Caldera improves its premium line
By Andrew Lisa
When Caldera Spas redesigned its flagship Utopia line for 2016, the company hoped to change not just how people perceive their brand, but also how they perceive portable hot tubs. Featuring radical changes in aesthetics and technology, the 2016 Utopia series has the potential to rattle the status quo.
‘LIKE A MODERN WORK OF ART’
The model names — Cantabria, Geneva, Niagara and Tahitian — remain unchanged. With the exception of Niagara, which now includes his/her massaging “EcstaSeats,” the seating configuration is also the same as the 2015 line. But the similarities end there.
“They made it look like a modern work of art,” says Jeff Bailey, co-owner of Spring Dance Hot Tubs, one of more than 300 dealers carrying the new line. “That’s really the best way to put it. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.”
The new exterior shell is complemented by Avante all-climate cabinetry, which is available in three sleek, earth-mineral hues. Minimalistic lines give a sense of seamless fluidity, and stainless-steel trim works in concert with black spacing to provide a neat, linear look.
A multicolor LED point-of-light system enhances the existing SpaGlo zone lighting, and integrated cabinet lighting brightens all four corners. A new grate design hides the filter while reducing noise, and even the new jet face design supports a contemporary look.
“We were very careful not to be too niche,” says Shelly Roberts, brand manager at Caldera. “If the design was too modern, it would only appeal to a small segment. It’s a chameleon of a design that can appeal to the clean-line aesthetics of a modern beach house or a classic Mediterranean-style home with palm trees in California — but it can also play in Peoria.”
BEYOND THE ‘BOX OF WATER’: CHALLENGING BUYER PERCEPTIONS
For Caldera, the Utopia makeover was a direct play at high-end buyers who are turned off by the drab design of traditional portable spas.
“It has always been perceived as a box of water,” Roberts says. “There is a segment of our demographic that has rejected the portable spa for aesthetic issues — it was not stylistically in line with their lives. You don’t get out of a hot tub the same way you got in, and we wanted our design to evoke that sense of transformation.”
Bailey says the exterior has always been an acrylic shell right up to “a regular, boring cabinet,” and he believes the new Utopia line disrupts the status quo, taking the exterior to a whole different place.
A DRAW FOR BUYERS OF ALL BUDGETS
Series-wide continuity makes the luxury Utopia line an excellent entry point into the larger Caldera brand for buyers who love everything but the price tag.
The jetting philosophy and configuration is consistent brand-wide, so Caldera’s value and premium lines boast the same “hot tub circuit therapy setup” as Utopia, which gives users a full-body massage as they move from seat to seat.
“If I’m attracted to the design of the Utopia, but I can’t afford to pay for that level, I can drop all the way down to the Vacanza series and still get the same benefits,” Roberts says. “I can draw you in with this line, and if you can’t afford it, that’s OK. You’re going to get the same therapeutic benefits throughout our lineup.”
Dealers have high expectations for strong sales.
“We previewed the launch at our dealer summit in January in San Diego,” Roberts says. “A dealer approached me and said, ‘I’ve been in this industry for 33 years, and pretty much nothing moves me. I’m not an emotional guy, but I had tears in my eyes.’ ”
Bailey says he has high hopes for how they will perform in his three locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“You need to be different to be remembered,” Bailey says. “I’m very excited to see how it performs on the floor. I can tell you already, it’s going to do great.”