Difference Between Hot Tubs, Swim Spas & Swimming Pools

One of the most popular options for backyard leisure and improvement is the installation of swimming pools, hot tubs or swim spas, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)1.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at each option available to you, outline the differences and benefits, and ultimately, help you find the best one for your lifestyle. Read on to find out what the differences are between hot tubs, swim spas and swimming pools.

Getting Started

Three of the most in-demand projects are hot tubs, swim spas and swimming pools. Although you may see the terms used interchangeably, they are quite different. Several things separate them, including:

  • Backyard space
  • Cost
  • Uses
  • Installation options
  • Features
  • Maintenance

Our guide will discuss each option in detail, with information to help you choose which is right for you and your lifestyle. First, let’s talk about the advantages of deciding on any one of them.

Benefits of Spa Amenities

Adding a spa amenity benefits both you and your home. Soaking in a warm spa after a hard day at work can relax your muscles and relieve stress. It can also help reduce lower back pain2. With hot tubs and swim spas, you can also take advantage of low-impact workouts to stay fit. That applies to both you and your children, who will likely find it fun.

The other primary benefit involves your home’s value and marketability. Upgrading your yard and landscaping with these amenities can improve your curb appeal and increase your ROI if you decide to sell.3

Factors to Consider

Some things apply to any option that we’ll highlight upfront. Your first task is to contact your city to find out if you need a building permit or if other regulations that apply to these types of installations. That advice also applies to your homeowner’s association.

Other considerations include setting a budget with some padding to cover unexpected expenses. You should also think about where you’re going to install your spa or pool, especially if you’re going to add features, such as lighting or a sound system.

Once you’ve covered the preliminary work, you can go shopping!

Hot Tubs

The primary difference between hot tubs, swim spas. and pools are the size. A hot tub is the smallest of the three. That speaks to its primary purpose for relaxation. It can contain anywhere seating for two to seven or more people.

The most popular kind is an above-ground spa. The hot tub sits inside a cabinet that contains all the mechanical parts for filtration and the jets along with insulation to keep the water at your desired temperature. The ergonomic seats or lounger with hydrotherapy jets provide a soothing massage to relieve stress.

Backyard Space

The primary advantage of a hot tub versus the other options is space. The real estate for a two-person spa can take up as little as 6.5 feet by 5.5 feet. Of course, if you have space, you can opt for a deluxe seven-person model instead!


Many hot tubs have an open design for comfort. However, their main focus is relaxation instead of splashing around or exercise. That’s something to keep in mind when you’re deciding which amenity is suitable for you and your family.

We suggest thinking about who will use the hot tub. If the kids aren’t interested, you can opt for a more spacious model with fewer seats. After all, there’s a good reason why travelers consider a spa one of the most romantic hotel amenities.5

Installation Options

You can install a hot tub above or in-ground. The latter is more extensive because of the hole. Keep in mind that some municipalities may treat these installations like swimming pools and require you to put up a fence around them.

You can also put a hot tub inside your home. The primary advantages of going this route are privacy and lower maintenance costs. It’ll stay a lot cleaner inside than it would outdoors.


Some models offer several massage types, such as full-body, neck, or deep tissue. You can even select the kind for different seats. For example, the J-485™ Jacuzzi Hot Tub® includes three different therapy seats so that you can choose what you need.

You’ll find other features to set a relaxing mood, including interior LED lighting, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Many manufacturers offer a variety of shell and skirt options to match your hot tub with your landscaping.

The technology has skyrocketed in recent years with other options to make owning a hot tub even more enjoyable. For example, Jacuzzi® Hot Tubs offer their SmartTub® System. Its smartphone app puts you in control of your spa experience. You can also get maintenance and power outage notifications.


The maintenance tasks for hot tubs and swim spas are similar because of the construction and systems they use for heating and filtration. The essential thing is to ensure that the water is clean and bacteria-free. That means checking both the sanitizer levels and pH using a test strip. It is that easy.

You should add sanitizer every week to your filled hot tub, along with a de-scaling agent, depending on the hardness of your water. Other routine tasks include cleaning the filter and inspecting the cabinet for cracks and the area around it for leaks. Of course, periodically draining and refilling your spa is on the agenda, too.


Getting a hot tub is an investment. However, we suggest balancing it with the benefits that it will provide. An ordinary bathtub won’t relax and soothe you quite like a spa. The average cost of a hot tub is about $6,000, with an entry-level model starting at $2,000 depending on where you live.

Balance that info with the ROI on your house for installing it. You can add up to five percent to your bottom line if you sell your home.3 That makes it easy to justify the expense. Of course, the more bells and whistles you add to your purchase, the more it will cost. However, it gives you flexibility. That’s why it’s essential to consider what you want to get out of your hot tub.

Swim Spas

You can think of a swim spa as your private gym. You have a large tank to work out with some aquatic exercises. Then, when you’re done, you can follow up with a relaxing massage. The two sides typically have separate controls. You can make the workout portion cooler and the spa area warmer.

You almost have to think of it as two separate components since they serve varying purposes. That’s going to come into play with the features, space, and cost.

Backyard Space

As you may expect, these amenities are larger and take up a lot more space. You’ll find them ranging anywhere from 12.5 feet to 18.5 feet by 7.75 feet for the Jacuzzi® J-19 PowerPro®. The tank portion holds more water, so you’ll find that the volume is more than twice the amount of a full-sized hot tub.


The tank section will have high-powered jets. Their purpose is to provide the necessary resistance for your aquatic workouts. That makes exercising in a swim spa more invigorating with an increased calorie burn. Since it serves two functions, it makes a better investment if you have space for one.

Installation Options

You have the same installation choices with a swim spa as you do a hot tub. Some buyers will go with a built-in option with a short lip to resemble a pool. The process is typically quick so that you can get exercising and relaxing in a day or two.


You can think of a swim spa as a hybrid between a hot tub and a swimming pool. You’ll find many of the same features as a hot tub, with ergonomic lounge seats and massaging jets. You’ll see ones with other fun accessories, such as WiFi, sound systems, and Bluetooth. With the tank section, water toys are always an option.


The maintenance on a swim spa is similar to a hot tub, only there are more water and moving parts. Water sanitation is vital. If you work out frequently, you may want to check the conditions and add the necessary chemicals more often. While a hot tub may run around $500 a year, a swim spa will likely top $1,000. That’s something to keep in mind when planning your budget.


Like a hot tub, the cost is in the features. An entry-level model will start at $18,000, with luxury swim spas topping $35,000. Eden Spas in Prince George offers affordable financing plans that will take the stress out of buying a swim spa.

Swimming Pools

The best thing about a swimming pool is that it offers something for everyone. The kids have a place to play. You can relax and let your trouble float away on a lounging raft. There’s space for a healthy workout to get the most out of your investment.

It’s safe to say that a swimming pool provides a different experience than a hot tub or swim spa. That’s another reason you should put some thought into how you want to use your water feature. A swim spa allows you to enjoy it year-round, depending on where you live. The weather might limit a pool’s usability just to the summer season.

Backyard Space

A swimming pool will take up more real estate than the other options. That makes space a limiting factor. Remember that you may also have to install a fence, particularly if you opt for an in-ground model. Be sure to take that into account when determining what size to get.


Often, a swimming pool acts as the centerpiece of other recreational amenities, such as a hot tub or gazebo. That makes getting one a deciding factor in your landscaping theme. We suggest making a plan with the other elements in mind to get the most out of your pool.

Installation Options

You can go with either an in-ground or above-ground installation. The latter is the more affordable of the two. The former may cost more, but many find they are more aesthetically pleasing, even if it’s going to take longer to get the job done. After all, more things need to be done before you can break ground, such as contacting your city to check for utility lines.

The other consideration is the lifespan of the pool. An above-ground pool may last up to 10 years with regular maintenance. An in-ground model can last a lifetime.


You’ll find similar ambient features that hot tubs and swim spas offer, such as mood lighting and sound systems. If you have a deck or patio nearby, you can create an entire stay-cation experience with an outdoor kitchen and sports equipment. If you use your swimming pool regularly, you’ll find that it serves as a launching pad for many enjoyable get-togethers.


As you move into larger water features, the maintenance increases, just as we saw with the hot tub versus the swim spa. You can expect to pay between $2,000–$5,000 a year for maintenance, depending on the size and type of pool. You’ll also need to winterize it. We strongly urge you to get a cover if just to keep the water cleaner and help reduce your costs.


The cost range of a swimming pool is considerably wider than the other spa amenities. You can expect to pay anywhere between $5,000–$100,000, depending on the size, type, and materials. Balance that figure with the money you’ll save by bringing the beach home—literally! You may find that it’s more affordable than you think.

Shop Pools, Hot Tubs and Swim Spas at Eden Spas

Are you ready to take the plunge? Our team at Eden Spas in Prince George is ready to make your dream of a home spa come true. Whether you want a hot tub for relaxing, a swim spa for workouts, or a swimming pool for the kids, we’re here to help.

Our experts can help you choose the right one for your lifestyle and budget.

Contact us today to make the most out of your living space. We have the best deals on hot tubs, swim spas and swimming pools in Prince George and surrounding areas.



1 ASLA reveals 2018 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends. (2018, April 04). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.landscapemanagement.net/asla-reveals-2018-residential-landscape-architecture-trends/

2 Render, J. (2020, September 28). Reduce inflammation and relieve stress with a relaxing soak. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/hot-tub-benefits.html

3 HomeLight Top Agent Insights Q2 2019 Report. (2019). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://3xlsey17pnzh3nf35w1wwnug-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/real-estate-top-agent-insights-q2-2019.pdf

4 Siniavskaia, N. (2018, August 27). Lot size REMAINS Record Low: Eye on housing. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://eyeonhousing.org/2018/08/lot-size-remains-record-low/

5 Department, P., & 10, F. (2015, February 10). Hotels: Romantic Features U.S. 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/414968/most-romantic-hotel-features-according-to-travelers-us/

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