BY: TREVOR HEWITT
The traditional heated sauna is getting a cool new facelift. While those in desert climates can’t exactly hop out of a steam bath and roll around outside in the snow like their Scandinavian counterparts, they now have another option.
For $150,000, Desert Snow, a Dubai-based “winter effects” company, will build you a six to 12 square metre room that maintains a temperature of -15C to -18C. Add-ons like rocky walls and trees are extra.
“It’s basically a cave inside your house where it snows 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Ben Elliott-Scott, managing director of Desert Snow.
On top of being an architectural feat, the company claims these “snow rooms” offer multiple health benefits, such as improving one’s blood circulation, immune system and sleep cycles. Elliott-Scott says that many of the benefits from the traditional Finnish-style sauna come from the rapid hot to cold temperature change your body undergoes after relocating from a steamy sauna to a frigid snow bank. Snow rooms, he says, allow the user to replicate this experience.
Snow Rooms also have health benefits, such as improving blood circulation, the immune system and sleep cycles.
As of today, Desert Snow has already installed three of the rooms in hotel spas and two in private residences, and Elliott-Scott says that he is currently in talks to install rooms for eight new customers, including one with 10 properties. “It’s proven incredibly popular. There’s a huge demand for real snow in the region for events, and now in homes.” It’s overwhelmingly good news for Desert Snow, which began as an artificial snow provider for winter-themed events and parties before recently branching into the “authentic snow” market.
Dubai is no stranger to artificial environments. Their largest shopping centre, Mall of the Emirates, contains Ski Dubai, an indoor 22,500 square metre ski resort that maintains a daily temperature of -4C to -6C. Internationally, snow rooms are catching on as well. Earlier this year, Norwegian Cruise Line added one to its newly-built Norwegian Escape, a 4,200-passenger luxury cruise ship set to begin operating in November 2015. Snow continuously gusts throughout the 10-person room, which is maintained between 0 and -6C.
Ski Dubai is an indoor 22,500 square metre ski resort.
Norwegian Cruise Line also added a snow room to its newest ship.
On top of their health benefits, Elliott-Scott says that snow rooms give Dubai the potential to host winter events that previously were not possible. Recently, the company opened a “snow factory”—a 6-metre container with a giant snow machine inside. When turned on, the machine produces 1,000 cubic metres of snow in a day. Elliott-Scott says it’s the fastest snowmaking machine in the world. Though he admits Dubai probably won’t be hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics, Elliott-Scott says that the ability to create artificial snow so quickly makes hosting winter sports events a possibility in the future. “We’d like to put Dubai on the map as a place where extreme snow sports can be held in winter.”