Wellness Holidays: How to Use a Spa Sauna

Nothing more relaxing on a cold winter day than a sauna.

Spa vacations and wellness holidays have become hugely popular in Austria since the 1990ies. Styria has many hot springs and pioneered this development, but the heavily touristy areas in the Tyrolean and Salzburg Alps followed soon. Today, essentially every decent (meaning: four stars plus) hotel has at least basic spa facilities. Many hotels have specialist on wellness holidays and offer a great deal of treatments and "toys": Sauna, Jacuzzi, tanning booths, massages, beauty farms and manicure - wellness is big in Salzburg these days.

With the vicious competition among different spa hotels and networks of them, visitors can get really good deals if they book packages and compare prices. See the article on "Wellness Hotels in Salzburg" for further information. Here we would like to give you some information on how to use a sauna - since many people, especially those who come from non-European or non-continental countries are not familiar with the spa culture of Austria.

Step by step: Using a Spa Sauna

1.) Have a shower: Wash yourself decently - mostly for hygienic reasons. You don′t want body odours in a sauna. Make sure that you dry yourself. Many spa visitors enter the sauna wet, which is not ideal since the moisture evaporating from your skin cools the body.

2.) Stay calmly in the sauna: Relax and don′t lift your feet over your head (which you could by lying down). Most of the saunas in Austrian spas will have 80 to 90 degrees Celsius. One session should last for 15 minutes.

3.) After the 15 minutes, open the door and let fresh air in. The temperature will drop, but only temporarily. Close the door and pour water with aromatic oils on the oven. It will evaporate and then condensate on the skin of everybody in the sauna. This generates an extremely high temperature and can be enhanced by waving a towel around your body. This is called "Aufguss" in German. Wait for a few minutes or for however long you can handle the temperature. Don′t wait until you are dizzy.

4.) Shower briefly with cold water to rinse off the sweat. Following this, go outside in winter to rub snow on your arms and chest - this might be a bit hard at first, but will help to decrease your body′s core temperature. In summer, jump into a cold water pool. Most spas in wellness hotels have such facilities - in small saunas, you might have to use a cold shower for that purpose.

5.) Drink a lot to compensate the loss of liquids: Isotonic solutions are good for that, or fruit juices that are diluted with mineral water.

6.) Rest for at least 30 minutes. Most wellness hotels have resting areas, in which you can relax in comfortable chairs, sometimes with aroma or sound effects.

After this, you could repeat the procedure up to three times. However, newbies to the wellness business are advised to start things easy.


Information on Wellness Holidays by the Tourism Council

Austrian Tourism Office on Spas and Saunas

Thermen or Thermal Spas of Austria, including Vienna

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