While on holiday in Devon (UK), my family and I came across a dealership called “Just Hot Tubs.” This was a brand of hot tub I had not heard of, and I jumped at the opportunity to go and explore their range. In this article, I will compare two of their mid-range hot tubs; the Beacon hot tub and the Cotswold hot tub. They are not paying me to write this, but they are welcome to put a cheque (or hot tub) in the post if they wish!! LOL
Just another hot tub brand?
Well yes but I think this brand might be a little better than most. They are made in the United States of America which, I am always told, are the best producers of hot tubs, followed closely by Canada. They also seem to have many features and technology that the market leader Jacuzzi has at a far more reasonable cost. There are of course differences between the two manufacturers, and I’ll cover a little of that in this piece. The two hot tubs I’ll discuss here are the ‘Cotswold’ and the ‘Beacon.’
Just Hot Tubs – Beacon
The first thing about the Beacon hot tub that caught my eye was not the polished Acrylic tub, the perfectly placed jets, or even the elegant finish on the cabinet. It was the price. Under £5000 for such a hot tub didn’t seem possible. To try and discover why it was such good value I grilled the sales representative for 45min! (Sorry again Mathew!!)
The hot tub is finished to a very high standard. The cabinet is MultiWeather which means its more durable to the elements. It looks quite classy and not flimsy. The Lucite Acrylic finish on the solid tub looks good quality and would gleam in the sunshine or moonlight. It also has a fabulous water jet feature that is lit up by LED’s which looks stunning. Again this is a feature you would expect to find on a more expensive hot tub.
The Beacon has 48 jets which are a reasonable number. People and some hot tub companies get a little obsessed with the number of jets they can squeeze into a hot tub. This obsession is daft in my opinion because the position of the jets is far more critical. The location of the nozzles needs to be optimum for the best hydrotherapy effect. Each of the five seats in the Beacon is designed to give a specific massage, and I like this very much.
Just Hot Tub’s Insulation
The hot tub has DuoTherm insulation. The insulation is a foam that is sprayed on the underside of the hot tub and all the pipework. This foam then hardens forming a rigid layer of insulation. The cabinet is also lined with a reflective material which further insulates the hot tub.
All in all, this is a very well protected hot tub suitable for the British weather. I talk about insulation in another article I wrote on ways to reduce the cost of running your hot tub. You can read this by clicking here.
Is solid foam around the pipes a good idea?
There is, however, a lot of negativity around using solid foam on the pipes. Some say that if there is a leak, then it is tough to both find and fix. Leaking pipes should not be part of hot tub use, so although this could be a problem, it is highly unlikely. It would be interesting if we could get a comment from All About Hot Tubs, to see if they have had leaking pipe problems. I suspect they have not!
The main advantage of rigid foam and the reason I am a big fan is that it supports the pipework and protects against vibration. This support reduces the chance of problems in the future, and I think it helps maintain the resale value of your spa.
Balboa controls are said to be some of the best. Balboa is an established American company with years of experience supplying control systems for spas. The majority of American hot tubs use this brand, and that support shows they have a quality product. The Balboa control fitted to the Beacon hot tub is at the lower end of the range, but this is reflected in the overall price of the tub.
The Bluetooth music system is included in the price which again points to the high value of this hot tub. Other companies can charge as much as £700 to have this installed.
Beacon’s pumps and heaters
Under the hood, the Beacon hot tub has two 2HP pumps, one of which has dual speed functionality, and a 3kw heater. All in all, this is excellent, but you will need to have a 32amp power supply. Some people bulk at this and would prefer to use the same power supply they use for the lawnmower or hedge trimmer. Hot tubs that can use this power supply are called ‘plug and play’, and they are not able to run two pumps and a 3kw heater. What this means is your hot tub experience is compromised. To find out more about the difference between 13amp and 32amp hot tubs click here.
The warranty is the only negative about his hot tub. The warranty is only two years for the hot tub and only 12months for the plumbing. Now, this is much lower than what other companies offer, and I would be interested in finding out why this is. The company is probably just passing on the warranty given by the manufacturer in the US, but if it was my company, and I was confident in the product, I would match my competitor’s warranty.
The Beacon is missing a primary sanitisation unit. It does not have UV or Ozone technology, and this is a let-down as everything else is pretty much perfect. This is not the end of the world of course, and with careful management of the sanitizer chemicals, you would be able to keep the water safe. I like having that extra layer of sanitisation, as a back-up to the bromine or chlorine. If this were my hot tub, I would use bromine as my main sanitiser and use a mineral cartridge like spa frog as my sanitiser back-up. Maybe that’s my OCD kicking in!!
Beacon hot tub review – the verdict
This is an amazing hot tub, that would make a great first hot tub. If you already have an inflatable hot tub and want to upgrade, then this might be the hot tub for you. Hot tubs tend to hold some of their value if they are well maintained, so you could always part-exchange in the future if you wanted something even fancier – but why would you – this hot tub is fabulous!
The Cotswold hot tub
The Cotswold hot tub is the next in the just hot tubs series, and it looks like a beast. The Lucite acrylic moulding is sculpted lovingly, and the tub looks almost space-age next to the Beacon hot tub. And here starts the dilemma…
If you had the Beacon hot tub in your garden, it would look fantastic. But in the showroom, the Cotswold hot tub looks just a little more classy. They are both similar, but the Cotswold has some crucial upgrades!!
Better Balboa control system
As stated before, Balboa is one of the best hot tub control system manufacturers, and it has a few in its range. The Cotswold Hot tub has a touch screen backlight controller which is what you would expect in such a good looking hot tub! It was straightforward to use, and the icons and menus made sense.
Surprisingly the Cotswold has fewer jets than the cheaper Beacon hot tub, but some of the jets are larger and more for deep hydrotherapy. What I really liked were the wrist jets on the lounger – a nice touch that shows a lot of thought has gone into the design of this hot tub. Instead of the LED water jet feature found on the Beacon, the designers of the Cotswold went with a waterfall which looks beautiful in the showroom and I am sure would look amazing in your garden in the evening!
The Cotswold hot tub has UV sanitation technology. I think that all hot tubs should have some form of primary sanitation be it ozone, UV or minerals. The Cotswold uses the same tried and tested Jacuzzi Clear UV-C bulbs. These are effective for about a year and need replacing annually. The price of the lamp varies, but it is around £100, and there would be the additional expense of fitting the bulb if you were not comfortable doing this yourself.
The warranty on the Cotswold Hot tub is the same as the beacon – 2 years for the hot tub and 12 months for the plumbing. I think this is a little poor. Jacuzzi offer five years warranty on the pipes and up to 10 years on the shell. If you are reading Just Add Hot Tubs, please look into this!!!
The Cotswold, at the time of writing, costs just under £7000. The price is 2k more than the Beacon. You can see that the Cotswold hot tub is better than the Beacon, but is it 2k better? I suppose it depends on what your budget is. For comparison, a comparable Jacuzzi model is about another 2k more than the cost of the Cotswold.
If you want to find out the current price, you can visit www.justhottubs.com
Both of these hot tubs are great, and I would recommend visiting the showroom and possibly having a wet try of the tubs. You will be able to see their brand next to the market leader, Jacuzzi, so you will get a good understanding of where the product sits in the market. I am going to be visiting a few more showrooms, this year, so I will let you know if I find any more bargains!!!
Hope you enjoyed this – have a great day!