Ocean pool party bookings float in as Hot Tub Boat Canada launches in Victoria
The ocean pool party is underway off Victoria, B.C. — but it’s not exactly making waves yet.
The province’s capital city is now home to what’s believed to be the country’s first hot tub boat rental company.
Hot Tub Boat Victoria launched quietly on Saturday with one rental booking scheduled for 7 p.m. on its grand opening day.
Despite a slow start, its owner-operators are optimistic their business will swim.
“People have started booking, people have pre-booked into October already,” said Hot Tub Boat Victoria’s Tanner McLeod. “It’s quite exciting.”
McLeod and his business partner, Peter Pawlowski, went through up to two years of regulatory hurdles before receiving all the approvals needed to set afloat.
“I think it’s going to be a hit,” said Pawlowski.
A 1.5-hour hot tub boat cruise costs $65 per passenger, on top of a $35 boat fee per outing.
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Hot Tub Boat Victoria opted to go with per person pricing instead of a flat rate, in order to attract both locals and tourists.
Each hot tub boat can accommodate a maximum of six passengers, and the company’s website states the hot water experience is “maintained by an onboard stove and heated by briquettes.”
Renters must be at least 12 years of age. No boat licence is required because the hot tub boat is a slow moving, under-powered vessel.
Transport Canada told Global News that anyone operating a power-driven boat in Canada must carry proof of competency while on board, and that “a completed rental boat safety checklist is considered proof of competency.”
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“We’re opening up a can of worms here, but Victoria has a lot of untapped treasures,” McLeod said.
Hot Tub Boat Victoria believes they have the perfect vehicles to explore all the natural beauty, marine and wildlife the city’s upper harbour and Gorge waterway have to offer.
The slow-moving water-filled rides must stay on the north side of Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge and steer clear of the busy inner and middle harbours, which are used by aircraft, ferries and other commercial traffic.
Transport Canada said its harbour patrol will be on the water enforcing the rules throughout the summer to make sure the waters are “safe and enjoyable for all users.”
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Ian Robertson said any activity that animates the harbour is positive, and the hot tub boats sound like an intriguing enterprise.
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“I think Victoria is a great spot to launch this,” he told Global News. “Where they’re positioned from the Johnson Street Bridge north is a good thing. It’s out of the heavy traffic of the harbour.”
Unlike the UK’s Skuna Boats — which rolled out HotTug in 2017 while billing it as the world’s first floating hot tub — Hot Tub Boat Victoria will not allow booze on board.
“We ask that people don’t participate in drugs or alcohol and also refrain from excessive exposure and that kind of stuff,” said McLeod. “The laws still apply.”
After each floating pool party, the hot tub boats will be cleaned and disinfected before returning to the water with new clients.
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So far, the reviews are good.
“I’ve been out on kayaks and paddleboards before, but this was just a whole other level,” said Karolina Spiewak, who was able to take a ride before the official launch.
“I think it’s a pretty stellar idea, super unique,” said Spring Tide Whale Watching employee Brenden Kelly. “Everyone likes hot tubs and everyone loves being in the ocean.”
Hot Tub Boat Victoria plans to stay afloat year-round and is looking to eventually expand to Vancouver and Kelowna.
“We want to make this a Canadian thing,” McLeod said. “We’ve got warm water in here. If it’s raining or if we end up getting snow, that would be a totally amazing experience.”
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