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Beginner’s guide to thermal suites

The perfect way to extend a spa treatment is to explore a thermal suite, but what is it really all about?

whittlebury thermal suite

A thermal experience can seem like such a regularly discussed part of the spa experience that it isn't always talked about enough in its own right. A great way to prepare for a massage or facial, but also with many therapeutic benefits in its own right, even some fairly seasoned spa goers don't always know the best way to make the most out of a thermal suite, so we asked the spa gurus at Whittlebury Hall to explain …

What’s the point of a thermal suite?

A thermal suite is where you go through lots of different temperature changes to open the pores and encourage perspiration. There are therapeutic effects from perspiration and it’s a routine people have been doing for thousands of years to boost the body’s natural defences and relieve stress, coughs and colds. It cleans and rejuvenates the skin, boosts skin cells and promotes healthy cells.

What does a thermal suite involve?

The caldarium

The caldarium provides an even heat that stimulates the circulation and regenerates the body’s natural energy. This effect has often been regarded as having healing benefits causing tense muscles to relax, making the skin smoother, and easing joint pain.

Salt steam and crystal steam baths

Salt steam and crystal steam baths are beneficial for the respiratory system and for rheumatic complaints. The salt steam has the added benefit of a salt water atmosphere, which is great for cleansing and toning the skin and stimulating the circulation.

The sanarium

The sanarium is an ideal way to recharge your batteries. The unique blend of heat followed by a stimulating shower boosts the body’s natural defences and promotes the circulation, shifting your metabolism up a gear. A Sanarium bath also cleanses the skin and tones the body tissue.


Saunas are known to reduce incidence of the common cold and temporarily relieve symptoms and reduce stress levels. They help to clean and rejuvenate the skin, eliminating dead skin cells, exposing new, fresh, clean, healthy cells.

The ice cave

The ice cave is a great place to cool off after your sanarium or sauna. Grab a few ladlefuls of ice and rub it over the skin to provide instant cooling. Mix in a cold shower in the ice cave and you will have truly cooled down, contracting your blood vessels, stimulating your circulation and oxygen intake at the same time.

Dos and don’ts in a thermal suite

  • Always start with a thorough shower, removing all make-up, deodorants and perfumes and then dry thoroughly. A warm foot bath will open the blood vessels and promote circulation.
  • Apply ice in circular motions to the thighs and abdomen area to improve tone and the appearance of cellulite.
  • The caldarium is your main starting point as this is a lower temperature than the other rooms and is often used as a warm up for the other units.
  • After the caldarium, you can go either into the sauna or the sanarium, dependant on heat preference.
  • After a treatment in each unit, it is important that you cool down (showers and ice cave) and relax (warm benches, bathing, tepidariums or even back in the caldarium) for at least 20 minutes. You can then repeat this cycle two or three times (in the sauna or sanarium).
  • Afterwards, you should move on to the steam bath and repeat the same cycle of bathing, cooling and unwinding.
  • Before getting dressed and leaving, it is important to cool off properly (putting clothes on straight away could make you feel a little unwell). It is important that you drink plenty of water or fruit juice throughout the day to aid rehydration.
  • Do ensure you have eaten at least two hours before entering a thermal experience and drink plenty of water before, during and after.
  • Do ensure you allow yourself regular breaks from the hot experiences to get fresh air. Do not spend too long in a hot room.
  • Do wear swimwear while enjoying the experiences and ensure you remove all jewellery.
  • Afterwards, a scrub treatment is good to promote healthy fresh skin cells.
  • Don’t go in if you haven’t eaten or drunk anything that day or more than three hours beforehand.
  • Speak to a therapist about any medical concerns - seek advice before entering.
macdonald marine

Five of the top thermal suites

Whittlebury Hall: perfect for groups, with lots of space enjoy the thermal suite and treatments by day and a tribute act by night.

Book a spa break at Whittlebury Hall

Hoar Cross Hall: wear your robe all day and enjoy the perfection of five star surroundings.

Book a spa break at Hoar Cross Hall

Lion Quays: on the banks of the canal Lion Quays is about tranquil surroundings and rural romance.

Book a spa break at Lion Quays
The Belfry

The Belfry: with an on-site nightclub and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, The Belfry is the perfect spa venue for groups of friends.

Book a spa break at The Belfry

Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa: the ultimate in luxury, Pennyhill Park is the perfect place for a romantic getaway or somewhere to chatter with friends all day.

Book a spa break at Pennyhill Park

Macdonald Marine: turn this one into a proper weekend mini break, and take some time to explore the scenery around you as well!

Book a spa break at Macdonald Marine

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