BRINGING sauna culture to the south coast, one couple's Finnish sauna has taken Sandbanks by storm.

The Saltwater Sauna has been open for little over six-months and its “addictive” health and wellness benefits are seeing repeat customers push demand through the roof.

Soon-to-be husband and wife Sam Glyn-Jones and Arlene Lukkarinen were inspired by the ‘Rise and Conquer’ cold water swimming sessions they run as part of Sam's charity Resurface.

'Sea swimming has grown exponentially'

Growing up in Finland, ‘the land of a thousand lakes’, Arlene is used to cold water immersion followed by a hot sauna - something she says is crucial to getting her to take a chilly dip.

“Sea swimming has grown exponentially over lockdown and I think the sauna really helps to push people to get in the sea during the winter when it might be too cold otherwise,” said Arlene.

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Bournemouth Echo: Sam and Arlene at The Saltwater Sauna in SandbanksSam and Arlene at The Saltwater Sauna in Sandbanks

The benefits of cold water swimming are well-documented over the years but Sam - who is currently completing a Ph.D in the field of surf and yoga therapy - believes the added health-benefits of sauna immersion after a dip adds to the experience.

He said: “I think the idea of cold water and sauna emerging is that it’s very much a mood boosting experience.

“It’s like a chemical cocktail - it’s like a drug.”

“There’s a spa culture in Finland and it’s bringing that across. It’s also a very sociable thing, we run community sessions and everyone’s in their swimmers and they’re all different shapes and sizes, it’s really liberating.

Bournemouth Echo: The Saltwater SaunaThe Saltwater Sauna

'Hard-core sauna enthusiasts'

Creating “hard-core sauna enthusiasts” Arlene personally designed the bespoke hand-crafted sauna with Heartwood Saunas, a small company based in Snowdonia.

She said: “The location is also really crucial, being on the beach overlooking the sea is a really important part of it.

“No matter the weather, we’ve had howling winds, sideways rains and it just makes the sauna extra cosy and it’s great on peaceful calm mornings when you see the sun rise.”

The authentic wood-fired Finnish sauna seats up to eight people and can be booked for 35 and 65 minute slots, though they book-up quickly.

“We release the booking slots three-weeks in advance and people book them the minute they come out, especially on the weekend’s we have people struggling to get a slot because it’s so popular,” explained Arlene.

Bournemouth Echo: Inside The Saltwater Sauna: James Everett, Jason Bethell, Dave Smith, Jordan Frias, Dave James and James MoffattInside The Saltwater Sauna: James Everett, Jason Bethell, Dave Smith, Jordan Frias, Dave James and James Moffatt

Sauna enthusiast James Everett from Bournemouth said: “I think it’s fantastic, obviously there are great health benefits but it’s also really good for your mind too and it’s just nice to get together with friends after everything that’s been going on to come down and have a good time and maybe go for breakfast after.”

Following the success of the first Saltwater Sauna and the "overwhelming" positive community feedback, the couple are hoping to open another sauna in Bournemouth Bay in the future.