The Difference Between a Hot Tub and a Spa?

Domestic self-contained spas are usually referred to as ‘hot tubs’ here in the UK, to avoid confusion with the terms “spa” which is usually thought of as some kind of hotel venue where you get pampered! Quite often, people enjoy the benefits of being in warm water at a hotel or fitness club and decide they want to replicate the experience in their own home.

In some parts of the world (such as Scandinavia) the term ‘hot tub’ is only used for wooden equipment (with a stove) while in other parts of the world (such as North America) they use the term ‘spa’ to mean any type of equipment, whether made of wood, acrylic or other materials!

Although the UK tends to use the phrase ‘hot tub’ as a generic word, later on in this factsheet you will see mention of ‘swim spas’ which denotes larger items that are designed for swimming in. These are bigger than a ‘hot tub’, with the water temperature being greater than a normal swimming pool, but less than a ‘hot tub’.

A hot tub is typically made from either wood or thermoplastic composites including acrylic and vinyl. Hot tubs come complete with heating and filtration systems built-in, making them very straightforward to both purchase and install. Added extras such as sound systems, DVD / CD players, TV and lighting features are also widely available. Look for the logo and name displayed by members BISHTA (The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association) when buying a portable hot tub, or visit our website at for names of members.

Hot tubs can be installed in the garden, on a terrace, in a conservatory or a home extension. By usually being above ground (rather than inground) this gives you more flexibility over positioning, with the added advantage of being able to take it with you if you move house, but please remember they are heavy items and may require specialist lifting equipment. Simple to run, a basic Hot Tub can be purchased for under £4,000 and can cost between £1.00 and £1.50 per day (on average) to maintain at a comfortable 40°C.

C8Another option that you may decide to consider is a swim spa, as they are great for those who enjoy swimming, but who do not have room for a swimming pool. A swim spa can provide the experience of swimming the English Channel in an area no bigger than 8’ x 6’! Swim spas pump a turbulent flow of water from outlets along one side of the pool offering a similar sensation to swimming against the flow in a mountain stream. Swimming against the current offers all the benefits of a full exercise swim without moving an inch.

Whether you prefer a leisurely doggy paddle or a competition standard sprint, the water flow can be adjusted to match your exercise needs. Air can also be mixed with the water giving added buoyancy and some models offer an underwater massage facility. Swim spas allow you to swim against a continuous stream of water, it is basically a swimming treadmill. You do not have to complete laps or turn around like in a normal pool, but just have to keep exercising within the space provided to ensure you get the swimming exercise you need.

It provides the whole range of aqua aerobics activities, from swimming to weight resistance training, to water jogging, making it the ideal therapeutic tool for tired bodies. It has been found to be effective for those recuperating from any sports injuries. The reason is that these units have been designed so that you can indulge in strenuous water based activities and the flow of the water jets can also be fine-tuned to deliver just the right force and direction.

To make exercise even easier, manufacturers are offering a vast selection of underwater exercise equipment, such as resistance bands, which make it possible to target muscle groups that standard swim strokes do not.

In terms of space, they only need about 4 – 8 metres in length and 2.5 – 3.5 metres width. Since they are selfcontained, they are quicker and easier to install than most pools. The cost of a swim spa is anywhere between £11,000 and £30,000.

Spas, hot tubs and swim spas are a healthy and natural way to relax and are a great addition to any home or garden to enhance your lifestyle. With a huge variety of shapes, sizes, colours and styles you can be sure that somewhere there is an option to suit every situation!

Children delight in them, parents love them and older people derive great benefit from the massaging waters, it is pure hot tub heaven!

To find out more about BISHTA contact our office by calling:  +44 (0)1264 356211

Or find your nearest BISHTA member by clicking and searching by postcode, Click Here.

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