When designing a hotel spa, the benefits of a thermal suite go beyond providing guests with a great pre- and post-treatment relaxation, explains Beverley Bayes, director, Sparcstudio…
As well as providing a relaxation touchpoint in the guest experience, a thermal suite also provides great health benefits for the spa user (particularly for the lungs in the case of a salt steam room).
Hotels around the world are renowned for their thermal suites. Gone are the days when they are positioned at the end of a corridor, in a subterranean enclosed space, hidden behind a door.
In the past few years, the team at Sparcstudio have quietly revolutionised thermal cabin design in the UK by offering a bespoke, tailored and individual approach for each project, resulting in some stunning designs.
A part of the studio’s design of The Spa at South Lodge, the organic panoramic sauna cabin is a much photographed little ‘jewel in the crown’ of the spa. The walls and ceiling were crafted from timber with a wave like design, to evoke the rolling hills of the South Downs. The floor to ceiling glass provides views out onto those downs and the surrounding spa garden and Sussex countryside .
The team took this one step further, designing two large panoramic saunas looking across the Hertfordshire countryside at the Spa at Cottonmill at Sopwell House.
These offer panoramic views to the rest of the spa and landscape beyond. The intention is to connect the guest with nature and create a true sense of place, for example, the team developed a sauna on stilts high above the forest at Aqua Sana Spa, Sherwood Forest.
Beverley Bayes, Director, Sparcstudio says: “When designing a thermal suite, we think it’s vital to create bespoke cabin designs that are unique to the spa, we also place deliberate focus on bringing the outside in with slot windows, or large heatproof floor to ceiling glass walls providing views onto gardens or onto the pool, creating a unique sense of space.”
More recently Sparcstudio developed the Forest Cavern Steam Room at Aqua Sana Spa Longleat Forest, replicating a cave hidden deep within a forest, (the region around the site is known for its caves). Neil Fairplay, Director, Sparcstudio says: “From the outset, we imagined a double-height cave environment where part of the ceiling had collapsed, allowing natural light, trailing foliage and rain water to flood in, it’s hard not to be wowed by this experience”
From the initial client brief, Sparcstudio is mindful of the importance of the thermal suite and the team works to maximise the area designated for the spa, with clever use of space planning. The team develops the concept and design (including lighting, bespoke materials, ceiling profile and special features). They work closely with suppliers such as Halo, Dale Sauna and Rigo to create the perfect thermal area for the client. This non-standard approach pushes the boundaries in terms of materials used and final result.
Main image caption: Forest Cavern Steam Room at Aqua Sana Spa Longleat Forest