by Ben Reeves
Soi Wat Boon Kanjana, Jomtien
Open: 9am - 9pm
Tel: 08 3743 1817
Refreshments: On-site restaurant
It may perhaps seem like a bizarre desire, when one lives in Thailand, to want to sit in a room specifically designed to increase the humidity and heat of an already hot and sticky atmosphere. However, the health benefits of sauna - Finland’s finest export - are many and varied. Done properly, you can literally sweat the weight off as well as improving your immune, nervous and circulatory systems.
The problem is finding somewhere which will do it properly. This is more of a challenge than you might expect. The owner and manager of Jomtien Sauna is a 20-year veteran of steam rooms, visiting them on a daily basis to keep him fit. However, having lived in Pattaya since 1998, he became frustrated at the lack of high quality facilities. So he opened his own.
Common problems with saunas, particularly in Asia, stem from poor construction quality. Many use plastics and concrete or cheap wood from China, which is riddled with chemicals. Far from detoxifying the user, these materials are likely to do more harm than good. Instead, proper Finnish wood needs to be used as it has a natural antibacterial action which prevents deterioration and disease.
Jomtien Sauna uses this Finnish wood - quite a lot of it, given that the sauna is 25 sqm in size - as well as imported, heaters, stones and automated control mechanisms. This ensures that the temperature and humidity are always exactly right. Every aspect of the sauna and its associated facilities are meticulously cleaned and maintained on a daily basis. There can be no greater quality assurance than seeing the owner happily using his own facilities alongside his customers. Being a friendly Italian, he is also happy to help those new to the experience.
The sauna is only one part of this extremely health-oriented place. For the maximum impact, customers are advised to first build up a sweat on the three top-quality, fully-functional cardiovascular exercise machines (a treadmill, an exercise bike and a rowing machine). After being steamed like a dumpling, the next step is to quickly shower off the sweat before plunging into the cold pool. The sudden drop in temperature not only takes the breath away, it helps to maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, amongst other benefits.
After that, why not swim a few laps of the pool? Don’t worry about getting the water in your eyes - it uses the latest antibacterial technology which does not include chlorine. The ph is so low that it is actually safe to drink! While you will doubtless develop a thirst throughout the day, the management would prefer if you took advantage of the free and limitless supply of ice cold water provided in jugs on your table.
Between staying hydrated, how about something to eat? The focus of the food is again on health, but in an enjoyable way. Most of the dishes available are Thai, but the ingredients are mostly imported to maximise their quality.
Given the slightly out-of-the-way location off Soi Wat Boon, there is little in the way of ambient sound, making for a very relaxed environment. This is amplified by the friendly staff and the generally social and communal feeling provided by the regular patrons. If you want to take the relaxation one step further, a proper massage service is available. Convenience is paramount and wireless internet, power points for electrical devices and clean towels are all available for general use.
The charges are quite low for this extraordinary range of facilities, particularly if make a day of it. If you want to make a year of it, though, it is possible to get a membership which will average out the cost to just 40 baht per day.