The Canadian prices here are adapted from the U.S. pricing on Bullfrog’s website, at the time of publication:
• Elite at $31,925.55 Canadian (listed at $24,345 U.S.)
• Modern at $23,336.71 Canadian (listed at $17,795 U.S.)
• Luxury at 18,353.76 (listed at $13,995 U.S.)
• Premium at $13,762.93 (listed at $10,495 U.S.)
• Comfort at $11,009.04 (listed at $8,395 (U.S.)
• The company sells swim spas as well, with the Performance Swim Series of swim spas starting at roughly $48,383 Canadian (listed price is $36,895 U.S.).
Bullfrog has a wide range of sizes and options for customers, but consistent across lines is a jet system that allows you to move jet packs to different seats, changing your massage experience as you see fit, while using minimal plumbing components. It also uses ABS frames, rather than wood or metal. Design is clearly a priority at Bullfrog as its Modern class shows. Also called Stil, it has a unique minimalist look, with more severe angles and neutral colors than the classic woodgrain and soft curves that many other manufacturers showcase. Bullfrog began in 1989.
Jacuzzi – A brand so well-known its name is often confused for the hot tub industry as a whole, Jacuzzi is based in California. This is an upscale hot tub brand, which sells all around the world. History is on its side, as it was founded in 1915 and can credibly say that it created the hot tub industry with major advances in 1968 that saw the first whirlpool tub developed and sold. Jacuzzi sells both hot tubs and swim spas, as well as assorted bathtubs and saunas.
• Pricing begins at the $7,495 Canadian in the Jacuzzi Play Collection, with the four-seater plug and play Soul.
• They run up to $30,995 for the J-495, which features seating for nine, is hardwired, and comes with all major hot tub features, such as lights, waterfalls and a sound system.
• There are more than 15 models in between, offering multiple price points and seating sizes in between the two.
Jacuzzi is known to be that premium end of the line, with the credibility of more than 100 years of being in business. Jacuzzi offers full-foam insulation, and expect pillowed comfort to be the priority in all its tubs. California is a leader in hot tub development, in large part because of the size of the market there. It makes swim spas as well, with PowerPro, PowerPlay and PowerActive models.
Nordic – The first two are from warm-weather areas, but Nordic is so close to Canada, it might as well be Canadian: Nordic is based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, about three hours west of Sarnia. Tubs are assembled there, at its corporate location (Hydropool does the same, with all of our tubs being made in Mississauga, where our corporate headquarters are).
In some ways, this company could be considered the opposite of Jacuzzi. It bills itself as a builder of “affordable luxury,” rather than as the industry’s premium brand. Nordic’s reputation and purpose is to sell solid, well-built, simple tubs and it has received considerable recognition for that. It features the following lines:
Within those lines, sizes range from two person to eight person, and shapes from round to rectangle to square. With its D’Amour line, Nordic features a line of heart-shaped tubs that seat two if you only have a little bit of space on hand.
Nordic doesn’t feature pricing on its website. One Canadian dealer we found lists its Jubilee LS tub selling for $11,995. Some manufacturers ask you to contact them for pricing and Nordic is one of those.
How to Find the Best Hot Tub in Canada
It would be so much easier if there was one, unquestioned and undisputed hot tub champion in Canada. But there isn’t. There’s no agreed-upon adjudicator of the best hot tubs, which leaves potential hot tub buyers wondering which is the best when surveying the landscape in their area.
Some hot tubs are better suited to Canada’s climate than others, and what we tried to do here was put together a list that both offered options for Canadian companies and ones from outside of Canada. We know it is unusual for a company to offer unbiased thoughts on the competition, but we know that in an absence of anyone else unbiased offering a credible take, we thought we would explain as best as we could what would help you as a consumer make up your mind on what you would like to buy.
Of course, Hydropool is a Canadian company too. In case you’re curious to read about one more Canadian hot tub company:
• If you’d like to read our ultimate guide on what you need to do and know before buying a hot tub, click here.
• If you’re interested in speaking to a Hydropool dealer, click here.
Jon Filson is the senior content manager at Hydropool Swim Spas and Hot Tubs.