June 1, 2009

The term hot tub originally referred to the wooden, barrel shaped tubs, which became popular in the late 1960’s. Early hot tubs were made from redwood and Olympic Hot Tub company made the first western red cedar hot tubs in 1977. These hot tubs made by Brooks Lumber in Bellingham were really just small water tanks made like barrels with steel hoops holding the boards in place. By adding jets, pump, heater and filter, we had a hot tub. When the industry began building tubs of molded fiberglass or with thermoplastic shells, they were given the tag “spa” to differentiate them from their wooden cousins.
This funny old photo reminded me that what to call a “backyard whirlpool” is still confusing to people. We call our products “hot tubs” not spas even though they’re no longer made of wood. We want to avoid confusion with “day spas”-a beauty salon destination. “Jacuzzi” is an Italian family name that’s also the brand name of a spa manufacturer. The original founders of the company-two brothers-made a pump that went over the side of a bathtub to produce a whirlpool effect. Years later they started making spas. Think of the analogy between “Levis” and “jeans”.

Now, Jacuzzi is not even the top manufacturer of spas. Hot Spring Spas has that distinction-being the world’s number one selling brand.

In a recent survey over 80% of  Olympic Hot Tub Company’s owners of “backyard whirlpools” called them “hot tubs”-the original and still the best descriptor! We’re sticking with “hot tubs”.  Some customers call them “think tanks” (for all of the good ideas that come while soaking). Then there are other more personal names like “Tom’s Lobster Pot”, “hot pot” and “Fountain of Youth”.

What do you call it? Hot tub, spa,  jacuzzi or something more personal?

RES EST SERVA VOLUPTAS. Pleasure is serious business.