As the cliché goes, your home is your haven. Today’s contemporary home has a greater emphasis on being a “sanctuary” – a place of comfort and relaxation, a place for entertaining friends and family – all great news for the hot tub industry. The warm, tranquil water of a hot tub is becoming more recognized as a vital backyard amenity. The company that knows this best is Watkins Manufacturing, maker of Hot Spring Spas, the number one selling brand of portable spa.
A subsidiary of Masco Corporation, a $6 billion Fortune 500 company whose well-recognized brands include Delta® faucets, Baldwin® hardware and Merrillat® cabinets, Watkins has manufactured more than 550,000 spas since its inception in 1977. Watkins also manufactures Caldera®, Tiger River®, Hot Spot® and Solana® spas. All these brands have a common element: they are built based on Watkins’ fundamental mission to produce quality spas that are superior to the host of others on the market.
This mission was an integral part of why Jeff and Jon Watkins started their company. At the time, the only spas available were the wooden wine casks. The pair saw a need for a self-contained portable spa offering sophisticated therapeutic jets. The concept began bubbling and Watkins has been immersed in success ever since.
Watkins Manufacturing has evolved significantly since Jeff and Jon produced their
first portable spa. There’s no question that the spa industry is currently at the top of its game, and the timing from a consumer needs perspective couldn’t be better.
“Spas are getting away from their hedonistic image of the 1970s,” says Marketing Communications Manager at Watkins Manufacturing, Jacquie Matzat. “Hot tubs have evolved and are now being recognized for their therapeutic and relaxation benefits. A spa provides a tranquil place to relax and unwind from the hectic, fast-paced nature of everyday life.”
According to Watkins, over the past 25 years the hot tub has gone from an obscurity to now being in about 4 percent of U.S. households. Matzat says this trend of increasing popularity can continue indefinitely. Says Matzat, a recent Yankelovich study revealed that “owning a hot tub” was selected as one of the top two most effective ways to relax and reduce stress.
People who own a spa find themselves using it more frequently than they anticipated, Matzat explains. “In a recent survey conducted for Watkins, over 29 percent of Hot Spring owners reported using their hot tub five times or more a week, and in addition 73 percent indicated that their life feels less stressful and more relaxing since they purchased a spa.”
This surge in popularity has given the company its impetus to grow the number of dealerships carrying its products as well as remain on the cutting edge of design and technology. Watkins, with an estimated $225 million in 2003 sales, has more than 850 dealers located throughout the U.S. and Canada and in 50 other countries.
The Hot Spring advantage
Based in Vista, Calif., Watkins offers seven models in its flagship Hot Spring line. These include the Grandee®, Landmark®, Vanguard®, Highlife‘, Sovereign®, Prodigy® and Jetsetter®. The Vanguard, a six-person spa, was recently awarded a Consumers Digest “Best Buy.”
“Hot Spring Spas is the only spa manufacturer to have one of its spas named a Best Buy each of the five times Consumers Digest has rated spas. No other spa maker can make this claim,” says Matzat. In addition, the makers of Hot Spring spas are the only three-time recipients of the spa industry’s prestigious John Holcomb Silver award for technological innovation.
Hot Spring spas offer a wide variety of unique jets, all of which are completely adjustable, to create just the right sensation, from powerful and invigorating to gentle and soothing. In particular, the Moto-Massage® jet offers a warm stream of water sweeping up and down the entire length of your back.
Other jet systems found in Hot Spring spas include:
• Dreamjet® massage pillow, providing the ultimate neck massage without the noise and splashing associated with out-of-water jets. The secret is a set of rotating jets located beneath the comfortable pillow that helps to dissolve neck tension. A feature unique to the Landmark® spa, the DreamJet pillow can be adjusted to the user’s height for added comfort.
• Quartet® jet system, comprised of four Precision® jets, located above each Moto-Massage jet, that work like an extra set of hands to massage and relax neck
• Soothing Seven® jets, a Hot Spring® spa exclusive. Each jet’s seven outlets
broadcast a large volume of water.
Positioned side by side, these provide gentle treatment to your shoulders and
• Hydromassage jets – powerful but not punishing. These jets have a directional
nozzle with a flow-enhancing design for maximum performance. The interchangeable dual-port rotary nozzle creates a V-shaped pattern of water for a
• Jet-Cluster™ hydromassage systems that target specific muscle groups for a full back massage. Ten Precision jets “perform like the fingers of a masseuse with a soft, yet penetrating feel.”
• JetStream® jet, providing relief for aching lower back pain. The JetStream jet is an invigorating, directional whirlpool jet that’s twice as powerful as a Hydromassage jet, offering fast relief.
• FootWell® system, giving soothing relaxation after a long day on your feet. Nothing feels better than the invigorating massage of the FootWell system that provides a maximum-strength foot massage.
Another advantage to owning a Hot Spring spa is its energy efficiency. The average cost to operate a Hot Spring spa is under $20 a month (with other spas, operating costs could reach $60 a month or higher). “Our products are built with superior insulation,” says Matzat. “In addition our pumps and heater are designed to deliver maximum performance using minimum energy.” To test the energy efficiency of its products, the company uses Exponent, Inc., the nation’s leading independent scientific and engineering firm, to quantify the actual energy consumption of Hot Spring spas through documented, rigorous third-party testing.
Hot Spring recently launched its SpAudio“ music system. This unique music system is designed specifically for the spa environment – it has no external speakers and the transducers and amplifier are hidden behind the cabinet. The CD/FM/AM player is placed into the weather-resistant carrier, and plugged into the spa cabinet receptacle.
“SpAudio sends sound waves through the spa shell, turning it into the speaker and surrounding your body with music, fully immersing your senses in the sound and feel of every note,” Matzat says. To further enhance the spa experience, Hot Spring also offers the Luminescence™ LED light system, a six-color rotating system which can be customized according to your mood,” says Matzat.
Additional features of a Hot Spring spa include Endurol®, a high-impact, co-extruded thermoplastic, which is a single, solid surface that can never de-laminate.
It can endure just about anything – chemicals, body oils and bacteria. Because
it is UV stable, it won’t fade or yellow.
Endurol shells also have a textured, non-slip surface.Hot Spring pioneered the development of alternative wood cabinets with its revolutionary, exclusive Everwood® cabinet that combines the natural warmth and beauty of redwood with the low maintenance and high durability of rigid polymers. Embossed wood grain and rich color give it a natural redwood appearance.
As a more natural approach to water care, Watkins produces the EverFresh® water care system. It combines the cleaning power of ozone with the ongoing protection of silver ions. All Hot Spring spas are EverFresh system-ready.
These amenities and innovative features are developed based on dealer feedback that the company receives regularly, enabling Watkins to keep pace with the constantly changing wants and needs of potential spa-buyers.
All spas are manufactured in the company’s 450,000-square-foot facility in Vista which employs 1,200 people instilled with an ethic to design and produce a quality spa that eventually will become a “staple appliance” to the modern home. “It’s hard to imagine a home without a dishwasher or washer/dryer; we believe people will eventually feel the same way about a hot tub,” says Matzat.
Watkins has grown at a consistent rate since 1977 – outpacing the industry’s
growth rate of an estimated 5 percent. As it has already come to be synonymous with relaxation, Hot Spring will continue to accommodate those seeking total relaxation.