Unlike boutique wellness studios offering infrared saunas, emerging bathhouse brands are centered on the communal aspect
The age of wellness is here, with consumers spending hard-earned dollars and time on methods to feel their best. Whether it’s heated saunas or dunking in a cold plunge in the name of holistic wellness, bathhouses are experiencing a renaissance — and could very well become the next hottest franchise opportunity.
Steeped in ancient traditions across various cultures for both religious significance and leisure, bathhouse studios are trending in major cities in North America, serving as a modern-day method for those looking to unwind, detox and connect.
The Modern Bathhouse Experience
One such concept, Sauna House, is promoting a “digital detox” within the walls of its growing communal bathing franchise, which has sold ten locations in markets such as North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Colorado, with plans to close an additional twelve locations by the end of the year.
What Sauna House offers isn’t merely a place but a movement, said CEO and founder Andrew Lachlan.
“We are committed to building healing sanctuaries that transcend generations, promoting well-being in both body and spirit,” Lachlan said of Sauna House, which announced upcoming bathhouse studios in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina.
The franchise features a ‘Hot-Cold-Relax’ circuit that is device-free and touts a whole-body contrast therapy within an environment engulfed in sleek architecture. Sauna House offers guests a hot sauna session, followed by a cold shower and plunge, and then a chance to return to the warmth of a sauna to deepen into relaxation. Drinks such as tea, adaptogenic sparkling water or kombucha are also available to complement the wellness experience.
Bathhouse, serving New York City’s Flatiron, Manhattan, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhoods, provides guests an “oasis to be fundamentally human” with massages and exfoliating and moisturizing Hammam scrub treatments — all the while mining Bitcoin.
Like Sauna House, NYC’s Bathhouse encourages guests to rotate between the extreme temperatures of its thermal pools (cold plunge, hot pool and thermoneutral), saunas (dry and tropical), steam room and heated marble hammams. Guests also have access to an on-site restaurant serving cocktails, breakfast and dinner.
Soon joining Bathhouse’s area is Othership, an immersive sauna and ice bath experience. Branching out from Ontario, Canada, the bathhouse brand is slated to launch in Flatiron and Williamsburg in Q2. Its CEO, Robbie Bent, sees massive potential for the brand, telling HCM that he intends to open Othership locations in every city in North America, and is eyeing Boston, Chicago, Miami and Washington in particular.
While Othership offers a traditional circuit, the concept provides a variety of sessions based on needs and moods for its “journeyers.” A free-flow session allows guests to do their own thing with a chance to socialize with others, while a quieter free-flow offers minimal interaction and a relaxing playlist. An evening social session offers a two-hour sober-curious gathering, allowing guests to connect with friends, both new and old.
Leaning Into Socialization
Unlike boutique wellness studios offering infrared saunas, the emerging bathhouse brands are centered on the communal aspect while still allowing clients to relax privately. For example, Sauna House provides a public option with private hot-cold-relax rooms also available.
Offering a healing space that promotes wellness as well as connection can have important benefits, with the CDC finding that social connectedness can result in overall well-being and longevity.
Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.