An aging population, an ever-growing desire for luxury and an increasingly well-traveled consumer are all driving forces behind the trend toward more spa-like baths. And, in keeping with the spa theme, a key element of these baths is heat therapy – whether it comes in the form of air- and water-jetted tubs, steam baths or saunas. That’s according to manufacturers recently interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
“Trips to the day spa or relaxing vacations to luxury resorts have given a new demand to therapeutic baths,” says Tawnya Quiet, marketing director, Aquatic Industries, in Leander, TX. “People no longer have to wait for a vacation away or an appointment at the spa to get a truly effective massage or pampering treatment. Luxury baths answer this growing demand for creating home spas that provide relaxation and restoration in just a few minutes.”
Indeed, there’s little doubt that the creation of the bath as a home oasis is on the rise. Particularly in challenging times, homeowners seek a restful escape, and what better place to find it than the bath? Even better, the therapeutic benefits make jetted tubs, saunas and steam baths a justifiable luxury, since these products not only provide enjoyment, but also contribute heavily to increased health and well being.
“The market has evolved significantly and an increasing number of people are looking for bathtubs with air jets, whirlpool, or combined therapies to create a home spa experience,” says Yvan Lachance, marketing and communication director for MAAX, in Lachine, Montreal.
To create the home spa feel that so many crave, designers must know what features can be added to heat therapy products to complement the experience. “Any alternative therapy will enhance the bathing experience, stimulate the senses and contribute to a healthier lifestyle. As a result, aromatherapy, chromatherapy and heat therapy are very popular,” says Lachance.
Michael Kornowa, director of marketing for MTI Whirlpools, in Sugar Hill, GA, says consumers are looking for a tub with complete therapy to promote well being through appealing to all of the senses. “Some people are just blowing out the tub with audiotherapy, aromatherapy, chromatherapy, the two types of hydrotherapy – whirlpool and air bath – and don’t forget thermal therapy. The very fact that you are in hot water relaxes the body,” he says.
Jim Hass, national sales and marketing manager for Amerec, in Woodinville, WA, says that chromatherapy is becoming very popular, as aromatherapy has always been, for steam bathing, as well. He says Amerec, among other manufacturers, is introducing injection systems that allow bathers to have fragrance oils injected directly into the steam line instead of having to drop them on the steamhead.
Russ Wittkop, CEO, SanSpa Five Star, in Le Mars, IA, says that while chromatherapy and aromatherapy add to the experience, in today’s economic times, people are keeping it simple. His company really preaches value. “[You] get a lot for what you pay for and you use it,” he says.
Features aren’t just chosen for the aesthetic appeal or pure relaxation. “Wellness plays an important role in choosing features,” says Lachance. “That is why more therapies are being enjoyed in new households. People are more informed and aware of the benefits they can obtain from purchasing a bathtub with the custom features that best suit their needs.”
Dave Anderson, general manager, Walk-In Tubs & More, in Waterloo, IA, agrees. “People are looking for muscle and joint therapy and skin therapy as well as just to feel good,” he says.
“New technologies are important to trends because they help to develop new therapy features,” adds Lachance. “In the bathtub sector, new therapies are being developed and sophisticated technology is increasingly present,” he points out.