Choosing the Right Type of Spa: Hot Tubs vs. Swim Spas vs. In-Ground Spas
Hot Tubs vs. Swim Spas vs. In-Ground Spas

Picture this: You had a stressful day at work or running errands. You come home, kick off your shoes, and within moments, you’re sinking into warm, soothing water right in your own yard. No need to drive to a spa or book appointments. It’s right there, ready and waiting for you.

That’s the bliss of investing in an at-home spa.

Relaxation aside, a spa can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being. The warm water improves circulation, eases sore muscles, and can even help you sleep better at night.

But with the different types of spas out there, how do you know which to choose for your home?

With decades of experience in the swim spa industry, the team at Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas has a good idea of what type of spa fits what home. So, read on as we tell you what to look for in your spa-buying journey!

Everything You Need to Know About the Different Types of Spas

Since a spa is a big purchase, you’ll want to find the best model for your needs. But before we break down the specifics, let’s dive into the different types of spas available out there.

1. Hot Tubs

By definition, a hot tub is a tub filled with heated water that’s big enough to fit at least two. Unlike typical bathtubs, hot tubs are designed to be used by multiple people.

Hot tubs offer more than just relaxation; they’re a form of hydrotherapy. The combination of heat and jets can work wonders on sore muscles and joint pain. They’re also a great excuse to invite friends and family over.

2. Swim Spas

Swim spas are a hybrid of spas and swimming pools. You get all the benefits of a full-sized pool without the space requirements. Like hot tubs, swim spas offer hydrotherapy benefits. Nothing beats a soak in therapeutic waters after a rigorous workout.

One of the most significant advantages of swim spas is their compact design. They fit into smaller spaces, making them ideal for urban or suburban environments where a traditional pool might not be feasible.

3. In-Ground Spas

An in-ground spa is permanently installed in the ground or a designated area, typically outdoors. They’re often custom-designed to blend with the environment for added luxury.

In-ground spas offer a level of integration that above-ground models can’t match. They don’t just sit there; they become a beautiful focal point in your backyard.

Additionally, in-ground spas provide a greater sense of privacy and seclusion. You can place them strategically for an intimate, tucked-away feel, shielded from prying eyes.

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Factors to Consider

The idea of relaxing in a backyard spa is hard to resist. But it’s crucial to consider other factors when picking a unit for your home. Let’s explore what they are.


Start with a clear understanding of how much you’re willing to invest. Hot tubs are generally more budget-friendly, while swim spas and in-ground spas can be pricier. Having a budget in mind will help narrow down your options.

Intended Use

Think about what you want to get out of your spa. A hot tub might be perfect if you’re primarily looking for relaxation. If you’re into swimming or aquatic workouts, a swim spa could be ideal. And if you want a luxurious, customized outdoor retreat, an in-ground spa is the way to go.


Take account of the space available in your yard or home. Measure twice, buy once. Hot tubs require less space compared to swim spas and in-ground options. Ensure you have enough room for your chosen spa without cramping your space.

Maintenance and Energy Efficiency

Because nobody likes high-maintenance spas, think about the upkeep each type requires. Energy efficiency is equally important—look for well-insulated options that won’t spike your utility bill.

Personalizing Your Spa Experience

Customizing your spa is the secret to creating your own slice of paradise. Let’s dive into how you can make your spa choice uniquely yours.


The right type of lighting can truly transform your spa experience. You can choose a spectrum of colors, from tranquil blues to vibrant reds, to match your vibe. Some high-end spas come with built-in fiber-optic or waterfall lighting for added ambiance.


Take your pick from a wide range of jet types: gentle for relaxation, strong for deep tissue massage, or rotating jets for a unique sensation. Think about your specific needs and preferences for the ultimate hydrotherapy experience.

Heating Systems

Control over temperature is a game-changer. High-quality heating systems let you set the water temperature to your liking. If you’re a fan of energy efficiency, consider models with advanced heating technology.

Water Purification

Look for spas with efficient water purification systems, like ozone or UV-C technology. This ensures that your spa water is always fresh and inviting.

Installation and Maintenance

Curious about how each type of spa is installed and maintained? We have all the answers you need!

Hot Tubs

Installation: Hot tubs are relatively easy to install. You’ll need a flat, stable surface, like a concrete pad or a deck, capable of supporting the weight of the spa filled with water and at full capacity. Once the space is ready, the hot tub is delivered and placed in position. You’ll need an electrical connection for heating and filtration.

Maintenance: Hot tub maintenance involves regular tasks like balancing water chemistry, cleaning the filter, and replacing it as needed. It’s a good idea to check the water quality once a week. You’ll also need to drain and refill the hot tub every few months.

Swim Spas

Installation: Swim spas are more flexible to install. You can place them above the ground, partially in-ground, or fully in-ground.

Maintenance: Swim spas have the same maintenance needs as hot tubs. However, they may require more attention to the swim current system and exercise equipment, depending on the model.

In-Ground Spas

Installation: In-ground spas are the most complex to install. They typically require excavation and construction work to create a suitable space. The plumbing, filtration systems, and electrical connections are integrated into the surrounding infrastructure.

Maintenance: Maintenance for in-ground spas can be more involved. You’ll need professional servicing for the complex plumbing and filtration systems. This also includes water chemistry management, filter maintenance, and energy costs.

No matter what type of spa you have, some maintenance chores remain constant across the board.

  • Regularly test and balance the water chemistry to ensure it’s safe and comfortable.
  • Clean or replace the filters per the manufacturer’s recommendations to maintain water quality.
  • Wipe down surfaces and remove debris from the water regularly.
  • Follow a schedule for draining and refilling your spa to keep the water fresh.

Seeking Expert Advice

If this is your first time purchasing a spa, you might be confused about where to begin. But don’t worry. There are plenty of professionals ready to guide you, offer valuable insights, and ensure your spa experience is everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

So, how do you find these spa whisperers?

  • Start by looking for local spa dealers in your area. They often have showrooms where you can see different spa models and talk to their knowledgeable staff.
  • Explore websites and online directories that list spa dealers, installers, and professionals in your region.
  • Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they’ve had positive experiences with any spa professionals in your area.
  • Once you’ve identified a potential expert, schedule a consultation. During this meeting, you can discuss your needs and ask questions.

Or, you can skip the search and reach out to the pros at Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas. We’re your go-to experts for all things spa-related, and we can help you navigate the stressful decision of choosing the right one for your home.

The Bottom Line

Your choice of spa is personal and should align with your specific lifestyle, space, and preferences. When choosing between hot tubs, swim spas, or in-ground spas, selecting the right spa is a journey, not a race. Take your time, envision your dream spa, and talk to experts to make an informed decision.

Ready to transform your backyard into a haven of relaxation and fun? Contact Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas today to explore our wide range of premium spa and pool options. Let’s make your dream outdoor oasis a reality!