If you are on a backyard improvement journey, you have likely explored many different options for features to include. The addition of a hot tub or pool can add an extra level of comfort, relaxation, and recreation to any outdoor space – but which one is best for you and your yard?

Hot tubs, swim spas, and swimming pools can all add a lot of a value to your backyard. The key is knowing the difference between each to decide which is best suited for your own outside space. Main factors that differentiate the three are size, benefits, and purpose.

Adding a large feature such as a hot tub, spa, or pool to your yard is a big decision. In this article, we will strive to clearly breakdown the difference between the features in order to help you make an educated choice so that your purchase that will bring you long-lasting comfort and satisfaction.

What is the Difference Between a Hot Tub and a Swim Spa?

To begin this breakdown, let us first examine the difference between a hot tub and a swim spa.

On the surface, the two can seem very similar in appearance and purpose. However, there are some key elements that ultimately differentiate them from one another. Before we cover those differences, however, let’s discuss what they share in common.

Hot tubs and swim spas alike both offer the heating capabilities to provide hydrotherapy, a method of physical therapy that focuses on using the healing properties of hot water to aid in the treatment of various injuries or ailments.

Choosing between a hot tub and spa will ultimately come down to a few factors, such as size and purpose. Taking a closer look at these factors will provide greater insight into which one fits with your specific desires if a hot tub or swim spa is the route you have chosen for your yard.


When comparing the size of hot tubs and swim spas, the spas are typically considerably larger than hot tubs. The average hot tub will be a circle, square or close to square in shape, designed for users to sit comfortably with one another.

Conversely, swim spas are often much longer and larger than hot tubs. This is because a swim spa includes both a seating area and a deeper area for swimming. Swim spas are often considered hybrids of hot tubs and swimming pools because of this feature.

As such, the size of your backyard is one of the first factors your need to take into consideration when deciding between a hot tub and a swim spa. If your space is a bit tighter, than a hot tub may be the best choice, whereas in a larger space a swim spa might fit more comfortably and be the preferable option.

Recreational Purpose

Your intention for purchasing a hot tub or spa is the second major factor that differentiates the two from one another. Because a swim spa is considered a hybrid of both hot tubs and swimming pools, it naturally can serve a different set of purposes than a hot tub.

When purchasing a hot tub, the motivation for buying for most hot tub users come from the features that are designed for the ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation. Hot tubs are not made for recreational sport, but rather for comfort. There are not areas deep enough for swimming, only ergonomically-designed seats for resting.

Conversely, the added feature of a deep area in swim spas makes them capable of achieving both the relaxation qualities of a hot tub and the recreational capabilities of a swimming pool. Swim spas can be great options for buyers looking for a hybrid solution and alternative to purchasing both a hot tub and a swimming pool.

Jets and Features

Swim spas will have significantly more jets and features compared to hot tubs. With swim spas, the deeper section designed for recreation will have jets built in that mimic a current, allowing you to swim in place.

The jets in hot tubs will be designed primarily for hydrotherapy and relaxation purposes, comparatively. A hot tub will not have special high-powered jets intended for swimming as there is not space in a hot tub for this kind of recreation. The jets will be placed thoughtfully on and around the seats within the hot tub in order to achieve maximum comfort and water massage.

Comparing Hot Tubs and Swim Spas to Swimming Pools

Two of the major differences that set hot tubs and swim spas apart from swimming pools are size and water temperature.

Though both hot tubs and swim spas can come in a range of sizes, with some being quite large, they will rarely be as big, deep, or spacious as a swimming pool. Pools are often used for recreation and exercise, a purpose that can only be simulated by a swim spa.

As for temperature, though some deluxe swimming pools may feature water heating capabilities, most will have considerably colder water than hot tubs and swim spas. Depending on the climate you live in, this can mean that swimming pools can only be used seasonally during the warmer months.

Local climate is, in fact, another factor to take into consideration when choosing between hot tubs, swim spas, and swimming pools. Your residential location may be better suited for one over the other, helping you to come to a decision on which to purchase.

The Benefits of Hot Tubs, Swim Spas, and Swimming Pools

Now that we have broken down the differences between hot tubs, swim spas, and swimming pools, let’s examine the advantages that come with each. Taking a look at the benefits of each can help you to determine exactly what features you are looking for and which option will provide them for you.

The Benefits of Hot Tubs:

  • Well-Suited for Cold Climates: Hot tubs are great for many climates, but are especially well-suited for locations that have longer winter periods and colder overall climates.
  • Heat Therapy: According to a 2016 study, regular immersion in hot water – known as “heat therapy” was shown to improve cardiovascular health. Hot tubs are a great way to achieve heat therapy from home.
  • Perfect for Relaxation: If you are looking for something that will provide you the utmost stress-relief and comfort, a hot tub is likely the right choice for you. Just sit back and let your body relax in a hot tub designed for that very purpose.

Here at All Seasons Pools & Spas, we are committed to providing our customers with the highest quality hot tub brands, such as Sundance® Spas. These hot tubs come equipped with jets that have a wide range of massage type settings including deep tissue, muscle release, pressure point, and relaxation.

Plus, Sundance Spas come in a variety of sizes, from 2-3 seaters up to 6+ seaters. This makes it easy to fine the right hot tub for your outdoor space and family size!

The Benefits of Swim Spas:

  • Hybrid Design: The swim spa ultimately combines elements of both hot tubs and swimming pools, resulting in a hybrid design that offers benefits of both relaxation and exercise.
  • Multiple Recreational Purposes: Though not big enough to swim laps, a swim spa can offer many recreational purposes. It is great for introducing children to water and swimming, as well as being well suited for physical therapy.
  • Year-Round Use: Because a swim spa has the same heating capabilities of a hot tub, it can be used year-round rather than seasonally.

At All Seasons Pools & Spas, we provide our customers with high-quality SwimLife Swim Spas, known for having the lowest average operating costs across the industry! These swim spas provide an adjustable swim current to match your own personal swimming level during recreation.

The Benefits of Swimming Pools:

  • Great Source of Exercise: Swimming is known for having health benefits such as improving cardiovascular health and aiding in weight loss. Having a swimming pool makes gaining the benefits of swimming easier than ever.
  • Centerpiece of the Yard: In terms of size and visual design, a swimming pool can serve not only as a source of exercise, but as a major design element for your backyard! Swimming pools can easily become the centerpiece of an outdoor space.
  • Entertainment for Family and Friends: Having a swimming pool can make your yard the hot spot to be in the warmer months. Swimming pools can provide endless entertainment for kids, family, and friends.

Doughboy above-ground pools are a great option when it comes to what brand of swimming pool to purchase. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as several different designs to match your personal aesthetic.

How to Choose Which Options is Best for You

Now that we have covered both the differences and advantages of hot tubs, swimming pools, and swim spas, it is time for you to decide which one will be the exciting new addition to your own yard. To make this decision, there are three main factors to keep in mind: your yard size, your personal goals, and your budget.

Yard Size

If you have a large yard, then the world is you oyster when it comes to adding new features – but for many of us with smaller yards, it is important to carefully plan and take sizing into consideration.

If you are working with limited outdoor space, a hot tub or swim spa may be the preferable option. Swim spas in particular are compact by design so as to provide the hybrid benefits while taking up a fraction of the space of a full swimming pool.

Personal Goals

Before making any purchasing decisions, always have a clear idea of your personal goals!

Are you looking for something that will provide you with relaxation and stress relief? Then a hot tub is likely the answer for you. But if you are looking for something that can be used for exercise and weight loss, a swimming pool is the superior option – and of course, there are always the swim spas that provide a hybrid version of both.

Your personal goals and desires should be a guiding factor when choosing between a hot tub, swim spa, and swimming pool for your yard.


All three of your options – hot tubs, swim spas, and swimming pools – will likely vary in terms of price according to their size and features. Standard hot tubs and swim spas will generally be less expensive than full swimming pool systems, making them the more budget friendly option.

However, staying in budget will likely come into play in deciding which version of a hot tub, swim spa, or swimming pool you ultimately choose. All three will have both less and more expensive options.

Luckily, at All Seasons Pools & Spas, we offer financing options to help you achieve your ideal backyard quicker through convenient monthly payments.

Contact All Seasons Pools & Spas Today

If you found this article and the information provided helpful, check out our blog for more helpful facts and articles on all things hot tubs, swim spas, and swimming pools! Don’t forget to check out our FAQ as well to answer all your curiosities about the different products and brands we offer here at All Seasons Pools & Spas.

If you live in the northern California area, consider giving All Seasons Pools & Spas a call for more information on purchasing a Sundance® Spas hot tub, SwimLife swim spa, or a Doughboy swimming pool for your own backyard.

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At All Seasons Pools & Spas, our expert team is always on deck to help our customers determine the perfect product for them and answer any questions they may have. If you are looking to make a new purchase – or if you are looking for services such as owner resources, maintenance, and repair – get in touch and contact us today!