While downsizing may be en vogue in some areas of the home, consumers still place high value on the bath as a personal retreat. In high-stress times, products that promote relaxation are increasingly important, and as such, jetted tubs, spas, saunas and steam baths remain must-haves on many consumers’ lists. Additionally, an aging demographic has given a boost to products that offer therapeutic benefits, as these are seen as having real value, a hot buzzword with today’s consumer.
“People are more focused on overall health, and that includes reducing stress and encouraging more relaxation,” says Jamie Polk, v.p. of sales for Diamond Spas in Frederick, CO. “They are turning their standard bathrooms into mini spas that can be used at any time in the privacy of their own homes.” Jetted tubs, saunas and steam baths can all contribute to that spa-like feel, he notes.
Whether incorporating a steam shower, whirlpool or sauna in a partial or full renovation, the key is to make the room more comfortable and relaxing for the homeowner, manufacturers agree.
Give it a Whirl
“Time and relaxation are at a premium, and consumers are looking for value and ease of use more than ever,” says Pamela Isetts, sales executive, Trajet Bath Products in Glenwood, IA.
“With the limited time we have to relax and travel for pleasure, the ‘at home’ experience continues to grow,” reports Isetts. She notes that combination whirlpool/air jet tubs are an important part of that relaxation trend.
“The option to have a whirlpool hydrotherapy experience, a soothing air jet bath or a combination of the two hydrotherapies is extremely popular,” she confirms.
Still, William Tennant, CEO, Acryline Spa Baths in Lyster, Quebec, Canada, notes that therapy baths such as air massage and whirlpool jetted systems are selling “only to those who have the space or time to take care of themselves and truly value a bathing experience.”
For those enamored with the jetted tub, amenities that contribute to the spa-like feeling are in demand, such as foam insulation, which reduces noise and vibration and helps maintain water temperature.
Sanitation – always an important issue with regard to hydrotherapy and air therapy baths – is benefiting from the latest in technology and development, as well.
“Customers want good hygiene products with minimal maintenance,” says Isetts, whose company provides Clean & Clear Technology, a sanitary hydrotherapy system.
With the EverClean system by American Standard, “a safe and effective antimicrobial is blended into the material used to make the water circulation pipes and fittings,” explains Barry Jacobs, product manager for bath and shower fixtures at the Piscataway, NJ-based company. “This protects the pipes from mold and mildew that could cause them to deteriorate or stain.”
Manufacturers note that air baths seem to be increasingly in demand, both for their appearance (the air jets are tiny holes, which some believe are more aesthetically appealing than whirlpools with their larger nozzles), and perceived sanitary benefits. However, the more intense massaging action of water jets appeal to many who want the therapeutic benefits of a deep tissue massage.
Letting off Steam
While once a niche area, steam baths are gaining in popularity as homeowners learn they can enjoy the wellness benefits of steam bathing without requiring additional space beyond their shower. Steam can be incorporated into the design of a shower, regardless of the size of the shower, according to Jim Hass, national sales & marketing manager for Saunatec, d.b.a. Amerec Steam, in Woodinville, WA.
Steam also has green benefits, since it offers the healthy, spa-like benefits consumers desire while conserving water. “A 20-minute steam bath uses just one gallon of water,” says Jari Ristola, president of ThermaSol in Simi Valley, CA. “By comparison, whirlpool tubs and power showers use upwards of 40 gallons for the same period of time.”