Spa (health)

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Ñuñoa-Chile - Spa in the garden

The term spa is used analogously to the meaning in English as a generic term for health and wellness facilities. It denotes different but related things:

  • Heilbäder ( health resorts ) - in English, spa as a suffix to the name corresponds to the German " bath ".
  • Spa areas in hotels contain e.g. B. Swimming pools, hot and cold water pools, saunas, relaxation areas, fitness areas and massage treatments.
  • Spa hotels or spa resorts are hotels / resorts with large spa areas, fitness and nutrition programs, body and facial treatments.
  • Day spas , beauty farms with additional sauna and / or water facilities.
  • Whirlpools , including portable spas (compact, portable whirlpools) and whirlpools .


The name is derived from the Belgian seaside resort of Spa . British tourists have been visiting Spa since the 16th century, and the name of the spa first spread throughout the British Isles (since the 17th century) to refer to any type of mineral spring . It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the meaning of American English expanded to include wellness oases and especially the bathing areas of hotels.

The often found interpretation of “spa” as an abbreviation for Latin Sanus Per Aquam , Salus Per Aquam or Sanitas Per Aquam (“health through water”) is not historical, but a historicizing backronym . Although there are many written abbreviations in Latin, these are always resolved when reading and are never pronounced as one word.


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary ; Encyclopædia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, entry “spa”; Oxford English Dictionary Vol. 16 (1989), p. 86
  2. The first mention according to the OED, ibid, comes from 1565
  3. Cf. the first document from 1626: Doctor Timothy Bright […] first gave the name of the English Spaw vnto this Fountaine about thirty years since, or more ; OED, ibid
  4. ^ Cassens, Manfred: Health tourism and tourist destination development. A textbook. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2013, p. 67.
  5. ^ Tams, Katrin: Wellness ABC - information about wellness. Vista-Point-Verlag, Cologne 2012, p. 10.