I’ve had clients snap photos of resort features on their phones to share in project planning meetings when they experience a new amenity that feels both amazing and achievable. ThermaSol
I’ve had clients snap photos of resort features on their phones to share in project planning meetings when they experience a new amenity that feels both amazing and achievable. Last week, I contacted three professionals to ask their opinions and get suggestions. There responses via email can enhance your next spa-inspired home project too.
“There is higher demand for health and wellness systems and creating your own personal spa at home,” declares San Francisco-based plumbing contractor Phil Hotarek about steam shower and sauna interest from his high end residential clients. Steam showers, due to their popularity, are more affordable than homeowners believe, says Hotarek. A steam shower should be thought of as “an investment in quality of life and home value,” he suggests.
Michael Gilbride, a designer and remodeler based in New York’s Hudson Valley who primarily works on second homes in the popular vacation region, is also seeing these trends, he says. Steam showers are a great investment for people who are renovating their homes. I think some people missed them when gyms were closed during the pandemic and some just like having the space to themselves at home.”
Gilbride is also seeing interest in saunas, particularly among clients who enjoy yoga and nature, he says. Both traditional saunas as well as the more modern infrared versions are popular. “There’s interest in both, because there is curiosity about the new technology,” he observes and sauna requests are tied to clients’ overall wellness routines.
Sauna vs. Steam Shower
Both have benefits for wellness and resale, but work differently. Gilbride says that while infrared is a cheaper option to operate, understanding how it works is important. Traditional saunas heat the air to a high temperature. Infrared saunas heat the body directly at a lower temperature.”
” Understanding the difference between the two is critical,” Hotarek cautions. Traditional saunas increase your core temperature by using dry heat. You will feel more heat. Infrared saunas use red light to increase your core temperature faster. Infrared saunas are more comfortable, but they make you sweat more. Infrared saunas allow people to stay in the sauna longer, and thus experience more health benefits. (It goes without saying but we will say it anyway, consult your doctor before trying any new product or service that is related to health, including saunas and Steam Showers! The traditional sauna is popular in Scandinavia, Baltics, and Eastern Europe. It can be designed as a primary bathroom, for two or more users, or a separate structure, for many users. These are the wood-paneled rooms you find in health clubs. )
“I am recommending traditional/infrared sauna combos,” Hotarek shares. There are advantages to both, and the cost of a combo isn’t much more. The plumbing contractor says that the dimensions and design of the saunas are important. The most common mistake people make is to not understand that the dry heat from a sauna quickly rises up and out of the room, unlike in a steam bath. It is recommended that a sauna ceiling height be between seven and seven-and-a-half feet, with two benches of two tiers. “I see saunas that have ceilings of eight feet or more, and this is not ideal.” Your design team will be able to advise you on the best option for your budget and space. Your health team will be able to advise you on what is best for your health. Hotarek makes the following recommendation: “Keep your design simple, but be sure to pay attention to detail. Installation should be done by an expert. On site visits, I see too many errors that can affect the performance and lifespan of the system. Systems that are installed correctly to every last detail last a very long time and deliver all the health and wellness benefits to the end user for years to come.”
What are those benefits? Steam showers, with a temperature of 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit can’t compare to the anti-aging effects of traditional saunas. They are also effective in relieving nasal congestion, stress and inflammation, according to Gregory Charlop MD, a physician and speaker from Atlanta and the author of
Dr. Greg’s Green Home Makeover.He does caution users to “be mindful of the risk of mold growth; ensure proper disinfection and ventilation post-use. Dehydration and athlete’s foot are both serious concerns. He would like to see manufacturers include antimicrobial features in saunas as well as jets that massage the legs for athletes. Infrared Saunas can be used to reduce muscle pain, improve sleep and are generally considered safe. However, Charlop cautions that users should prioritize hydration before using saunas. Pregnant women and individuals with chronic health conditions should consult with their doctors before using steam showers or saunas, he cautions.
Saunas can be installed outside or inside, providing tremendous placement flexibility.
Courtesy of ThermaSol
Traditional saunas can be enhanced with full spectrum LED lighting, and infrared models can get chromotherapy and Bluetooth speakers, Gilbride comments. Hotarek has added chromatherapy to the list. Gilbride says, “I think we all want to live well.” “If you are coming home from work or a stressful call, sometimes the best thing you can do is take the time to reset.” Steam showers and saunas are easy ways to “create a do not disturb barrier from the outside even if for 10 to 20 mins,” the designer adds.
Soldiers in the Ukrainian army – for whom even a brief barrier from the outside has physical and mental health benefits – are the beneficiaries of two ongoing sauna donation campaigns. Saunas For Ukraine, based in Estonia, has already sent mobile units there. Sauna Aid is a multi-country project sponsored by the International Sauna Association that provides saunas to refugees and civilians in conflict zones around the world. Both nonprofits provide these respite facilities for war-torn Ukraine. As Sauna Aid’s Mikkel Aaland observed in a recent trip report, (
and I believe this applies wherever people are fighting their own private battles as well as the military kind
), “There is no war in sauna.”
Contributors Charlop, Gilbride and Hotarek will be sharing more sauna and steam shower insights in an hour-long Clubhouse conversation tomorrow afternoon (September 6, 2023) at 4 pm Eastern/1 pm Pacific. You can save the date and join this WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS discussion
. You can watch the recording on Clubhouse Replays here
, or Gold Notes Design Blog
here the following Wednesday.