Raisanen adds that the use of a combination of wood types in contrasting colors in the traditional sauna is also on the rise.
The infrared sauna room is a fast-growing market segment, say Hass. “It appeals to our fast- paced society,” he says. While a traditional sauna needs time to heat up, the infrared room doesn’t have that wait time. “People want to do things quickly. They don’t have to wait for the room to heat up, they just turn it on and get in,” says Hass.
But even as the demand for infrared grows, manufacturers don’t see it replacing the traditional sauna, noting that there are different products for different markets. While an infrared room is less expensive and more convenient to set up, there is very little room for customization. “You just buy the unit, take it home, set it up and what you have is what you get,” says Hass.
Altman adds, “The benefit to the traditional sauna is that you’re able to regulate the humidity if you want humidity because you are able to put water on the rocks, whereas with infrared you can’t. I think most of the people who really want a true sauna experience like to be able to ladle the water on the rocks and have a little bit of humidity.”
Since consumers want the complete package in the bath, heat therapy systems are increasingly offering other mood-enhancing therapies, such as aromatherapy and chromatherapy. Hass says people look at chromatherapy as a health benefit. “It has an effect on your mood. You get in there and turn the right color light on, and it cheers you up,” he says.
Raisanen says that chromatherapy is almost considered standard in the mid- to high-range infrared products. With a traditional sauna, it’s been slower to catch on, partly because of the cost and difficulty of designing a system that can withstand higher temperatures. There are now some that are easier to integrate into the ceiling at lower price points, and the upgrade is becoming more popular.
Reinert concludes: “People respond well to steam, but when you add items such as aromatherapy, chromatherapy and music, your steam room becomes a healing retreat.”