Company

Dröm UK head to Sweden

After 18 years of working closely with our Swedish suppliers Tylö, the Directors of Dröm UK have been talking for a while about taking the whole company to visit their offices and showroom in Halmstad, Sweden, which is also where our CEO, Kicki Carlsson, grew up.  So while the trip was mainly work related, it also gave the employees a chance to kick back and relax after a really busy few months, socialise with each other out of the office, make new friends and enjoy the delights of this beautiful Swedish town.

So 8.00 a.m.  Thursday found us all at Gatwick airport eagerly waiting to board the plane to Copenhagen.   From Copenhagen we took the train across the Øresund Bridge, then along the stunning coastline to Halmstad.

Train Journey

After hastily dropping our bags off at the Hotel, we drifted out in various groups to investigate our surroundings.   The weather was gorgeous, hot and sunny, and it wasn’t long before we all found deckchairs by the river and sat down to watch some unexpected live music taking place alongside the pop up bars and cafes.

deckchairs

Eventually the more curious amongst us headed over the river into the town itself and found a bustling marketplace and fun fair in the central square!   After a bout of shopping (had to be done), we settled in an outside bar and watched an alfresco salsa class taking place nearby!

Dinner that night, with a couple of our Tylö friends, was in a sports themed restaurant, with a bowling alley.  So of course, after dinner we all headed over and had a mini competition between two teams.   Obviously we let Barry, one of the Dröm co-founders, win overall 🙂

BOWLING

Friday was an early start as we had a full day of product and technical training to fit in.   This included information about new products and packages, with most of the saunas, steam rooms and showers available to view in the Tylö showroom.   The morning session culminated in a factory tour.   Here we learned about, and watched, how heater elements are made, saw where steam generators were put together and tested, watched profiles being cut into the sauna timbers, learnt about the quality control process, and came away with a massive dose of warehouse envy……

After lunch we continued with some more product information then spent some time learning about the latest control panels (concept, programming, design).   Then it was time to test the rooms ourselves!   It was pure bliss after a hard days training to relax in the various saunas and steam rooms that we had been learning about, cooling off in between with quick dips (and dives) into the inviting plunge pool!  Cheeky mojitos were served in ice tumblers, which we then used to rub over our skin in the saunas to help us cool down!   Dinner was served in the Tylö restaurant, followed by awards for us all!  Good students deserve diplomas 🙂

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Tylo August 15

Then we went into town with Torbjorn and Anki from Tylo to sample the local nightlife!  We found a nightclub which had a welcome outside bar space, and also a couple of black jack tables therefore catering for all tastes.  As you may have seen in our ‘Happy’ video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj5t5g1Wxus) we have a couple of staff (well, mainly Kevin really) who can really throw some shapes and that night was no exception!   So we couldn’t help but take some more videos of his dancing, where he was partnered by Jake …..

On Saturday we moved across to the Tylösand Hotel situated on the coast, which is part owned by Per Gessle, vocalist and guitarist with Swedish rock band Roxette. (http://www.tylosand.se).  Tylö have been involved with the spa environment here for many years and it was our opportunity to see and experience it for ourselves.  The boys headed straight for the gym while some of us relaxed on the loungers overlooking the sea.   We roused ourselves long enough to sample the saunas, steam room, kneipp walk and experience showers before cooling off in the pools.Spa

There was a fantastic foot-golf course close to the hotel, so a group went across to play.   Each hole had obstacles to contend with, so it wasn’t as easy as they had first thought.   Their accuracy needs some work too ….

The sun wasn’t shining when we first arrived at Tylösand, but it didn’t stop us taking some pictures of the stunning, windswept scenery.  Luckily the sun came out again around lunchtime, so we could take some even better pictures – what a contrast!

scenery

scenery 1

The remaining group headed out for some lunch in a little restaurant on the dunes which started to fill up rapidly during the time we were there, due to visitors arriving for the ‘After-beach’ party that Tylösand host each year.   It started as a concert for those heading back to the hotel after a day at the beach, to prolong the enjoyment of their day, and has developed into a major Summer annual event!   So we headed out with a bottle of Prosecco to reserve a spot on the sand dunes and enjoy the music!

 

beach one

sand dunes concert

We all had a bit of a surprise as we returned to our rooms to change – the car park looked a bit different than it had earlier…….

cars

All too soon it was dinner time on the last evening 😦    And it was very, very, chilly as we took our places at our outdoor table!   Once again, the food was absolutely delicious – we couldn’t fault the menus all weekend.   Blankets were handed round to protect us from the breeze and maybe we were a bit disappointed that it was so cold as we had been really looking forward to the last outdoor concert of the summer that evening…..

Chilly

But the moment the music started, the blankets came off (what cold temperatures??!) and the whole restaurant and hotel came to life with dancing, singing and the odd drink here and there!   The group – Duo Jag – were brilliant!  They sang covers of all types of songs from Eminem to Beyoncé and we quickly learnt the words to ‘The Sun is shining’ – a song none of us had heard before, but now play regularly in the Showroom!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h30CEnMdVH4

It was a very tired, but happy, group that headed homewards the following day!   We are still talking about what a great time we had, and laughing at the photos, a week later!

hometime

Thank you to Kicki, Barry and Tylö for their generosity and hospitality.  When are we doing it again??!

 

 

 

 

CREATING A COMMERCIAL WELLBEING ROOM

Creating the perfect thermal wellbeing room usually involves months of detailed planning, design, ordering and construction.   When we were asked to build a new dry sauna experience in a local Hotel and Spa, the brief was slightly different as we had to change some of our methods to fit in with the requested timeframe.  Here we take you behind the scenes, as we build Pennyhill Park’s new sauna room.

Pennyhill Park is a 5* Exclusive Hotel and Spa, set in the beautiful Surrey countryside.   Already home to an extensive range of bathing experiences in their renowned Spa, they decided to add a dry sauna room to complement their existing thermal rooms, as one of the first steps in their spa rejuvenation project.

The brief was to design and construct a sauna with a strong visual impact, both internally and externally, with minimum guest disturbance in a working spa.

To begin with, CAD drawings were produced to show the Client the initial design concept and once these were agreed a build programme was arranged.   The Client requested we were on site during a specific two week period so that the project could be finished by a certain date, ahead of the England rugby team taking up residence for their World Cup 2015 training.

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Beautiful cedar wood tongue and grooved panels, chosen to give a more natural feel to the room, were used on the walls and ceiling with the two tier benching created from complementary Thermo Aspen timber.  Frameless glass was used for the walls and door so that guests look out across a view of the outdoor swimming pool.  The frameless glass door and frontage was decorated with etched flowers (in keeping with the Spa’s existing theme) which gives a greater visual impact both internally and externally, allowing a spectacular view across the outdoor pool and grounds.

Due to the size and layout of the room, we used a unique combination of hidden and visible heaters.  The EOS Corona S60 heater, with stones and slate detail, can be used for traditional sauna bathing, where water is ladled over the stones manually to increase the heat.   The traditional heater will also be utilised by if a Sauna Master is employed to give guests a more intense sauna experience.

Our installers then had to overcome the challenge of constructing the sauna with minimum guest disturbance in a working spa!

The majority of work was undertaken behind the existing walls before they were removed and the sauna benches were built off-site to cut down on noise, disruption and dirt.   A lot of the noisy work was undertaken early in the day before guests arrived.    There was a lot of stopping and starting as we had to wait for some of the extremely disruptive work to be completed overnight, such as the eventual removal of the walls and floor tiles.

work on php

One of the major tasks was co-ordinating several different trades in the timescale we were given, e.g. tilers, glass installation, plumbing and electricians, not all of whom were under our supervision.   The electrical supply was found to be inadequate for the sauna requirements and we had to bring in our own electrical experts to run new cables and provide a new, more suitable, supply.    Materials had to be procured in a different sequence to normal.  The glass had to be ordered before the sauna was even built due to a long lead in time and only a two week time scale on site.  This meant that the sauna had to be millimetre perfect to ensure the glass fitted perfectly when it arrived.

An S-guard safety system was installed which detects any abnormalities with the sauna heater and automatically shuts it off.    Not everything goes to plan however and it is not unusual to have a few teething issues when commissioning large commercial rooms.  For example, the engineers were unaware the S-guard system needed to be calibrated when the temperature is below 25 degrees Celsius (due to this not being encountered when dealing with new builds or residential installations).  However, due to the spa being in operation we could not get the temperatures below this level during normal working hours.  We therefore had to turn off all the heating and add in additional ventilation overnight to be able to calibrate the S-guard system early in the morning, prior to the spa opening.

The finished room looks beautiful and spa guests have been tweeting their delight with the new dry sauna experience.

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Let’s hope the England Rugby Team enjoy it too!

‘Wear the Rose’ and follow England Rugby in the Rugby World Cup 2015 starting September 18th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I chose to expand the Company during the Recession

As the UK recovers from a debilitating recession, guest blogger Kicki Carlsson, CEO and Founder of Dröm UK, reveals why she chose to expand the Company in difficult economic times:

Whilst a number of other businesses tightened their belts and nervously saved their money, Dröm UK refurbished their 4000 sq ft Surrey showroom with a luxury range of bespoke saunas, steam rooms, feature showers and spa areas.

The reasoning behind this was simple.  It is all too easy to start to worry and even begin to lose confidence in yourself, your company or your products.  Stay focussed, believe in your ability and never react to other people’s loss of confidence in a negative way.  A downturn in the  economy forces people to take a good hard look at their assets and outgoings.  Luxuries such as expensive spa days and gym memberships are put on hold.   Instead of moving, a lot of people look to refurbish their homes, with bathrooms being high on the list of renovations as future resale values could bring up to 80-100% return on investment. So we decided to focus on the products that gave us the best return with the least risk and concentrated on showing the market how you could invest in bringing the expensive gym wellbeing experience into your own home at an affordable cost to enjoy for years to come.

Wellbeing is very important during the stress of a recession, or any difficult period.  Everyone wants to feel better, and the health benefits of water and hot and cold treatments are well documented in a variety of newspapers and magazines, and have been enjoyed since Ancient Greek and Roman times (see our previous blogs on Warmth and Water:  The basis for life).

We did however have to adapt the product range we had to offer and reluctantly stopped selling some of our lower profit making items.  We also felt that we had to show our customers the type of quality products we offer – just viewing our images in a brochure was not enough.  We had to entice them in to the Showroom to feel, touch and experience for themselves.  It is important to maintain the trust and confidence of our market, and especially the high end sector, who are getting more careful with which suppliers they use for their projects.   They need to know that their chosen company has confidence in itself and will be around in the future for maintenance and warranty work if required.   It is important to prove that you believe in yourself.

So we took the risk and invested. We rebranded and unveiled a new website too. We very quickly saw results from this as more architects and clients visited the showroom and the feedback from this has been excellent, resulting in a greatly increased order book.

A decision to diversify slightly to maximise on all potential sales opportunities was taken. As well as offering a consultancy service to architects and clients we also decided to focus more on our after sales service. Don’t forget the importance of this. Customers appreciate a company that is willing to take responsibility for their products and to ensure that they stay in optimum working order over the years to come. Our Service department is now thriving as our clients ensure their saunas and steam rooms are regularly maintained and serviced, thus keeping their investment alive.

My advice to work through the difficult times would therefore be:

  • Don’t get carried away by everyone else’s doom and gloom!   Things may not happen as quickly as they used to so patience and hard work is essential.
  • Even though the risks are obviously higher, stick with your beliefs and have faith in your abilities.   Never underestimate determination!

Some important points to remember are:

  • Products – source good quality, innovative, unusual products.   Have a curious mind and a passion for what you’re selling.   Customers need to have confidence in the quality of the product they are buying in difficult times (and the good times too!) and your enthusiasm and complete faith in what you are offering will help to reassure them.
  • Customer Service – This is obviously of the utmost importance.   Give the customer the best service possible at all times and always remember to LISTEN to their wants and needs.
  • Employees – it can sometimes be very easy to blame employees for difficult workplace situations in the depths of an economic recession.   Look after them and value them, in good times and bad, as they are your support and often your inspiration.