fragrance

What is the right Spa for me?

Spa.   The Oxford English Dictionary defines this in two ways:

  1. A place or resort with a mineral spring
  2. A commercial establishment offering health & beauty treatments through such means as steam baths, exercise equipment and massage.

This can be further broken down into different commercial spas:

  1. Destination spas
  2. Spa Resorts
  3. Days Spas

So far, so confusing.   Let’s take a closer look at each spa to understand what each one offers  🙂

 

DESTINATION SPAS:

Destination Spas are residential facilities that concentrate on improving health and fitness through exercise, nutrition, spa treatments and thermal wellbeing. They are all about relaxation and rejuvenation and learning how to live a healthy life.    The spa is the destination, you are there for a reason and that is to spa and nothing else!  You can stay for as long as you want, from days to months if budget allows!  The aim is to restore your health and vitality.

Six Senses Yao-noi Spa, Thailand

The cost usually includes all meals, exercise classes and some spa treatments, but obviously check before you book.

They are staffed by experts in various disciplines e.g yoga or nutrition or herbal medicine, and promote a healthy and active lifestyle during your stay.   Some personalise therapies to their guests so that they gain optimum benefit from their time there.

Children aren’t normally welcome in a destination spa.  It is however suitable for people travelling alone but who want to spend time with like-minded people and for couples.

 

SPA RESORTS:

A spa resort caters more for families in a hotel situation and is less focused on an all-encompassing health and wellness experience.   The spa treatments are usually only one part of the stay which can include outdoor pools, tennis, cycling and golf.   They are likely to have a suite of saunas and steam rooms with maybe an ice room or plunge pool alongside a gym for guests to use during their stay.

Treetop Sauna, Centre Parcs, Sherwood Forest

At a spa resort the focus is on enjoying yourself, eat and drink healthy if you like, but if you don’t there are other options available on the menu!

Some spa resorts can also act as a day spa, whereby access is allowed to day guests who aren’t residents of the hotel.

 

DAY SPAS:

As the name suggests, these aren’t residential – you literally visit a day spa for a day without any overnight accommodation.

They usually have a variety of pampering facilities for the guest to experience such as massages, beauty therapies and holistic treatments and have thermal rooms and swimming pools. Gym facilities are very common now too.   Packages generally include a treatment and lunch or afternoon tea.

 

Pennyhill Park Spa

Day spas vary in price depending on what treatments they can offer.   Some may just offer manicures and massage alongside a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, whilst others offer a full range of treatments, some even including more ‘medical’ ones such as Botox and laser facials, with a selection of thermal wellbeing rooms and pools.

A lot of day spas are attached to hotels or country clubs and allow guests to stay at the hotel if they wish and then revisit again the next day.

http://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/yao-noi/spa

http://www.centerparcs.co.uk/thingstodo/aqua_sana.jsp

https://www.exclusive.co.uk/the-spa/

Wellbeing in the City – ESPA at The Corinthia

The Corinthia is a luxury 5 star spa hotel set in the centre of London, just a short walk from Trafalgar Square.   When we were invited to visit from Magdi Abdelaty, the Spa Operations Manager, we jumped at the chance to experience the renowned Espa facilities first hand.

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The spa spreads out over 4 floors, including15 treatment rooms, a gym, hair salon and a Thermal Floor with heat experience rooms and pools. The décor is luxurious and relaxing mood lighting sets the ambience to an almost decadent level.

Our evening began with a leisurely swim in the shimmering silver stainless steel pool followed by a cool shower. We then took a ball of ice from the fountain and headed to the Amphitheatre sauna, set down into the floor with a spectacular suspended ceiling.   When the heat became slightly too much, we headed outside for more ice, bringing it back with us to the sauna and letting it melt over our bodies as we sat there!   The frameless glass sauna walls allowed us to watch the mesmerising flames of the nearby fire set within the wall.

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david de vleeschauwer

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Next on our thermal journey was a visit to the Vitality Pool with its built-in loungers and powerful swan neck fountains.   This provided full relaxation for mind and body whilst relieving tired and aching muscles.  After the warmth of the pool, it was time to cool down again in the Dornbracht ‘Big Rain’ shower before moving on to the glamorous black mosaic tiled steam room to relax in clouds of fragranced steam.

david de vleeschauwer

david de vleeschauwer

We repeated the above journey before settling onto the heated marble relaxation loungers by another fireplace, luxuriating in the warmth of the beds and the glow of the fire.

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Eventually it was time to get changed and take part in the real world again.   But our journey of relaxation and luxury wasn’t over yet.   The changing rooms had a sauna in the Ladies Area and a Tepidarium in the Men’s.    And both rooms had sleeping pods, small booths with cushions and blankets where you could take a revitalising nap or even meditate in private.  A totally private oasis with no distractions in the middle of a bustling, busy city!

We all agreed it was a wonderfully relaxing experience.   Favourite part?  The sauna got a lot of votes due to its innovative design and the sleep pods were a definite hit!

 

For more information please visit:

https://www.espalifeatcorinthia.com/

Tel:                  +44(0) 20 7321 3050

Email:             espalife.london@corinthia.com

For more information on thermal wellbeing and how to gain optimum benefit from your thermal journey please visit:

http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology/

Goodnight, Sleep Tight ….

Sleep is one of the biggest contributing factors to excellent physical and mental health and wellbeing but its importance is sometimes overshadowed by the media focus on healthy eating and exercise. Insufficient sleep can impact quite detrimentally on your health in a variety of different ways.

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copyright: ThinkStockMedia

The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person, but on average the majority of us need about 8 hours a night. Young children and teens may need more as sleep supports their growth and development.  When we sleep our brains have the chance to repair and rebalance the hormones that govern the emotions that help us to stay calm, relaxed and happy.  It corrects any chemical imbalances and leaves us rested therefore we are more alert and energetic when we wake.

Studies show that a consistent lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain. Tiredness can cause your brain to crave high calorie foods for energy but when your body is tired, it isn’t as effective at breaking down fat cells and tissues, so fat is stored more easily.   You are less likely to want to exercise due to low energy and general sluggishness. According to a leading insomnia specialist, Kathryn Pinkham, a good night’s sleep can balance out the hormone fluctuations that provoke appetite.

Our immune system needs sleep to be able to function properly.  If we don’t get enough sleep it can affect how the it responds to infection, making it harder to fight off coughs and colds for example.  However, you can boost your immune system by using a sauna or steam room where the heat dilates blood vessels thereby increasing circulation throughout the body.    The heat can also help to relax you leading to better sleep.

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Kelo Sauna Room – Dröm UK Ltd

Sleep can also help to rejuvenate your skin as it rebalances the hydration levels in the body. While we sleep there is a rise in growth hormones which allows damaged cells to be repaired. Lack of sleep results in under eye puffiness, dryness and the appearance of more wrinkles.   It also leads to increased stress hormones in the body which can lead to the increase in the breakdown of collagen which gives the skin its firmness and translucency.  If the skin cells don’t get a chance to repair themselves, the result is a more noticeable sign of ageing.

The less we sleep, the more it affects our mental wellbeing.   According to Mind, the mental health charity,  it can be a vicious circle:  If you have a mental health problem it can affect how you sleep and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.  Not enough sleep can lead to negative thoughts and can leave you feeling anxious or depressed.    Tiredness can leave you feeling physically and mentally unable to cope with the day ahead, and can be quite isolating as you don’t feel up to socialising with others.

So what is the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep?

There are many suggestions on how to do this and again, it will vary from person to person.   Generally, the time before bed should be calm and relaxed rather than spent in front of a screen with flashing images or loud music!   Take a warm bath, try some breathing exercises, drink warm milk, spray lavender fragrance onto your pillow, or even meditate.  Doing regular physical exercise can also help with sleep.

llavender-collage

 

Avoid caffeine drinks and don’t go to bed either too hungry or too full.   Create a routine of doing the same soothing actions each night so that your body learns it is time to sleep.  Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and that your mattress and pillows are comfortable.

For more information on the above and how best to combat sleeplessness please visit these websites:

http://www.theinsomniaclinic.co.uk/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.dromuk.com

 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of Thermal Bathing for women’s health

As one of our members of staff is heading kicking and screaming (literally!) towards the menopause, we decided to investigate to see whether she could benefit from any of the thermal bathing rituals and practices to help ease her symptoms.

 

It is becoming increasingly common for women to use saunas as they appreciate the feeling of wellbeing and relaxation that regular sauna sessions bring, as well as how great their skin feels after toxins are eliminated and it’s thoroughly cleansed, leaving a healthy glow. But how many women realise that sauna bathing can alleviate some of the main symptoms of perimenopause and actual menopause?

menopause-information

During menopause the levels of oestrogen in the body changes.     These changes can lead to several physiological changes including hot flushes, mood swings and an imbalance in the nervous and immune systems.   Sweat bathing in a sauna, or steam room, stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which can temporarily reduce the effects of the hormonal changes.   Increased hormone levels also effect vascular function which constricts the blood vessels.  Bathing in the heat of a sauna can lower blood pressure temporarily and improves circulation as blood vessels dilate.  This increases the oxygen levels around the body which helps you feel better.

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Tylo Passion Sauna – available from Dröm UK Ltd. For more information call 01932 355655

Other possible side effects of any change in the nervous system are depression, loss of energy and emotional ups and downs.   One way of helping relieve these symptoms is to add aromatherapy into your bathing practice.    It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulates the part of the brain connected to smell, which in turn sends a signal to the section of the brain that controls emotions.   As the nervous system is temporarily balanced within the heat, the essences cause the release of chemicals which can calm or invigorate you.   Clary Sage is a popular essential oil in balancing hormones and dealing with symptoms of the menopause including anxiety and hot flushes.  See our Aromatherapy section in ‘Drömology – Wellbeing Personified’ for a more detailed overview of which plants can benefit you or click this link: http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology/

 

Once you stop menstruating (which is an elimination cycle for the whole body), the body needs to find another way of removing toxins.   The heat from sauna and steam bathing opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce levels of toxins and impurities, eliminating waste and reducing the load put on the kidney’s.

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Using an Infrared sauna is just as effective at helping to relax and reduce tension and stress associated with mood swings.   Excessive sweating can also move the body through the hormonal fluctuations quicker leading to a better night’s sleep with less hot flushes.  There are also some reports out that claim infrared heat can help relieve the pain from conditions such as osteoporosis, which is another symptom connected to menopause.

 

After all this heat, it’s nice to nip into the ice room to cool down! That deals with the hot flushes!

 

Another added benefit for women is that the heat of the sauna releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkiller’s.   This can help with the discomfort of period pain – I’m sure we have all sat around with a heat pack across our stomach and back at some point. So sit back and relax in a sauna or steam room, add some essential oil and breathe in ……

Alternatively, stretch out on a heated lounger.  Heat storage ceramic loungers, store heat and emit it back to the body via infrared long wave gentle heat.  Let this heat penetrate into your tissues, soothing muscles and easing joint pain.

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Heated lounger by Sommerhuber.

 

We are not doctors or claim to be medical experts in any way, so obviously check with your GP before trying any form of thermal bathing when you suspect you may be peri/menopausal. All we know for sure is it has helped a certain member of our team ……………. 🙂

Beat the Winter Blues with Thermal Wellbeing

Christmas is over, Dry January is gone and just as we start to look forward to longer days, lighter evenings and the odd glass of wine,  it seems as though the cough, cold and flu season has arrived with a vengeance to stop us in our tracks.

There is no known medical cure for the common cold but there are plenty of ways to look after yourself and reduce the risk of catching the virus.   And even if you do succumb, there are some tricks around to help reduce the severity and length of your suffering!

The best way to avoid flu is to take advantage of a flu vaccine.   Contrary to some beliefs, this does not infect you with the virus and is a great help with staying healthy.   It is even safe for pregnant women as it can protect newborn babies after birth and during the early months of life.  Catching flu whilst pregnant can lead to a variety of complications and can be quite dangerous.  Flu vaccines are available free to the elderly, children and ‘at risk’ patients, and are also easily available from supermarkets and pharmacists for around £10.

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If you do catch a cold make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetomol and ibuprofen to reduce a fever.    Although there is no scientific evidence to prove it, taking vitamins such as Vitamin C and Zinc can help shorten the lifespan of a cold but won’t prevent you catching it in the first place.   To avoid spreading germs, always wash your hands whenever you sneeze or cough, try to catch it in a tissue that is thrown away immediately and don’t touch your eyes and nose as droplets can enter the body through here.  Keep surfaces clean and disinfected and don’t share towels or toys.

A great way to make yourself feel better is to breathe in steam scented with 100% pure Eucalyptus essential oil.   If you don’t have a steam room to relax in, a great alternative is to add a few drops of the oil to a bowl of hot water.   Cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale deeply a few times.   This can clear the sinuses helping you breathe more easily.  Pine Needle essential oil is also good for helping find relief from infections, coughs and colds and can also help relieve aches, pains and fatigue.

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Kicki Carlsson Essential Oils available from Dröm UK Ltd – 01932 355655

 

Spending time in a salt room can help relieve the symptoms of cold and flu and also help prevent reoccurrence (if used frequently).   The salt ions in the air open the airways in the nose, helping to clear the sinuses and killing bacteria.   As the salt particles dissolve in the air and are breathed into the lungs,  they attract positively charged impurities which can then be coughed up or leave the body during metabolic processes via the bloodstream, helping remove all toxins and germs.

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A salt room can help alleviate symptoms of colds and flu

Sauna bathing is another great way to help battle infections.   The high temperatures in the sauna create fever like conditions in the body which in turn stimulates the white blood cells, giving a boost to your immune system.  This fights off infection and helps kill infected cells before they multiply further.   Sweating caused by high temperatures also opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce the levels of toxins and impurities in the body.

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The Herbal Sauna at Hotel Campiglio Bellavista, Italy

Add a few drops of healing essential oils to the water that is ladled on to the stones and breathe in the scented steam to help clear nasal passages.   Or place fresh eucalyptus, peppermint or pine needles into a herb bowl, suspended over the heater.   As the herbs heat up in the water, their aroma is released into the room.  As before, breathe deeply and let the decongestion benefits work their magic.

However, the simplest way to stave off the dreaded lurgy is to live a healthy lifestyle.   NHS UK recommend eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, taking plenty of exercise and drinking lots of fluids.

 

For more information on the health benefits of thermal bathing click on the link below to view our stunning brochure:  Drömology, Wellbeing Personified  http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology/

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A Bather’s Guide to Thermal Rooms – Part 3 (Saunas)

Thermal bathing is becoming more popular than ever. However, with so many different rooms to use, how do you know which ones will offer you the benefits you are looking for?

Follow our series of blogs designed to explain the look, temperature, useage and benefits of each room and discover the range of experiences and rituals available.

Overview:

In general, sauna rooms are traditionally clad in timber with benches, a wood stove or electric heater and stones.   They are commonly built using Aspen, Alder, Cedar, Spruce, Ash or Kelo timber, some of which can be heat treated to intensify their colour and aroma.   Some rooms have feature walls made from slate or stone and glass can also be used for walls and doors to enhance the feeling of space.   Both LED lighting and fibre optics are used for ambience, relaxation and mood enhancement through chromotherapy.

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Some rooms have feature walls made from slate or stone and glass can also be used for walls and doors to enhance the feeling of space.   Both LED lighting and fibre optics are used for ambience, relaxation and mood enhancement through chromotherapy (please see previous blog post Complementary Wellbeing Part 2 – Chromotherapy for more on the benefits of mood lighting).

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna:

Temp Range:   80 – 100C                             

Percentage Humidity:   10-20%

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna

A traditional sauna is a hot, dry room with wooden benches, typically in two tiers.   The lower benches are always cooler than the top benches, often by about 20 degrees.  Ensure you find a temperature to bathe in that is comfortable for you.   Small amounts of water can be ladled onto the stones to increase the humidity for a short period of time.  Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the water (if you can – not all commercial spas will allow it), infusing the steam created with your chosen fragrance.

Benefits:

The high temperature in the sauna releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, sometimes referred to as ‘happy hormones’.  Endorphins can ease the pain of arthritis and relieve muscle soreness after intense exercise.     Sweating caused by high temperatures opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce levels of toxins and impurities in the body, eliminating waste and reducing the load put on the kidneys.  Sauna bathing also lowers blood pressure temporarily and improves circulation as the blood cells dilate, increasing the oxygen levels around the body.

Banya (or Russian Bathing):

Temperature Range:      70-110⁰C

Percentage Humidity:   40-70%

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Banya (or Russian Bathing)

A Banya traditionally incorporates a wood burning heater.  Water is generously ladled onto hot stones, or even thrown at the walls, to increase the humidity in the room.  To protect the head from overheating in the high temperatures, bathers often wear Sauna hats which can first be dipped in water to aid the cooling process.    Often a massage is carried out using a fragrant bundle of thin leafy twigs bound together called a Venik, or Vihta.  This is said to release toxins through the skin, ease muscle tension and improve blood circulation.

Venik Massage:

Venik

Venik bundle

There are several techniques involved in a Venik massage – waggling, compressing, stroking and lashing.  It is best to use these techniques one after the other.

Waggle – flutter the Venik just above the body to create an air flow that warms the body up for more intense procedures.

Stroking – gently press the Venik against the body and draw it from head to toe and back again.

Compress – raise the Venik up to the warmer air, shake it to gather the heat, then press firmly against the body for 2-3 seconds

Lashing:  Light sliding hits with the Venik.

Alternate the stroking and lashing, then combine compressing and lashing – lash the body two or three times and then press against the body for 2-3 seconds.  Generally, this is carried out by an experienced masseuse.

Benefits:             The same as for a Traditional Sauna.

Herbal Sauna:

Temperature Range:      50-70⁰C

Percentage Humidity:   25-40%

Herbal Sauna 1

Herbal Sauna

An herbal sauna is very similar to a traditional sauna, although is often slightly cooler.  Fresh or dried herbs of your choice are put into a small amount of water in a bowl or dish suspended over the heater stones.    In commercial saunas, a tray of herbs is placed above the heater and water is dripped over the herbs from a tap.    As the herbs heat up in the water, their aroma is released gently into the room.

As in the traditional sauna, the lower benches are always cooler than the top benches so bathe where you feel the most comfortable.   Ladle water over the stones to increase humidity for short periods.

 

Sauna Master (or Aufgiesser)

Several spa’s employ a Sauna Master to enhance the bathing experience of their guests.   It is impossible to give an exact description of what they do as each Sauna Master will have their own techniques and rituals.  However the experience will always involve aromatherapy and heat manipulation.

Generally, the Sauna Master will pour water enriched with essential oils onto the hot stones, creating a burst of scented steam, releasing the health properties of each essence.  This makes the air more humid and the heat feels more intense.

They will start waving a towel, using different movements, to agitate the hot air and circulate it around the sauna, intensifying the sensation of heat.  Then they fan the bathers by wafting the towel in front of them creating a wave of heat that rushes over their body.  The bathers breathe deeply, inhaling the healing vapours of the essences.

The Sauna Master will encourage bathers to leave and cool down before repeating the process several times.

 

 

 

For more information on bathing rituals click here:  http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology

 

 

Complementary Wellbeing – Part 1: Aromatherapy

Wellbeing extends beyond the physical.   Psychological and spiritual wellness is also important to assist in coping with the stresses of everyday life.

Aromatherapy, Chromotherapy and Crystals are just a few of the ‘alternative’ therapies that can be combined with the more traditional wellbeing experiences to achieve a fuller sense of relaxation or stimulation.

In this Wellbeing mini-series, we first take a look at Aromatherapy in more detail and will cover Chromotherapy and Crystals in future blog posts.

 

Aromatherapy:

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.” Helen Keller

Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils to promote physical and psychological wellbeing. Essential oil is the liquid distilled from the aromatic substances within various parts of a plant, which contains its healing properties.

Aroma blog

Smell is a very powerful sense.   It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulate the section of the brain that is connected to smell, which in turn sends a signal to the section of the brain that controls emotions and memories.   This causes the release of chemicals which can relax or invigorate you.  The mind is an important healing tool and can strongly influence your health and wellbeing.  One of the more significant aspects of aromatherapy is that the odour is pleasing to the user, as pleasure is an essential part of enhancing our feeling of wellbeing.

Some of the more commonly used essential oils include Lavender, Pine Needle, Lemon, Peppermint and Eucalyptus.   These are used to calm or invigorate, heal and balance.   For example, Lavender is perfect to help relax and calm any fears.   Eucalyptus and Pine Needle help to find relief from infections, coughs and colds and also relieve aches, pains and fatigue. The citrus oils are uplifting and refreshing, helping with depression and anxiety.

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Lavender to calm and relax

Most oils have antiseptic properties and can fight infections and bacteria.   They can also stimulate the immune and circulatory systems and aid digestion and work on the energy system of the body. The cost of essential oils can vary greatly depending on the rarity of the plant.  Factors such as the country of origin and growing conditions can also affect the price.

When relaxing in a sauna add a few drops of essential oil to the water before it is sprinkled over the stones or add some fresh or dried herbs to a bowl of water suspended above the heater.   As the herbs heat up their aroma is released gently into the air.   Choose an oil to enhance or complement your mood. Essential oils work particularly well in steam rooms as the oil is gently infused into the steam, filling the room with your chosen fragrance.

Aromatherapy is not restricted to inhalation. Oils can also be applied directly to the skin by an aromatherapist, where they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.    There are many excellent websites that can give detailed information regarding aromatherapy  and how it can be used to benefit our personal wellbeing. It is always advisable to obtain advice from a qualified aromatherapist or doctor before using essential oils, particularly if you are pregnant or have medical problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep it Clean!

There is nothing worse than entering a sauna or steam room in a beautiful spa or leisure facility and being assailed by the smell of sweaty, stagnant air!

Hygiene is possibly one of THE most important aspects of any commercial venture, both in terms of how the rooms are built and also how they are used.

Whether you are currently refurbishing your spa or residential wellbeing space, or even building new rooms to complement your existing set up, it is important to take the following points into account.

The correct air flow in a sauna prevents air stagnating or hot spots being created.  A correctly located passive air ventilation system will ensure fresh air is replenished and the heat is distributed evenly throughout the room.  Fragrances can also be added to further enhance the bathing experience bringing in refreshing, pleasant aromas.  Kicki Carlsson Essential Oils are a great way to add that perfect fragrance to revitalise or relax!

Ensure consideration is given to the type of products used for the construction of the rooms.   The wooden benches in a sauna help prevent the spread of bacteria but the floors can harbour the growth of dermaphytic pathogens which can contribute to fungal foot disease.   It is advised to choose large format, easy to clean tiles for the floor.   Clean the sauna floor with an ordinary cleaning detergent daily.  It is important to never keep water in a sauna bucket for longer than 24 hours, so ensure you change the water and clean the bucket daily to prevent bacteria growing.

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Always encourage guests to sit on a towel while bathing

Advise, and encourage, guests to always shower before and after sauna bathing.  This helps remove perfume and after-shave, the smell of which can become stronger in the heat of a sauna.  It can also leave unsightly marks on the timber.  The water also removes any chlorine on the body or swimwear which can become volatile in the high temperatures and cause irritation to eyes and lungs.  Bathers should also be reminded to sit on a towel when using a sauna to avoid having to sit or lie in other peoples sweat.

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Shower before sauna bathing to remove perfumes and after shaves which can leave residue marks

Corian is a brilliant low maintenance, hygienic material to use for steam room benches as there is no grouting to clean.   Always have benches sloping away from the walls to avoid having to sit in stale pools of water which have collected on the seats!

Corian is grout free and easy to clean.  Perfect for steam room benches.

Corian is grout free and easy to clean. Perfect for steam room benches.

It is also a good idea to install Kneipp hoses in steam rooms so that guests can cool themselves down and also wash down the benches after use.

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Use a Kneipp hose to cool down and clean the seating!

 

 

Keep it clean ……… !