Most people interchange the terms, hot tub, spa, and Jacuzzi, when they refer to a large tub of jetted hot water that is used for relaxation, socializing and hydrotherapy. However, are they really talking about the same type of vessel? Although many of their features are the same, hot tubs and spas are not always designed, situated or used in the same way. In addition, the term spa may have the edge in the “image” department, since spa also refers to a hot springs resort or health retreat that offers hydrotherapy and other health-restoring treatments.
Spas are often customized to be tandem with in-ground swimming pools, making it easy for the user to go from the heat of the tub to the cool water of the pool. Whether in-ground or above-ground, custom spas are more likely to be constructed of the same materials as pools, like concrete, fiberglass, gunite or tile. A person talking about a large acrylic vessel with dozens of powerful jets, molded seating and effervescent bubbles, would likely call it a spa.
A hot tub may still be thought of as more of a soaking tub by some. Possibly a leftover image from the 1970’s, when hot tubs were round wooden tanks with bench seating and a few jets. Even today, there are hot tubs made of traditional wood, as well as recycled materials, like metal or barrels.
While manufacturers tend to include smaller models that seat two to three people, for a more intimate experience, both hot tubs and spas come in portable models that seat two to eight adults. They may be made of inflatable latex or vinyl, which is less expensive; fiberglass, acrylic; polyethylene; or other types of plastic, are at least 5 feet in diameter and hold up to 500 gallons of water. Larger tubs and spas, about 6 or more feet wide, can accommodate up to 10 adults and hold about 800 gallons of water.
Jacuzzi is the name of the first and foremost portable spa manufacturer. Like Xerox, the brand name is frequently used to refer to a generic product category. If it is a Jacuzzi Spa, then, of course, call it a Jacuzzi. Roy Jacuzzi, an American inventor (and Italian immigrant) built the first jetted hot tub in 1968, calling it a Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath. The term, Whirlpool Bath, by the way, is a trademarked name of the Jacuzzi brand of jetted tubs.
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