Difficult portable hot tub installations

Ogg 110 AqWhen it comes to hot tub deliveries, it's all about location. While every spa delivery has a unique story behind it, the following retailers may have topped the cake with deliveries that involved helicopters, barges, three-story windows and manmade bridges. But what may seem impossible to the layman is really just another day on the job for many portable hot tub retailers.

Timberline Spas

Big Bear Lake, Calif.

Oll 110 AqTimberline Spas opened its doors nearly five years ago, inviting the residents of this mountainous resort town to add a spa to complete the look of their scenic vacation homes. Situated in the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is home to many interestingly placed houses - think on the edge of a lake, up between 6,700 and 8,200 feet, and on the side of a mountain.

One of Timberline's first clients ordered a spa and told owner John Gibbons that it would be a pretty easy delivery. New to the business, Gibbons didn't think to look at the location first and wound up pretty surprised come installation day. "The only thing that could have made it easier was a helicopter. And after that, I never ever can bid anything unless I can go to the job and look at it."

One of Gibbons' specialties is removing windows and building makeshift landings for access, as seen in the photos. In one instance, he removed a three-story window and built a landing that tied to the windowsill and strapped it to a pine tree and over another part of the deck. With only a ¼ inch on either side, Gibbons crane-lifted the spa into its location. At another home, he needed to take out a 10-foot window located down near a lake and build a landing through the now-open window to shimmy it in.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by difficult installations, but Gibbons says he and his crew have it down to such a science that the install isn't as frustrating as the lack of witnesses.

"We use a lot of Egyptian things with rollers and rolling [the spas]. It's just a technique getting them in. Sometimes I get overwhelmed because we put out a lot of extra effort on some things and [the homeowners] don't see it because they aren't there. They only see it when it's done, so it's hard for them to imagine what we had to go through to get it in."

Splash Nash Spas

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Ott 110 AqThis mountaintous range in Canada is a popular resort town known for alpine skiing and mountain biking. So it's easy to see why installing a hot tub somewhere within the Coast Mountains could require some special equipment, not to mention patience.

Dave Nash, owner of Splash Nash Spas, recalls that one of his best, most difficult installations, required a crane lifting a tub nearly 90 feet halfway up the side of a house. Once they reached that point, they laid the tub on its side in the shipping packing on top of four greased boards. After attaching a harness around the tub, and a rope to a come-a-long attached to a tree behind the house, the guys painstakingly moved the tub up the mountain 2 feet at a time.

"It took about two hours total, but the tub was installed and everybody was happy," says Nash.

Because of their location near Whistler Mountain, Nash gets a lot of installs that require snowcats to take the tubs up the mountain. He's also had a few helicopter drops, which he prices out to be around $500.

"We had a tub flown into a remote cabin by helicopter for the Millennium for a snowmobile's club party."

Nash describes the whole process as nothing special. "We put tubs in a net on the ground at the heliport and the chopper would take off. They connected the net and flew away. It was all really simple."


Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada

Watermaster is located on what's commonly known as the Sunshine Coast, a southern region of British Columbia that can only be reached by ferry or airplane. So it comes as no surprise, then, that to deliver spas in this area, Keith Tweedie, owner, has had to call on barges and helicopters to make the drop.

"We pick up the tub from the warehouse, bring it across on the ferry and then go to the airport. We offload the hot tub with a winch into a sack. And then we tie it all up and the chopper simply picks up the sack and drops it over the house. We are there with radios to tell [the pilot] what to do. It only takes a couple of minutes and then it's all done," Tweedie says.

Tweedie speaks of barges the same as he does of helicopters - it's just another day at the office when your office is located primarily on water.

"When we are making deliveries on the waterfront, because everyone wants to build close down to the water, some of the acreages are very, very steep. People want the views of the water and that's how come we have to start using helicopters, cranes and barges."

Surprisingly, the delivery costs for such pieces of equipment (or modes of transportation) aren't as crazy as one may assume. Tweedie says the average crane delivery costs anywhere between $250 to $350, depending on the type used. Barges cost around $400, and a helicopter drop ranges from $600 to $700 a drop.

So what are common customer reactions to paying somewhat hefty additional delivery fees? "They just resign themselves to the fact that it's going to be an extra $500 or $600, and they are sure they've got their camera there so they can show the grandkids."

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

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