Hot Tub Or Spa?

Hot Tub or Spa? For as long as I have been in the industry we have debated what the proper term should be for this appliance. When I hear spa I think of either a nail salon/massage parlor or one of those giant vessels located in a bathroom. I believe that the term Hot Tub is more definitively associated with those stand-alone boxes that are installed in our back yards. I am a firm believer in hot tub use for medical benefits and it has been my life long mission to help others discover the benefits of owning a hot tub. Outside of the medical benefits I believe that there are social benefits of hot tub ownership. I do think there is a stigma associated with hot tubs that prevents most people from entertaining the idea of ownership. As an industry if we can dig into those stigmas we can help the hot tub become the next great American home appliance. Deciding on a name is the first step in vaulting hot tubs from being a discretionary item into the next great appliance that is a must have in each American home. The next step is to educate the consumer on options available that allow us to create a visually aesthetic product that will mesh well with the flow of each unique backyard AND provide enjoyment for all 5 senses.

Memphis Pool’s Josh Henderson & Family

For my schedule and my convenience tolerance a dishwasher is a perfect appliance. It fits nicely under my counter, works well with the color scheme of my kitchen and does its work with little maintenance required. A major obstacle with getting more hot tubs into backyards congruent with dishwashers in kitchens is the aesthetic presentation of a hot tub. Earlier I referred to hot tubs as “stand-alone boxes that are installed in our back yard.” I’m afraid that that description summarizes how most of our population views a hot tub. There are, however, things that can be done to soften the appearance and make a hot tub less aesthetically intrusive and more cosmetically appealing. In my 18 years of installing hot tubs I have utilized many tricks to help my customers get more satisfaction out of their backyard with a Hot Tub. Here are 5 ideas that have been most common in my installations.

Most hot tub manufacturers have picked up on the unappealing aesthetic quality in hot tubs and have designed cabinets that resemble stone. While these faux products do a better job of matching the “box” to its outdoor environment there is still no avoiding the distraction. In some of my installations I have used a faux stone cabinet and then used a container garden to soften the rigidity of the stone. I am a huge fan of using container gardens around the perimeter of a hot tub to enhance the appearance of the hot tub area. Plants, when planted in containers, allow you to move or reposition foliage for seasonality and functionality. Also, properly placed containers and plants can be used to create flow to the hot tub area.

For those of us that live in suburban areas light pollution is an unfortunate side-affect of living close to the city. Light Pollution is a by-product of lights facing upwards or sideways and the light scatters in the atmosphere and reflects back to the ground. The result of light pollution is our inability to view the stars in all of their heavenly splendor. Have you ever travelled to a remote destination and gazed up at the sky at night? Did you notice the abundance of stars and celestial attractions? Did you ever go back home and at night gaze up only to be disappointed at the view in your back yard? This limited view is the result of light pollution. For Hot Tub owners who want to minimize the effects of light pollution in their backyard there are things you can do to help! First I always try to create some sort of barrier between the lights of the city and the view from the hot tub. Using the house is the most obvious way to reduce light pollution. When determining the final destination of a hot tub and trying to minimize light pollution it is essential to make a pre-delivery visit to the homeowners’ house at night. Take a lawn chair with you. While sitting in a lawn chair you are approximately at the same height you would be at while sitting in a hot tub. Now move the chair around the yard until you find a spot where the lights from the city are reduced the most. If there is not obvious spot, then you can use a structure to create a barrier.

I have often heard people state that they wouldn’t use a hot tub because of the “bad chlorine smell”. When I dig in to address the concern the first thought that enters my head is that the person hasn’t used a hot tub recently. On most new generation hot tubs, an ozone and mineral cartridge combo is the preferred method of sanitation. When using ozone/mineral cartridge as the primary means of sanitation there is no chlorine smell to the hot tub. Once you have eliminated the chlorine smell there are many tricks you can utilize to make the water smell pleasant. Aromatherapy is the use of natural organisms to enhance your psychological disposition. In the hot tub industry there are many manufacturers of aromatherapy. Essentially you pour an oil-based product into the hot tub and it produces an aroma that is very soothing. In addition to aromatherapy I prefer to plant fragrance plants in close proximity to my hot tub installations. To me, aromatherapy or the smell of honeysuckle or mint while soaking in my hot tub is the perfect compliment to a good massage.

Audio stimulation is another way to further enhance the hot tub experience. Knowing where to install a hot tub in proximity to a neighbor can determine enjoyment of an audio system. Most Hot Tub manufacturers include an option to upgrade to an audio system on the hot tub. Operating the jets on a hot tub necessitates a higher decibel level of conversation. When sitting in a hot tub while operating the jets and trying to listen to music installed on outdoor speakers you will find that it is nearly impossible to hear the music without inconveniencing your neighbors. So unless you live a great distance away from your neighbors and you want to hear music outdoors you may want to consider purchasing a hot tub with a stereo. For consumers who have already purchased a hot tub, but did not get an audio system there is still hope. Soundcast is a manufacturer of premium portable outdoor speakers. The advantage of Soundcast over another manufacturer is that Soundcast speakers are water resistant and you can use your smart phone or tablet to transmit the signal wirelessly. Wireless options are great around bodies of water. Nothing ruins your day like dropping electronics in water. Since Soundcast speakers are portable you can take their speaker and set it on the filter lid of your hot tub and enjoy the audio stimulation at an acceptable decibel level to your neighbors. For those that like the intimacy of headphones I have a solution for that too. Dry Case manufactures water resistant headphones and cases for your electronic devices. Dry Cases are clear pouches that you put your phones or tablets in to enable use in the water.

For More Information on Soundcast Speakers Visit Memphis Pool

My favorite Hot Tub installations are those in which I get to hide the hot tub in plain sight. Hiding the hot tub in plain sight involves pouring a concrete pad for the hot tub to sit on, then sitting the hot tub on the pad, and then building hardscapes around the hot tub to make it seem as if it is part of the terrain. I have used remedial tactics such as surrounding the hot tub with wood decking all the way up to creating a vault and installing the hot tub below grade. Custom installations are a way to truly hide the hot tub and blend the complete installation in a unique way for each back yard.

If you are contemplating hot tub ownership, or have a question about design of your ultimate outdoor areas, don’t hesitate to drop me an email at I would be happy to answer your questions or help you find a professional in your area with the resources you need.

Wishing you well,

Josh Henderson – Memphis Pool