Author Archives: Matt Williamson

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About Matt Williamson

Matt Williamson is the owner and designer with Design for Leisure in Austin, Texas and the UK.
EMAIL: mwilliamson@designforleisure.com BIO: About Matt Williamson
PHONE: 702.818.9051

Hydrothermal Bathing: Past, Present, and Future
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Hydrothermal Bathing: Past, Present, and Future | Matt Williamson

{4:18 minutes to read} For thousands of years, cultures have incorporated the healing powers of water and heat. From the use of geothermal waters to bathhouses, hydrothermal bathing has a long history:

  • In Chinese literature, there is evidence of hydrothermal use to treat medical ailments as far back as the 7th century B.C.
  • The Romans were also pioneers in hydrothermal bathing with their advanced technology, geographic domination of Europe and Asia, and exceptional architecture.

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Design for Leisure Partners with Unique Italian Manufacturer
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Design for Leisure Partners with Unique Italian Manufacturer | Matt Williamson

Iso Italia, known globally for its innovative and stylish solariums, has been in the business since 1980, when the Zonta family began producing tanning equipment in a small shop in Italy. Since those humble beginnings, the company’s focus on quality and reliability has placed them in a coveted position in the world market. ISO Italia Group designs and produces a technologically advanced and highly reliable line of equipment dedicated to wellness and beauty. These products are totally made in Italy and distributed all over the world.

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What is a Hamam?
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What is a Hamam? | Matt Williamson

{2:06 minutes to read} In your typical hydrothermal suite found in your typical American resort spa, you have the usual suspects—saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, relaxation areas, showers, maybe an ice/snow room. The combination of these features provides the guest the necessary tools for wellness and relaxation. A new (though actually really, really old) feature that is becoming more common in these spas is the Turkish Hamam. The Hamam, an incredibly versatile hydrothermal area characterized by heat and humidity (but not steam), is rather well-known in Europe and Asia but is essentially a mystery to American spa-goers. What IS a hamam exactly? Glad you asked.

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Medical Studies Link Sauna Use to Wellbeing
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Medical Studies Link Sauna Use to Wellbeing | Matt Williamson

{3:24 minutes to read} When most people think of a sauna, they think of warmth and relaxation, but saunas as tools for wellness are becoming more and more popular. Below are 5 examples, with scientific backup, of the positive effects that your warm and relaxing sauna can have on your health and wellbeing.

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Hydrothermal Spa & Wellness Development Standards, 2nd Edition 2016
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Hydrothermal Spa & Wellness Development Standards, 2nd Edition 2016 | Matt Williamson

{2:48 minutes to read} At the 10th Global Wellness Summit held October 16-19 in Kitzbuhel, Austria, Design for Leisure CEO Don Genders, in his capacity as Chair of the Global Wellness Institute Hydrothermal Initiative, launched the Second Edition of the “Guide to Hydrothermal Spa & Wellness Development Standards.” The new book, an upgrade from the 2014 first edition, has 30% more content, and all existing chapters have been revised and extended. The book features additional chapters on Hydrothermal Wellness Benefits and Natural Hot Springs, with other chapters expanded with new subsections featuring: architecture and design; construction materials; specialist treatment rooms; and some financial information to enable returns on investments in hydrothermal facilities to be better understood.

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Sanarium
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Sanarium | Matt Williamson

{3:00 minutes to read} We all enjoy different means of relaxation, and the same should be true when deciding how to sauna bathe. Choose a climate that suits your needs and your own individual kind of relaxation, and create unique moments of well-being with the Sanarium from KLAFS. At first glance there appears to be virtually no difference between a Sanarium and a traditional sauna. However, the relaxation experiences it offers is thoroughly out of the ordinary. By increasing the humidity, the Sanarium can maintain constant perceived warmth even as the actual temperature drops, and if you wish, you can fill the cabin with aromatic steam.

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The Importance of Staying Cool!
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The Importance of Staying Cool! | Matt Williamson

{4:06 minutes to read} In our last article, we talked about snow rooms, so it seems appropriate to follow up with a conversation about the importance of staying cool. The cooling-off stage of any thermal bathing experience, particularly the parts involving cold water, produces a powerful temperature stimulus—even stronger than the heat stimulus, which has a more gradual onset. Air conducts heat more poorly than water, so although the heat stimulus is an intensive one, the effect on the body builds up over a period of time. In contrast, taking a cold shower has an instant impact on the skin’s nerve endings, and thus triggers stronger bodily responses.

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Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
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Let it Snow! Let it Snow!|Matt Williamson

{4:18 minutes to read} Thermal bathing is the practice of getting very, very hot, and then very, very cold. The greater the extremes, the greater the benefits, and there is no greater extreme for getting cold than getting into a snow room. I take that back. There is a greater extreme — you can make a hole in a frozen lake, if you have one! One of the big problems has been the use of snow rooms within the spa environment. If you get very, very hot in a Finnish sauna, then what’s the most extreme way to get cold? Snow is the obvious choice, but snow and its production equipment, until very very recently, has been incredibly expensive to produce in small quantities within spa areas.

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Take Responsibility for Your Health and Well-being
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Take Responsibility for Your Health and Well-being|Matt Williamson

{3:42 minutes to read} Our project at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach has recently opened, and it is an absolutely stunning property. It’s not just what we have done there, but it is one of the most eclectic, creative, and thought provoking hotel properties that I’ve ever walked into, let alone had the privilege of being part of the design team for the last 4 years. Our responsibility was the wet spa areas, which we designed and built.

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The Health Benefits of Thermal Bathing Part 2
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The Health Benefits of Thermal Bathing Part 2| Matt Williamson

{4:12 minutes to read} In Part 1  of this series, we looked at the process and benefits of thermal bathing. In this article, we will explore the preventative health measuresprovided by this activity. It could be argued that hot and cold bathing are actually above all else in the hierarchy of ‘spa treatments,’ as such practices can save lives and increase longevity whilst reducing reliance on prescription drugs. Medical studies have shown the regular use of a Sanarium (soft sauna), coupled with cooling and proper relaxation, was able to eradicate hypertension symptoms in 38% of cases. (Sanarium Helps Patients with High Blood Pressure).

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The Health Benefits of Thermal Bathing Part 1
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The Health Benefits of Thermal Bathing Part 1 | Matt Williamson

{4:18 minutes to read} The importance of thermal bathing and the pleasure derived from it over the centuries is undisputed and well-recorded. But as the U.S. population ages, the medical community has begun to recognize the physical benefits thermal bathing offers rather than just the ability to cleanse the body. A thermal bathing experience should be a relaxing, therapeutic and healthy activity, and a spa or wellness facility which encourages and promotes relaxation is providing guests with true health-giving benefits.

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Building a Sauna or Wellness Area
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Building a Sauna or Wellness Area | Matt Williamson

{2:12 minutes to read} In a recent article, we talked about what a sauna is and the forms of bathing and benefits it can provide. In this blog, we would like to discuss what building a sauna and wellness area should involve. A perfect sauna facility will involve further spaces than just the sauna cabin itself. First, a pre-bathing room or area with a shower and perhaps a foot warming pool should be considered for proper preparation to sauna bathing. Cleansing your body and warming your core temperature before using a sauna will help to enhance the experience.

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Special Features of a Sauna
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Special Features of a Sauna | Matt Williamson

{2:24 minutes to read} No matter the manufacture or different style of sauna, good sauna design should always include these key features: Benches Saunas need to have 2 or 3 different levels of benches, both to provide room for multiple guests to sit or lie down comfortably, and also to offer options for taking a sauna at different temperature zones.

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What is a Sauna?
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What Is a Sauna? | Matt Williamson

{2:48 minutes to read} The word sauna is of Finnish origin. It is a mode of sweat bathing which requires frequent cooling off. The Finnish, however, did not invent this pleasant form of bathing. Sweat bathing has been popular in cultures around the world for centuries due to, among other things, that when compared with a traditional bath, far less water is required. In the 20th century, the sauna gained wider notoriety from the success of Finnish athletes in the 1924 Summer Olympic Games.  Despite the great heat during those games, Finnish athletes incorporated sauna bathing as part of their training regimen and did remarkably well in the distance running events.

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ROI of Wet Spa Facilities
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ROI of Wet Spa Facilities | Matt Williamson

{3:48 minutes to read} When built using modern methods and technology as discussed in our recent article,  Hydrothermal areas in wet spa facilities can involve a significant investment. This investment can provide equally significant returns, however, there are barriers to overcome with owners and operators who traditionally view these facilities as a free use amenity type of model.

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2016 Road Show Announcement
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2016 Road Show Announcement | Matt Williamson

Klafs, the global leader in sauna and wellness design, has teamed with their partners at Design for Leisure, specialists in wet spa area design, to co-host a series of invitation-only events in June for the professional design and wellness communities in New York and San Francisco. Design for Leisure offers specialist spa and wellness design and implementation services to create some of the most unique hydrothermal bathing experiences in the world. Whether clients are seeking to create a beautiful home spa or cutting edge facilities for hotel and residential developments, Design for Leisure has solutions to suit every theme and budget.

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Emergence of Wet Spa Areas in Spas
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Emergence of Wet Spa Areas in Spas | Matt Williamson

{2:42 minutes to read} Wet spa areas, commonly referred to as wellness or hydrothermal areas, are gaining more popularity in the American spa model. Wet areas can be much more than just an amenity like a sauna, steam room and/or whirlpool. They should bring added value to a spa and provide health benefits for guests. A wet spa environment of different types of   hydrothermal features, should consist of a combination of hot and cold treatments, with some form of relaxation area for guests to use to cool down and rejuvenate.

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