World Sauna Jouney | 世界サウナ旅 by METOS | Baden-Baden, a bathing center and a resort city with a long history
18210
page,page-id-18210,page-template,page-template-full_width-php,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.3.4,vc_responsive

Sho Yoshinaga Report
A trip to get to know the present German sauna culture

A bathing center and a resort city with a long history

Baden-Baden

@Baden-Baden, Germany

IMG_3815

Guten tag! I am Sho Yoshinaga.
I’m going to report on the bathing conditions in Germany, which I visited in summer 2016. This report is in two parts: the first is the introduction of the resort city of Baden-Baden, a city one has to mention if he is talking about German bathing culture.

I’m also going to report about my visit to a bathing facility and interview the manager!

Summer resort townscape, quite similar to Karuizawa, Japan. Open terrace cafés are inviting you to come in.

On Germany and Baden-Baden

The Federal republic of Germany is a country in Central Europe. Germany reaches from the Alps mountain range intersecting the North European Plain. This country looking onto the Northern Sea and the Baltic Sea is the 7 th largest country in Europe (the population is the 2 nd largest).

The place we visited this time, Baden-Baden, is an independent city located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany. Baden-Baden is on the northern side of Schwartzwald (the black forest), the distance to Frankfurt airport is 160 kilometers and to Stuttgart airport 60 kilometers.

Baden-Baden has been known as a spa and health resort since ancient times but was once destroyed into ruins in a war in the 17 th century. As the 19 th century gave birth to a better transportation network and improved accommodation, Baden-Baden started to attract a large number of tourists (especially the royal nobility and culture persons) and rose to a world fame as a high-class spa and health resort.

By the way,“baden” means “hot spring” or “bath”. As the name implies, the main tourist attraction of the city are bathing facilities, but Baden-Baden has also many more highlights, such as Baden-Baden Casino which Marlene Dietrich praised to be “the most beautiful casino in the world“; the marvelous Kurhaus resort & casino; the second largest opera house in Europe; ancient castle and a ruins of a Roman bath house; art museum etc. The surrounding beautiful nature makes it a health resort to spend wonderful time in for all.

Enjoying revival the elegant way Friedrichsbad

In Baden-Baden we visited two facilities this city is very proud of, Friedrichsbad and the Caracalla thermae.

The first place to visit was Friedrichsbad Baden-Baden. It is a Renaissance style facility on a site of a Roman bath house, built about 140 years ago. In Friedrichsbad, the visitors can enjoy a traditional bathing program that has been done there since the founding of the establishment. This program has roughly 17 pre-determined steps that last pre-determined time. It came to unite the Roman bathing, in which one goes through various temperature zones and baths and the Irish bathing in which one can enjoy a hot air bath.

In order one moves forward from shower to low-temperature sauna (54 degrees Celsius), mid-temperature sauna (68 degrees Celsius), again shower, massage (optional) … and little by little the level on relaxation starts to raise. Mark Twain, a famous person of culture who once visited Baden-Baden, wrote: “after 10 minutes you forget time, after 20 minutes the world”.

The time required to complete this program – the optional steps and the relaxation time after the program included – is certainly not less than 3 hours. This may seem a long time but many people come here expressly to feel the euphoria that follows.

We were a little short of time so we had to pinch time on few steps of the program to make our stay a bit shorter but even so, the relaxation we all felt afterwards inside this beautiful and serene hall was quite something.

By the way, most of the steps of this program are done in separate rooms for males and females, but there is one Roman-Irish pool in the center of the building that is mixed bath for both sexes (the marble pool and the arch ceiling are magnificent!). I heard that if couples are visiting this place, they often meet and spend their relaxation time in here together.

hintergrund-friedrichsbad-03-hi

The world-famous Caracalla Therme

The place to be visited next was Caracalla Therme (Caracalla spa). Caracalla Therme is right adjacent to the Friedrichsbad. If Friedrichsbad is “The place for revival”, a calming bathing facility with an ancient Roma theme, Caracalla Therme is “The place for leisure”, a facility to enjoy sauna bathing and swimming pools. Casual yet genuine spa facility (of over 4000 ㎡ of space!) is being visited by people from all over the world. In fact, there are quite a few bathing facilities that have drawn inspiration from Caracalla Therme in Japan too.

This modern and beautiful facility with charming facade is divided into two parts: Baden zone (swimming suit required) in the 1 st floor and sauna zone (mixed bath, no swimming suits allowed) in the 2nd floor.

The Baden zone with its impressive dome ceiling is filled with natural light and a sense of openness. Besides the biggest hot spring pool in Europe, it has a full set of a cave bath with a waterfall showers, aroma steam bath etc.; Also, open air pools, Jacuzzis, all comfortably at one’s disposal.

In the sauna zone one has at his disposal 8 different kinds of indoor and outdoor saunas, including: a spectrum sauna, that combines the effects of light, sound and scents; aroma steam sauna; mountain hut sauna etc. Aufguss (literal translation: infusion), sauna entertainment originating from Germany, is conducted every one or two hours to entertain “sauna beginners” as well as seasoned saunners (sauna fans) from all over the world.

Furthermore, a complete nudity and mixed bathing are a standard in German sauna. For the Japanese women, this might be somewhat distressing. But we’d like to encourage those with an open mind to try this out, and we’re quite positive that it will prove to be a valuable and rich experience. And of course, there is also “a ladies’ day” on Wednesdays when one sauna room is in exclusive use for females.

hintergrund-caracalla-11-hi

Regarding the recognition system Wellness Star and the change in customer base

When we were visiting the Caracalla Therme, we were lucky to meet the manager of the place, Haman-san. He was glad to hear that we were from Japan since he had seen the movie “Thermae Romae”, and kindly stayed to share his views with us.

We were surprised to hear that Friedrichsbad and Caracalla Therme are ”sibling facilities” managed by the same company. Besides that, Haman-san told us so:

“Both facilities will run about a four-year interval after which they are remodeled and improved”

”Both facilities have been recognized by Wellness Star. Wellness Star is a recognition system targeting on hotel spas and health resort facilities. This system started about ten years ago and a German private organization does the recognition. It could be compared to the Michelin guide: It rewards the facility that fulfills the required standards with maximum fife stars and introduces the facility on their webpage”.

The time was again running out on us but this was a conversation through which I could sense the German mindset to keep creating some extra value by various new means.

Lastly, when I mentioned Haman-san that my impression when I visited Caracalla Therme ten years ago, was that the majority of the customers were seniors, he replied: “Lately the customer base has changed, and the number of young customers (over 18 years of age) is rising”. I didn’t have the time to engage in a conversation on the reason behind it, but I could sense his anticipation that depending on the efforts of the facilities and the people, the possibilities will keep growing.

IMG_3880
IMG_3891
IMG_3895

Defining individuality, efforts to give the service extra value

The fascination of Friedrichsbad and Caracalla Therme is their clear allotment of roles. The respective 「cores」of these roles are “Revival” and “Leisure” in a historical background and lovely atmosphere. Surely you’ll agree if I say that their 「cores」are the very reason why these two magnificent facilities have survived in an area that is teaming with competition.

 

Of course, one can’t overlook the importance of the Wellness Star system either. This system that brings forth the features and the charm of the facilities individually has merit for the visitors and the facilities alike. At the same time, I sensed that the system succeeds in raising the value of each facility.

 

What can the facilities do for themselves; what can the industry do? These were the points this stimulating visit made me to reflect on.

showyoshinaga

Profile: Show Yoshinaga

 

Born in Fukuoka prefecture. Member of the board of Metos Inc. Full name: Shoichirou Yoshinaga.

Studied the importance of coexistence of man and nature as a boy scout in his youth. Worked as a mechanic in the air force of the Japanese Self-defense Forces, had often sauna together with his colleagues, which gave impetus for understanding the charm of sauna. After the air force, worked in apparel industry and interior lighting industry, came to work for Metos Inc. With the imagination and vigor gathered from various fields and using the vast amount of know-how of former Nakayama-Sangyou (Metos Inc. previous name), his goal is to activate the Japanese bathing culture. In order to throw some löyly into Japanese saunas, he has spread to Japan previously unknown sauna heaters, such as Iki-sauna and Sauna-isness (heaters which are löyly-durable), outdoors sauna experience enabling tent sauna etc. In the near future,

he is going to research and advocate new ways to enjoy sauna which combine sauna and entertainment, such as his project “Löyly Heatwave Forces”, sauna yoga and much more.

hintergrund-caracalla-11-hi

Caracalla Therme

 

<Address>Römerpl. 1, 76530 Baden-Baden, Germany

<TEL> +49 7221 275940

<Access> About 10 minutes by bus from Baden-Baden station, get off the bus on Leopoldsplatz; from Leopoldsplatz, about 5 minutes’ walk.

<URL> http://www.carasana.de/en/caracalla-spa/home/

スクリーンショット 2016-09-02 16.27.42

Baden-Baden Tourist Information

 

<URL> http://www.baden-baden.de/en/tourist-information/