Spa, Swim Spa, or Hot Tub: Which one should you buy?
Spa Swim Spa or Hot Tub

Firstly, it’s not a which question; it’s a why and how question. Why do you want a hot tub/spa? And how do you want to use it?

There are pros and cons to each type, but they are, for the most part, irrelevant to this discussion. There’s little point in discussing the pros and cons of a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS coupe if the use you have in mind requires an RV for family camping. Consider how you want to use your hot tub/spa first. That will lead you to the best choice for you and your family.

If your answer is, I want to chill out with my partner, family, and friends, sipping on a glass of my favourite bubbly as the jets massage my aching muscles, then you are probably thinking about a hot tub. If your answer is: I want to relieve the stresses of my day by getting into the water and exercising them away, then a traditional pool would work. But, if you don't have the space or budget for a full-size pool, you’d be best served by a swim spa. If your answer is: I want to provide a hot tub experience and entertainment area adjacent to my new pool where the adults can chill and sip cocktails while the kids play, then you’re probably thinking of a pool spa.

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Once you’ve chosen the type that fits your needs, you can look at the suppliers and options available. We'll take a cursory look at each type. Each comes with its own variations and accessories. There is also a lot of overlap between the different types. But first, we’ll narrow things down a bit.

First, let’s cross pool spa off of our list. A pool spa is an accessory to a full-size pool installation and is a part of and adjacent to the pool. There are many features available, including variable-speed jets, lighting, etc. It is similar to having a hot tub as a part of your pool. For our purposes, we’ll assume that you’re not doing a full pool installation. That leaves us with choosing between a hot tub and a swim spa.

Hot tub vs. swim spa: What is the difference?

A hot tub is designed with jets and can be used for relaxation, hydrotherapy, and socializing and for exercise on a limited basis. A swim spa is meant for exercise and fitness, but it can also be used for relaxation and hydrotherapy, so it is more flexible. That said, a swim spa typically has fewer jets and seats than a hot tub, so is less suited for entertaining and socializing and is more suited to its exercise focus even though it can do both.

Swim spas usually take up a larger footprint than hot tubs. That said, the largest hot tubs may be similar in size to the smallest swim spas. Cost-wise, a swim spa will usually take a larger investment. However, the most expensive hot tubs may rival the least expensive swim spas in terms of cost. So for either of these factors it could be a draw.

Function-wise, however, hot tubs are for relaxing, often focusing on the social aspect. This means they are optimized for seating. Swims spas are optimized for exercise and usually have fewer seats, so they might not be as good for socializing.

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Hot tubs are usually prefabricated units that are delivered to your home. The installation time is short. Some swim spas are the same. But, others need to be put together on-site, so the installation cost and time involved are more.

Because hot tubs are smaller, they are easier and less expensive to heat.

Hot tubs have jets spread around the outside to provide a soothing massage to everyone in the tub. Because of the limited space, limited aquatic exercise is possible in a hot tub.

A swim spa has jets around its seating area, but it also has a more powerful jet at one end that creates a current against which you can swim, walk, jog, or a myriad of other exercises. Some swim spas have an array of exercise accessories so you can do a complete workout in the pool. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Aquatic exercise… [has] several health benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced stress, and improved muscular endurance and strength.”


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Whether you want to relax and socialize, get a full aquatic workout, or anything in between, what you want to accomplish should dictate what you choose. There are many options.

If you have any questions, please contact us, and we will guide you through the best options for you.