The hot tub selling journey continues on its evolutionary journey with growth in the high-end, luxury spa market on a steep, upward trajectory.
Existing home hot tub owners are trading their initial purchases in and are choosing to make the move up to the next rung of hot tub ownership ladder.
Having already owned a garden spa, these second time buyers are looking for the enhanced benefits, superior features and all the bells and whistles associated with big ticket hot tubs.
This discerning buying group want computerised water treatment, smartphone integration for jets, lighting, water temperature and set-up; built-in power consumption monitoring; and a range of hydrotherapy options like water massage and even aromatherapy.“We have seen a steady increase in the last few years of our middle to high-end spas, with over 63 per cent of our sales over £8,000,” confirms Graham Message of the top-selling Aqua Warehouse Group with both Vita and American Whirlpool brands. “This shows us that the considered purchase customer is spending more for a higher quality hot tub and I can only see this continuing,” he adds.Anthony Schneikert of Spa Solutions says the company’s larger Alps Spas XLS range continues to perform very well at the RRP £11,995 price tag.“We see the luxury spa market as very much buoyant, with a good number of spa sales above the £ 10,000 plus price bracket,” Anthony says. “I would say the market still has room to grow and evolve as the spa market develops as a whole.”
Spa Solutions are also the distributors of the Ikon Spa from Vortex Leisure. Spa Solutions have recently been involved in the installation of two IKON spas in the luxury getaway suites at a private UK retreat.“The market has evolved over the years, through new technology and heavily in design also,” says Anthony. “In terms of high-end spa design, contemporary and attractive looking spas, like the Ikon, with unique smooth or bold design lines are very popular.“Spa manufacturers like Vortex Leisure have been pushing the boundaries on the concept of how a spa looks and blends into its setting.” “The luxury market is moving in direction of new designs and concepts which will push towards redefining the very higher end of the market,” Anthony says. “With newer designs and concepts, the luxury sector will increasingly appeal to those customers who want something a little different.” Echoing these thoughts, Vortex Leisure have recently partnered with a premium building company in Queensland Australia that will now be specifying a Vortex IKON spa in every luxury house they build.
“Overall, customers with bigger budgets want higher quality products, lower running costs, easier maintenance, and, of course, better looking models,” comments Andrew Pullen, Vortex Leisure’s Chief Executive. Andrew believes that the average luxury spa buyer is someone who values aesthetic and quality above all else and is seeking an exclusive, premium product: “If they have owned a spa before, they realise that the number of jets a spa has is not an indicator of value or performance. People who have owned spas before recognise that an uncluttered design is preferable to a profusion of jets and lights. Most luxury spa owners simply want to relax in a beautiful environment.”
“We’re very pleased with the response to IKON from customers who are seeking a spa pool of the utmost beauty and quality,” comments Andrew.
“The market is definitely heading towards a more unconventional aesthetic for spa design. At this end of the market, the traditional square plastic box is quickly becoming a thing of the past.”
Inspired by modern architecture, the IKON moves away from the standard plastic square box and sits on top of the landscape rather than sunk within it. Vortex Leisure is seeing strong demand in the luxury spa market for their IKON spa, which launched late last year and is now being sold by spa distributors in the UK, Spain, Canada, Russia, United States, Australia and New Zealand.
In recent years there has been more experimentation from manufacturers, particularly with differing design concepts.
Exterior design is where most of the cosmetic differentiation has been achieved with stylish edges and seating. It’s no longer about big curvy shells – straight lines and angles are in vogue.
Inside the hot tub, LED lighting has improved the overall user experience somewhat and particularly in the UK, a wider appeal of acrylic colours has evolved. “Frankly, I would say that most brands have had a slow evolution in ‘luxury’,” argues Jim Johnson, Marketing Vice President at Marquis Spas.“On the one hand, the brands of lesser design sophistication busily copy what others have already done and add a few more jets with stainless steel jet faces to make it look somehow more substantial. The actual performance of the hydrotherapy experience has improved very little, if at all. “On the other hand, ‘luxury’ for a number of other brands has embraced more sophisticated styling – but some of that is at the expense of improved bather and therapy experiences.” He adds: “There is a fresh aspect to some of what is being attempted in exteriors today. The fit and finish of some designs have improved in that regard. But inside the hot tub, where the real personal benefits and therapy action are, just about every brand out there is reinventing the wheel year after year.”
Hot tubs with superior features and enhancements continue to command a very important portion of Marquis Spas’ overall business and Jim estimates that around 45 per cent of all Marquis Spas models fall into the category of high-end hot tubs. “We believe what drives high-end spa design popularity has really been awareness of superior quality, reliability and ease of use,” says Jim. “They have to look nice, of course, but a product that you never have to worry about, can be easily maintained, and consistently delivers a superior user experience is what justifies being high-end today. There is and should be a logical correlation between a broader array of quality features and experiences and the price you are willing to pay.”
Artesian Spas have recently introduced their newest line of luxury, hydrotherapy spas to the market – the Artesian Elite. The new line replaces the Platinum Elite line and all the moulds have been completely redesigned to give a sleek and modern look. The new contemporary design for each spa features a curved design with a raised back, which houses a 24” adjustable waterfall.
“The Artesian Elite is the world’s very first 7 pump spa, no other spa on the market can compete with everything this range has to offer,” comments Vicky Wrigglesworth, Director of Artesian Spas.
“Designed with precision and care, the line has taken significant time and investment to conceive, construct and perfect. We’re also very excited to be able to introduce a 7ft spa into the range, the Eagle Crest.” With some budgets ranging from a whopping £15,000 to £25,000, customers in this top end sector desire the latest features and innovations combined with a sense of style and exclusivity.Says Vicky: “Over the last 12 months, we feel we’ve once again seen more low quality and low cost hot tubs flood the market, offering seemingly good discounts but often lacking in reliability. “These types of spas will always come and go but we find high-end, good quality spas, like our Artesian Elite and Island Class, will always stand the test of time,” she adds.
Artesian dealers North Spas recently undertook a large luxury project for a couple who had already been converted to the benefits of a hot tub after purchasing an Artesian Island Spa Captiva for their holiday home. The couple decided they wanted one for their permanent residence too, but as both are fitness enthusiasts, they were also impressed by TidalFit swim spa on display at the North Spas showroom. It was Artesian’s Dual Temperature range which clinched the deal, combining a Grand Bahama 61 hot tub with a 14ft TidalFit swim spa. The couple opted for extra aquatic rowing bars, resistance cords an upgraded LED system and an integrated music system. Samantha Murphy or North Spas takes up the story: “We conducted a site visit to work out the method for installation and it was there we hit a stumbling block – the only way to install a 14ft swim spa and 8ft hot tub would be with a crane, but the driveway was too narrow and the reach from the roadside was too big. “The clients were absolutely determined to have the DualTemp model, so we worked out a strategy to knock down the back wall of their double garage, then using a mini digger we were able to haul the models from the roadside, up the drive, through the garage and into the garden.” Samantha adds: “It was a large scale project but the end result is stunning. “The family have enjoyed hours in their Artesian DualTemp and love the ability to exercise in cooler water before retreating to the warm waters of the hot tub.” All brand suppliers agree, there is a significant percentage of the buying public who are immune to economic vagaries, but who prioritise in their purchases, the enhanced benefits, superior features and options of big ticket hot tubs.
ARTESIAN SPAS UK
TEL. 01302 730295
TEL. 0191 410 99 88
TEL. 01536 540122
VITA SPA UK
TEL. 01245 477 400