The term “spa” is derived from the town of Spa, Belgium where a curative natural spring was discovered in the 14th century. The word literally means a fountain. In current times though, the term spa is used to describe many types of vessels with warm water used for the purpose of soaking, as well as a salon for beauty and personal care treatments. A true soaking spa is filled with mineral water and some believe that the water provides healing properties. But in the pool industry, a spa is simply a tub with hot water which is used for soaking. The two most distinct varieties are the Jacuzzi and the hot tub.

The hot tub is most often a smaller tub which can be constructed as a part of a pool or as a free standing feature. The water is heated on demand via a gas or electric heater and it is circulated by just a small motor which operates a few jets. A hot tub is considered to be a great place to soak and relax but offers very little therapeutic value.

The size, shape and construction materials for a spa can vary greatly. As a feature connected to a swimming pool, the spa normally has the same interior finish as the pool and the coping, or finish edge at the top of the spa, is also matched to the coping of the pool. This can be pavers, travertine, flagstone or almost any other stone. In most cases the heater is designed only to heat the water in the spa however, UNIQUE offers clients a larger heater which is much more capable than the average heater. The UNIQUE heater has the ability to also heat the entire pool if the owner so desires. Additional features which can be included in any custom spa design include audio speakers, interior lighting with the option for variable colors and remote control operation.

A free standing spa is often the choice when homeowners have limited space in their yard but would like the ability to relax in water without a large pool consuming the entire outdoor living space. The spa can easily be incorporated into a water feature which includes a negative edge, spillway or rock waterfall. A free standing spa can also be constructed above partially above grade or sunken, depending on the client’s desire. Lush landscaping around the spa can create a private oasis complete with a music, lighting and remote capabilities. In addition, a free standing spa can be used in the summer without the heater in much the same manner as a plunge pool.

Jacuzzi is actually a brand name for a spa and tub manufacturer but the term has also become synonymous with a jetted tub with therapeutic benefits. A Jacuzzi is configured with a large number of massaging jets and is operated by a variable speed pump. This allows the occupant to select the level of force behind the water circulation. In some custom UNIQUE designs, it is also possible for the occupant to select which jets are operating to focus the massage to certain areas.


  • Consider your uses and goals for owning a spa. Will it be more for relaxation or are you interested in therapeutic value?
  • Consider the size of the tub carefully. Will there be only one or two occupants or do you need a larger capacity?
  • Location, location, location- The size and use of your spa can have a great deal of influence on where you locate it in your outdoor living space. A larger spa used to relax with family and friends would be located for easy access near your outdoor living space. A spa with a more therapeutic focus could be better located near a private patio off of the master suite.
  • Carefully evaluate your comfort. Some spas seem to be designed more for appearance than comfort. Think about how you will be seated in the spa. Will the coping present a sharp and uncomfortable edge for your neck? Is the seating area large enough to allow you to stretch your legs out completely? Is the spa easy and safe to enter and exit

All of these considerations will have an impact on where you locate your new spa and the custom features which you will include in your new UNIQUE spa.

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