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The Vandenberg Blog

Choosing the Right Spa for Your Landscape

Advice and tips on choosing a spa and hot tub straight from our design team.

An evening spent with friends and family, drinks in hand. A soothing dip after an intense workout. Or maybe some solitude in the dead of winter.

If you’re like many of our clients, conjuring up relaxing scenarios involving a hot tub is the easy part. The problem is actually getting there and choosing the right one! It can be hard to know what spa is best suited for your space.

Here’s our guide, straight from our design team. Enjoy!

Before you choose, keep this in mind… 

Before we look at what options are out there, think about your location. Where you place your hot tub should be determined by the size of your space, how close it is to a power source and how likely you are to go there. 

We're creatures of habit and comfort. Whenever I hear that people rarely use their hot tub after the "novelty has worn off," it's almost always because it's in a corner of the yard that feels far away from the house, or they never really used that space in the first place. When choosing a spot, try to really think about how likely you'll walk out to the hot tub and back when it's a bit colder or raining. Next, think about how private the area feels... I find those are the two biggest factors that influence whether a hot tub is used or not!

With that in mind, here are our favourite spa types. 

1. The Portable Spa

Portable spas are extremely popular and it’s no wonder why. They’re the most versatile when it comes to size, shape, colour, price point and features. They’re energy-efficient which is great for your wallet and very customizable when it comes to jets, lighting features and seating options.

But they do have some drawbacks. Despite their name, they’re heavy, which can make them difficult to move. It can be done but requires some serious muscle. Portable spas also require a special pad to handle their weight, which can be an added cost.

2. The Swim or Exercise Spa

These spas are larger and typically need to be built into a deck or in a specialized room. Swim spas are ideal for exercising in warm water and can be an excellent alternative to lap or full-size pools. 

Since they’re built bigger than traditional hot tubs, swim spas can hold a lot more people than a standard hot tub. Next time you host, there’ll be no need to take turns being in the water. 

That said, they can be expensive to install and maintain and they need a solid foundation to sit on or in. If you have a smaller budget or smaller yard, this likely isn’t the best choice for you.

3. The In-Ground Spa

If you’re worried about your spa looking like an afterthought in your newly designed backyard, you can design a truly customizable in-ground spa with the help of a professional.

This will be a more costly option, and you may require a permit, but you can have total say over exactly what features you want in your spa — from specialized jets and seating to coloured lights! And all of it will blend seamlessly into your designed landscape.

4. The Wooden Spa

This is the original at-home hot tub. Made from different types of wood, this spa is great if you’re looking for a rustic look. Many clients like to choose spas made from redwood or cedar because of the added benefit of aromatherapy.

If you’re choosing a wooden hot tub, you want to consider the heat source. Some spas require a fire, which is less expensive but can make it harder to heat your water. If you’re using electricity, location will be important. Wooden spas don’t typically come with all the exciting features as other spas, but if you really want that natural look, then look no further.

Choosing from common & special spa features

Once you choose a spa type, you’ll need to consider what added features are important to you. Here are the most common ones:

  • Jets — While hot water alone will help you soothe those tired muscles, when angled correctly, water jets will make them feel even better in no time.
  • Lighting systems — Stay out for longer and set the ambiance with a hot tub that includes lighting.
  • Covers — Every spa comes with a cover, but some are better than others. Most are hard covers made of vinyl and foam, with a hinge at the centre. Other options include soft vinyl covers, aluminum covers and “Smartop” covers which are the most expensive, but longest-lasting and most durable.

Looking to elevate your spa experience? Here are some special features you can customize:

  • Moulded seats — Moulded seats are great for protecting your back and keeping you comfortable.
  • Waterproof speakers — If you like listening to music when you unwind, look for spas that include speakers.
  • TVs — Get a hot tub that comes with a TV and make your outdoors the place to be on game night!
  • Cup holders — Simple, but super convenient. You won’t regret making sure your spa has these.

So there you have it — a spa and hot tub primer! If you’d like to add one to your backyard, whether it’s part of a larger project or a one-off, get in touch… we’d love to help!

Written by  Trent Brown