I have been considering a hot tub for some time now. The right opportunity presented itself with the addition of a new deck which included plans to incorporate a hot tub. I'll admit that when I have to part with my hard earned money I become very detailed and analytical in my research. I visited every hot tub dealer within 50 miles and spent hours and days online researching. I've sure learned a lot about hot tubs and would like to share my findings and reasons for choosing the Gulf Coast Spas Boca Grande model.
My selection criterion was to find the most spa for the least amount of money that met my core technical, quality, and functional requirements. i.e. not the cheapest spa, but a quality spa at a fair value price point. In my research, I didn't run across the Gulf Coast Spa line until I had researched and reviewed *several* other models. I did not find this brand in any of the "showroom" pool and spa dealers and literally stumbled across an ad in the local paper to find the local dealer. The dealer was a discount furniture store that was also selling Gulf Coast Spas. The dealer setup was not as nice as the big pool and spa stores but my first impression of the spa was very positive. I left the store and started my online research and comparisons against my current leading spa considerations.
I was very impressed with the Gulf Coast Spa website. Very professional and complete. I was also impressed with their focus and commitment to service and 7/24 service and support line. Other selling features were the chemical free system and that the business was a member of the better business bureau with a favorable status.
Technical Stats (I made a spreadsheet to compare brands/models):
Gulf Coast - Boca Grande - $4,800
Years in business? Established in 1977 - member of Better Business Bureau since 1999 - see http://www.bbbwestflorida.org/commonreport.html?bid=6140901
Location? Clearwater Florida
URL - www.gulfcoastspas.com
Service Program? "YES - 7/24 - Call: 727-573-9888"
Local Dealer Info? "Gary Hoobler @ TN Furniture Wholesale"
UL or ETL listed? YES - both
Type of shell material? Lucite acrylic
Thickness of shell? Typical of acrylic manufacturing process
Shell understructure? Blown fiberglass - layered and then hand molded
Re-enforcements? None observed
Insulation type? "Thermazone" - High density closed cell foam on bottom of tub, dead air space, 1/4" 2-sided foil insulation on inside cabinet walls, 1/2" Styrofoam on inside wall panels.
Pressure treated base? Yes - full floor enclosing the entire cabinet
Cabinet Construction? California Redwood
Dimensions? 94 x 94 x 35
Gallons of water held? 430
# of water jets? 43
# of air jets? 14
Seating Capacity? 6
Filtering / Heating / Water purification:
Filtering type? "Vortec" filters 325 gallons per minute. The entire 430 gallons are filtered 78 times in 2 hours. Replacement filter (35 sq feet) cost $25
Maintenance? Minimal / typical - garden hose spray down of filter.
Heating source & Wattage? In line heating element 5.5k
Maintenance? User replaceable - good website for owner serviceable parts
Cost of Operation? $16 / month average
Water purification types? "AquaClara" water management system + UV ozone unit. $49 / kit for AquaClara
Electronics & Pumps:
Can electronics be locked? No
Pump type and manufacturer? Emerson Extreme - Pool / Spa model
Single Speed or Multiple? 1 - Double Speed & 1 Single Speed
Circulation pump? No. 2 speed pump will come on in low speed every 12 hours for 1-12 hours (user programmable) to filter and condition water
GPM flow? 100
Are pumps mounted on rubber pads to reduce noise? Yes
Auto shut-off? Yes - 20 minutes on pumps, 2 hours for the light
Fault displays in electronics? YES
Hot Tub Cover:
Locking? Available - $4
UL & ASTM Listed? ?
Taper? 5" x 3"
1.5 -2lb foam density – 12.7R value? ?
Heat seal gasket at the covers crease? Yes
Cover lifter available? Yes - 2 types
Shell – both structural and surface? "Structural - Lifetime, Fiberglass Laminate water leakage, Surface - 10 years, prorated after 1 yr
(cracking, blistering, fading, delamination)"
Heating element? Lifetime
Plumbing? Lifetime on defects in PVC and Hoses
Other mechanical & solid state parts? 5 years - prorated after 2 yrs
Labor? 2 years
Will hot tub manufacturer back-up part manufacturers’ warranties? Yes, as above
Aromatherapy unit built into spa
Closed cell foam headrests
Stainless steel grab rail
Plastic steps included in price
One thing I always find favorable is having an established price vs. haggling. The price quoted in the paper was the price in the store. No come-ons or up-selling. The dealer did a great job with the delivery of my spa which included a pre delivery visit from the dealer himself during which he took pictures of the delivery site which he then provided to the delivery crew. The delivery crew had their work cut out for them as they had to deliver it in my backyard and set it on the new slab that had been poured to support the hot tub. No issues at all with delivery. I hired a professional electrician for hooking up the spa. The only trick here is getting the right circuit breaker as the Boca requires a 60amp breaker vs. a typical 50amp breaker for most hot tubs (per the electrician). The electrician did call the 7/24 support number and commented on the quality and knowledge of the rep that steered him to the right breaker make and model. I've had the tub up and running for about a month now with zero issues. We've already had a big party where the tub experienced heavy use and performed flawlessly. I am very pleased with the power and variety of jets. The lounge seat is incredible! Both corner seats feature shoulder jets. The seat to the left of the lounge chairs feet was also a favorite of many bathers as this seat provides a good mid and lower back massage. All chairs have built in arm rests which I did not find on many other models. The bubbler system is very powerful and really adds to the hot tub experience.
I am very happy with my Gulf Coast Spa Boca Grande and would recommend and buy this hot tub again!