Which is the best hot tub brand?
The Ultimate Buyer's Guide
In the market for a new hot tub? Good for you! This buyer's guide will help, especially if you are researching the best hot tub brand in your price range. Or, you may be thinking, “I'd rather talk to a hot tub dealer near me.” Great idea! Whether you talk to someone locally or do your research online, the answers to your questions should make sense and help you define your priorities.
What does “the best” really mean?
With so many hot tub brands, series, models, options and sales pitches, the path to answering that question might seem overwhelming. If so, don’t worry. We will start with the basics first and get more technical later. Our goal is to keep it simple so you can begin to experience the therapeutic benefits of hot tub ownership as soon as possible. Each section on this page is marked BASIC, INTERMEDIATE or TECHNICAL depending on how much detail you want.
Keep it simple
BASIC: In its simplest form, a hot tub is a large box of heated water. Water pumps, massage jets, a filtration system and sanitation processes work together to ease physical pain and help you relax. Water pumps move the water from one place to another. Massage jets focus the water and mix it with air. A filtration system removes debris from the water. Sanitation processes kill waterborne microbes and help to keep the water safe. The use of water for therapeutic benefit is called “hydrotherapy.” The combination of heated water and massage is called “hydromassage.” Hydrotherapy and hydromassage have many positive health benefits. The better the hot tub brand, the better your hydrotherapy and hydromassage experience will be.
Take a wet test
BASIC: All hot tubs have the potential for some therapeutic benefit. Provided, of course, the pumps, massage jets, filtration system and sanitation processes are effective and cooperate seamlessly. The differences between brands become obvious when you do a “hot tub wet test.” In other words, you visit a Marquis showroom in your area, bring a bathing suit and towel, soak in a test model, and physically experience the way Marquis achieves superior hydrotherapy. Ultimately, this is the best way to appreciate “The Marquis Difference.”
Read customer reviews
BASIC: Another way to separate the wheat from the chaff is by reading hot tub customer reviews. In particular, look for answers to these questions: How long have they owned their hot tub? Are they satisfied with the hydrotherapy experience? Is the hot tub meeting their expectations? And, if there were any issues, have they been resolved? Marquis has an average customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on ConsumerAffairs.com. We invite you to read them for yourself.
Narrow your search
BASIC: One way to narrow your search is by how many people your hot tub needs to hold. If it will only be used by one or two people at a time, you might search for “2 person hot tubs” or “3 person hot tubs.” Use the same principle for more people. The Marquis Hot Tub Finder makes it easy to organize your search this way, or by hot tub shape (such as triangular, rectangular or round hot tubs).
Count the cost
BASIC: Hot tub ownership may include a variety of expenses. For example, the purchase price of the spa, site preparation and electrical service upgrades (if needed), delivery and installation, and consumables like filters and spa chemicals. To encourage the most value for you and your local business community, Marquis hot tubs are sold through a network of independent Marquis Dealers. Hot-tub-related expenses, living expenses, currency and the cost of doing business vary based on where you live. So instead of a one-size-fits-all approach that ignores these factors, Marquis allows for flexibility in hot tub pricing. In other words, your local dealer has the freedom to customize a solution that works within your budget and takes local expenses into account. To ensure you get the best deal, please contact your nearest Marquis Dealer.
Pay attention to ergonomics
INTERMEDIATE: Ergonomics, or the physical ease of use and comfort, is a design detail only the best hot tub brands get right. Unfortunately, many first-time hot tub owners don’t think about ergonomics until they install their hot tub and begin using it. For example, some hot tub brands offer models with every seat at the same level. Consequently, tall people sit too high in the water and short people sit too low. Or, neck jets aim at your ears, back jets don’t reach your lower lumbar, and control knobs are behind your back or out of reach.
In contrast, Marquis goes to great lengths to ensure that hot tub seats, massage jets and control knobs are comfortable, intuitive, and accessible to a variety of body types, even taking into account the buoyancy of the human body in water. Not only does this improve your hydrotherapy experience, it makes your economic investment more worthwhile.
- Multi-level seating: All Marquis hot tubs offer a variety of seating levels. This allows you to experience different jet configurations and regulate your body temperature. For example, you may start out in a deep therapy seat at the beginning of your soak, and transition to a shallow cooldown seat before exiting the spa.
- Arms-length controls: All Marquis hot tubs place the water valves and air knobs within easy reach of seating positions to dial in the perfect setting. The comfort control panel (or, "topside control") adjusts the operation of pumps and other settings. On Marquis hot tubs this panel faces inward for easy viewing while you soak, instead of facing outward like most other brands. Such attention to detail illustrates the fundamental design philosophy behind every Marquis hot tub.
- Optimal jet placement: All Marquis hot tubs pay close attention to the number of massage jets, as well as their size, style, type and placement to optimize therapeutic benefit. Put simply, Marquis uses the right jets in the right places with the right balance of water and air to achieve the best feeling.
Consider features, options and accessories
INTERMEDIATE: This section is for you if you are detail-oriented and like to understand all your options. Certain features may be standard, optional, or limited to certain hot tub models. Or, there may be special deals on certain combinations. Contact your local Marquis Dealer for more information.
Audio: Playing music directly from your spa is great for hot tub parties, outdoor dining, relaxation and music therapy. Adding this option builds an audio receiver, twin speakers, and a subwoofer into your hot tub. Some hot tub models have a receiver concealed inside the frame, while others have a visible control panel on one side of the hot tub (resembling a car stereo). Features typically include Bluetooth connectivity for wireless audio streaming from a mobile device (such as a smartphone, tablet or iPod®). Optional add-ons may include a wireless RF remote control, and USB port and 3.5mm auxiliary expansion ports for wired-audio connection. On the Marquis Crown Collection and Signature Series, audio playback may be controlled by the MQTouch™ color touch screen or from a mobile device paired via Bluetooth.* Play audio files stored on your mobile device, or connect it to the internet using your wireless data plan or Wi-Fi network. Then, stream your favorite music, audiobooks, podcasts, internet radio and more!
- Crown Collection: Optional Bluetooth Audio System with MQTouch control
- Vector21 Series: Optional Cosmic™ audio with Bluetooth and FM radio
- Marquis Elite Series: Optional Motown™ audio with Bluetooth and FM radio
- Celebrity Hot Tubs: Optional Motown audio with Bluetooth and FM radio (excludes Monaco)*
*On the Celebrity Rendezvous Discovery (discontinued), optional Motown™ audio with Bluetooth connectivity and FM radio was available. Optional add-ons included: RF remote control, and USB and 3.5mm auxiliary expansion ports.
Color: Your selection of color choices will depend on the hot tub brand, series and model. Typically, as you increase the number of hot tub features, more color options become available. In most cases, you can pick the color of the: 1) interior acrylic, 2) exterior cabinet, and 3) vinyl cover. Marquis also offers a complete line of accessory hot tub surrounds called Environments that share the same color palette as Marquis hot tubs.
Cover: The cover encloses the top of the spa, and doubles as a safety feature to protect young children and small pets. The cover prevents heat from escaping, saves money on electric bills, and protects the spa from sun damage, debris and wild critters. The best hot tub covers, such as Marquis DuraCovers, have a full-length linear heat seal along the fold, marine-grade double-stitched vinyl, and a galvanized-steel C-channel support embedded into the cover to reduce drooping or buckling. As UL-approved safety covers, DuraCovers are equipped with top-quality safety locks to keep the cover in place and secure.
Cover lift: Quality hot tub covers are made from dense foam and waterproof vinyl, which some adults find difficult to maneuver. A cover lift does much of the heavy lifting, and helps to return the cover to a closed position. Some cover lift designs mount directly to the spa cabinet and frame or to a surrounding deck, while others are supported by an "understyle" base plate under the spa. Depending on the model, a cover lift may require extra clearance on one or more sides of the hot tub. Some cover lifts are made from powder-coated steel or power-coated zinc-plated steel, which will rust when scratched. Marquis, on the other hand, only sells cover lifts made from powder-coated aluminum that is corrosion-resistant, even when scratched.
Full-foam insulation: The best hot tub brands offer some form of insulation. In colder climates, keeping cold air away from a hot tub’s interior reduces heat loss and saves money on electric bills. Spray-foam insulation also solidifies the overall construction and helps the spa to run quieter. The Marquis Crown Collection includes full-foam insulation as a standard feature for the best cold-weather protection. Vector21 and Marquis Elite series hot tubs include foam over plumbing insulation, with the option to add full-foam insulation. Celebrity Hot Tubs also include foam over plumbing insulation, but full-foam insulation is not available.
In-line sanitation: To kill harmful bacteria and discourage its growth, all hot tubs require some form of sanitation. In fact, there is no such thing as a “chemical-free” hot tub. As an alternative to adding sanitizer manually, in-line sanitation systems share the burden of sanitation automatically for added convenience. The best hot tub bands (like Marquis) offer a dual-cartridge design, either integrated by itself or supplemented by an ozonator system. In dual-cartridge systems, the mineral (or conditioner) cartridge lasts for about four months, and the sanitizer cartridge gradually dispenses over the course of four to six weeks. The addition of an ozonator further supplements the workload of the in-line system, and is much more effective than UV light systems. The best in-line systems, such as Marquis ConstantClean+, combine in-line sanitation and ozonation with Mazzei injection.
Lighting: While all hot tubs include basic spa lights, some brands offer upgraded multipoint lighting. This typically includes additional multicolor LEDs, variable lighting modes, and may include accent lights on the spa exterior. In practical terms, this helps to improve nighttime visibility, enhance the beauty of a spa, and supplement stress relief and relaxation. All Marquis hot tubs but the basic Celebrity series offer optional lighting system upgrades:
- Crown Collection: Jewel™ LED lighting
- Vector21 Series: Starlight™ LED lighting
- Marquis Elite Series: Twilight™ LED lighting
- Celebrity Hot Tubs: Multicolor spa light only (Twilight LED lighting not available)
Luther Loon: Still reading? Good for you! We threw this in for fun to keep you going. Luther Loon is our beloved ambassador to the hot tub lifestyle. His favorite pastime is floating in Marquis hot tubs and welcoming you when it’s soaking time. (Available from your local Marquis Dealer.) Luther loves to have his picture posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just remember to use the hashtag: #LutherLoon
MicroSilk®: Oxygen skin therapy is beneficial for skin health and beauty treatments, and has been described as “an oxygen facial for your body.” It may help to relieve the symptoms of certain skin conditions, such as eczema. With the massage jets turned off, a dedicated Microsilk pump and Venturi system infuse billions of tiny microbubbles into the water. A milky cloud of super-oxygenated water penetrates into skin pores and hair follicles to promote blood circulation and remove impurities. Only a few hot tub brands offer MicroSilk, and Marquis is the only hot tub brand to have fully optimized its functionality. In fact, Marquis produces more hot tubs equipped with MicroSilk than all other hot tub brands combined. Learn more.
Modular Environments: Modular Environments complement the hot tub exterior to add functionality and amenity to the spa area. Designed to match the hot tub's design and color palette, a collection of entry steps and benches (some of which offer storage) can be combined to achieve a custom look. Environments double as extra seating and provide easier access in or out of your hot tub. Learn more.
Pumps: Pumps are the heart of a hot tub and contribute directly to the hydrotherapy experience. The best hot tub brands configure pumps with therapy benefits mind. Generally, the more therapy seats and massage jets in a spa, the more pump flow rate and electricity it will require. As a consumer, weighing pump-related decisions should start with how many people will use your hot tub at any one time.
Whenever multiple therapy seats are in use, maintaining a high rate of water flow to each seat at low pounds per square inch helps to optimize the feeling of deep muscle penetration without skin discomfort. Depending on the hot tub size, jets, and features, from one to three water pumps may be utilized. Some one-pump systems have the option to add a second (or, auxiliary) pump. Additional pumps may be included or optional, and may be single speed or dual speed. Or, the performance of a pump may be upgradable to a higher voltage and flow rate (e.g. from 120 volts and 120 gallons-per-minute to 240 volts and 160 gallons-per-minute). To make the selection process easier, we recommend consulting with your local Marquis Dealer. But here are some helpful facts:
- All Marquis pump configurations and pump-related upgrades are engineered to maintain the feeling of optimal hydrotherapy, while running noticeably quieter than competing brands.
- Marquis hot tubs models and pump configurations are intended to provide flexibility for different power-supply requirements, therapy expectations and household budgets.
- All Marquis hot tubs include at least one high-flow dual-speed pump, and any auxiliary pump configuration(s) will provide high flow rates, optimal speed and a perfectly-balanced system architecture.
- By integrating the filtration system with a high-flow dual-speed pump (running at low speed when the hot tub is not in use), every Marquis hot tub is able to clean more water, more thoroughly, in far less time than a comparable model by a competing brand.
Reflexology footwell: Often overlooked, this simple design detail provides a textured surface in the footwell of a hot tub to massage tired feet. Walking on reflexology footpaths on dry land has been shown to stimulate neurological reflex zones on the foot. In the heated water of a hot tub, this same principle helps to relieve foot soreness and symptoms of plantar fasciitis. All Marquis hot tubs offer some form of reflexology footwell. For example, Marquis Vector21 hot tubs offer a geometric reflexology pattern (pictured), and Signature hot tubs offer an organic pattern molded from hand-selected Oregon river rock.
Stainless steel jet faces: This option does not affect the performance of a hot tub, but will give it a more premium look. An optional upgrade on Celebrity Hot Tubs, stainless steel jet faces are standard on the Marquis Elite and Vector21 Series, as well as the Crown Collection.
Waterfalls or fountains: This adds a measure of fun and ambiance during hydrotherapy, especially the sound of running water. Some hot tub brands offer this as an option. The best hot tub brands integrate the lighting system to infuse the waterfall or fountains with color. Waterfalls or fountains are standard on most Marquis hot tub models, and are always integrated with multicolor LEDs when paired with optional multipoint accent lighting.
Look for high-flow therapy
TECHNICAL: While some hot tub companies specify pumps using brake horsepower (BHP), Marquis specifies pump flow rate using gallons or litres per minute (GPM/LPM). Why the difference?
- Brake horsepower is an abstract specification. In the world of hot tubs, BHP is an example of clever marketing. For many people, the word “horsepower” is reminiscent of automobile engines, causing some to assume that “more horsepower is better.” In reality, brake horsepower is a measure of the available power of a motor, not its actual water flow. A pump motor could have all the BHP in the world, but would still be limited by the constraints of its plumbing system. In fact, too much power will create a “low-flow, high-pressure” system that causes an itching or burning sensation on skin.
- In contrast, GPM/LPM describes the actual flow rate of the pump and plumbing. Marquis achieves “high-flow, low-pressure” by matching pump performance with the optimal flow rate of the entire system. This creates a feeling of deep, satisfying muscle penetration without skin discomfort. Simply put, a better hydrotherapy experience.
Research how it is made
TECHNICAL: This section is for you if you are detail-oriented and like to know how things are put together. At first glance, different hot tub brands share similar construction methods. But there are subtle differences, some of which are very important. These are the seven building blocks of a hot tub:
1. Frame: This is the support structure of the hot tub. It bears the heavy weight of water, people, and internal hot tub systems. During shipping and installation, the frame helps to maintain the structural integrity of the spa and prevent “racking.” A variety of materials may be used, such as metal, plastic or wood. Some brands offer engineered plastic frames and proclaim that “wood is outdated technology.” But this ignores the fact that new homes are a wood-supported structure, not a plastic one. Marquis frames are crafted from sustainably-harvested Hem-Fir and cedar, offering the perfect balance of structural integrity, durability, and strength-to-weight ratio.
2. Interior: This is the tub or "shell" of a hot tub and holds the water and people. Made from acrylic, a durable blend of plastic and resin, the interior is vacuum molded for comfort and visual appeal and is available in a variety of colors. Marquis uses DuraShell™, a high-impact acrylic reinforced with webbed layers of hand-rolled fiberglass resin matrix. Hand-rolling removes air pockets to ensure sufficient thickness and consistently, and is another example of Marquis’ attention to detail.
3. Exterior: This is the outer cabinet of a hot tub. It conceals and protects the plumbing, electrical system and insulation from sunlight and weather damage. Typically, you can select from several color options. Hot tub exteriors are available in a range of materials, from durable ABS plastic to high-end panels of tongue-and-groove extruded synthetic polymer. Marquis Signature Series are the only hot tubs on the market to offer a special blend of extruded synthetic polymer called DuraWood™.
4. Plumbing system: This is the water-delivery system of a hot tub. It connects the water pump(s) to the massage jets, and may also direct water through an in-line sanitation system and ozonator. All Marquis plumbing systems are optimized to reduce turbulence, achieving a higher rate of water flow with less system noise. In the event that a primary pump ever needs to be serviced, Marquis hot tubs feature a “slice valve” between the primary pump and plumbing system to allow service without draining the tub.
- Does “less plumbing” equal better flow? Some hot tub brands say “less plumbing is better” and offer expensive jet pack modules with additional plumbing molded inside. They promote the idea of swapping large jet pack modules from one seat to another. But what they don’t tell you is that these modules use an integrated gasket. When the gasket wears out, the entire jet pack will need to be replaced at considerable expense. Next, water inside of the jet pack is forced to change direction multiple times within a short distance. This introduces turbulence, undermines the intensity of muscle penetration and adds more noise. Lastly, when the jet pack modules are not in use, many gallons of water are trapped inside. Without proper circulation, jet pack modules are prone to a slimy bacterial growth called “biofilm.” They also require more maintenance by regularly removing the jet packs to clean behind them.
- The best hot tub plumbing systems achieve “high-flow, low pressure.” In other words, water flow from the pump(s) to the jets is optimized to achieve the highest flow rate possible, while maintaining a low-pressure system. This creates a feeling of deep muscle penetration without skin discomfort. The best of the best is Marquis Hydrokinetic Laminar Therapy (Crown Collection) and Vector-Optimized Laminar Therapy™ (Vector21 Series).
5. Electrical system: This provides electricity to the pumps, heating, control system, lighting, audio, and filtration system. Depending on the hot tub model, the electrical system may power one, two or three pumps. Some single-pump models may be “plug-and-play,” meaning they can be plugged into a standard 120V outlet at 15 or 30 amps in North America. Upgraded single pump or multiple-pump systems require a 240V outlet at 30 or 50 amps (International: 230V at 16 or 32 amps).
6. Filtration system: This filters the water and removes debris and other contaminants. Depending on the hot tub model, it may use one or two filter cartridges. Marquis ConstantClean with SmartClean is the most efficient filtration system on the market, cleaning more water volume in 2-1/2 hours than other brands do in 24 hours. Learn more.
7. Sanitation system: To prevent the growth of harmful microbes, all hot tubs require some form of sanitation. This may be accomplished by adding sanitizer manually several times a week, or by means of a cartridge-based automated in-line sanitation system. In-line sanitation offers two main benefits: 1) added convenience, and 2) a lower concentration of sanitizer chemicals in the water than tablets or granules. To learn more, read about the plus (+) in ConstantClean+.
- Are saltwater systems better? Some brands claim that “saltwater systems are better” and imply these use less chlorine than non-saltwater systems. However, the fact is that a saltwater system—by design—converts salt (also known as "sodium chloride") into chlorine. So while a saltwater system requires less chlorine to be added manually, it doesn’t actually contain a lower concentration of chlorine. Quite the opposite. For more information regarding saltwater systems, go here.
The bottom line
The benefits of hydrotherapy are well worth your investment of time, energy and money. You are now more empowered than ever to get started. We invite you to schedule a wet test or begin the consultation process with your local Marquis Dealer. Get ready to enjoy The Ultimate Hot Tub Experience!™