Spa Life Blog
Is it a spa, or an early Italian motor car?
I have this worry that the word “spa” could be a bit of a problem for our industry.
To explain what I mean, let me take you to the web site www.dictionary.com which shows two definitions of the word…
1. a mineral spring, or a locality in which such springs exist.
2. a luxurious resort or resort hotel.
Now these definitions are fine as far as each goes, but as I am sure you will agree they are not really reflective of the modern spa within the UK. Indeed with the support of Topaz Consulting, spa facilities have been developed for community use in all areas of the UK, from some of the most deprived to some of the most well-to-do.
Much of the problem with the use of the word “spa” is probably the result of the difference between various countries as to what a spa is, and who spas are for. While resources of this type are considered in Italy (and indeed much of Europe) to be something that everyone uses, they are more likely to be felt to be the preserve of the rich and pampered in the UK.
Interestingly the phrase “health spa” is treated differently by Dictionary.com Here it comes up with a definition that has little to say about the users’ socio-economic group, and more to say about what the facility offers. It defines “health spa” as “a resort or a special building or room where a person may exercise, swim, or otherwise condition the body.”
Incidentally Wikipedia’s contribution goes a bit further (although I think we should note that Wiki contributors generally can be relied on to go further than anyone else). Here’s what they say:
“The term spa is associated with water treatment which is also known as balneotherapy. Spa towns or spa resorts (including hot springs resorts) typically offer thermal or mineral water for drinking and bathing. They also offer various health treatments. …”
Mind you they also tell us that “Spa, formerly Spa 73, is a New Age music channel on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 73, XM Satellite Radio channel 72 (where it replaced Audio Visions, which was XM 77) and on DISH Network channel 6073. Until February 9, 2010, it was on DirecTV channel 856.”
But you probably didn’t want to know that.
My point is that word usage, and word association, can lead people to make assumptions about the spa industry, and whether it is something they might want to be involved in. And if they start from the wrong vision, it is very hard to get them back later on.
Clearly we can’t expect a definition of the term to include a recognition of the fact that, for example, that Pendle in Lancashire, one of the most deprived areas of the UK, has a community spa that has been so successful that just three years after being opened it had to be extended to cope with the demands of the locals.
But we still might want to think about how others react when they hear the word “spa”.
So while not trying to suggest that anyone in Britain will confuse the word “Spa” with the mineral water from Belgium, the rock band that released an album with that name in 1997, the early 20th century Italian car maker Società Piemontese Automobili , the Flemish Social Democratic party, or indeed Supporting Professionalism in Admissions (a UK wide programme to support institutions offering higher education to a wider audience) I am suggesting that maybe we should use the phrase “health spa” more than “spa”.
Just to be on the safe side.