Latest
issue
GET SPA BUSINESS
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital editions of Spa Business and Spa Business insider magazines and the FREE weekly Spa Business and Spa Business insider ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Features   Products   Company profilesProfiles   Magazine   Handbook   Advertise    Subscribe  
Top Team
Therme Group

With a mission to make wellness accessible to all, Therme Group is expanding globally, bringing its social spas to the US, Canada, the UK and South Korea. Jane Kitchen speaks to the people behind the brand


With its global headquarters in Vienna, Therme Group is part of A-Heat – a global firm specialising in heat exchange engineering. In partnership with Germany’s Wund Holding, it currently operates four facilities in Europe and intends to build at least six more globally (see p48). Its existing locations are a new kind of spa – part thermal bathing, part indoor water park, part botanical garden – that’s described as a “state-of-the-art wellbeing oasis”.

An oasis is definitely the vibe at Therme; the thousands of palm trees and balmy year-round temperatures make for a mini tropical staycation. One key to Therme’s success is that it makes wellness fun – an important differentiator. It’s also multigenerational, with adult-only zones to ensure tranquillity.

Therme builds its giant facilities around five pillars: Active & Fun, which includes waterslides, wave pools, fitness programming and indoor and outdoor beaches; Therapeutic Wellbeing, with mineral pools, saunas, aufguss sessions and spa therapies; Calm & Relaxing, featuring warm lagoons, swim-up bars and botanical gardens; Culture & Education, with musical entertainment, cultural programming and art installations; and Food & Nutrition, based on healthy cafes, cooking demonstrations and future plans for nutrition planning and on-site vertical farming.

Scale and technology help keep access affordable. Its Bucharest location is a sprawling 76,000sq m and entrance fees start at LEI59 (US$13, €12, £10) for a 3-hour weekday adult ticket. At these prices, it’s no wonder they attract both locals and tourists. In total, the facilities that are open have the capacity for more than 24,000 guests a day and aim to attract up to 1.5 million visitors each annually.

As Therme Group prepares to grow its business globally, we sat down with those heading up the expansion to find out what’s in store.

ROBERT HANEA
Founder, chair & CEO, Therme Group
photo: RJ Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images
How does Therme’s high-volume, low-cost model work?

Inclusivity is the new exclusivity. If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that social connection and human interaction enrich our lives. Therme is all about finding and creating community.

Our tiered and flexible pricing structure caters to a full spectrum of needs and occasions – be it a quick visit for a few hours or a full day with multiple therapies, activities and dining options.

There truly is no ‘typical’ Therme customer – our guests range from every age, background, socioeconomic bracket and more. Central to our ‘wellbeing for all’ promise are entry price points that offer exceptional value for money. We’re not free, but to put it into perspective, in Romania, the average entry price is €23 (US$25, £20) – and people stay 3-5 hours. We also look to work with local authorities to create subsidised rates for people in financially challenged situations.

We’re able to offer a high-quality product at an affordable price by combining scale with cutting-edge, sustainable technology. There’s very little waste at Therme. Everything from our water, electricity, heating and cooling is maximised to be as sustainable and efficient as possible. This saves resources and allows us to pass savings on to our guests.

Therme’s bold vision is of wellbeing as a fundamental human right, which serves as a foundation for successful communities. We see an optimistic future for cities as places of inclusive urban wellbeing, with Therme being a key ingredient to helping people live healthier and more sustainably.

We’ve already seen tremendous success in our impact in Germany and Romania, serving millions of guests who live in and visit the cities where we’re based. This work hasn’t been easy. A lot of it comes back to the Therme ecosystem. We draw together a vast variety of expertise to deliver large, complex projects that serve multiple needs – most others can’t replicate the unique formula we’ve developed.

What economic/social impact do your facilities have?

Our potential facility in Washington DC, US, which we’re actively pursuing, would be a major driver for economic growth, bringing up to 7,200 construction jobs over two years, 700-800 permanent operations jobs upon facility stabilisation and an estimated US$1.1 billion (€1.01 billion, £864 million) in tax flow over 25 years.

Project figures for our site being developed in Manchester, UK are similarly impressive. Independent studies estimate that the increased wellness will equate to 1 million fewer days of hospital admissions a year, saving the national health service £973 million (US$1.2 billion, €1.1 billion); and 4.1 million fewer sick days, which has a value of £404 million (US$512.4 million, €474 million) to the UK economy.

What’s your strategy for getting facilities to market?

Firstly, we have a dedicated division, Therme XPR, which conducts extensive primary research in target markets.

We’re focused on cultivating deep relationships with local leaders, institutions and communities. Therme is about bringing people together in a shared space and we can’t do that if we aren’t working with local communities to deliver an experience that is authentic to the place. The process varies from location to location, as do the stakeholders, but we don’t cut corners. This is an in-depth process that can take years.

Therme is focused on a lifetime commitment to the cities we’re located in. Our facilities are built to last for a hundred years, and we want to engage with the community not just to get the project built, but for the whole lifespan of the Therme.

Tell us more about the Therme company ecosystem

We have almost a dozen specialist companies under the Therme banner, along with all of our other associated projects and partnerships.

In the UK, for example, Therme Group and the University of Surrey have partnered on the Carbon Tokenomics Model (CTM) – we’re working to identify solutions that the tourism industry can employ to reduce carbon emissions and have just had a paper published*. Tourism is so important for many communities, but we know that long-distance travel takes a toll on the environment.

In addition, immersive art is central to the Therme experience and we’re constantly collaborating with artists such as Superblue (see www.attractionsmanagement.com/superblue) and Marshmallow Laser Feast (see p124).

What research projects are you funding?

We’re funding two active projects. The first is the one with the University of Surrey.

We’ve also partnered with the COGITO Epistemology Research Centre at the University of Glasgow in the UK, on the Dimensions of Wellbeing Project. The project seeks to integrate and develop our understanding of the nature of wellbeing across cognitive, emotional, social, and physical axes.

Inclusivity is the new exclusivity ... our price points offer exceptional value for money
What are some of Therme’s greatest tech innovations?

Natural thermal waters combined with geothermal energy are key to our current product, but we’re developing ways to keep our process efficient when geothermal isn’t available. Our heat exchange technology is world-leading and allows us to maintain water temperature using minimal energy, in a sustainable way.

Overall, sustainable energy usage is central to all our innovations. Therme Bucharest is the first LEED Platinum facility in the world of its scale and is proof of our commitment to sustainability.

We also employ other technology, such as cutting-edge, compact wave-making machines and complex tree management systems. Therme Bucharest’s retractable roof – which opens to provide natural ventilation – is one of the largest in the world.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

We’ve worked hard to communicate that Therme is more than just a ‘waterpark’ or a ‘spa’ – because it’s almost indescribable if you haven’t experienced it for yourself: a full, multisensory and immersive offering. We’ve had to completely change the global perception of what wellness facilities are and can be. And because there’s nothing else like Therme out there, how do you explain something to people that they don’t believe can exist?

Our facilities are more than just leisure, there’s also the work of supporting mental and physical health and building sustainable communities focused on wellness. That is not an easy task, but we’ve been overcoming the challenges with a steadfast commitment to our values. And the more markets we enter, the more people will get to experience it for themselves.

*Goean, ER et al. Using the Blockchain to Reduce Carbon Emissions in the Visitor Economy. Sustainability. May 2024

These are large, complex projects – most others can’t replicate our unique formula
Scale and volume: Therme Bucharest covers 76,000sq m and can fit in 8,000-plus guests a day / hoto: Therme Group
Average entry costs €23 and people stay 3-5 hours / photo: Therme Group
Guests range from every age, background and socioeconomic bracket / photo: Therme Group
Projects, such as Therme Canada, can take years to come to fruition
ROBERT HAMMOND
President & chief strategy officer, Therme Group US
photo: Therme Group
What does Therme’s expansion in the us look like?

We want to be in important east and west coast cities, but our product will work great in any metropolitan area. Our locations will be about 500,000sq ft and we need 4-5 million people within a 2-hour drive.

The greatest demand will be in the middle of cities and that’s also what differentiates us. There’s a desire for developers to bring people back downtown, so there’s a lot of spin-off if we can bring 1-2 million people to a site. From a civic point of view, this is also what cities need more of – there’s a wellbeing desert for accessible, central options.

We’re searching for a location in Washington DC and looking at Atlanta, Los Angeles and Dallas. Because commercial real estate has been hit by the decline of office workers, there may be opportunities in San Francisco and New York now as well.

These locations and facilities are difficult to bring to market. Finding the property and going through zoning is very time-consuming. They’re expensive, complicated engineering projects so having a 20-year track record and in-house expertise – Therme ARC (see p50) and a team of engineers in Germany – means we can move forward very quickly once we find a site. And they’re very profitable once they’re open.

Why does The mass market make good business sense?

There are a lot of people chasing those same luxury customers. I’m not as worried about their wellbeing. They’ve got a lot of choices and their health outcomes aren’t that bad to begin with. It’s the middle of the market – not just in America – that doesn’t have affordable options. It’s a huge market that’s not been tapped.

People think people without money aren’t willing to spend money on their health. I hear that a lot. But just because you can’t afford a US$400 (€369, £314) 60-minute massage, it doesn’t mean you’re not interested in it, or that you wouldn’t spend US$50 (€46, £39).

Why do people visit a Therme location?

Interestingly, when we ask people, they don’t say wellbeing – even though the thermal pools, saunas, heat and contrast therapy are so good for you. They’re coming because it’s fun and they want to connect with nature, family and friends. To me, the social element is the biggest benefit and only 10 per cent of people come to our facilities alone. We didn’t invent this. Most cultures have a bathing tradition which was as much about forming societal bonds as it was about health.

Who do you anticipate will go to a Therme in the US?

It’s an intergenerational experience. In Europe, our makeup is 38 per cent families, 31 per cent couples and 20 per cent groups that are not families. Sixty per cent of them are adults, 30 per cent are children, 13 per cent are seniors. It’s designed as a destination for travellers as well as for locals, which is another important distinction. In Bucharest, over 60 per cent of residents have visited Therme.

Generally, it’s older people in the morning, families in the afternoon and young people at night. So we’re busy from 7am till midnight and ages range from several months to people in their 90s. From a socioeconomic standpoint, it’s also very broad. We’re still working on the US pricing, but it will be much cheaper than a concert ticket.

The US does not have this product right now. The good news is we have every segment of it: waterparks, pools, bathhouses, attractions, food destinations. We’re really combining an indoor botanical garden, a water park, a pool and a bathhouse at scale and at a greater quality.

I think of it as a wellbeing Disney World. But when you leave a theme park, you are exhausted, your chemistry has been manipulated with caffeine, sugar and adrenaline and your kids are crying. When you leave Therme, you feel relaxed and rejuvenated – better than when you came in. Having these kinds of experiences is so important.

It’s the middle market that doesn’t have affordable options
There’s a wellbeing desert for accessible, central options in cities, says Hammond / photo: Therme Group
The proposed development in Washington DC / photo: Therme Group
KIM INSOOK
Head of development, Therme Group Korea
photo: Therme Group
Why choose South Korea for Therme’s Asian expansion?

Our research partnership with the Global Wellness Institute shows the wellness economy in South Korea is worth US$113 billion, making it the ninth-largest wellness market in the world. In particular, it highlights the increased interest in spa experiences and thermal bathing – up 16 per cent and 13 per cent respectively between 2020–2022 – which sit at the heart of our guest experience.

What can you tell me at this point about Therme South Korea?

It’s located in Incheon, within the Golden Harbor development, and has incredible connectivity to incoming visitors, as well as to the country as a whole. It sits adjacent to an international ferry terminal, is only 15 minutes from Incheon International Airport and just an hour from Seoul city centre by public transport.

South Korea has a rich and varied history in the wellbeing space. It’s renowned for its health-giving food and bathing traditions dating back to the 15th century, which have evolved from medicinal origins to contemporary bathhouses known as jjimjilbangs (see www.spabusiness.com/koreanwellness). We intend to reflect this local culture in our design, programming and restaurants.

It’s incredibly exciting to be introducing a natural-healing urban oasis to Korea, the likes of which has never been seen here before. On a personal note, I have a special interest in orchid gardens and am thrilled to showcase the best of Asian flowers to the world. We shouldn’t underestimate the wellbeing impact of immersing ourselves in nature.

How are you working with the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ)?

We’ve been working with IFEZ to identify the best location for a Therme project since signing a letter of cooperation in November 2022. The Golden Harbor site is the outcome of this and we recently welcomed the Mayor of Incheon, Yoo Jeong-bok, at Therme Bucharest. Our agreement will see project plans progressing throughout 2024 and an expected lease signing in 2025.

What are Therme Group’s plans in Asia?

Therme’s Incheon project is just the start of our plans and we’re investigating several opportunities both within South Korea and further afield. The strong history of bathing culture across Asia makes many markets appealing.

We’re investigating several opportunities in South Korea and further afield
Incorporating lush botanical gardens inside is a key design element at Therme / photo: shutterstock/DreamArchitect
Therme facilities can be a major driver for economic growth / photo: shutterstock/MIA Studio
PATRICIA POPESCU
Head of architecture, Therme ARC
photo: Therme Group
What is Therme ARC?

It’s Therme Group’s in-house architectural practice. Yet our role extends far beyond typical architectural functions; it’s diverse and multifaceted and involves collaborating with diverse stakeholders and experts.

We work directly with wellbeing researchers (see below), for instance, as well as artists, because art plays a role in enhancing cognitive wellbeing and creating immersive experiences for our guests. We work closely with specialists such as gardeners and tree experts to create environments that promote tranquillity and connection with nature.

We liaise with operational teams to understand guest behaviour and preferences, allowing us to continuously improve our facilities.

What’s Therme’s design philosophy?

It’s deeply rooted in promoting wellbeing across physical, cognitive, social and moral dimensions. Our approach is informed by extensive research being conducted in collaboration with the COGITO centre at the University of Glasgow, where we aim to translate scientific findings into myriad architectural features that enhance the wellbeing of our guests.

One key element is incorporating lush interior botanical gardens. These not only create a serene environment but also tap into the well-established psychological benefits of spending time in nature. High ceilings in our buildings create openness and connection to the surrounding landscape. This helps to foster a sense of freedom and the mental space for abstract thinking.

The predominant use of the colour blue throughout our facilities, from the pool water to the sky-inspired design elements, is deliberate. Blue has been shown to stimulate open, creative and innovative thinking, aligning with our goal of providing an environment conducive to relaxation and exploration. Contrastingly, we minimise colours like red, which promote detailed, critical thinking.

We prioritise physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices through thoughtful circulation design – discreetly positioning elevators and strategically placing stairs, for example. Furthermore, teaser views of attractions and art motivate guests to explore different areas.

How do you make each Therme location unique?

Our process begins with intensive collaboration with local communities to gain a deep understanding of their cultural heritage, myths, values, habits and perspectives on life and wellbeing.

We incorporate these insights, especially elements of cultural significance, into our designs. Whether this is through architectural motifs, choice of materials or building techniques, the food we offer or a specific selection of herbs used in saunas, we strive to create spaces that feel authentic and meaningful.

Ultimately, our goal is to not only offer places of relaxation and wellness but to create spaces that feel like an integral part of the community, fostering a sense of belonging and pride among residents.

What can you tell me about sustainable design at Therme Group?

Our priority is to ensure that our facilities are not only efficient and eco-friendly, but also contribute positively to the environment. From the design stage, we meticulously plan the placement of building components to optimise construction efficiency and minimise resource consumption.

We employ advanced techniques, such as computational fluid dynamics analysis, to optimise the shapes, materials and positions of our buildings. This allows us to understand temperature variations, airflow patterns and air speeds throughout the spaces, enabling us to design for energy efficiency and comfort.

From complex pool details and huge retractable roofs to unique pool filtration technology and automated tree care tailored specifically for our facilities, we prioritise durability, efficiency and guest satisfaction in all our engineering solutions.

What’s been your biggest design challenge?

It was understanding and envisioning the true magnitude of these facilities, which welcome millions of guests each year, many of whom spend an entire day within the space. On top of that is the need to create spaces that foster peace of mind, tranquillity, creativity, and community, all while accommodating the diverse needs and emotional states of each individual guest.

That’s where our extensive research comes into play and our multidisciplinary approach draws upon insights from philosophy, sociology, medicine, neuroscience, history, anthropology, and art.

Despite the complexity of these challenges, the most rewarding moment for me is witnessing the satisfaction of our guests as they check out at the end of their stay. Seeing the subtle smiles on their faces, indicative of the joy they’ve experienced, reaffirms the success of our design approach.

We translate scientific findings into myriad architectural features
Immersive art is central to the Therme experience / photo: Therme Group/ Arianne Amores
Advanced, cutting-edge design ensures efficiency and durability / photo: Therme Group
THERME GROUP PORTFOLIO
Operational

• Badeparadies Schwarzwald Titisee, Germany

• Therme Bucharest, Romania

• Thermen & Badewelt Euskirchen, Germany

• Thermen & Badewelt Sinsheim, Germany

In development

• Bad Vilbel, Frankfurt, Germany

• Incheon, South Korea

• Therme Canada, Ontario Place, North America

• Therme Manchester, UK

• Therme Scotland, UK

Proposed

• A flagship US site in Washington DC

• Additional sites in US, UK, mainland Europe and south east Asia

FEATURED SUPPLIERS

IDEA® Health & Fitness Association partners with CoverMe Fitness to deliver real-world solutions for fitness professionals across the globe
IDEA® Health & Fitness Association and CoverMe Fitness are proud to announce a strategic partnership to address some of the biggest challenges facing fitness professionals and the industry at large, which will launch at IDEA® World Convention in the US this week. [more...]

Advanced regeneration technology: enhance your skin's future with myLEDmask by myBlend
MyBlend’s innovative myLEDmask is the result of years of meticulous research and development in photobiomodulation, phototherapy and laser techniques by Dr Olivier Courtin and his team of experts. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. With the Indoor snow division, TechnoAlpin c [more...]
Iyashi Dome

Iyashi Dome offers three (with Oteire) infratherapy treatment devices – the Iyashi Dôme and the Iya [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

17-17 Jul 2024

UK Spa Association - Summer networking event

Pennyhill Park , Bagshot, United Kingdom
28-29 Jul 2024

Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Spa Conference 2024

Southern Sun Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa
+ More diary  
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
SPA BUSINESS
SPA OPPORTUNITIES
SPA BUSINESS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Products   Magazine   Subscribe
Top Team
Therme Group

With a mission to make wellness accessible to all, Therme Group is expanding globally, bringing its social spas to the US, Canada, the UK and South Korea. Jane Kitchen speaks to the people behind the brand


With its global headquarters in Vienna, Therme Group is part of A-Heat – a global firm specialising in heat exchange engineering. In partnership with Germany’s Wund Holding, it currently operates four facilities in Europe and intends to build at least six more globally (see p48). Its existing locations are a new kind of spa – part thermal bathing, part indoor water park, part botanical garden – that’s described as a “state-of-the-art wellbeing oasis”.

An oasis is definitely the vibe at Therme; the thousands of palm trees and balmy year-round temperatures make for a mini tropical staycation. One key to Therme’s success is that it makes wellness fun – an important differentiator. It’s also multigenerational, with adult-only zones to ensure tranquillity.

Therme builds its giant facilities around five pillars: Active & Fun, which includes waterslides, wave pools, fitness programming and indoor and outdoor beaches; Therapeutic Wellbeing, with mineral pools, saunas, aufguss sessions and spa therapies; Calm & Relaxing, featuring warm lagoons, swim-up bars and botanical gardens; Culture & Education, with musical entertainment, cultural programming and art installations; and Food & Nutrition, based on healthy cafes, cooking demonstrations and future plans for nutrition planning and on-site vertical farming.

Scale and technology help keep access affordable. Its Bucharest location is a sprawling 76,000sq m and entrance fees start at LEI59 (US$13, €12, £10) for a 3-hour weekday adult ticket. At these prices, it’s no wonder they attract both locals and tourists. In total, the facilities that are open have the capacity for more than 24,000 guests a day and aim to attract up to 1.5 million visitors each annually.

As Therme Group prepares to grow its business globally, we sat down with those heading up the expansion to find out what’s in store.

ROBERT HANEA
Founder, chair & CEO, Therme Group
photo: RJ Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images
How does Therme’s high-volume, low-cost model work?

Inclusivity is the new exclusivity. If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that social connection and human interaction enrich our lives. Therme is all about finding and creating community.

Our tiered and flexible pricing structure caters to a full spectrum of needs and occasions – be it a quick visit for a few hours or a full day with multiple therapies, activities and dining options.

There truly is no ‘typical’ Therme customer – our guests range from every age, background, socioeconomic bracket and more. Central to our ‘wellbeing for all’ promise are entry price points that offer exceptional value for money. We’re not free, but to put it into perspective, in Romania, the average entry price is €23 (US$25, £20) – and people stay 3-5 hours. We also look to work with local authorities to create subsidised rates for people in financially challenged situations.

We’re able to offer a high-quality product at an affordable price by combining scale with cutting-edge, sustainable technology. There’s very little waste at Therme. Everything from our water, electricity, heating and cooling is maximised to be as sustainable and efficient as possible. This saves resources and allows us to pass savings on to our guests.

Therme’s bold vision is of wellbeing as a fundamental human right, which serves as a foundation for successful communities. We see an optimistic future for cities as places of inclusive urban wellbeing, with Therme being a key ingredient to helping people live healthier and more sustainably.

We’ve already seen tremendous success in our impact in Germany and Romania, serving millions of guests who live in and visit the cities where we’re based. This work hasn’t been easy. A lot of it comes back to the Therme ecosystem. We draw together a vast variety of expertise to deliver large, complex projects that serve multiple needs – most others can’t replicate the unique formula we’ve developed.

What economic/social impact do your facilities have?

Our potential facility in Washington DC, US, which we’re actively pursuing, would be a major driver for economic growth, bringing up to 7,200 construction jobs over two years, 700-800 permanent operations jobs upon facility stabilisation and an estimated US$1.1 billion (€1.01 billion, £864 million) in tax flow over 25 years.

Project figures for our site being developed in Manchester, UK are similarly impressive. Independent studies estimate that the increased wellness will equate to 1 million fewer days of hospital admissions a year, saving the national health service £973 million (US$1.2 billion, €1.1 billion); and 4.1 million fewer sick days, which has a value of £404 million (US$512.4 million, €474 million) to the UK economy.

What’s your strategy for getting facilities to market?

Firstly, we have a dedicated division, Therme XPR, which conducts extensive primary research in target markets.

We’re focused on cultivating deep relationships with local leaders, institutions and communities. Therme is about bringing people together in a shared space and we can’t do that if we aren’t working with local communities to deliver an experience that is authentic to the place. The process varies from location to location, as do the stakeholders, but we don’t cut corners. This is an in-depth process that can take years.

Therme is focused on a lifetime commitment to the cities we’re located in. Our facilities are built to last for a hundred years, and we want to engage with the community not just to get the project built, but for the whole lifespan of the Therme.

Tell us more about the Therme company ecosystem

We have almost a dozen specialist companies under the Therme banner, along with all of our other associated projects and partnerships.

In the UK, for example, Therme Group and the University of Surrey have partnered on the Carbon Tokenomics Model (CTM) – we’re working to identify solutions that the tourism industry can employ to reduce carbon emissions and have just had a paper published*. Tourism is so important for many communities, but we know that long-distance travel takes a toll on the environment.

In addition, immersive art is central to the Therme experience and we’re constantly collaborating with artists such as Superblue (see www.attractionsmanagement.com/superblue) and Marshmallow Laser Feast (see p124).

What research projects are you funding?

We’re funding two active projects. The first is the one with the University of Surrey.

We’ve also partnered with the COGITO Epistemology Research Centre at the University of Glasgow in the UK, on the Dimensions of Wellbeing Project. The project seeks to integrate and develop our understanding of the nature of wellbeing across cognitive, emotional, social, and physical axes.

Inclusivity is the new exclusivity ... our price points offer exceptional value for money
What are some of Therme’s greatest tech innovations?

Natural thermal waters combined with geothermal energy are key to our current product, but we’re developing ways to keep our process efficient when geothermal isn’t available. Our heat exchange technology is world-leading and allows us to maintain water temperature using minimal energy, in a sustainable way.

Overall, sustainable energy usage is central to all our innovations. Therme Bucharest is the first LEED Platinum facility in the world of its scale and is proof of our commitment to sustainability.

We also employ other technology, such as cutting-edge, compact wave-making machines and complex tree management systems. Therme Bucharest’s retractable roof – which opens to provide natural ventilation – is one of the largest in the world.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

We’ve worked hard to communicate that Therme is more than just a ‘waterpark’ or a ‘spa’ – because it’s almost indescribable if you haven’t experienced it for yourself: a full, multisensory and immersive offering. We’ve had to completely change the global perception of what wellness facilities are and can be. And because there’s nothing else like Therme out there, how do you explain something to people that they don’t believe can exist?

Our facilities are more than just leisure, there’s also the work of supporting mental and physical health and building sustainable communities focused on wellness. That is not an easy task, but we’ve been overcoming the challenges with a steadfast commitment to our values. And the more markets we enter, the more people will get to experience it for themselves.

*Goean, ER et al. Using the Blockchain to Reduce Carbon Emissions in the Visitor Economy. Sustainability. May 2024

These are large, complex projects – most others can’t replicate our unique formula
Scale and volume: Therme Bucharest covers 76,000sq m and can fit in 8,000-plus guests a day / hoto: Therme Group
Average entry costs €23 and people stay 3-5 hours / photo: Therme Group
Guests range from every age, background and socioeconomic bracket / photo: Therme Group
Projects, such as Therme Canada, can take years to come to fruition
ROBERT HAMMOND
President & chief strategy officer, Therme Group US
photo: Therme Group
What does Therme’s expansion in the us look like?

We want to be in important east and west coast cities, but our product will work great in any metropolitan area. Our locations will be about 500,000sq ft and we need 4-5 million people within a 2-hour drive.

The greatest demand will be in the middle of cities and that’s also what differentiates us. There’s a desire for developers to bring people back downtown, so there’s a lot of spin-off if we can bring 1-2 million people to a site. From a civic point of view, this is also what cities need more of – there’s a wellbeing desert for accessible, central options.

We’re searching for a location in Washington DC and looking at Atlanta, Los Angeles and Dallas. Because commercial real estate has been hit by the decline of office workers, there may be opportunities in San Francisco and New York now as well.

These locations and facilities are difficult to bring to market. Finding the property and going through zoning is very time-consuming. They’re expensive, complicated engineering projects so having a 20-year track record and in-house expertise – Therme ARC (see p50) and a team of engineers in Germany – means we can move forward very quickly once we find a site. And they’re very profitable once they’re open.

Why does The mass market make good business sense?

There are a lot of people chasing those same luxury customers. I’m not as worried about their wellbeing. They’ve got a lot of choices and their health outcomes aren’t that bad to begin with. It’s the middle of the market – not just in America – that doesn’t have affordable options. It’s a huge market that’s not been tapped.

People think people without money aren’t willing to spend money on their health. I hear that a lot. But just because you can’t afford a US$400 (€369, £314) 60-minute massage, it doesn’t mean you’re not interested in it, or that you wouldn’t spend US$50 (€46, £39).

Why do people visit a Therme location?

Interestingly, when we ask people, they don’t say wellbeing – even though the thermal pools, saunas, heat and contrast therapy are so good for you. They’re coming because it’s fun and they want to connect with nature, family and friends. To me, the social element is the biggest benefit and only 10 per cent of people come to our facilities alone. We didn’t invent this. Most cultures have a bathing tradition which was as much about forming societal bonds as it was about health.

Who do you anticipate will go to a Therme in the US?

It’s an intergenerational experience. In Europe, our makeup is 38 per cent families, 31 per cent couples and 20 per cent groups that are not families. Sixty per cent of them are adults, 30 per cent are children, 13 per cent are seniors. It’s designed as a destination for travellers as well as for locals, which is another important distinction. In Bucharest, over 60 per cent of residents have visited Therme.

Generally, it’s older people in the morning, families in the afternoon and young people at night. So we’re busy from 7am till midnight and ages range from several months to people in their 90s. From a socioeconomic standpoint, it’s also very broad. We’re still working on the US pricing, but it will be much cheaper than a concert ticket.

The US does not have this product right now. The good news is we have every segment of it: waterparks, pools, bathhouses, attractions, food destinations. We’re really combining an indoor botanical garden, a water park, a pool and a bathhouse at scale and at a greater quality.

I think of it as a wellbeing Disney World. But when you leave a theme park, you are exhausted, your chemistry has been manipulated with caffeine, sugar and adrenaline and your kids are crying. When you leave Therme, you feel relaxed and rejuvenated – better than when you came in. Having these kinds of experiences is so important.

It’s the middle market that doesn’t have affordable options
There’s a wellbeing desert for accessible, central options in cities, says Hammond / photo: Therme Group
The proposed development in Washington DC / photo: Therme Group
KIM INSOOK
Head of development, Therme Group Korea
photo: Therme Group
Why choose South Korea for Therme’s Asian expansion?

Our research partnership with the Global Wellness Institute shows the wellness economy in South Korea is worth US$113 billion, making it the ninth-largest wellness market in the world. In particular, it highlights the increased interest in spa experiences and thermal bathing – up 16 per cent and 13 per cent respectively between 2020–2022 – which sit at the heart of our guest experience.

What can you tell me at this point about Therme South Korea?

It’s located in Incheon, within the Golden Harbor development, and has incredible connectivity to incoming visitors, as well as to the country as a whole. It sits adjacent to an international ferry terminal, is only 15 minutes from Incheon International Airport and just an hour from Seoul city centre by public transport.

South Korea has a rich and varied history in the wellbeing space. It’s renowned for its health-giving food and bathing traditions dating back to the 15th century, which have evolved from medicinal origins to contemporary bathhouses known as jjimjilbangs (see www.spabusiness.com/koreanwellness). We intend to reflect this local culture in our design, programming and restaurants.

It’s incredibly exciting to be introducing a natural-healing urban oasis to Korea, the likes of which has never been seen here before. On a personal note, I have a special interest in orchid gardens and am thrilled to showcase the best of Asian flowers to the world. We shouldn’t underestimate the wellbeing impact of immersing ourselves in nature.

How are you working with the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ)?

We’ve been working with IFEZ to identify the best location for a Therme project since signing a letter of cooperation in November 2022. The Golden Harbor site is the outcome of this and we recently welcomed the Mayor of Incheon, Yoo Jeong-bok, at Therme Bucharest. Our agreement will see project plans progressing throughout 2024 and an expected lease signing in 2025.

What are Therme Group’s plans in Asia?

Therme’s Incheon project is just the start of our plans and we’re investigating several opportunities both within South Korea and further afield. The strong history of bathing culture across Asia makes many markets appealing.

We’re investigating several opportunities in South Korea and further afield
Incorporating lush botanical gardens inside is a key design element at Therme / photo: shutterstock/DreamArchitect
Therme facilities can be a major driver for economic growth / photo: shutterstock/MIA Studio
PATRICIA POPESCU
Head of architecture, Therme ARC
photo: Therme Group
What is Therme ARC?

It’s Therme Group’s in-house architectural practice. Yet our role extends far beyond typical architectural functions; it’s diverse and multifaceted and involves collaborating with diverse stakeholders and experts.

We work directly with wellbeing researchers (see below), for instance, as well as artists, because art plays a role in enhancing cognitive wellbeing and creating immersive experiences for our guests. We work closely with specialists such as gardeners and tree experts to create environments that promote tranquillity and connection with nature.

We liaise with operational teams to understand guest behaviour and preferences, allowing us to continuously improve our facilities.

What’s Therme’s design philosophy?

It’s deeply rooted in promoting wellbeing across physical, cognitive, social and moral dimensions. Our approach is informed by extensive research being conducted in collaboration with the COGITO centre at the University of Glasgow, where we aim to translate scientific findings into myriad architectural features that enhance the wellbeing of our guests.

One key element is incorporating lush interior botanical gardens. These not only create a serene environment but also tap into the well-established psychological benefits of spending time in nature. High ceilings in our buildings create openness and connection to the surrounding landscape. This helps to foster a sense of freedom and the mental space for abstract thinking.

The predominant use of the colour blue throughout our facilities, from the pool water to the sky-inspired design elements, is deliberate. Blue has been shown to stimulate open, creative and innovative thinking, aligning with our goal of providing an environment conducive to relaxation and exploration. Contrastingly, we minimise colours like red, which promote detailed, critical thinking.

We prioritise physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices through thoughtful circulation design – discreetly positioning elevators and strategically placing stairs, for example. Furthermore, teaser views of attractions and art motivate guests to explore different areas.

How do you make each Therme location unique?

Our process begins with intensive collaboration with local communities to gain a deep understanding of their cultural heritage, myths, values, habits and perspectives on life and wellbeing.

We incorporate these insights, especially elements of cultural significance, into our designs. Whether this is through architectural motifs, choice of materials or building techniques, the food we offer or a specific selection of herbs used in saunas, we strive to create spaces that feel authentic and meaningful.

Ultimately, our goal is to not only offer places of relaxation and wellness but to create spaces that feel like an integral part of the community, fostering a sense of belonging and pride among residents.

What can you tell me about sustainable design at Therme Group?

Our priority is to ensure that our facilities are not only efficient and eco-friendly, but also contribute positively to the environment. From the design stage, we meticulously plan the placement of building components to optimise construction efficiency and minimise resource consumption.

We employ advanced techniques, such as computational fluid dynamics analysis, to optimise the shapes, materials and positions of our buildings. This allows us to understand temperature variations, airflow patterns and air speeds throughout the spaces, enabling us to design for energy efficiency and comfort.

From complex pool details and huge retractable roofs to unique pool filtration technology and automated tree care tailored specifically for our facilities, we prioritise durability, efficiency and guest satisfaction in all our engineering solutions.

What’s been your biggest design challenge?

It was understanding and envisioning the true magnitude of these facilities, which welcome millions of guests each year, many of whom spend an entire day within the space. On top of that is the need to create spaces that foster peace of mind, tranquillity, creativity, and community, all while accommodating the diverse needs and emotional states of each individual guest.

That’s where our extensive research comes into play and our multidisciplinary approach draws upon insights from philosophy, sociology, medicine, neuroscience, history, anthropology, and art.

Despite the complexity of these challenges, the most rewarding moment for me is witnessing the satisfaction of our guests as they check out at the end of their stay. Seeing the subtle smiles on their faces, indicative of the joy they’ve experienced, reaffirms the success of our design approach.

We translate scientific findings into myriad architectural features
Immersive art is central to the Therme experience / photo: Therme Group/ Arianne Amores
Advanced, cutting-edge design ensures efficiency and durability / photo: Therme Group
THERME GROUP PORTFOLIO
Operational

• Badeparadies Schwarzwald Titisee, Germany

• Therme Bucharest, Romania

• Thermen & Badewelt Euskirchen, Germany

• Thermen & Badewelt Sinsheim, Germany

In development

• Bad Vilbel, Frankfurt, Germany

• Incheon, South Korea

• Therme Canada, Ontario Place, North America

• Therme Manchester, UK

• Therme Scotland, UK

Proposed

• A flagship US site in Washington DC

• Additional sites in US, UK, mainland Europe and south east Asia

LATEST NEWS
Rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson joins the speaker lineup at the HCM Summit to share insights into his journey to health and wellbeing
Rugby legend, Jonny Wilkinson has been announced as a keynote speakers for the HCM Summit on 24 October in London.
Woodland Spa to double footprint with £16m revamp, set to complete in August
The Woodland Spa, a premier UK day spa located in Burnley, Lancashire, is set to unveil the results of its £16 million (US$20.5 million, €18.9 million) transformation this August.
Therme creating ‘natural-healing urban oasis’ in South Korea, eyes further locations in Asia and US
Global wellbeing organisation Therme Group is on a mission to make wellness accessible to all and is expanding globally, bringing its social spas to the US, Canada, the UK and now South Korea.
Prime IV Hydration & Wellness unveils Nashville location amid plans for 97 new franchise spas this year
Nutrient vitamin IV therapy franchise, Prime IV Hydration & Wellness, is accelerating its expansion across the US, having recently launched its third location in Nashville's Green Hills area.
Third Space is on a roll with the second of three 2024 club launches
Third Space is celebrating the launch of its 11th club in London at the historic Battersea Power Station development.
SwellSpa taps AI to deliver nature-based sound therapy for spa treatment rooms
Sound wellness company Swell has launched AI-generated music solutions for spas and hotels, scientifically proven to improve wellbeing.
Elaine Jobson, CEO of Jetts, publishes high performance management book
Happy staff make more profitable businesses is the message of Jetts CEO, Elaine Jobson’s new book High Performance through Happy People.
Restorative wellness retreat opens at Grand Hotel Son Net in foothills of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountain region
Grand Hotel Son Net – a stylish, art-filled Mallorcan boutique hotel – has launched a brand-new spa and wellness area, after reopening in 2023.
GWI publishes Wellness Policy Toolkit to help address global mental health crisis
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has released a new report emphasising the critical role of mental wellness in supporting overall mental health.
Submersive's psychedelic bathhouse concept fusing wellness, art and tech to arrive in 2026
In 2026, the traditional bathhouse experience will get a futuristic twist with the arrival of Submersive – an innovative concept combining classical spa therapies with art, AI technology and multimedia effects.
Fountain Life to operate Sbe's flagship 'six-star longevity centre' opening in LA later this year
Lifestyle hospitality company Sbe is branching into longevity and wellness with a new brand of properties – the first of which will open in LA’s Century Plaza development by the end of 2024.
Walking 10,000 steps daily confirmed to reduce health risks of inactivity, say Australian scientists
A new study by the University of Sydney is one of the first to objectively measure whether daily steps can offset the health risks of sedentary behaviour.
+ More news   
 
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

IDEA® Health & Fitness Association partners with CoverMe Fitness to deliver real-world solutions for fitness professionals across the globe
IDEA® Health & Fitness Association and CoverMe Fitness are proud to announce a strategic partnership to address some of the biggest challenges facing fitness professionals and the industry at large, which will launch at IDEA® World Convention in the US this week. [more...]

Advanced regeneration technology: enhance your skin's future with myLEDmask by myBlend
MyBlend’s innovative myLEDmask is the result of years of meticulous research and development in photobiomodulation, phototherapy and laser techniques by Dr Olivier Courtin and his team of experts. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. With the Indoor snow division, TechnoAlpin c [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

17-17 Jul 2024

UK Spa Association - Summer networking event

Pennyhill Park , Bagshot, United Kingdom
28-29 Jul 2024

Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Spa Conference 2024

Southern Sun Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS