A LOVE AFFAIR FROM THE START
According to pre-historic experts, the first hot spring waters appeared on the Tibetan Plateau in central Asia. We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the early caveman enjoyed a time of relaxation in a hot water spring after a long day hunting for food and provisions. It’s a given.
As centuries went by, humans and their relationship with hot water has evolved. In Ancient Egypt, the wealthy had bathing rooms in their homes where the servants poured jugs of water creating the “shower.” Ancient Greeks had natural hot springs, inspiring them to build thermal complexes, complete with seating areas for a better bathing experience. The Ancient Romans followed suit in making public bathhouses, inspiring architects in creating the most efficient aqueduct system at that time. Among their creations was the hypocaust, a water heating system. Many of the baths built in these times still exist today.
Unfortunately, everything comes to an end. After the fall of the Roman Empire, large communal baths faded due to lack of maintenance. During Medieval times, bathhouses became social centers or brothels. By then, the bourgeois and the wealthy had a tin tub and heated water for a moment of relaxation. It will take a few centuries and a war to revive the spa movement.
JAPAN’S NATURAL INSPIRATION
Japan’s topography is composed of many volcanic islands, which makes it ideal for natural hot springs. Their citizens are proud to enjoy these gifts of nature for centuries, leading them to three exceptional styles of spas:
- Onsens – geometral heat supplied to public or private bathing houses near natural hot springs.
- Sentōs – similar to Roman bathhouses and built-in simulation of natural hot springs, using boilers or furnaces for heating water.
- Ofuros – they are personal tubs made of wood. Often found in private houses, Ofuros are square-shaped and deeper than an American bathtub. Ofuros are for relaxation and meditation rather than for cleaning, becoming the precursors of contemporary spas.
During World War II, many American soldiers in Japan enjoyed the Onsens and Ofuros, helping them to relax. It is no science that it would be one tradition brought back to the United States at the end of the war.
RE-BIRTH OF THE SPA
After WWII, American troops returning from Japan brought with them the bathing culture of the Onsen, as well as wooden Ofuro tubs, and inspired the first wooden hot tubs in Northern California. Vineyard workers used discarded wine barrels and vats to begin creating hot tubs in the 1960s, making homemade, wood-fired heaters with varied success. Eventually, the early hot tubs became unsanitary. The lack of filters and water sanitizers made the wood an excellent source for the formation of bacteria and mold. Also, the tub lost the ability to hold water due to wood corrosion.
THE FUTURE OF THE SPA
By 1956, the Jacuzzi brothers invented a hydrotherapy pump exclusively for a family member who had rheumatoid arthritis. Eventually, the name Jacuzzi became popular with the explosion of the spas in 1968. It was also the year that in-ground spas took hold in the pool industry. At the time, concrete spas not only took a long time to install, but the price tag was also affordable only to the wealthy.
Eventually, the spa went through changes. First, the fiberglass with jets attached came in the late 1960’s, later to be replaced by acrylic. Filters are now integrated and, of course, temperature controls. Also, many found the spa provides the relaxation and therapeutic benefits that many people need.
Today, many clients who want a swimming pool in their backyards include a spa as part of the complete outdoor experience. No matter if it is adjacent, separated or raised, it gives the family enjoyment all year round. It provides relaxation while the kids entertain themselves with the water jets. The in-ground spa also has its beauty features like a spillover into the pool, serving as a water feature while not in use.
For twenty years, Platinum Pools has been building the best swimming pools and spas with family in mind. Call us at 281.870.1600 (Houston), 409.898.4995 (Beaumont), or 361.576.0183 (Victoria) for an appointment, or get a free quote by visiting www.platinumpools.com.