In the world, major changes, whether political, economic, or health-related, have always had a significant impact on how people think, perceive life and, consequently, make decisions. And for centuries, great changes have always been followed by economic booms, in other words, periods of opportunity. The pandemic, despite its sad consequences, was no exception. Such periods are a threat to many, yet are an opportunity for open-minded, decisive leaders to achieve significant growth by entering new markets, regardless of the economic sector. A good example of this is a key sector of the spa tourism industry, which is rarely the focus of analysis and professional periodicals, but perhaps that is why it illustrates so authentically the points made here. And why it is worth discussing in a business development magazine, is that COVID has drastically transformed the decision-making mechanisms of spa guests, dividing the market of spas into successful businesses that are able to adapt and inflexible ones that remain unsuccessful using traditional technologies.
The cleanliness of various public baths and pools had already been a basic expectation in the pre-pandemic era, but these expectations have since increased dramatically. Today, people no longer want to bathe in thermal waters whose microbiological quality is usually unacceptable a few hours after the baths open. Even if the drained pool is thoroughly disinfected, since there is no disinfectant in the freshly filled pool water, bathers who do not clean properly introduce so many microbes (mainly bacteria) that their levels can increase several times the permitted limits in a few hours. Therefore, spas that have not kept pace with the expectations of a health-conscious clientele – a group that is also sensitive to the preservation of environmental values – have still not been able to recover from the downturn during the pandemic, while spas that have been able to disinfect their waters and preserve the spa water as a natural treasure have seen a dramatic increase in their numbers.
The challenges of circulating thermal waters
There are two main trends in the technical design of swimming pools and spas. The first, traditional solution is the so-called fill-and-drain spa pool, where the entire volume of water is drained, and the water does not undergo any disinfection or treatment, but the entire water content of the pool is typically replaced every 1-2 days. However, for most spas, the amount of extractable thermal water can no longer be increased, either because of regulatory restrictions or the limited availability of the resource.
The other modern solution – already commonly used for swimming pool water – is the water recirculation technology, where the pool water is recirculated through a water filter, disinfected, and only 5% of the make-up water is added. Compared to fill-and-drain pools, this technology consumes far less water, so why is this not the common method for spas? The key to the problem is the issue of disinfection, because, in the case of recirculated waters, it is paramount to remove contaminants and harmful substances that have been washed into the water over an extended period. Traditional disinfectants such as chlorine, the most widely used, significantly alter the composition of the spa water, not to mention the dangerous, harmful effects of chlorine and its unpleasant smell. Therefore, pool operators – who today, in addition to increasing their turnover, also have the health of their guests at the forefront of their concerns – need a different solution.
These needs have also been recognised by operators of traditional fill-and-drain spas, and as a result, there is a growing acceptance that chlorine-free water disinfection is the only way to ensure a sufficient level of hygiene without changing the medicinal composition of the water. In addition to hygiene needs, spa operators now have to consider the impact of another equally important influencing factor. For those of us born around the turn of the millennium, the so-called Followers generation, the preservation of our environment and our natural treasures is a priority. As this generation has a strong influence on the people living around them, including the older generations who visit spas most often, it has become an important aspect of their choice to visit spas that pay attention to the responsible use of thermal waters and long-term sustainability.
Thanks to these trends, modern spa investments are nowadays using the chlorine-free disinfection method as a preferred method, with the requirement for pool cleaning by water rotation already at the planning stage, which is one of the most effective means of protecting the health of guests and the medicinal water resources.
Founded in 1995, Dinax earned the prestigious “For Budapest’s Economy” and “For Hungary’s Economy” awards for its premium public and private water treatment solutions. With more than 27 years of professional experience in manufacturing, distribution, and consulting – plus its outstanding testing background – DINAX was the first company in Europe to develop a unique chlorine-free disinfectant suitable for bathing water, which was patented and resulted in the LONGLIFE product range.
The LONGLIFE range of products disinfects, adjusts pH, flocculates, and treats algae in bathing, spa, and thermal waters, i.e., provides complex water treatment without changing the composition of the water’s medicinal substances! These substances are also used in places where chlorine cannot be used under any circumstances, such as waters with a high ammonium or organic content, which, if treated with chlorine, would produce carcinogenic substances. Dinax’s in-house laboratory provides customised water utilisation and disinfection consulting based on water analysis.