Bain Ultra or Hydrosystems

pschwartzAugust 30, 2013

We're in the process of deciding on a tub for our master bath and have narrowed it down to Bain Ultra Elegancia vs Hydrosystems Aimee. MTI was also under consideration but they don't make a tub in the dimensions we're looking for (72x36).

I like the Bain Ultra a lot but am having a hard time convincing my husband that he'll enjoy the bathing experience w/o the whirlpool jets. I'm worried that we'll get the tub and he won't like it. And it's pretty much impossible for him to test it out in advance. I found Hydrosystems has a comparable tub size with a whirlpool option, or a combo option. It would be considerable more $$ to get the Hydro Combo vs the Bain Ultra and also more $$ to get just the Hydro Whirlpool vs the Bain Ultra...

My husband is definitely one who likes baths (as do I) and I *think* he'll enjoy the all-air but I also think he really likes his jets so therein lies my concern!

Just wondering if anyone wanted to weigh in on one, the other or both. Is it worth it to spend the extra money and get one that will ensure bathing happiness for both of us!?!? I know nothing about the Hydrosystems brand, there are no local dealers who have them on display and they don't seem to be very knowledgable on the phone so I'm a little worried about their customer service.


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Hi there!

We have a Bain Ultra Amma 72 x 42 tub, new as of May of this year. We really love it! It has the Geysair system (and actually the whole package that had the chroma lights system, etc - there was a rebate if you upgraded to that model at the time we purchased it.)

I gotta say - I really think it's the full therapeutic experience! The bubbles are more than enough for us. In fact, it's sort of the opposite. You get to choose your percentage of "Massage" and even when you go down to 10%, it's fairly bubbly! Like pot boiling over bubbly, not little tiny carbonation bubbles! I normally keep it at 20% but can imagine if you put it up higher that it would be more than a whirlpool effect!

This question gets asked enough - and plagued me before I purchased it - that maybe tomorrow I'll take a video (of just the water!) You can see for yourselves then. :-)

So, the Geysair system is supposed to be designed to keep the bubbles from being cold air. I think it's fairly successful at that in that I don't notice any "cool" effect at all. The water only gets cold if you sit in it for ... say, an hour and a half plus... which has happened, but that would apply to any tub! The bubbles have no effect on the water temp.

Yes, you don't feel the concentrated warm water shooting at you like a whirlpool, but on the models that place them on your back for the full massage effect, I didn't think they were comfortable to lean against. And so it was pretty much just jets shooting at your sides and legs. The Bain Ultra bubbles come up from all around you, under your legs, etc. so it's nice and therapeutic to me.

And, probably most importantly to me, no gunk. I have seen the black gunk shoot out of whirpools too many times to ever get one of those that didn't have a drying system. The Bain Ultra has a auto-dry that you can activate manually or set to come on within a certain amount of time after you take a tub. So, it can be 5 minutes or an hour, etc - kind of sounds like a hair dryer. (I set it for it for an hour b/c I am so relaxed I tend to make a slow exit from the bathroom and want to cling to my non-kid serenity as long as I can.) It comes on and blows all the air out of the little nozzles so no bad stuff in there and it's all dry.

And, you can use any product you want vs a whirlpool b/c it never sucks the water back in and water doesn't get in the bubble system. I love the L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil and pour it on in for a super bubbly, subtle smelling heaven. Probably TMI. ;-)

Anyway, the Amma has heated backrests and both sides - that's a nice feature. It's not super strong, so don't expect like a massage chair - it's just NOT cold when you lean back. I think at least one side is standard in all Bain Ultras but I could be wrong. Amma was standard with both.

The little control panel is mounted in the actual tub (vs on the wall or tub deck) for us - plumber and electrician did it as they installed it because it needs both at some point to make it "go." It's pretty intuitive and easy to use - it also has the ability to set customer Bather preferences, so in one touch, it goes to all my settings; another for my husband and then my two daughters (who probably use it the most!)

We have a tub deck in an addition in a 1917 Colonial so I was really only looking at the tub deck, traditional shapes/tubs. We tried the Elegancia and had planned on that, but I'm 5' 11" and my husband 6' 2" and it felt just a TAD bit short for us. I liked the armrests in the Elegancia but feet could touch the other side for me, so we went up to the Amma for full strechability. I like how the Amma headrests arch up on both sides, but there is also an option of flat sides if you prefer that.

The Amma looks super modern in some of the website photos or showrooms, so I put pics of ours below so you can see it in our more traditional tub deck.

If you can, go to a Bain Ultra showroom and actually GET IN the tubs and sit in them. That's just so important.

*Even though this sounds super glowing, I don't work for Bain Ultra or a distributor or anything. Just someone who felt paralysis analysis when trying to make all the decisions for our project, especially the master bath - and I'm very happy with my decision on this one. It was 1/4 to 1/5 or even 1/6th(!) of the price of the Kohler models I was looking at, simply because of the brand.*

OK - I think that just about covers it! Let me know if you have any other questions. I may try to take a video tomorrow. I would have loved to see that before I purchased ours.

Good luck!

P.S. Because of our bathroom design, it's hard for me to get a straight on photo of the tub - I'll try again tomorrow, but here's what I've got from each angle, one day and one night! :)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 4:24AM
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I have a soaker only Hydro Systems Lacey and I love it. Great style and comfort.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Thank you, akcorcoran for the great detail and pix! Lovely tub setting...

I was able to test out the Bain Ultra at a local showroom, they actually let me fill it with water and put my feet in to experience the air. I thought it was husband is a little more of a "functional" bather, meaning, he does like to relax but he also wants to feel like he's getting his tight muscles worked. The air won't accomplish that, but to your point, most of the whirlpools are only 6 jets and not spaced well. Hydrosystems lets you customize where the jets go...but no local showrooms have hydrosystems so I've been unable to test how comfortable they are. So your point about the back ones is really helpful.

So I'm wondering if you would recommend the geysair or not? It's $399 as an you think it's worth it? Sounds like you're experience is that it's nice but that the tub would probably stay at temp w/o it. Do you have chromotherapy as well? That's the other feature I like, but it's $599 add-on.

We're doing a total home remodel and I have to say, the tub is probably THE most paralyzing decision I've made. The info is so hard to gather, none of the websites have pricing, none of the showrooms have pricing so you have to ask for every single price point you need. I'm fortunate that I live in an area where we do have a few good showrooms...

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 10:50AM
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I would probably recommend the Geysair because pretty much everyone else says that an "air bubble" tub releases cold air. I've never found that to be true with ours. So, I'm probably not the best to ask, since I don't have a direct comparison, but I can vouch that Geysair WORKS. I would think you should pick for the aesthetics if you don't get the Geysair, and then really your open to ANY air jet tub b/c the Geysair is the differentiator for Bain Ultra, you know what I mean?

I asked all over how well Geysair worked, because it was relatively new when I got our tub - even the showroom folks hadn't experienced it for real. I asked on the forum if anyone had one and they didn't, so I'm just trying to be as helpful as I can.

We do have the Chromatherapy because it was a package deal where if you got it "all," there was a rebate that basically took you back down to the price of only the Geysair. I would ask if there are rebates around (or how quickly do you need to order - always worth seeing since we're going into fall.)

I think it is kind of relaxing to have the color - I like blue or violet. (My kids of course like the setting where it changes colors every few seconds. Party in Mom's tub!) I know it's probably bunk, but it's nice. You do sort of cover it up if you use an bath soap - then the water just glows.

My husband is an ultra-marathon runner (trails, mostly, so tough on the legs. He also speed hiked the entire John Muir trail in 6 days last year.) He's not patient enough to accept that a whirpool tub would work his muscles sufficiently in the amount of time he'd spend in the tub, so he didn't really have a preference. For that, he said he'd have to get a real massage - or don't get me started on how he'd like to have a full hot tub in our backyard in Baltimore, MD! Eek!

I simply could not afford - or really even justify - the cost of the tubs that were whirlpool with enough jets to really do the job. And, I couldn't imagine cleaning it - there are some that do purport to have a similar air dry, or closure system, but again, they were too spendy for me.

If Hydrosystems lets you customize the jets, I suppose your husband could focus them on his legs. Is he going to clean it? ;-) I'd suggest your husband go and put his feet (or tell him to wear his swim trunks and get in it!) in the Bain Ultra tub. I'm not joking - if he is the bath taker, then he should know and be on board with the choice.

Did you look on Houzz for Hydrosystems tubs - then you can "Ask a Question?" to see if they like it? That's tricky because sometimes it's just the designers on there.

I just looked at the overall features and felt the Bain Ultra suited our aesthetic and therapeutic needs, plus budget - even with the full features of Geysair and Chromatherapy. I have a wonderful tub experience, whether soaking or doing the massage bubbles, and then feel a little sense of happiness when the little dryer comes on after. :)

I know you're going insane now - I feel your pain. But IF you are tub people, it is so important to make sure the tub has what you want - don't leave yourself lacking a feature that you pined for, because it will haunt you every time you take a bath. Now, if you are NOT really tub people but want a nice one because it's in your nice new bathroom and you want it to complete the room, I wouldn't spend extra on features you'll only use occasionally.

Let me know if I can be of any other help!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 11:15AM
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akcorcoran, interesting to hear your perspective on the Bain Ultra, as that is what I'm 'pretty sure' I'm ordering for our next BR reno. But, I'm curious about what yours cost. If you don't mind sharing. You said it was 1/4-1/6 the cost of the equivalent Kohler. In my price list (here in Canada) it is $4765. Are the Kohlers really in the $20K range? Or, are you guys in the States getting the Bain for way less than what we are in Canada? Hubby is moving drain pipes as we speak, so going through specs to find out where to place drain, etc.

I have another question. Your tub has quite a large edge on the climb in side. Did you do that on purpose, and if so, you don't have any problems climbing in? Have only ever had a 'normal' builder's grade enamelled steel tub, so have no experience with these fancier drop-ins, and feel like I'm sort of navigating in the dark...

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 6:12PM
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akcorcoran, can't thank you enough for taking the time to write so much detail, that's exactly the kind of info I'm looking for!

raehelen, I'm in San Francisco and quoted price for Bain Ultra Elegancia 72x36 is $2378. Geysair is a $399 add-on and Chromotheraphy is $599 add on. I haven't priced Kohlers, but I have priced MTI, Jetta, Hydrosystems and Americh. All are more or less in the same range...haven't seen anything at all in the $20k range or even $10k...but boy oh boy would I love to take a bath at that person's house!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Hi! My Bain Ultra Amma ended up right around $2400 with the rebate, and that included Geysair and Chromatherapy (with the discount at our showroom and the rebate that was at the end of the year last year - always good to buy in December!)

I should clarify that they weren't totally apples to apples, although I'm not sure the experience of "taking a tub," as we call it, would be that different in the three tubs.

The two Kohlers I was going to use originally were the Kohler

The Kohler Potrait (a funky sort of rectangular shape, but pretty and traditional) was $8K for the whirlpool/effervescence tub and about $9,900 for the one with the back/neck jets (which were extremely uncomfortable, I thought!) That was before adding the grab bars which are required, but sold separately, of course, for nearly $700 in brushed nickel!

The Kohler Purist with neckjets (so it was whirlpool and effervescence) started at $10,500 at Ferguson - and another $500 for the drain it needed. By the time I had the final bid, it was over $11,000, and then it needed different faucet pieces than the standard, so that was going to be even more!) It was around $15K by the time I had EVERY piece needed in the bid for the tub with the Purist.

(I made an offer on their floor model - at the time, I was bummed that it didn't work out, but now I am very happy with the result!)

Yes, they could have worked with me, I'm sure, but not dropping those tubs by $8K! In the end, I had our whole bathroom from the tub to the faucets (Kohler Finial in BN) for the tub, shower, and sinks in the same amount of money as either one of those tubs!

Listen, some people love their bathtubs and use them as a necessity in their lives. Some people want it as a showpiece of their design and bathroom masterpiece. And, some just want a brand name that's recognizable on every piece in their home. I don't judge - I'm just not that person.

I'm very happy with the Bain Ultra - checks off all the boxes and a reasonable price for a high-quality tub and bathing experience. :-)

(Here's what the Purist looks like, the overflow feature was pretty cool!:)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 11:54PM
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Oh, raehelen, meant to answer you -

We do have a fairly wide portion on the front of the tub deck.

I learned at the time we were actually installing the tub that there is two methods of getting in a tub in a platform. One is if you can step over and into it (a tub deck closer to the size of the tub, or a bigger one but the tub is at the front) OR you "sit and swivel" into the tub. In that case, you have to have room for your bum in front of the tub - you sit, swing your legs around and over, and then sink into your luxurious tub.

The latter is what we have - also because our tub deck is a little higher too so you couldn't easily step up and over (and stairs with tile are a no-no if you don't want to break your neck slipping when you get in or out!)

It's hard to tell from the photos, but our entire tub area is framed in the center between the shower on the right and the "potty room," as I call it, on the left. Both of those were just under 6' deep so our tub deck marble is a whopping 71" deep! I did not realize how big that was at planning time! They just looked like nice little matching boxes on a piece of paper!

The result is that even with the 42" Amma, we still had 29" to play with - we have it 12" in from the front for the "sit and swivel." That still leaves 17" in the back.

Yep. I can't clean back there unless I get in the ACTUAL tub. No sweet. And, we have to order window treatments on a remote because no way can I open the lovely plantation shutters that I had planned on putting on just the bottom level. Eek!

SO, if I had to do over, I'd probably have figured a lovely way to drop that tub deck back so it was just a little less unwieldy.

But, now that it is what it is, it's sort of a decadent spot in my lovely master bath, and I love our breccia oniciata marble, so I smile at my mistake everyday. I haven't even accessorized it yet - just leaving it empty for a little less clutter in my life right now!


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 12:07AM
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Now, that makes sense. Or it doesn't make sense, Bain is a Canadian company, and for some frikken reason, the tubs are TWICE the price here as in the States!!!

It might be cheaper for me to order it online from a US company and pay shipping (and I wonder if there would be duty on a Canadian product)!

akcorcoran, your tub really is a jewel, and now I see why you have that large decking in front. We are DIYing this BR, as we have done the previous two, and there just always seems to be more and more questions with each one...

I just can't get over the price difference though...maybe a call to Bain is in order on Tuesday...Monday is a holiday here (in the States too I think?).

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Thanks to this post, I re-investigated pricing of the Bain Ultra tub that we were interested in. I got a quote from another plumbing supply place for about $600 less on the tub, and also less on the Toto Vespin 11 toilet I plan on buying. My local plumbing supply place said that they will price match, (yeah, cuz DH wasn't too happy about driving an hour away over a toll bridge...). Will update you all, hoping to drive into town tomorrow... Told DH I feel it was a good day's work to save ~ $800! (We have 12% tax, so every dollar saved is actually $1.12!)

Now, to make a final decision on an advanced toilet seat...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 6:53PM
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I am in the San Francisco area and like the Esencia from Bain Ultra. The prices I have been quoted are far higher than those on the Amma you posted. Can I ask where you bought your tub?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 5:16PM
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I strongly recommend getting the Geysair option. My husband inadvertently turned it off the other day, and I was so surprised by how cool the water coming in through the jets was. I turned the option back on, and the water came in warm just a couple of minutes later. We both love our Bain Ultra.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 12:48PM
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I love my bain ultra. And after a half hour I feel like I have had a nice massage. I did not get the chromatherapy or aroma therapy. The only thing I wish was different is the location of the controls. My contractor put it on the wall away from my head, so it is difficult to change the setting. I am thinking of getting the remote control version for it.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Love the pic of your BR Debinnh!

Still haven't started the BR gutting where I'm putting my Bain Ultra (still in planning stage).

My tub will be in the same position as yours, probably next to linen tower (to gain a few extra inches of access space).

Which model do you have, is it the Azur? How much space do you have in that alcove?

Do you have more pics of your BR? Our Master Bath reno is taking so long, I've run out of steam, and am falling behind on planning bath reno #3!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 6:52PM
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Canadian & New to forum. Incredibly useful.! My master bathroom has been gutted for months now pending tub decision.
finally settled on bain ultra but only clearance floor models due to price. I have consideref a cross border purchase as well but it is too big an item to risk damage. I currently have the option of tekura & origami both 72x 42 with chromatherapy but no geysair. Even at 1/2 price, they're way more expensive than the fully loaded US equivalents. I have seem geysair units advertised on line. Any ideas on aftermarket installation? Any thoughts on tekura vs origami? Thanks you all.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Canadian & New to forum. Incredibly useful.! My master bathroom has been gutted for months now pending tub decision.
finally settled on bain ultra but only clearance floor models due to price. I have consideref a cross border purchase as well but it is too big an item to risk damage. I currently have the option of tekura & origami both 72x 42 with chromatherapy but no geysair. Even at 1/2 price, they're way more expensive than the fully loaded US equivalents. I have seem geysair units advertised on line. Any ideas on aftermarket installation? Any thoughts on tekura vs origami? Thanks you all.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 2:58PM
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raehelen, I will post more pics later, thanks for liking it! My tub is the Azur 55, and the area is 60 inches wide. As you can see from this photo taken during construction, it fits me fine! I am 5'6. We changed out the window to a bigger one after this photo was taken.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 7:26AM
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Deb, That looks like a perfect fit! Am just seeing this pic today, think I read your reply via email, and the pics don't show that way. Are you sure the tub is only 60" long? My catalogue says the Azur55 is 66" long.

I think I have changed my mind for the last time, and have settled on the Thalassa55. It is a little bit narrower, ie 33" vs 36" than the Oval Plus model I was considering, and actually gives me another inch of bathing depth, though tubs are the same height. (It's also $1000 cheaper, and I got my plumbing supply place to bring their original quote by another $800, so I'm much more comfortable with the purchase.) I definitely will get the Geysair. Though listed at $399, was able to get it down to $303. I would love to know how much wiggle room there actually is. I really don't like having to ask for lower prices.

I just want others to know that even here in Canada, we can negotiate the Bain list price down.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 9:24PM
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We just ordered a Hydrosystems Luxury Tub with wihirlpool, chromotherapy, 2 back masseuse pillows, heater, brushed nickel accents, the whole works including the ozone. We are putting it in our master bath remodel and we already had a 72 by 48' whirlpool tub. The tub we ordered is the Mikayla and it is 75' by 48'. I did so much research before hand and I did see a lot of complaints about the Bain Tubs, I hop you all have good luck with them. I am covering the whole renovation on my blog and we are going to show the entire process of installation of everything. We are getting started this Wednesday so if you want to take a look check out the blog at MommyRamblingsdotorg (of course replace dot with a period.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Mommy Ramblings Go to Curb Appeal

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 2:40PM
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