Ember Hot Tubs — bespoke wood-fired hot tubs made to take camping
Winter is well and truly upon us. Days are growing colder and darker and every time we look for ways to spend the weekend, celebrate an event or get out in nature, all that comes to mind is the chilly weather.
But some things are better enjoyed in winter. Portable wood fired hot tubs, for instance.
Ember Hot Tubs began as a humble passion project when a group of friends in their early twenties dreamt of taking hot tubs camping.
Ten years later, Ember now services all over Victoria and is quickly growing into a full-scale business venture, all while still running out of a Geelong backyard workshop.
Co-founder of Ember Hot Tubs, Daniel Lansdown, first thought to start Ember Hot Tubs 10 years ago, sitting in a hot spring with panoramic views of nature.
“I thought, ‘imagine if you could have a bath in nature, anywhere you want’. That was when it first popped into my mind, about 10 years ago,” Dan said.
“So I started tinkering in the shed as a hobby with friends, and we made some versions that we took camping amongst our friendship group.”
“It was a clunky, rusty, time machine-looking contraption to begin with. We’d take them out to friends camping trips and buck’s parties and spend the whole day setting it up because it wasn’t anywhere near as refined as it is now.
“Way back then, we were in our early twenties and we took every second Friday off work to work on this little venture. And we kept refining the design.”
But as Dan was working as an engineer, the side-project went dormant for a few years before another of his friends, Chris, suggested they bring the dream back to life.
“He was really keen and I’d always stayed keen I just needed a partner. So we got back in the workshop again and started refining and working on the tools until midnight most nights.
“Creating a wood-fired bathing experience with a view. That was our aim.”
After years building and dreaming, the Ember Hot Tubs grew up with its founders, becoming an elegant bespoke hot tub design made from spotted gum eucalypt timber with a stainless steel wood-fire stove.
Ember Hot Tubs has been supplying commercial woof fired hot tubs for two years now and is Chris and Dan’s full-time work.
It has become an elegant, luxury bespoke business, that hasn’t lost touch with its down-to-earth roots.
The group of friends still enjoys bringing a hot tub on their Great Ocean Road camping trips every now and then, granted they now bring along their small children and partners too.
“Our business is renting and selling elegant hot tubs heated by wood fires that can be taken almost anywhere. It’s about getting back to nature, with less bells and whistles, creating quiet, tranquil, natural experiences,” Dan said.
The hot tubs are designed to be easy to assemble, and customers can opt to have a team member help set up or choose to set up themselves.
“It’s all off-grid, so there’s no triple power plugs needed.”
Ember hot tubs have been used for TV show sets, backyard parties, private events, retreats and spas, lockdown experiences and more.
“It’s perfect for people who have a getaway property, or who love the outdoors and might want to create a hot tub experience off-grid.”
To heat up the hot tubs, the wood fire is kept roaring until it reaches the desired temperature on the in-built temperature gauge, and then kept burning on a lower heat.
Daniel said the team of friends have loved watching their passion project grow into such an elegant product customers enjoy, but running a business has been both extremely challenging alongside rewarding.
“When you’re on the other side of the fence you just realise that this is human beings, it’s not just business, it’s emotional,” Dan said.
“Even just leaving a really positive review, you underestimate what that means to someone and we are so moved by positive customer reviews.
“It feels a lot more rich than just another transaction and when customers are happy with their experience, it just never gets old.”
Dan said the constant pressure of running a small business is bigger than he ever anticipated, but these challenges have ultimately made the whole business more rewarding.
“You just never forget about it for more than a few minutes, lying in bed or being at a party, you’re just really conscious of it … but I am still so grateful,” he said.
“The team that builds Ember Hot Tubs has become family.
“Feeling like we’re often in the trenches with each other. Staying up til midnight, working to get a deadline done. The crew, the team, Mum, Johnny, Ben, Chris, are all in it together.”
Dan said he hopes Ember Hot Tubs will continue to grow and eventually hire and sell hot tubs all over Australia, but for now he is happy with the very short work commute as they build and operate out of his young family’s Geelong backyard.
“We are locals and we are people so we do just love hearing from people, or if people want to drop in and see what we do, people can always drop in.”