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Adding a sauna or steam room to your rental chalet in the Alps

As an Alpine property owner, increasing your revenue and filling your rental calendar is the basis of your success.

There are many factors which affect your bookings including pricing, the quality of your property/photography, successful marketing and much more. But, in this series, we’re focusing on chalet equipment and the associated considerations, costs and benefits that come with investing in additional features.

Adding extra chalet equipment such as saunas and steam rooms (also known as ‘hammams’) to your property is a great way to stand out among the crowd and maximise your bookings, particularly in the off-season.

Here’s an introductory guide to adding a sauna or steam room to your rental property…


What to consider before investing in a sauna or steam room

The view from the barrel sauna at Chalet Manoe
The barrel sauna at Chalet Manoe, Manigod

The costs

First of all, you need to consider the cost of installing a sauna or a steam room. These facilities require ample room, and before you consider the ongoing bills, you need to budget for the equipment itself and its installation.

The first thing to decide is what kind of sauna or steam room you want to buy. There are many makes and models which come at different prices.

Prices vary depending on a number of factors including materials, size and heating systems.

Take a look below:

Saunas

Installation costs
Type of saunaAverage price
Traditional steam sauna1000 to 8000 €
Infrared sauna1000 to 5000 €
Indoor sauna800 to 4000 €
Shower/combined sauna3000 to 8000 €
Portable sauna> to 100 €
Outdoor/barrel sauna4000 to 15,000 €
Source: IZI by EDF
The price of sauna accessories
AccessoriesAverage price
Bucket and ladleFrom 50 €
Stones for built-in sauna heater30-70 € (20kg)
Stove protection barrier150-200 €
una thermometer and hygrometerfrom 30 €
Sauna headrest and backrestfrom 30 €
Essential oils5-20 €
Source: IZI by EDF
A traditional wooden sauna onlooking an adjoining bathroom.
The bright and welcoming sauna at Chalet Le Mousqueton, La Clusaz

Steam rooms/Hammams

Type of steam room/hammamAverage price
Cabin steam room900 to 3000 €
Steam room shower cabin1000 to 7000 €
Masonry steam room (made to measure)10,000 to 15,000 €
Ready to tile steam room4000 to 9000 €
Installation by a professionalApproximately 600 €
Steam generator600 to 950 € (based on a power of 6 kW)
Source: Guide-Piscine

You can use Guide-Piscine’s calculator for a more exact quote for your project.

The price of steam room accessories
AccessoriesAverage price
Steam generator600 to 950 €
Control panel250 to 500 €
Water softenerApproximately 800 €
Speakers50 to 300 €
Essential oil diffuserFrom 30 €
Source: Guide-Piscine
A steam room with slate walls and bright LED lighting.
The beautiful hammam at Chalet Ladroit, Les Clefs.

Planning permission

According to Guide-Piscine, you do not need any permission for internal saunas. For external saunas under or equal to 5m² there is no need for planning permission. However, if the surface area is above 20m² then permission is required.

Energy costs

Another consideration is the cost of energy. According to Porte Plüm, the power varies between 2000 watts and 20 kWatts for a traditional sauna and 1200 and 3000 watts for an infrared sauna. Of course, the frequency and length of sessions are going to affect the cost of energy considerably.

To find out the cost of running your sauna or steam room, you can use this equation: Stove/generator kW x unit price x duration x no. of days used.

Some guests will show more interest in using the sauna or steam room than others, and others may use it more in winter compared to summer, so you will likely find that costs balance out over the course of the year. Make sure to remind guests to turn the equipment off when it is not in use to avoid unnecessarily high energy bills.

A steam room lit with bright pink LED overhead lights.
A unique steam room space at Chalet Beauvoir 12, St Jean de Sixt.

Maintenance

Both saunas and steam rooms require a moderate amount of ongoing maintenance – but far less compared to a hot tub for example.

For saunas, specialist cleaning products need to be purchased for around 30 € to ensure the wood is sanitised without causing damage. You’ll also need to carry out occasional maintenance such as treating the wood, for which you need to budget around 20-30 € for a can of oil.

If you have a stone tray in your sauna, it will also need to be cleaned regularly or the individual stones replaced when required. The glass door will need polishing on changeover day as well, but use a micro fibre cloth as opposed to a chemical polish.

As for steam rooms, it’s not that different to cleaning a bathroom. Again, specialist products should be used in order to keep the space disinfected without damaging the materials.

Extra maintenance costs could also include extra laundry for additional towels and robes.

Finally, make sure to find a reputable local contact who you can call if there are any mechanical issues with your sauna or steam room.

A sauna built with natrual wood featuring a bucket and ladle, towels and candles.
This sauna at Chocoon Lodge, La Clusaz exudes luxury whilst maintaining a natural look in keeping with the rest of the chalet.

The location

A major consideration before installing a sauna or steam room is space.

Though barrel saunas can be installed outside, and there are compact models on the market, the majority of saunas and steam rooms require ample indoor space for a comfortable experience.

The appeal for most guests is the sociable, spa-like feel of these facilities, so if you can, aim for a minimum capacity of around 4-6 people, depending on the capacity of your chalet.

Due to high levels of humidity, both need to be installed as individual units to avoid causing damage to your chalet’s infrastructure. Some specialists can help you with converting an entire room into a sauna or steam room, but this will come at a higher price.

In most OVO Network chalets, saunas and steam rooms tend to be found on the ground floor, away from the main communal spaces or bedrooms.

Owners often install this kind of chalet equipment as part of a wellness zone. If you want to find out more about that, you can discover the facilities the owners of Chalet Le Mousqueton added to their property to attract more off-season bookings in this blog post.

A traditional sauna with glass door and robes hung outside.
This traditional sauna at Chalet Behansa, Les Gets is spacious enough for guests to relax together. Plus, the fluffy robes create an opulent feel.

The advantages of adding a sauna or steam room to your property

1. They’re in high demand

Saunas and steam rooms are among some of the most popular facilities on the OVO Network website. Out of the two, our guests search for properties with saunas more often.

2. Additional chalet equipment boosts occupancy rates

Saunas and steam rooms can be used all year round, including quieter times in the off-season. That’s why we always recommend that our owners invest in additional facilities such as these to attract guests all year round.

So, if your pricing strategy is to maximise occupancy every month, you should definitely consider this as an investment.

3. You can earn more

The more attractive facilities you offer, the higher you can set your prices. At first, the increased rates will be used to cover the cost of the initial installation, but once you’ve paid that off you’ll enjoy the additional profit that comes with adding a sauna or hammam.

Generally, higher prices and increased occupancy means you boost your annual revenue and, in turn, earn more.

4. Relatively low maintenance

As we mentioned earlier in the post, both saunas and hammams do require a certain level of maintenance. However, in comparison to hot tubs or swimming pools, the frequency and amount of maintenance are considerably lower. This also means you’re less likely to have to call in professionals, which costs extra.

Unlike hot tubs, which require water changes and take between 3-8 hours to get back up to temperature, guests will only need to wait around 15-45 minutes before using saunas and steam rooms. This means there’s a lot less prior planning needed on changeover day.

5. They create a luxurious atmosphere

Many people associate saunas and steam rooms with being at a luxury spa. So adding them to the chalet means people can enjoy a wellness experience from the comfort of their accommodation, whilst feeling like they’re on a luxury spa retreat!

6. They can increase the value of your home

If the time comes to sell your property, having a desirable feature such as a sauna or steam room can increase the selling price of your chalet.

7. Guest satisfaction

Happy guests become ambassadors for your rental property – and often turn into loyal guests. Positive reviews are a great way of grabbing the attention of future guests and increasing the level of trust in your property – and extra chalet equipment is often something that is mentioned in glowing reviews.

Check out these positive reviews about saunas and steam rooms from OVO Network partner properties…

The jacuzzi and sauna are a real bonus, and very pleasant after the walks and sports sessions in the area.

Laurence R – August 2022 – Chalet Alyssum

The large garage, the jacuzzi and the new outdoor sauna with a view of the surrounding mountains are a plus for a serene stay. 

Christine C – June 2022 – Chalet de Rollon

We especially enjoyed the jacuzzi, the hammam, sunbathing on the balcony and the games room and its billiard table.

Aline B – November 2021 – Chalet Petille
The lovely barrel sauna at Chalet Alyssum on a lawn
This lovely barrel sauna at Chalet Alyssum, Le Grand Bornand makes great use of the outdoor space.

The disadvantages of adding a sauna or steam room to your property

  • The cost – as well as the upfront cost, there will be ongoing expenses including increased energy bills to budget for.
  • As they’re usually installed inside, they take up quite a lot of space.
  • If the guidelines aren’t respected, damage can easily occur and impact future guests.
  • There are some health risks that guests need to be aware of.
  • You’ll need to pay your team for extra cleaning time.

Safety guidelines for saunas and hammams

  • Those with underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems should check it’s safe with a doctor before use. The same applies to pregnant people or those taking certain medications.
  • Hydrate well before and after use.
  • Do not drink alcohol before, during or after sessions.
  • Limit use to 10-15 minutes and never fall asleep in the sauna or hammam.
  • Remove all jewellery before entering.

Our top tips

  • We do not recommend portable saunas or ‘kits’. If you invest in a low-quality model, you will risk giving the wrong impression of your property.
  • Take high-quality, well-staged photographs of your facilities and list them clearly on your website.
  • Provide guidelines for safe use and make sure that guests are aware of them before use.
  • Make sure the sauna or hammam has a large enough capacity in relation to the size of your property.
  • Conduct weekly checks for cleaning and maintenance.
  • Provide blue towels which guests can use for spa facilities, to distinguish them from their bath towels.
  • Pay close attention to the ambience of your sauna or hammam in terms of lighting, tiling (for hammams) and the area surrounding the facility.
The hammam at Chalet Kalyssia which is decorated with dark tiles and candles.
The space around the entrance to this stunning hammam at Chalet Kalyssia in Saint-Jorioz has been well-considered

For more ideas on how to maximise your bookings and increase your revenue, head to our ‘Earn more’ archives. Or, contact our revenue management experts to learn how much more you can earn per year by installing a sauna or hammam.

Looking for a complete solution for your Alpine property? OVO Network can help you run a successful rental business while hardly lifting a finger. Discover more about our offering by clicking the link below:

And if you’re keen to discover more about the chalet rental industry, as well as gain expert insights into running a rental business, make sure to sign up for our Alpine Property Newsletter today.

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About Author

Hi, I’m Amy. I am a Copywriter and Editor for OVO Network. I have lived between the French Alps and UK and love to share my knowledge of the area with readers!

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