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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.

espa-life

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.

david de vleeschauwer

david de vleeschauwer

the-vitality-pool-espa-life-at-corinthia-copy

 

sauna-at-corinthia

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 ……………. 🙂

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 🙂

tylo training

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??!

 

 

 

 

Wellbeing in the Workplace – keep those Resolutions!

The majority of all New Year Resolutions are fitness related.   And for the first fortnight of the New Year, the overcrowded gyms and the increase in slightly unfit joggers on our streets are testament to this.  However, it takes willpower and determination to keep to any resolution and usually by mid-January we are all back to our old habits.   But why not take wellbeing into the workplace and encourage healthy eating and good wellness practices within your office environment?  What better place to have others help motivate you into continuing with your New Year Resolutions!

Tea and Fruit

It is not difficult to implement a few changes to benefit the wellbeing of employees.   Have a bowl of fresh fruit available so that staff can snack on fruit rather than chocolate and sugary treats. Here at Dröm UK we also have a selection of herbal teas as an alternative to tea and coffee if required. Herbal teas are full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals to help boost your energy levels, aid concentration and detoxify the body. And it is well documented that drinking water throughout the day helps keep your body hydrated which helps focus and concentration as well as flushing out toxins.   If you keep a bottle of water on your desk you will be surprised how easy it is to keep sipping from it without even thinking!

Water

We are also very privileged in that we work in a Showroom dedicated to showing off the benefits of wellbeing!   Staff can take a break from staring at their computer screens and relax on one of our heated loungers enabling them to clear their mind and restore mental clarity before heading back to their desks.   The radiant heat also eases any muscular tension built up from poor desk posture and encourages blood flow and good circulation.

British Commonwealth silver medal winning athlete Ashley Bryant relaxing on one of the Sommerhuber heated loungers on display in the Dröm UK showroom.

British Commonwealth silver medal winning athlete Ashley Bryant relaxing on one of the Sommerhuber heated loungers on display in the Dröm UK showroom.

Utilise your lunchbreaks to take a short walk.   The fresh air will help clear your lungs enabling you to take in more oxygen as you take deep breaths.   The increased oxygen in your cells gives you more energy and helps to sharpen your mind and will also help stimulate your immune system.   The fresh air also helps improve your heart rate, blood pressure and metabolic rate.

So if we are really determined to stay healthy in 2015, implementing these few small changes into your working day will help enormously to keep you focused and motivated. After all, once you see results and feel better in yourself, it is much easier to keep going!

 

 

Christmas Wellbeing

So the tree is up at Dröm House and the Christmas party beckons this weekend.  The festive season is in full swing and everyone is looking forward to two weeks of eating, drinking and enjoying themselves!

Christmas Tree in the Dröm UK Showroom

But don’t forget, it is still important to look after yourself during the holidays.  Wellbeing should be an important, regular part of your regime throughout Christmas.   It is easy to say that the diet and gym sessions will start in the New Year but if wellbeing is a habit all year round, then looking after yourself at Christmas will be second nature and the effects of all that eating and drinking won’t be so difficult to shift in January!

Utilise the sauna to help sweat out the toxins that have built up during the excesses of the Christmas season, but bear in mind it is NOT a cure for a hangover as it will dehydrate you even more.   The best time to sauna bathe in this case is the day AFTER recovering from the hangover. Remember to always drink plenty of water to replace fluids and minerals lost during bathing.

Don’t forget to cool down as part of your thermal bathing experience.  Snow and ice are ideal ways of cooling off (see our previous post ‘Don’t Sweat the Ice Bucket Challenge’), so let’s hope we get to enjoy a White Christmas this year!

Enjoying a sauna or steam bath will also help to reduce the stress levels caused by battling the hordes of Christmas shoppers all looking for that perfect present, or from various family demands or even from having to get everything done before finishing for the Christmas break at work.   Add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil to relax or rejuvenate you for that perfect bathing experience.   Essential oils also make great Christmas presents …… !  (Dröm UK stock a range of Kicki Carlsson Essential Oils in Lavender, Pine Needle, Eucalyptus, Lemon and Grapefruit.  Call 01932 355655 for more details).

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Kicki Carlsson Essential Oils

However you celebrate this year, stay well, stay safe and have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2015!

 

Don’t sweat the Ice Bucket Challenge!

How many of us are watching our Facebook feeds with trepidation as we wait for the dreaded ice bucket challenge nomination?!

But how many of us know how effective ice baths and cold treatments can be for our health and wellbeing?

Reviving and repairing tired, aching muscles after exercise is an incredibly important part of any athlete’s training regime and spending a short time immersed in an ice bath after exercise helps muscles and tissue recover faster.

The ice constricts the blood vessels which in turn decreases metabolism and reduces any inflammation and pain and flushes lactic acid and waste products from the affected tissues.  Blood flow increases as the body then warms up, speeding up circulation and improving the healing process by returning waste products to the lymphatic system.

Using an ice cave or plunge pool in a spa after a sauna bathing session is an increasingly popular way of cooling down as the wellbeing benefits of alternating hot and cold treatments become more widespread.

Even just having a cold shower has a major impact on your health and wellbeing.  The increase in metabolism, caused by the body trying to warm itself, up can activate the immune system which can reduce our susceptibility to colds and flu.  Cold water can also stimulate noradrenaline in our brains which can help alleviate depression.  Another benefit is that the cold water can tighten pores thereby reducing blockages in the skin that can lead to spots.  Constriction of the muscles in the cold helps the lymphatic system work more effectively, and the increased rush of blood through the body can invigorate and energise you.

So when that nomination pings into your news feed, remember, the cold and ice will actually make you feel good, as you do good by donating to a worthy cause!

 

just another ice bucket

Warmth and Water: The Basis for Life – Part I

Sauna bathing has been enjoyed since ancient times.   Nomadic tribesman wandering around Scandinavia would dig pits into slopes, cover them, fill them with rocks, burn large amounts of wood for around 6-8 hours, let the smoke out and then enjoy the residual warmth for possibly another 12 hours, offering respite from the biting cold.  This primitive form of sauna not only warmed the body but cleansed the mind and refreshed the spirit.   This type of bathing evolved into what became ‘smoke’ saunas, which is a sauna without a chimney.   Wood is burnt in large fireplaces over a large period of time, heating the stone of the fireplace directly.   Once the room has reached the required temperature the smoke is allowed to escape through a small hole in the roof.

Centuries ago, saunas were originally the only source of clean water in the towns and were considered holy places, where women gave birth and healing rituals could take place.   It was a place for worshipping the dead and the bodies of the dead were washed here before burial.

First Tylö sauna heater – 1951

With the advent of the industrial revolution, heating saunas became easier with metal woodstoves which could be housed in wooden structures.  The first electric sauna heater prototype was built in 1949 and developed over the years into the high-tec heaters we have now.   There has even been a sauna installed by Swedish company Tylö within the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in Northern Sweden with a full size working sauna heater carved from one block of ice!

Saunas have come a long way since the early slope pits, and can be installed and enjoyed in spas, gyms and private leisure spaces all over the world as awareness of the importance of everyday wellbeing grows.

Tylö Sauna, Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel