How do Italians like their hot tubs? With wine…but HOW may surprise you!
February 19, 2019 – I’m just wrapping up an eight day visit to Rome, Florence and Venice. I had the good fortune of being on the trip with many Hot Spring Spas dealers from around the world. We were with dealers from all over the U.S., Canada, France, England, Belgium, Sweden, Poland…even a dealer from Guatemala!
And, of course, Italy. During the trip, I got inspired to learn how Italians have slowly embraced the idea of having a hot tub at home. Hot Tubs are a uniquely American invention, and it’s taken time for others around the world to take a shine to a soak outdoors in a Hot Spring Spa.
Leo Hamacher, who is the Vice President of International Sales & Marketing for Watkins Wellness (Hot Spring’s parent company), was gracious enough to introduce me to Alessandro Gianotti, the Italian distributor for Hot Spring. He has showrooms of his own and helps others throughout the country with Hot Spring dealerships bring wellness through hot water to Italy. (By the way, can his name be any more Italian?) Leo explained to Alessandro that I’d like to share a glimpse of Italian hot tubbing through my blog. Alessandro speaks nary a word of English, and Leo offered to interpret for both of us so we could learn from each other over breakfast a few days ago in Florence.
Alessandro is celebrating his 20th anniversary as a Hot Spring dealer this year. Back in 1999, Italians had no concept of what a hot tub was about. The idea of going outside to sit in hot water?? As they would say, that would be pazzo, the Italian word for crazy! He started his journey selling hot tubs in Bolzano, the town he lives in about an hour south of the Austrian border in the north part of Italy.
Folks were a bit confused at first. Their only idea of jets with hot water came from the Jacuzzi brothers, who back then had a factory for jetted bathtubs two hours northeast of Bolzano. When they were told about a tub that was jetted, full all the time, and outside to use every day, they were stunned.
He started with a small showroom with six spas and expanded twice over the years to a showroom that now shows twenty models and two swim spas. Even in Italy Alessandro believed in having a mood room with a hot tub ready to try. Only one in twenty would take a test soak, vs. us at Olympic having sometimes 15+ soakers in a month in every showroom! It was his turn to be stunned.
I asked him what the top things were that Italians asked about when starting to consider a hot tub. The #1 concern? Energy efficiency. Italians are only allotted 3kW of power each month for their entire home. (Americans would revolt!) Any consumption above and beyond would be at a premium. Since Hot Spring is the most energy efficient hot tub to own, it was an easy concern to overcome.
#2 on their list was—no big surprise to me—design. They want things to look exceptional, with beautiful finishes that are sleek and contemporary. Hot Spring Highlife Collection Spas are the ticket here with Alpine White shells. Italians want crisp clean timeless shells over color any day. (I’ve always coaxed folks to buy a tub with a white or neutral interior color that will still look fresh 15 years later in their backyard.)
Since 1999, Alessandro has rallied for Italians to make hot tubbing at home part of their lives. His belief is that everyone deserves a place to spend time with family, promote their well-being, and give them a reason to use their garden more in the winter time. And he’s succeeding!
Finally, I asked him if different parts of Italy used their tubs for different reasons.
This is where it was MY turn to be stunned.
- For Italians in the north, the ability to reconnect and improve their overall wellness was the hot button.
- In Rome, folks like the idea of a hot tub for outdoor living, and for recreational purposes.
- In Tuscany, hot tubs in country homes are used in tourism to attract folks to visit and—wait for it—take a soak in red wine.
Just to confirm…I don’t drink, so I was not inebriated when I heard that. And, upon further research, I discovered it really is a thing. It’s called vinotherapy.
Apparently, this practice dates waaaay back. Ancient Thracian women used to swear by soaks in wine as an elixir of youth, with wonderful benefits for the skin. So, a gallon of red wine is poured into hot tubs in Tuscany for hot tub soaks!
And, it blew the minds of other Hot Spring dealers on the trip when I shared this news with them. Just when you think you’ve heard everything…there’s wine into water! (That’s a reversal!) The theme of our trip was La Dolce Vita—the sweet life in Italian. I think that took on a whole new meaning with this revelation!
My sincere thanks to Alessandro for enlightening me on his journey to bring wellness through hot water to Italy. And, my gratitude as well to Leo for being my hot tub hero and orchestrating our meeting and interpreting for us for well over an hour! He’s a gem.
For more about vinotherapy, check out this article from the UK’s Mirror.
Author: Don Riling
Don Riling is the President of Olympic Hot Tub and has been an active member of the hot tub industry for over 20 years. As the company’s owner since 2016, he has continued Olympic’s legacy of promoting health & wellness through hot water & sauna therapy.