There is no doubt that health and wellness have become more important than ever before. Following COVID-related lockdowns, the wellness industry is experiencing a boom, with a predicted annual growth of five to ten percent, according to management consulting firm McKinsey. People are seeking a more holistic approach to health, and there is a general emphasis on prevention rather than cure.
Spas are at the forefront of this movement, with consumers looking to “future-proof” their health. The wellness benefits associated with regular spa use have been recognized around the world for centuries; the sauna, for example, has been popular in Scandinavian countries since 7,000 BC. Research suggests that the repeated heating and cooling of the body has positive health implications, including improved cardiovascular health, treatment of pain, and reduced stress.
In India, Ayurvedic texts emphasize the importance of therapeutic bathing to restore balance to the body, mind, and spirit. Meanwhile, the Japanese have been bathing in natural hot springs, or onsens, for thousands of years in a custom made popular by Buddhist monks.
What’s perhaps lesser known is that people in the Czech Republic have been soaking in beer since the Middle Ages, with the first beer spa documented about 2,000 years ago. Today, there are numerous beer spas across Europe. One worth noting is the Purkmistr Brewery on the outskirts of Pilsen in the Czech Republic, where guests can sip on cold pints while soaking in wooden barrels of lager. Treatments such as beer oil massages, peels, and facials are also offered.
Brewed with hops, barley, and sometimes yeast, beer baths contain abundant antioxidants and nutrients, which research suggests have profoundly positive effects on skin and hair and help promote relaxation.
Thanks to the popularization of these health benefits, innovative start-ups are making this exciting spa concept increasingly accessible. In Denver, Colorado, entrepreneurs Jessica French and Damien Zouaoui opened The Beer Spa by Snug in February 2021. The husband-and-wife duo offers a new approach to wellness through the exploration of local craft beers.
Having spent 14 months traveling the globe on the lookout for business opportunities, French and Zouaoui stumbled across a beer spa in the Polish mountain town of Zakopane. They were immediately taken with the concept and set out to create something similar back home in the United States.
The Beer Spa offers a series of private beer therapy rooms, each with an infrared sauna, a rain shower, a relaxation deck, and a cedar hydrotherapy tub. During their 90-minute session, guests can jump back and forth between the amenities while sipping on self-serve specialty brews. “We wanted to create a fun, upbeat, gender-neutral ambience where friends and couples can kick back and have fun in our taproom without having to worry about spa etiquette,” French says.
The concept has proved hugely popular, and the spa has been operating at ninety-eight percent capacity since it opened. “We’ve been overwhelmed by demand,” says French. “Weekends and after-business hours are booked out four to five weeks ahead.”
Committed to ensuring their spa is at the forefront of technology, French and Zouaoui utilize infrared saunas, zero-gravity massage chairs, and air bubbler systems in the hydrotherapy tubs that envelop the body in a beer-like fizz, promoting relaxation.
Kohler Co. products figure throughout The Beer Spa, selected, French says, for their reliability and quality. “Our number one priority was finding a supplier that could assist us in creating the automated filling and draining system needed for our beer baths. We also needed to be able to fill the beer baths to the desired water temperature and level at the touch of a button,” she says. KOHLER® digital thermostatic valves were an ideal fit, and it was a natural move for the couple to use Kohler Co. products for the rest of the space.
“Technology enhancements are becoming increasingly popular in commercial spaces,” says Caroline Johnson, Senior Sales Executive at KOHLER Signature Store in Denver. “Technology allows for precision, automation, and connectivity not previously possible in a commercial or spa experience.”
In 2022, French and Zouaoui plan to franchise their concept, starting in various markets throughout Colorado and then expanding across the United States. “The Beer Spa sits firmly in the affordable luxury category, and we hope that it opens the eyes of people who aren’t traditionally spa goers and shows them that they can have a relaxing spa experience that’s fun, approachable, and affordable,” French says.