Wellness dictionary

Little ABC for your spa-break questions ...

In their treatment discriptions, wellness hotels often use technical terms, which are hard to understand for potential guests. We have therefore collected and defined the most relevant terms in our small wellness ABC. A tip: Our wellness dictionary also supports word requests. You don't need to know the exact wording.


Spa - What does the term mean?

The European term Spa is derived from the Belgian health resort Spa. The glamorous little town with its mineral springs may have been known to the Romans as early as the 7th century, but throughout Europe Spa and its water treatments made a name for themselves in the 18th and 19th centuries. In American English, the term spa has been used for spas in general since the middle of the 20th century. Spa is now a generic term for health and wellness facilities worldwide, especially for the bathing and wet areas of hotels.

Anyone researching the term will always come across explanations that Spa is a derivation of Latin. As an abbreviation for "sanus per aquam" it means "healthy through water". Even if the derivation is controversial, the context seems appropriate: On the one hand, it is well known that ancient Rome had a high bathing culture. And on the other hand, the beneficial power of water is considered to be of central importance in all modern spa and wellness facilities.

A further explanation of the term comes from Prof. Dr. Kai Illing: In his research results he comes to the conclusion that spa comes from the Indo-Germanic word "spaw" and means sputtering, spewing, bubbling. Characteristic for a (thermal-)spring that emerges at the surface of the earth.

Due to its popularity, the term spa is used today in a variety of combinations: Especially in English, Spa stands for medicinal baths, according to the proven origin of the term. It is therefore often used as an addition to place names, comparable to the German "Bad". Spa areas in hotels, in turn, designate wellness and health facilities such as pools, saunas and fitness areas as well as the rooms for massages and beauty treatments. 

In spa hotels, these areas are particularly developed and are characteristic of the hotel. Day spas, on the other hand, are facilities designed for day guests, where guests often receive beauty treatments and massages; saunas and sometimes water areas are also offered here.

Related topics: Aqua-Aerobics Aqua-Balancing Aqua fitness Aqua Training Bathing cure Baths Hamam Kneipp Medical Wellness Definition Private Spa Sauna Thalassotherapy Wellness

Wilfried Dreckmann - Wellnessexperte und Spa-Coach

Wilfried Dreckmann

Wilfried Dreckmann combines practical experience in the field of wellness and spa with academic know-how.  Since 2006 he is working internationally as a management consultant, trainer and coach for wellness providers. He is a lecturer at the iST Studieninstitut and associate professor at the iST University of applied sciences in Düsseldorf.