global reach

A Whirl Around the World

A look at the way spa retailers do business across the globe

It’s no secret the hot tub market has a global reach. Our insights from six continents indicate customers — no matter where they’re from — generally want the same experience: excellent customer service, relaxation at home and a brand they can trust that will last for years. The biggest difference arises in advertising. From the arctic lands of Norway to the sunny coast of South Africa, these spa retailers offer a glimpse into how similar and different the hot tub industry is around the world.


Hot Spring Wellness China Co. Ltd

Shanghai, China

In 2007, Hot Spring Spas made its debut in the Chinese market. 

“It’s my great honor to be the first retail store manager for Watkins as I’m starting to grow China’s hot tub market from zero,” says Doug Shen, general manager of Hot Spring Wellness China Co. Ltd. His customers care most about the health benefits of hot tubs above all other selling points. 

With two stores in Shanghai, Shen and his team have signed on more than 30 sub-dealers throughout China’s mainland. Most of his company’s spas are on display in malls. As for online advertising, Baidu, WeChat and TikTok are the popular platforms to promote sales. 

For Shen’s customers, the buyer’s journey takes a long time because import costs hike the price, creating an even narrower market. The challenge, however, doesn’t deter Shen or his staff. So, it’s a treat when customers finally decide on a product and receive a hot tub.

“I love it because it’s a great potential industry,” he says. “I’m willing to pass the wellness, happiness and interesting new lifestyle on to other people [through the industry].”

global reach


Porta Spa RSA

Port Shepstone, South Africa

Since 1985, Porta Spa RSA has specialized in the manufacturing, conversion, repair and installation of spas and infrared saunas. Its most popular model is the six-seater Diamond Spa, which offers a dial or digital thermostat.

“It is a comfortable family spa,” says owner Peter Goetsch. “It has shallower, deeper seats and a comfortable lounger.” 

As a spa retailer, finding the perfect fit for a customer can be a challenge, but Goetsch says it has gotten easier with time and experience to recommend the ideal product.

Crime rates are another motivator for customers in South Africa. As of 2022, five of the most dangerous cities on the continent were South African cities, according to Statista. Because of this, Porta Spa RSA has a large number of customers who enjoy staying home for safety. It offers a better way to socialize, Goetsch says. 

“Although we supply resorts, our main customer base is domestic,” he says. “South Africans love to socialize and due to our crime rate, most people entertain at home, so it is important to provide a strong product with an excellent after-sales backup service.” 

For Goetsch, it’s rewarding to provide a product that offers physical relief and to own a business that doesn’t limit design creativity, he says. 

His favorite part of the industry? “Being able to provide a product that gives people a place to relax and build friendships and being able to have the freedom to custom build what clients want without being restricted to an agency,” he says.


Sunbelt Spa

Notodden, Norway 

In 2002, Steinar Kvamme decided to warm up residents by opening his hot tub company in Norway where temperatures rarely get above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of his customers — who primarily range in age from 30-70 years old — find his Sunbelt Spas online. 

“We sell 75% of all our spas over the phone or in our web shop,” he says, noting his company’s YouTube presence also helps sales. 

As a spa retailer and a designer, Kvamme says he loves selling hot tubs first, but designing is a close second. He co-designs Passion Spas spa models and visits the Guangzhou, China, factory a few times a year to help shape spa molds. He also travels to the Netherlands to shape and design molds for new models and look at new ways to include jets, controllers and seats to improve the customer experience. 

One aspect unique to Norway is it takes quite a bit of coordination to deliver a spa. 

“Our country is very long and narrow; if you drive from the south to the north, it takes four to five days,” explains Kvamme, who sells spas across Norway.

His showroom is a whopping 16,000 square feet with an additional showroom just for swim spas to give customers plenty of options.

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North America

Sundance Spas Valle Del Bravo

Valle Del Bravo, Mexico

A passion for water is what led Alfredo Hassey to introduce the Mexican market to spas.

“Transmitting the overall feeling of being immersed in water with the healing effects of hydrotherapy created from the jets and water temperature to our customers and friends makes me feel satisfied and content — especially once I see the expression on their faces from having enjoyed their spa,” says Hassey, owner of Hascer Group, which owns Sundance Spas in both Guadalajara and Valle de Bravo, Mexico. 

Spa retailing is new in Mexico, so one difficulty is showcasing the benefits of a hot tub purchase to customers. Hassey’s spa group serves residential and commercial customers, and its product reach spans Mexico. Top-selling models include Sundance brands Aspen, Cameo, Optima and Marin, he says. SwimLife Swim Spas are a favorite among customers, too. 

Despite the popularity and expansion of hot tubs in recent years, educating customers on the perks of a high-ticket item like a hot tub still proves tough.

“The most challenging aspect of selling hot tubs and swim spas in our market is creating awareness regarding the benefits, quality and service of the products we offer and portraying to [customers] the experience they will obtain through their investment with us,” Hassey says.

South America

Premier Pools

Medellín, Colombia  

For Andrés Ramírez, bringing wellness to Colombians through spa installations brings him joy. As CEO of Premier Pools, he “likes being part of the decision process for the wellness zone in the house” and sells the Jacuzzi brand in his store. He finds most of his customers want the benefits of lounging with full-body massage jets, whether it’s in a residential or commercial setting.

His showroom is one of the biggest in the area with 13 models on display while most competitors only have one or two on their showroom floors. Because much of his marketing is done online through pay-per-click and social media, his goal is always to get people in his store to purchase, he says. Women are the ones who respond to the campaigns the most because, he jokes, “In Columbia, women are the ones who make the final decisions.”

As for the future of the market, he believes it will keep growing. 

“I see the South American market as a young market,” Ramírez says. “Spas are becoming well-known, and it’s a bit more fashionable. There’s a better understanding of the benefits of hydrotherapy and having a wellness space in your house for your everyday life.”


Spa World

Nelson, New Zealand

By next year, Spa World will have 25 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. A few years back, Jacuzzi bought the brand and its sister company, Vortex Spas, creating an opportunity to expand in the region. 

“We are selling a product that genuinely helps people,” says Andrew Pullen, Spa World’s managing director. “Our vision is to provide products to our customers that improve health, well-being and happiness — spas, swim spas and the other products we sell do that.”

Since 1985, the company has weathered everything from economic downturns, a pandemic and spikes in shipping costs. Through all that, Spa World refused to cheapen its products because quality is what its customers have come to expect.

“Primarily, our customers are looking for spas and swim spas that have excellent quality that are inexpensive to run, especially since the cost of electricity has gone up, up, up,” Pullen says. “They’re looking for products that are easy to maintain, so almost all of our products have automation systems.”

A few ways Spa World stands out among Australian competitors: It requires all sold spa products to have a 10-year manufacturer warranty and has a firm 90-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. Spa World’s Australia-based parts manufacturing plant also makes it easier for the company to source items. 

“It really puts a smile on my face seeing a customer’s testimonial how owning a spa or a swim spa has quite literally changed their life and their family’s life — bringing family together and improving sleep and wellbeing for the whole family,” Pullen says.

Global Reach

Given the explosive growth of the hot tub industry over the last few years, it’s no surprise retailers on every continent are doing well. When the world shut down, hot tubs were selling quickly, and that trend is continuing globally. 

Roughly 38% of spa sales will come from Europe. Beyond that, between 2019-24, the hot tub market share is expected to increase by $739.5 million, according to reports from Technavio.

Now that more retailers are focusing on e-commerce stores, time zones and location no longer create barriers — customers can get a hot tub no matter where they are in the world.