Update: Costco’s hot tub offering has been slimmed back substantially over the course of 2020 and early 2021 as a result of an overwhelming surge in demand on the hot tub industry as a whole from the pandemic. The pool and spa industry is also facing a shortage of certain raw material used in manufacturing such as acrylic and delays at ports for certain products manufactured overseas. As of this update Costco has only one models available online which is the Evolution Spas “Highlands” model (7’x7′, 75 Jets, 2 pumps, 5 person with lounger).
Should I buy a Costco hot tub? Are Costco hot tubs good quality? These questions come up every day in online forums and retail hot tub showrooms around the country. In this article we will explain the benefits and drawbacks of purchasing from Costco which in our opinion is the most objective way to look at it.
First let’s look at some of the benefits of buying a hot tub from Costco. In most cases Costco sells hot tubs only online, however, there are the occasional “road show” opportunities in which Costco allows a local hot tub dealer or manufacturer to bring hot tubs into one of their warehouse locations for a ten day period to sell to its members. Costco hot tub road shows are typically two weekends and the week in between and if you are fortunate enough to have one take place in your local warehouse then consider it a good opportunity to buy if you’re in the market.
Benefits of Buying From Costco:
1. Value – The first and foremost reason why one might purchase from Costco is value and it’s what Costco does best. Costco doesn’t mark up products the way traditional retailers do especially niche retailers like hot tubs. Usually the more niche the industry, the higher the margins. Costco takes a more ubiquitous approach to pricing and profit margins and blends them across the board to make them lower. They do this because their business model is based on smaller margins and higher volumes. This is why you will find value packed hot tubs rich with features for price points between $2500-$8000. Similarly equipped hot tubs can be found between $4000-$12000 at traditional hot tub dealers and retailers across the country.
2. Flexible Return Policy – The second significant advantage of purchasing from Costco is an extremely customer friendly return policy that in most cases allows you to return a hot tub within six months for a full refund. There is the cost of transporting the hot tub back to your local Costco warehouse which is typically on you (the customer). They also don’t cover or reimburse for any of the costs associated with the installation like hiring a professional electrician to connect or disconnect the electrical service or installation of concrete slabs, decks, or other suitable foundations. These latter items are related costs but are not reimbursable.
Drawbacks of Buying From Costco:
1. Lack of Customization and Variety – Walk into a traditional hot tub retailer and you have a dozen or more models to choose from in various shapes, sizes, and seating configurations to meet your needs. You also have a slew of options, upgrades, and colors to choose from. Options and upgrades can be things like LED lights, water features, stereo, smart phone controls, water purification systems, or other meaningful features. Although you may not get the same value as a Costco hot tub since you’re paying for options and upgrades ala carte you do end up with exactly what you want and hopefully within the right budget. Costco hot tubs generally come one way meaning that you get one color choice and whatever set of specifications and features they choose to put on that particular model.
2. Inferior Warranty Support – Costco hot tub warranties are probably the single largest drawback and an area where they seem to get the most complaints. First off, the warranties are usually shorter than spas sold through traditional dealers. In some cases, there is no labor covered which means the consumer has to hire and pay a local spa company to come out and do the repairs. If you have a warranty claim then you generally call the manufacturer or support hotline to get the parts you need which can be its own problem if you’re not a handy person or don’t know what is wrong with the hot tub. Assuming you are able to troubleshoot the problem with the hot tub then you have to wait for your parts to arrive and then find a local service company to come out and do the repair which could be an out of pocket expense as stated earlier. Wait times for parts can be long and frustrating.
It is important to note that whether you are buying from Costco or through a traditional hot tub dealer that it is extremely important to buy a spa a with a good warranty and one that is handled by the dealer in-house because even the best hot tubs require on average of 1-2 service calls per year for what might be a minor repair or major repair. Having someone who is going to be there for you when you need them is important considering a hot tub can be a 10-15 year investment and can save you a great deal of frustration, time, and money in the long haul.
3. Lack of Care and Maintenance Support – Another important part of hot tub ownership is ongoing maintenance and care. Costco provides no support for testing your water or teaching you how to maintain your hot tub. Buying from an established local dealer means you can walk into your local showroom for water testing, chemical questions, maintenance questions, technical support, supplies, accessories, or parts seven days a week and speak to a knowledgeable professional.
We intentionally left quality off the list above as it is difficult to say with certainty that you are getting a better or less quality hot tub when purchasing a Costco hot tub. In fact, many of the brands sold on Costco.com are actually built by well-respected hot tub manufactures who sell their premium hot tub brands through traditional hot tub dealers. Below is a list of the Costco hot tub brands and their parent manufacturers;
1. Divine Hot Tubs – manufactured by Clearwater Spas in Woodinville Washington. The Clearwater brand has been sold through traditional hot tub dealers for over 30 years and is considered a good brand by industry standards. The Divine Hot Tub models are built in the exact same facility. It is not exactly clear if higher or lower grade components are used when building the Divine line, however, there are more exclusive feature reserved just for the Clearwater brand that aren’t available on the Divine models.
2. Evolution Spas – manufactured by Strong Spas, in Northumberland Pennsylvania. The Strong brand is well known amongst independent hot tub dealers across the country and more so on the east coast where it has a more dominant presence. Strong Spas also has a good reputation in the industry and has been selling the Evolution Spa line in Costco for a long time.
4. AquaTerra Spas – manufactured by Watkins Wellness in southern California. Watkins also owns the Hotspring Spas, Caldera Spas, Endless Pools, Fantasy Spas, and Freeflow Spas brands which it sells through its independent dealer network. The AquaTerra Spas line is a rotationally molded hot tub which is most comparable to the Freeflow Spas line. For more detailed information you can view our post and reviews.
5. Bullfrog Spas – manufactured in Utah and typically sold only through specialty hot tub stores, Bullfrog is a premium brand of hot tubs that have a very unique design with patented “jetpaks” and cutting edge technology. They offer a limited selection through Costco.com.
For more information on how to research and compare hot tubs before purchasing please visit our hot tub buyer’s guide pages. You can also click on the pink boxes at the top right of every page to get a free local quotes from dealers in your area.