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Hot Tub History
4000 Years of Spas
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From early times, people from the four corners of the globe have benefited from the therapeutic qualities of hot water. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Turkish, Japanese, and Nordic cultures have long partaken in hot springs baths.

The very earliest examples of spas may have actually been calderas into which hot stones from campfires were placed by primitive people to heat the water.

Ancient Egyptians Ancient Egypt - 2000 B.C.

Archeological evidence shows that as early as 4,000 years ago, hot therapeutic baths were enjoyed by the early Egyptians.

Perhaps the first known hot tub was chiseled of solid granite for King Phraortes of ancient Persia (then called Media) in about 600 B.C.  The Persians went on to conquer Egypt in 525 B.C., but we don't know if the invigorating aspects of hot tubs had anything to do with that adventurism.

The Greeks - 500 B.C.

Greek hot springs bath We do know from the writings of the great philosophers of Greece, including Plato, Homer, and Hippocrates, that the therapeutic value of hot water was appreciated and well understood. Grecians built elaborate structures around hot water springs.

The Greeks often centered social activities around public bathing establishments.

Roman Baths - 25 B.C.

Emperor Agrippa designed Rome's first large-scale spa, originally called a thermae.  Typical of Roman rulers, each subsequent emperor would outdo his predecessor in designing and building ever more extravagant facilities.

It is a little known fact that word SPA is actually an acronym originating from the Roman Empire as well.  When battle weary legionnaires tried to find a way to recover from their military wounds and ailments, they sought out hot wells and then built baths to heal their aching bodies.  They named these bathing treatments "Sanus Per Aquam" (S. P. A.) meaning "health through water."  The Belgian town of Spa was founded for this purpose, renowned throughout Europe the 14th century, and still existing to this day.

Over time health spas were built across the Roman Empire, from Africa to England. These evolved gradually into full-scale entertainment complexes featuring sports arenas, massage parlors, restaurants, and even the occasional brothel. Construction of a Roman bath complex

Ancient Roman baths in England
Roman Baths at Bath, England

  A typical routine consisted of a workout in the palestra or arena, followed by a visit to three progressively warmer rooms where the body was alternately bathed, anointed with oils, massaged, and exfoliated.

The ritual ended with a bracing cold-water dip in the frigidarium followed by relaxation in the library room.

Asian Tradition

Hot water's healing power has been revered for thousands of years in Asian culture, from China to Japan. The Japanese even have a saying, known as Mizu-no-Kokoro which translates: Mind Like Water, referring to a peaceful state of being in harmony with all things.

Japanese ofuro soaking tub In Japan, hot water bathing in freestanding wooden tubs called ofuro has been a family custom for centuries. Occupation forces brought knowledge and admiration of this custom home with them after World War II.  Hot water soaking has always been popular with Japanese Americans.

Early America - 1700

In the United States, hot water soaking has been a part of our culture for a long time. Beginning more or less about a century ago, a number of resort spas gained popularity in various parts of the country, including High Rock Spring, in Saratoga, New York.  Drawn by these springs, native Americans were likely the first to visit the area, using it for portage and a short-cut to fishing and hunting grounds. Indian at hot springs

Legend has it that in 1771, his handlers carried an ailing British patriot, Sir William Johnson,  to High Rock Spring in hopes of a cure. Other notables later followed including General Philip Schuyler, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.

Turn of the Century

Other early spas included Calistoga in California, Gregson in Montana, Mt. Princeton in Colorado, and Warm Springs in Georgia. These resorts, some fashioned in the mold of the famous European resort spas, initially attracted wealthy Americans with the allure of their therapeutic mineral springs.

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort - 1907 Post card from 1907 showing elegant resort at Glenwood Hot Springs, Colorado.  

Wooden Hot Tubs - 1958

Legend has it that the first home hot tubs began to appear around 1958, mostly in California.  These were makeshift vessels crafted from old redwood vats and discarded wine barrels.  Perhaps it was an attempt by some to bring the experience of a luxury spa resort right into the sanctity of their own backyards.  But it was going to be a few more years before the phenomenon really took off...

The Sixties, oh... the Sixties!

By 1965 hippies began flooding the coast of California, looking for peace, love and... whatever.  With little money, and lots of free time on their hands, they set the stage for the proliferation of wooden hot tubs.  Many if not most of these were homemade.  Innovative individuals even installed smoke-belching wood fired heaters, although water circulation, filtration, and sanitation were hit and miss at best.

Early wooden hot tub Those quaint but cramped wooden tubs leaked and didn’t work very well.  We now know that redwood not only contains its own natural toxins, the porous wood fibers can harbor a breeding ground for all types of bacteria, mold, algae and slime.

Many hippies grew up to become yuppies, and to this day you can still see leaky wooden hot tubs in the backyards of some of California's middle-aged well to do.

Fiberglass and Acrylic Shell Spas - 1970

When the shortcomings of wooden hot tubs became apparent, the first fiberglass shell hot tubs began to appear on the market in 1969-70.  The gel-coat fiberglass construction had its own drawbacks, and was replaced by cast acrylic in the early seventies.  For the first time it was easy for the owner to achieve water cleanliness in an easy-to-maintain, attractive package.

Manufacturers installed pumps, filters, control systems and of course jets, although the first spas only had a handful of them.  Many of these components were largely borrowed from the swimming pool industry, down-sized to fit under or around the spa, which when skirted with lumber, became self-contained and known as portable spas.

Modern Portable Spas - 1990

Energy efficient spa design
Heat Retention Design

  Since the early nineties, the home spa has evolved into a completely modern hydrotherapy system, with programmable controls & filtration systems, plus many other amenities.
Belize Spas led the way in focusing engineering on quality, performance, and energy-saving design in home spas. Belize Spas

The Spa Depot - 1997

The Spa Depot - Since 1997 The first online spa supply, The Spa Depot, published the SpaCyclopedia in 1997 and began offering portable spas factory-direct to consumers (both acrylic and soft-sided) as well as a huge selection of discount supplies, filters, covers, chemicals and accessories with free shipping.

We believe that we became America's leading hot tub supply by focusing on customer service and great values.


We've come a long way since King Phraotes took delivery of his granite hot tub in 600 B.C.  Now everyone can enjoy the luxury and benefits of warm water hydrotherapy at home without paying a king's ransom!

In addition to full-sized acrylic models seating up to 7 adults, we also offer the largest selection of take-anywhere vinyl liner lightweight portables which are great for singles, apartment dwellers and RV enthusiasts, or anyone on a budget.

It's really no big secret why our spas cost a lot less.  A typical retailer sells only a few tubs per month, and so must make several thousand dollars profit on each in order to stay in business.  With our factory-direct-to-consumer program, we sell lots of spas with only a very small profit on each.  With no middleman, these savings go to you.

SuperTub soft sided spas
SuperTub Soft Spas

Belize Spas are sold factory-direct for huge savings

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spa customers write  Consumer Reviews
Belize Spas
"This morning was one of the coldest in many years here in this area of Idaho. About 6:10 am the power went out. I called in a power outage report and then thought about the hot tub. This is the first winter for our Belize spa and I was unsure just how well it would do in such conditions. Then about 8:00, as the sun was coming over the mountains, I checked the temperature-- 26.4 below zero.  About an hour later the power company lineman came by to tell me it would be a few more hours. There was a remote line down and he had called for a "Snow-Cat" to be brought in. Well, at exactly 12:00 Noon the power came on. 5 hours and 50 minutes. Just so you know ----- It was minus 10.2 at Noon. I was really curious how the Belize had done, so I went right out and uncovered it. I was VERY pleased to see the reading on the tub. It was at 100 degrees -- It had dropped only 4 degrees in almost six hours of very cold temperatures with no power!"

Bill Connell
Grace, ID

Spa Depot, The, Spas & Hot Tubs - Dealers, Olympia, WA

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