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Massage Today
July, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 07

Extremely Vichy

By John Fanuzzi

I just finished reading an article in USA Today about the recent debut of the world's tallest roller coaster. This modern marvel is over 400 feet tall and travels at speeds up to 120 miles per hour.

The creation of this spectacular "extreme" machine transformed a once-average theme park in Sandusky, Ohio into a national attraction.

It made me wonder what would constitute today's "ultimate" spa treatment. It would probably involve a lot of water pressure and a combination of hot, warm and cold temperatures. A simple, hot shower may be fine for most people - just as the standard 100-foot high, 50-mph roller coaster might provide a sufficient thrill for most "kids"; but the ultimate spa treatment would involve water, and lots of it.

About eight years ago, I built a wet room with a Vichy shower in a day spa in Bozeman, Mont. I chose the top-of-the-line Reid system because of its high performance nozzles and its Scotts' fire-hose sprayer. It was a little before its time; many spa-goers were unaware of what treatment they'd receive in addition to, or in place of, a relaxing massage. The local therapists and employees were surprised to discover they'd have to don raingear - bathing suits and clogs - just to administer the treatment. It was a spectacular way to finish up after a salt scrub, or mud or algae wrap, and was quite the buzz in a small town.

Back then, the Vichy shower was not very popular because it was a new and relatively unknown concept. It was, however, considered by those in the "know" as the most sensational, invigorating and cleansing experience one could passively experience.

Imagine: Warm water at 10 gallons a minute through seven water jets, as a combination wash-down and hydrotherapy, with an occasional cold squirt from a separate hose as a stimulator (not to mention water splashing all over the client, the shower walls and the operator), while the therapist alternately aims the Scotts' fire hose at the customer.

The installation of an "extreme" water treatment can transform the traditional and mundane water treatment into an exciting, stimulating attraction that will bring more people into your establishment.

Let's get back to reality: From the perspective of a sensual and sensational spa experience, we might consider the Vichy shower ranking at the top. From a practical point of view, however, it may not be financially feasible, unless you have a larger facility (over six treatment rooms) or it is already a widely accepted and sought-after treatment in your area, which would allow you to command a higher ticket price. If you choose to install one, be prepared to spend some big bucks for the room alone; that is, if you don't want to deal with the expense of constructing additional showers and dressing rooms.

"Ultimate Extreme" Vichy shower treatments will generate a stiffer fee than a standard massage; but the cost for each treatment will be correspondingly higher, also. Here's why:

  • Construction costs. Be ready to fork up somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000-35,000 for a big plumbing bill to include an extra large (1-inch) water supply line; an extra large water heater; the Vichy shower unit; a Scotts' hose with temperature control valves; and a hand- held shower head, in addition to full tile; ventilation; waterproof lighting; and optional radiant heat.
  • The cost of heated water. Allow for 100 gallons of water per treatment, and anticipate the receipt of a hefty electric or gas bill each month.
  • The cost of room cleanup after each treatment. You must hose down the walls and wipe them dry. You also might want to keep the ventilation's electric system running (if you don't want mold).
  • The cost of additional laundry. You'll need lots of towels and large-capacity washing machines and dryers.

If you want to keep it simple, but still want to qualify as having a "spa treatment," get a containment-wet table with a hand held wash down. You'll still need a drain, but then you can officially be called a spa. If you want to move your clients up to a basic Vichy shower, you can provide a low-pressure system with an optional hood.

If you want to give your clients the exhilaration of an extreme wet room - an exciting journey in the ultimate hydro machine - you must pay the price, including the therapist getting soaked!

Choose the ride you want to give your customer!

Only Victory,

John Fanuzzi

Click here for previous articles by John Fanuzzi.


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