Spa, Jacuzzi or Hot Tub?
Are they the same thing, or do they have different meanings?
If we are going to give you a potted history about hot tubs, let's clear one thing up very quickly. There are a few subtle differences between a hot tub and a Jacuzzi. A hot tub is a large bath of water which can be heated, and is used for relaxation and fun.
A Jacuzzi on the other hand, is a company brand name for a hot tub and its related products. So referring to a hot tub as a 'Jacuzzi' is a bit like calling a vacuum cleaner a Hoover.
Back in 1915 the Jacuzzi brothers from Northern Italy invented an underwater pump that could be used to relieve pain caused by arthritis. Not long after that they created a tub with a built-in jet whirlpool. So, in a relatively short time, 'Jacuzzi' became a household name and was used to refer to any kind of hot tub - often incorrectly.
So the short answer to 'Are Hot Tubs and Jacuzzis the same thing?' is No. Hot tubs can be manufactured by different companies, and can have the same features as Jacuzzi's products but usually for a much lower price. Similar features can include :
Built in seating
Multiple colour choices
However, some hot tubs have extras that Jacuzzis don't have, such as built-in audio systems and flat-screen TVs - and wood-burners!
Is a spa the same as a hot tub?
The answer to this one is a bit longer, but I'll try and keep it brief. The term 'spa' is ancient. It comes from the name of the town of Spa, Belgium, whose name back in the Roman times, was 'Aquae Spadanae'. And yes, you've guessed it, Spa was popular for its natural mineral springs. Since medieval times drinking mineral water has helped to cure illnesses caused by iron-deficiency, but taking a bath was also considered a popular way to treat illnesses. People used to travel to hot and cold springs to bathe in the hope that it would help cure them of their various ailments. Records show that this kind of thing dates back to prehistoric times. A lot of people also thought that bathing in natural springs brought some kind of spiritual purification.
"Some of the earliest descriptions of western bathing practices came from Greece. The Greeks began bathing regimens that formed the foundation for modern spa procedures. These Aegean people utilized small bathtubs, wash basins, and foot baths for personal cleanliness".
The Romans quickly followed the Greeks, but on a grander scale, because they introduced public baths. They would use the hot thermal waters to relieve their suffering from ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis, and overindulgence in food and drink. However, when the Roman Empire began to decline public baths got a bit of a bad name with churches stating that "public bathing created an environment open to immorality and disease".
Even with the bad press, some people still continued to visit a few select hot and cold springs, because they thought they were holy wells and could cure various ailments. Around these springs, health resorts eventually grew and the term "spa" came to refer to any health resort located near natural springs. And even now when people talk about visiting a spa, it's for a relaxing few hours, treating themselves to various body or spa treatments. And not a trip to the local supermarket.
And one of the most popular spa treatments in today's health resorts is undoubtedly the hot tub. Whether it's indoors or outdoors, people love to slide into a warm tub of water to help them relax and rejuvenate. It's still used for relieving ailments too, like joint pain, rheumatism and arthritis. I can't say that I have ever heard anyone say that there are any hot tub health benefits for over-indulgence in food and drink though. I might have to do a little more more research on it.
Europe's Hot Springs
If you haven't already got your own hot tub maybe you could visit a few of the natural hot springs. There's a list of the top 20 European destinations, including one in the French Pyrenees which dates back to Roman times.
Alternatively, you could book into our pretty French holiday gite and try out the onsite hot tub. Situated in a beautifully tranquil, wooded garden you can imagine that you are a Roman god, reclining in a warm, luxurious hot tub sipping a glass of red wine and eating your favourite foods. Now that's definitely going to ease away the stresses and strains of a long, tiring week at the office.