Forget the classic Kiwi spa pool, installing a Clearlight infrared sauna at home is the ultimate in luxury, providing healthy heat to keep you glowing all year round.
We were staying at Gibbston Valley Lodge in Queenstown when the inspiration to get our own sauna first bloomed. The lodge boasts outdoor hot pools and a sauna, and while the hot pool offered a bubbly view of the stars, stepping into the sauna and feeling like our joints and muscles were melting was an unforgettable moment we were keen to repeat.
After returning home, we did some online research into sauna brands available in New Zealand, and Clearlight’s infrared saunas seemed the obvious choice, in large part because this premium brand offers a lifetime warranty.
Their selection includes both indoor and outdoor models, and we swung for their four-person-sized Retreat Full Spectrum Sauna as it is large enough to do yoga in (thanks to its removable bench seating) or just relax with friends and family.
The set-up of Clearlight’s infrared saunas is easy and takes around two hours. It requires a flat surface (which can even be carpeted) and a 20amp plug for the large Retreat model. We opt to place it in the spare room, which gives our glass-fronted Retreat a view over the garden. It’s an attractive addition to the house, and we move the exercise bike and weight bench in next to it to create a ‘Wellness Room’.
Like all of Clearlight’s saunas, the Sanctuary Retreat is made from Eco-certified Western Red Canadian Cedar, which has a subtle rustic aroma that makes you want to jump straight in. All of the models in Clearlight’s Sanctuary range come with industry-leading tech, including built-in speakers that connect through Bluetooth, a super easy-to-use digital touchpad, and an app to control your sauna from your phone. Picture leaving work on a cold, wet evening and remotely activating your sauna so it’s at your desired temperature the minute you arrive home!
As we step in for the first time, we experience that same sense of the stress carried in our shoulder and back muscles gently melting away. It’s instantly noticeable how far advanced infrared saunas are beyond traditional ones. The heat feels less stifling, and the full-spectrum infrared heaters remove those ‘burning nostrils’ and ‘impacted breathing’ sensations that you can experience in traditional saunas. From the touchpad, we can choose the exact temperature we want, which is sustained throughout our session or until we choose otherwise.
Clearlight offers a range of add-ons to their saunas as well. The Sanctuary models include a medical-grade chromotherapy light unit that has 96 LED bulbs able to display 12 different colours to enhance the mood of the sauna experience. For a morning sauna, the blue and green lights offer a refreshing start to a day where you need to be focused. The red and orange settings are lovely, soothing additions for evening sessions.
During winter, we jump into the sauna every day. Depending on our energy levels, we might remove the benches, giving us the space for a yoga session – where the infrared heat helps us to get deeper into the poses and eliminate next-day stiffness. Otherwise, we just sink into the chiropractor-designed ergonomic backrests and discuss the day or play relaxing music through the speakers. It feels like it helps in reducing stress, clearing pores, and preventing winter sniffles. Even jumping into a cold bed later that night, I’m still warm from head to toe.