What’s the Difference Between Hot Tub and Spa

What’s the Difference Between Hot Tub and Spa?

When it comes to trademarked names morphing into generic and common words, many types of businesses have suffered from this type of confusion. It’s becoming more well known that Champagne is a legally protected name that can only be used by sparkling winemakers from a very specific region in France. Similarly, Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard cheese that can only be named as such if it’s made in certain Italian provinces. The hot tub industry has seen a similar situation with the Jacuzzi company trying to prevent its trademarked name from becoming a generic moniker for all brands of hot tubs. Also, what about spas? Are they the same thing? What’s the difference between hot tub and spa? In this article, we’ll try and define each word to see if there’s any sense in making a differentiation between the two.

What’s A Hot Tub?

If you really want to stretch out the meaning of the word, a hot tub could simply be described as a tank that holds warm water for soaking and relaxation. However, this could mean that anyone with a tub in their bathroom has access to a hot tub. Of course, this would create a much different (and curious) meaning when it came to describing a hot tub party or inviting a group of friends over to do some hot tubbing. To narrow the definition to include its more generally accepted idea of a hot tub you would have to include the idea of seating for two or more people and water jets that propel the water to create bubbles and a massaging effect. 

Hot tubs for the mass market are really a pretty new thing in the United States. The industry as we know it didn’t start to take shape until the 1970s. And for that reason, there’s been a lot of growth, innovation and loose play with common terms and definitions. While the earliest retail hot tubs were quite uniform in their appearance and function, today’s models have all sorts of variations, add ons, shapes and sizes. This may be the reason why the word “hot tub” seems no longer sufficient to describe everything on the market.

What’s A Spa?

If you’re looking for the definition of the word “spa,” you’ll likely that there are a few acceptable meanings. You might find the word spa used to describe a place that features a mineral water spring used for therapeutic purposes. You’ll also find that a spa can be a place or facility that provides a variety of body treatments that may or may not include hot tubs or mineral water. And if you’re in the market to buy your own hot tub, you may find that many marketers use the words “hot tub” and “spa” almost interchangeably. Are any of these usages incorrect? Even though they may cause confusion, probably not. It basically comes down to context. 

What’s the Difference Between “Hot Tub” and “Spa?”

Because there isn’t the same type of regulatory body found in the cheese or wine industries to control this kind of branding in the hydrotherapy industry, we’re pretty much left to figure this out for ourselves. Many of the industry’s retailers and consumers have taken this to heart and use the same name to describe very different things. If your neighbor tells you they’re taking a spa day, it’s unlikely that you’ll think they’re going to spend an unhealthy amount of time in a hot tub. But if they invite you over to their place to use their spa, you also probably wouldn’t expect to receive a massage or facial treatment. And because of this, worrying about the difference between the two may not actually be all that worthwhile. 

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