Post pandemic, consumers are amping to explore new forms of sweat bathing and reap the benefits of hot/cold contrast therapy. In our 2022 trend, Urban Bathhouses and Wellness Playgrounds, we explored the revival of communal hydrothermal bathing, an age-old, traditional wellness experience that is being embraced the world over.

By Cassandra Cavanah

There’s a plethora of amazing, often ritualistic, ways to cleanse and purify the body through sweat bathing, water and cold temperatures—and today people seem to want to discover them all. We’ve witnessed an amazing amount of growth and exploration in hydrothermal bathing in recent years—from Finnish saunas and Russian banyas to Turkish Hammams and Korean bath houses to mud bathing and thalassotherapy to Japanese onsens and Mayan temazcals, and so much more.  

It's easy to understand the increased appeal and popularity of hydrothermal bathing in this moment in history. First, there’s a growing body of evidence that hydrothermal bathing is something post-pandemic wellness consumers want more of. Medical studies suggest that different hydrothermal therapies can protect against respiratory and cardiovascular disease; improve immune system function, muscle recovery, and sleep; and help with chronic pain. Second, it’s a self-administered, touchless wellness experience, which means it’s great for those who are not yet ready for a hands-on treatment. Third, when done right, hydrothermal bathing is a communal, soul-rejoicing experience—something we all need a bit more of right now! 

The Trend in the News

Othership: An Oasis For The Sober-CuriousForbes

Othership is described as a dreamy modern bathhouse that offers classes combining breathwork, sauna and cold plunges. It was created out of founder and CEO Robbie Bent’s commitment to sobriety and wellness. Bent had been experimenting with wellness practices to help him and, in the process (and during the pandemic), ended up creating a destination for anyone looking to improve physical, mental and emotional wellness.

Thermal Bathing More Popular Than Ever – 
Hotel Executive

This article written by Cassandra Cavanah, the Vice Chair of the Global Wellness Institute’s Hydrothermal Initiative, is a primer on the trends the Initiative members are seeing in hydrothermal bathing, including urban bathhouses and the opportunities for hotel and resorts to expand their spa and wellness offerings to appeal to today’s wellness consumers.    

Breaking Down Sauna Aufguss– WellSpa360

One of the hottest trends in thermal bathing is social sauna-ing. The best place to experience this is in an event sauna (a large sauna seating between 20-300 people) that features the art of “sauna aufguss.” Aufguss is a German term describing the steam created when pouring water on the hot stones of a sauna oven. Sauna aufguss performances come in all shapes and sizes, from an elaborate theatrical show with enchanting towel work and audiences clapping and singing along, to a much quieter, almost out-of-body meditative journey or sound bath. 

This May Be the Secret to Why Finland Is the Happiest Country in the World – Travel + Leisure

In Finland, you can find sauna cars on Ferris wheels, saunas in conference rooms, floating sauna rafts, sauna buses and even a sauna inside of a Burger King! This article takes the reader on a tour of Finnish sauna culture as the country revels in the one Finnish word known worldwide—“sauna” —becoming even more popular.   

Take a Waterless Cold Plunge – People Magazine

People Magazine’s “25 Things to Do, Eat & See This Year” puts this Snow Room (by TechnoAlpin) at the Lodge at Woodloch in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania at number 16. 

Postcard from Copenhagen: Ice‑cold dips, floating saunas and Michelin pop‑ups are the order of the day – The Times UK

Winter bathing was all the rage in Copenhagen earlier in the year when temperatures set the waters to freezing levels. People of all ages gathered to plunge in the ice-cold waters and then warm up in a newly launched floating sauna.

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