What is the job description of a sauna auditor and what makes a high-quality sauna service? Welcome to spend a week of auditing at Ruka-Kuusamo with Satu Ilomäki working for Sauna from Finland.

Monday – Rukan Salonki Chalets & Pyhäpiilo

I started my week by auditing the Hitech smoke sauna at Rukan Salonki Chalets and the smoke sauna experience at Pyhäpiilo which is located quite close to the Ruka centre. The longer a company has the quality certificate, the more the experience has been developed over the years. The people responsible for the saunas become more aware themselves of the elements of a high-quality experience which is the case, for example, with Marjo Määttä from LSJ Group.

The company’s sauna experiences are well-thought entities. The saunas have big windows which makes the nature become an essential part of the experience all-around the year. If the bather is too terrified to go swim in the lake, both destinations also have HotSpring spas for a warmer opportunity to take a dip in the water. The Pyhäpiilo Smoke Sauna has once been voted as the best sauna in Finland. It requires a long heating time before it is ready for bathers. There is also the quality certified Ice Sauna in Pyhäpiilo during wintertime, but the snow pile gathered for building the sauna was still waiting for better building weathers in November.

I had to really seek for something to develop in Pyhäpiilo Smoke Sauna. It is difficult improve something that is already on premium level. However, we discussed about basic stuff that needs to be developed on a regular basis in all sauna services. For example, renewing sauna textiles from time to time is important since they are under a lot of use. Marjo is also keen to test different detergents and cosmetics. We always aim to find suitable products from the companies at Sauna from Finland network.

Tuesday – Isokenkäisten Klubi & Pohjolan Pirtti

On Tuesday, I travelled to audit the rentable sauna at Isokenkäisten Klubi which is situated three kilometres away from the Russian border. I got to experience LehtoPeat treatment for the first time in the smoke sauna. The entrepreneurs Katja Vira and Sirpa Kämäräinen make the sauna bather forget all worries in life. As part of the experience there are self-made soaps and lotions to use. The place serves also its own sparkling drinks and glogg. These are examples of how the multisensory and high-quality sauna experience brings contrast to the everyday life. Scents, flavours, and good customer service make the bathers remember it for a long time.

After this I headed toward Pohjolan Pirtti where Tanja Pohjola welcomed me with open arms. There are three saunas in Pohjolan Pirtti. One of them is a quite common sauna in Finnish homes, that is a small sauna with an electric heater. Another is called the “steam sauna” since it has an electric sauna heater by Harvia with an additional steam element. Despite its name, it is an authentic Finnish sauna. The third sauna has the traditional wood burning Aitokiuas stove. While doing the audit, we also check the functionality of the washing rooms which were spacious and clean in Pohjolan Pirtti. There is a hot tub on the terrace that allows the sauna bather to watch the stars. A memorable service experience can also include sauna treatments. Tanja does sauna whisking and lovely treatments for feet in her saunas.

Wednesday – Info session about the productization of sauna experiences

In addition to auditing, Sauna from Finland also does trainings for developing the sauna experience and its different areas. On Wednesday, we arranged an info session about the productization and marketing of sauna experiences for tourism entrepreneurs and students at Ruka-Kuusamo area at the restaurant Kultala of Rukan Salonki Chalets. We aimed to explain the complete description of our job for people working in the field and luckily, we were able to get some good conversation going. Would you like to develop your sauna service? More information about our consultation services.

Thursday – Ruka Safaris

I spent the whole Thursday at Iisakki Village with Ruka Safaris that have altogether three saunas. Initially our plan was to audit two saunas, Iisakki’s traditional lakeside sauna and Aivoriihi sauna, but when Niina Lavikainen and Ville Maijanen from Ruka Safaris showed me their third sauna called Hikikammari, I realized that this sauna needs its own certificate. It is a Scandinavian log sauna with a high ceiling. This makes the sauna session very oxygen rich. It is possible to reserve a sauna yoga session in Hikikammari as well. One more high-quality sauna added into the list!

Both Iisakki’s traditional lakeside sauna and Aivoriihi sauna have Aitokiuas stoves. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the steam (or “löyly” in Finnish) would feel similar. The Iisakki’s lakeside sauna offers a more sudden and somewhat hotter löyly than Aivoriihi does. Some people think that the stove you choose for the sauna matters only. However, for example, the sauna stones, the structures of the sauna, and its ventilation also determine the nature of löyly. I found that Aivoriihi sauna still needs some development but I was happy to see that Nina and Ville are keen to make the experience more enjoyable. The whole day of auditing three saunas took me 10 hours. No matter, bathing in such lovely saunas can only make me feel good in the end.

In summary

I always go through the quality criteria of the high-quality Finnish sauna with the company’s employees or owners. The criteria may seem long when you first look at it. However, if the sauna premises have been designed and built well from the start, reaching the high-quality level is a lot easier. After that the development focuses mainly on creating the experience and maintaining the quality level of the premises.

At the end of each audit, I go through the development ideas with the people responsible for the saunas. Afterwards, everyone gets a written report with photos. It is based on the quality criteria and should help the people to continue the development process on their own. We also link different options for products in our network, such as detergents, cosmetics, and bench towels. This way, service provider doesn’t need to use time for searching everything on their own.

This week at Ruka-Kuusamo was very rewarding. I have been in the industry for a long time. Therefore, experiencing saunas this unique reminds me why I do this job. Developing services with people that are professional and passionate about their work gets me excited. It is even better when we all share the love for saunas.

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Strategic partners

  • Harvia Sauna & Spa
  • Interbad
  • Visit Jyväskylä Region
  • Sokos Hotels
  • Sauna Capital Tampere