Top tips for creating an outdoor area for your spa

Q: I would like to add an outdoor spa area: how should I approach it?

An outdoor spa area can be as simple as a beautiful herb garden with benches or something much more complex that creates a whole new spa experience. When designing a spa garden, carefully select your location to make the most of views, light and any other natural features, such as a forest or lakeside setting, that you might be fortunate enough to have.

If your spa isn’t blessed with such natural features, creating a courtyard spa can be a great solution. It also provides some protection from the elements and works even better if the courtyard is south-facing and gets the sun. Outdoor spa areas work equally well in the city: rooftop spas can be very romantic, particularly at night as you look out over lit up buildings.

Good lighting is key. At Sparcstudio, we usually opt for indirect lighting, placed on paths, in trees and as part of other features. Other tips include having a bar or other food and beverage element: a great source of added revenue.

In terms of features, it’s ideal to have a mix of heat experiences: saunas work well but steam rooms are not so good due to the condensation. It’s best to avoid very large pools, as heating them can be costly, but hydro pools are an excellent idea.

It’s advisable to create some shelter to dry off in, ideally with a fire. Natural pools that blend seamlessly into the landscape are also great, as are features that link from the inside out, such as glassfront heat cabins that overlook the surrounding landscape. Overall, the emphasis should be on creating beautiful and relaxing areas with plenty of natural features and a real sense of place.

Beverley BayesBeverley Bayes is co-director of design consultancy Sparcstudio, established in 2009 with fellow directors Neil Fairplay and Tom Howell. Among past Sparcstudio clients are the spa at Rockliffe Hall, So Spa at Sofitel London St James, and Aqua Sana spa at Center Parcs Woburn Forest and Sherwood Forest. 

Image: The outdoor spa area at Rockliffe Hall hotel 

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