Feature Article - May/June 2004
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Clean Sweep

Patron-pleasing plans for restrooms and locker rooms

By Kelli Anderson

Full Steam Ahead

With America's perpetual obsession with weight loss and health, saunas are more popular than ever in recreation and fitness facilities. According Reino Tarkianen, president of a 40-year-old sauna manufacturing company, saunas are a much-appreciated feature of a facility if designed correctly and properly maintained. The following are some essential do's and don'ts that can make a sauna experience the right one for your clientele:

  • Avoid the temptation to think bigger is better. Architects love to go big, but saunas any larger than 8x8 or 8x10 not only can lose their cozy appeal but waste energy with uneven heat distribution.

  • Install a clock timer for automatic on and off control to reduce wasted energy.

  • Cleanliness is paramount. Perspiration must be able to drain away with a floor drain and be hosed out regularly. Keeping a hose in the sauna makes this task easier.

  • Floor material should never be cement, which absorbs odors. Tile is ideal for keeping the space clean.

  • Provide towels for patrons to sit on for comfort and hygiene. Temperatures in a sauna are not high enough to kill bacteria.

  • Have good ventilation located in both the upper and lower walls for good circulation, or saunas can get musty.

  • Use more attractive aromas like birch or eucalyptus for fresh-smelling air. Fragrances can be mixed into the water used on the hot rocks.

  • To prevent stains on the wood, use a clear, water-based sealer. When stains do appear, remove them with fine sand paper.

  • People prefer privacy. Two to four people in a sauna is ideal. Saunas for men only or women only is the norm, but creating family saunas, long a tradition in Europe, is catching on in the United States.