Though modern saunas are designed for luxury and convenience, some people still prefer rustic, wood-fired saunas for their authenticity.

spurred by the convenience of electric heaters. In the 1960s the media increased their coverage of the emerging popularity of saunas. In 1986, the sauna received its own day: the second Saturday in June.

Despite all the benefits of sweat baths, however, saunas still are not as popular as spas in the United States. According to the National Spa and Pool Institute, U.S. and Canadian hot tub manufacturers sold an estimated 387,000 hot tubs in 2003. That’s 10 to 20 times more than the number of saunas sold. Nevertheless, more and more people are purchasing saunas. Some people are drawn to the high-temperature sweat bath experience, while others simply want to bring all of the amenities of a health club into their home. Though saunas can be installed outdoors like tradition would have it, it’s much more common today for them to be placed indoors as part of a master bedroom suite or a home gym.

The stereotypical sauna a dark box relegated to the basement is as passe as pet rocks and eight-track tape players. Today’s saunas can be as stylish as you like. This one lets in natural light during the day and provides soft lighting for evening enjoyment. It also has banquet-style seating with contrasting wood trim and a complementary tile floor.

Today sauna manufacturers continue to do everything they can to make saunas more and more attractive to homeowners. For example, prefabricated units eliminate the need to construct a sauna from scratch. The addition of windows and glass doors makes people feel less claustrophobic. Infrared heaters provide instant and less intense heat for those who can’t tolerate high temperatures. And mood lighting and CD players further enhance the sauna experience.

With technological advances in manufacturing and materials, there’s no telling what saunas will look like 10 years from now. This much we can be sure of: Although saunas have a colorful history, they have an even brighter future.




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