Disposable Bedroom Linen and Bathroom Linen- When to use it, and Why.

Hygiene- Uniqueness – Gratification- Why disposable linen is a good alternative to the traditional bedding, bathrobe and towels, on holiday, at home and in hotel.

 

 

Non-woven fabric is a type of material that allows multiple and different uses. One of these is related to the production of disposable products for bedroom and bathroom, but when is the use of disposable linen is appropriate? And why could it be more convenient?

First of all, it does not need to be washed or ironed, this is in itself a great advantage in terms of time saving. On vacation, for example, the last thing we think about is having to wash dirty linen, and once we go back home, the last thing we want to do is to wash the dirty linen.

In addition to this advantage, there are others such as hygiene: individually packaged, these products are always brand-new, you will be the only ones to use them. This, produces a feeling of well-being derived from knowing that you are using a new bathrobe, kimono or towel. This feeling is a psychological factor that gratifies the user and makes any stay more comfortable, whether the stay is for holidays or for healing purposes, in a hotel, spa or a clinic.

For these reasons, spa, hotels and touristic facilities that offer this alternative, will have the advantage of gifting their guests a sensation of gratification, while families or individuals who choose to use disposable linen on holiday, as well as hygiene and well-being, will have more room in the suitcases for gifts and souvenirs.

 

Non-woven fabric is obtained through a special process. Online you will find a lot of technical explanations, from Wikipedia to the sites of non woven fabric producers. For the purpose of this article we find that non woven fabric differs in grams and fiber, in fact it can be made of polypropylene, viscose and other material, it can also vary in weight. The types of products we are referring to, generally weight 18gr, 25gr, up to 50g. Other relevant characteristics are waterproofness, breathability, ability to absorb water, and color.

  • Waterproofness: a feature especially required for mattress protectors, particularly suitable for children and adults with incontinence. Especially suitable for residential care home, but also for younger guests.

  • Breathability: an appropriate feature for bed sheets and mattress covers. This feature, generally makes the fabric smoother and therefore quieter. Especially suitable for hotels, holiday homes.

  • Ability to absorb water: towels and bathrobes for spa, hotels and holiday homes.

  • Color: colors have a psychological effect on people, for example white conveys a feeling of hygiene and purity; Blue, induces a state of meditation and conveys a sensation of tranquility. Colors also reflect a social function sometimes indicates work categories, for example in hospitals we recognize nurses by doctors through the color they wear.

     

     

Different features will adapt to different purposes. Let’s take as an example the bathrobes/kimono.

When the purpose is to temporarily protect a person from dust or hair (e.g. hairdressers) or move a patient from one room to another (e.g. in a clinic, a hospital, an residential care home) a lightweight robe, polypropylene fiber, and blue color, to give a feeling of tranquility, might be the best choice.

For spas, hotels, holiday homes, sport retreats, when the purpose is to absorb water, the bathrobe should be of a heavier, viscose fiber for its absorbent ability, and of white color, to give a feeling of hygiene and purity.

Ultimately, among the many uses of non-woven fabric, the one designed to make the vacation or any kind of temporary stays more comfortable and pleasant is the main reason why disposable linen is a valid and good alternative to traditional linen.

P.S.

Note that all Caractere Paris products made of non-woven fabric are 100% recyclable

Caractere’s Disposable Linens Mobilized to Aid Syrian Refugees in Germany

This fall, Germany’s administration broke apart from the position held by its neighbors and other members of the European Union on the subject of a pressing humanitarian aid crisis: Syrian refugees. Germany became the first country on the continent to accept a large contingent of asylum-seekers from the war-torn country.

The pilot program will allow 5,000 Syrians to relocate over the course of one year, thanks to the organisation of 25 private flights by the German government. Counting those who will receive this assistance and other refugees who migrate on their own, estimates place the number of people to flee Syria in recent years for Europe at 17,000+ by the beginning of 2014.

Germany and the UNHCR are lobbying other European members to contribute space for the refugees or other resources to help smooth their resettlement.

The UNHCR, or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,  selected the initial group of refugees according to a number of factors.

Those considered “particularly vulnerable,” such as single mothers, minorities and the chronically ill were atop the list.

For the purposes of integration, German speakers had an advantage over other applicants. Additional consideration was also given to applicants with a connection to Germany, such as time spent in the country studying or family currently located there.

Finally a certain number of spots went to the intellectual, academic and professional elite of Syria, judged the group most important for the reconstruction of the country after the resolution of the current crisis.

The first group landed in Hannover a few weeks ago, sending a message the German government wants its neighbors to notice. The government then transported them to Friedland, a transit camp where the refugees spend two weeks.

Germany is no stranger to waves of refugees, as it decided to welcome 300,000 during the wars in the Balkans of the early 1990s. Nearly a million refugees have passed through Friedland over its history.

Given the basics of shelter and food, the newcomers attend German language and culture classes every day. Administratively a step ahead of other asylum-seekers, the Syrians are granted instant refugee status, which means they can start working whenever they want.

After the two week integration and orientation period, the different states of Germany each accept a number of refugees for permanent placement.

Certainly Germany’s actions represent a noble gesture, but this recent decision risks being seen as merely “a drop in the bucket.” This is because some two million Syrians seek asylum abroad, in addition to the four million already internally displaced, according to figures released by the United Nations.

This represents one third of the country’s population, a figure the UN estimates could reach as high as one half by the end of the year. More than 700,000 Syrians have officially registered as refugees in Lebanon. This has overwhelmed Syria’s neighbor, a country normally with a population of 4.5 million.

Unfortunate for the refugees, airline regulations impose a 44 pound limit per person for luggage. Within this limit, refugees must pack all the personal items and effects intended to prepare them for a stay of two years in Germany. Many left their homes in a rush, fleeing violence or destruction, without the time to pack up properly.

Often because of these constraints, refugees come to airport with little more than the clothes on their backs. For these reasons, it’s essential for countries planning to welcome refugees must prepare adequate infrastructure and supplies in advance.

While the core of our activities stem from the hotel industry or public institutions like hospitals and schools, Caractere already has experience in the field of humanitarian aid. Thus, it was with great honor that Caractere recently received a substantial order from Germany to help welcome Syrian refugees in their transition to life in Europe.

Some of our most popular items to deal with natural disasters and large population migrations include those from our hotel supply unit, including warm blanketssleeping bags and children’s linens. Caractere also manufactures a variety of uniforms and work outfits to properly equip the staff and volunteers associated with the reception of refugees.

baby sleepingbag by caractere

Caractere’s Baby Sleeping Bag

To learn more about the different types of products that can help with the reception of refugees,  check out the English language version of the website for Caractere Paris, Disposable Linen!

Caractere UK’s Disposable Linen on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/CaractereUK

Caractere UK’s Disposable Linen on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/CaractereUK

Sources
Amos, Deborah. “For Some Syrian Refugees, A New Home In Germany.” NPR, Sept. 12, 2013.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/09/12/221764124/for-some-syrian-refugees-a-new-home-in-germany
Heine, Friederike. “Gateway to Freedom: Camp Preps Syrian Refugees for German Life.” Der Spiegel, Oct. 11, 2013.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/second-syrian-refugee-group-arrives-at-friedland-transit-camp-a-927372.html

Recycling and Respect for the Environment Surge in the Hotel Industry: Three Simple Ways to Save Money and Earn the Respect of Guests

In the cutthroat hotel industry, price and the bottom line often trump other concerns, especially those for the environment. However, must it be this way? With three innovative and brilliant ideas, industry leaders such as Travelodge, the Crown Spa Hotel and the Accor Group are showing how changes from the smallest detail (light bulbs) to more major ones (construction materials) can both make a world of difference and save unbelievable amounts of money. Now, both Mother Nature and your bank account can smile at the same time!

Starting from Scratch with Recycled Building Materials

 

from Caractère

Uxbridge Container Hotel

First, the hotel’s construction can be rethought of as a method of recycling. Sushil Cheema of The Wall Street Journal reported at the end of 2008 about a new innovation in hotel building design: the first hotel ever built in the UK entirely out of former shipping containers. While most people cannot imagine spending a night inside of an empty tin box, Travelodge found a method to renovate the containers in Shenzen, China (their place of origin), ship them halfway around the world and assemble them together in a solid structure in Uxbridge, a suburb of London. Instead of the roughly fifteen month to two year construction period that a traditional hotel of this size would take, the company managed to finish the project in a matter of four months, including the time it took to pour the foundation. Once the site was ready, it only took 20 days to piece together the 86 containers into a coherent design. A spokesman for Travelodge, Greg Dawson, commented that this new method eases concerns about disturbing the surrounding area during construction. With pre-fabricated units, the contractor, Verbus Systems, just snapped them together “like giant Lego blocks,” without interrupting shoppers at the nearby high street.

 

from Caractère

Interior of the Container Hotel

Despite the fact that the company accomplished major savings by choosing this unconventional building method, they can charge the same prices for rooms as at any other location, and eco-friendly or design engaged tourists may flock to the site just to learn more about how it was built. For Travelodge, which plans to open a new hotel in the UK once a week for the next ten years, the shipping container idea will help the chain achieve its growth targets without worry. Uxbridge’s location was nothing more than a test site: the company completed a similar project at Heathrow Airport later that year.

Read more about the “Hotel Made of Shipping Containers Opens in England,” at http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2008/08/27/hotel-made-of-shipping-containers-opens-in-england/
For an interesting collection of pictures of container re-use, see http://xhadong.wordpress.com/

Together, Several Small Changes Can Go Quite a Long Way

Second, if your establishlment is already built, don’t fret, because it’s not too late! Adapting exisiting buildings and their infrastructure to new developments in the energy and appliance industries can lead to profound changes in the site’s energy use – and deep savings for your pocketbook! Managers have found that many guests tend to leave the lights or a TV on when they leave the room in order to feel more welcomed when they return. Even more guests forget to turn off the heat or air conditioning when they check out, augmenting energy bills to acclimate an empty room. EnjoyEngland.com, in partnership with The Telegraph, points out that Scarborough’s Crown Spa Hotel has retrofitted its 116 rooms and suites with an automatic switch that turns off non-essential lights and appliances the moment one leaves the room. Of course this change took some initial investment, but even simple changes at the four star establishment — like replacing conventional light bulbs with LED lights in parts of the building — have provided incredible energy savings. In fact, starting in 2011, the hotel will see a quarter of a million pound (£250,000) reduction per year on its annual energy bill.

 

from Caractère

Crown Spa Hotel

Aside from energy savings, the hotel also started collecting rain water from the roof to wash its linens and flush toilets, began composting kitchen waste and switched to a wood-burning stove to heat the lobby. The staff has been told to turn off computers and lights while on break or lunch, and the caretakers added a special, non-toxic, heat-insulating chemical to the pool to reduce overnight cooling. After this series of little changes, the hotel has already seen dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions, and aims to halve its emissions by 2015. The hotel’s administrative director, David Frank, commented he’s an “evangelical ‘greenie’ and [that he’s] proud to be one… We don’t ram our message down people’s throats but sustainability is efficiency and it makes good economic and business sense to think about sustainability.”

Read more about “The Crown Spa Hotel’s green credentials impressed the Enjoy England judges enough to pick up the Sustainable Tourism Award,” at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/enjoy_england_trips/7658371/Enjoy-England-The-Crown-Spa-Hotel.html

Special Events to Transform Consumer Consciousness, Brand Perception and the World’s Quality of Life

Starting this Friday, the Accor Group of hotels will innaugurate the fifth edition of its annual Earth Guest Day. David Woods of HR Magazine writes that the holiday was created in 2006 with eight guiding principles:

  • Contributing to local development
  • Fighting against epidemics
  • Promoting balanced food
  • Managing energy consumption
  • Conserving water
  • Producing less waste
  • Protecting biodiversity

Locations and staff across the 90 countries with Accor locations, including the 160 hotels in the UK, will celebrate the occassion with a series of events, such as tree plantings in parks, gardens, schools and other public areas across the country to bring attention to its Fruits for the Children campaign, a partnership between the charity Plan UK and Accor’s Plant for the Planet foundation. The goals of this particular campaign include the following:

Fruits for Children is a project to improve the nutrition of 4,000 school children from 8 schools in the Machakos district of Kenya through planting fruit trees to provide a steady year-round supply of nutritious fruits to improve their diet. The project also aims to develop children’s knowledge of their environment, and their skills and techniques in fruit production, improving their standards of living as the acquired skills are transferred to their families and communities. The trees also help to reduce the problem of soil erosion and the fruits produced provide a source of income for the participating schools.

 

from Caractère

An Accor Ibis Hotel

Through the previous years’ efforts, Accor already raised more than £100,000 in the UK for Fruits for the Children. Plant for the Planet dates from 2009, a program instituted by the chain’s headquarters to finance the replanting of depleted forests worldwide. Thus far, over 1.7 million trees have been planted, with the UK Accor locations financing the planting of 30,000 trees in 2010 alone. The system is rather simple, but will leave a lasting impression on the plant, animal species and families who call these forests home, in addition to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Every five times guests reuse a bath towel without requiring its wash, the company vows to plant a tree. The goal for 2011 in the UK is an astounding 50,000 trees, nearly twice as many as last year.

Read more about “Accor Hotel Group employees gear up for global environmental initiative,” at http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1019312/accor-hotel-group-employees-gear-global-environmental-initiative

Lessons Learned

As you can see, everything from minute changes in supplies or practices to ways to rethink construction methods can reduce a hotel’s environmental impact, in addition to the charges it must pay. At Caractère, we celebrate the efforts of the hotel industry to reduce its environmental impact by guaranteeing that all of our products, such as the famous bed mattress covers, sanitary headphone covers, and salon products like sandals; are reusable, recyclable or biodegradable. We design our products with ecological pricipals in mind so they are manufactured out of mostly plant-based materials with a minimal amount of chemical treatments and dyes.

In addition, over the coming months, we aim to reduce our carbon footprint by relocating our offices to a location much closer to our shipping providers, and also easier for our staff to make the commute via mass transit. The world is constantly evolving, and just like you, we care about the envionment too!

Caractère’s Spring Newsletter: Swimwear, Bedding and Sandals

Disposable Swimsuits – Welcome Slippers – Hotel Mattress Pad Protectors

n°02 – 23/03/2011
Emergency disposable Swim Wear
Emergency Swim Wear

– Better than disposable bathing suits,

these simple and elegant swimsuits are for customers of all sizes who forget their own at home.

You can offer them for free or sell them.

The unit price of less than £5 makes these suits a great deal.

An important service for guests who value comfort and convenience.

To learn more, please click here.

Slippers for all Sizes and Sensibilities

-Welcome slippers have become an essential amenity for accommodations that provide all the comforts of home.

-In addition to custom orders (starting with 20 pairs), we offer a wide range of slipper sizes, in white, black, standard, deluxe and logo-personalised models.


For more details, please click here

Slippers for all Sizes and Sensibilities
Tranquil Nights with Inexpensive Mattress Pads Mattress protectors
Tranquil Nights with Inexpensive Mattress Pads Mattress protectors

Tranquil Nights with Inexpensive Mattress Pads Mattress protectors are a real hygiene problem for hotels.

– Fortunately, economical and practical solutions exist.

– An end to stains, hair or other cleaning issues, these pads can be used for over a month without a change.

– Disposable, meaning time and money saved by removing the chore of washing.

Sold in sets starting at 25 units

– for more information, please click here

For our full range of products or a free estimate, please visit disposable-linen.co.uk , or call020 7193 0887.
Copyright © www.caractere-paris.com

Vakker og Fredelig, Fjorder i Norge: Hiking Norway’s Fjords in Comfort and Style

from Caractère Paris

A Cruiseship in Molde, Romsdal

The coasts of the Scandinavian countries, and those of Norway in particular, are world renown for their spectacular fjords and incomparable views. More often than not, visitors opt to experience their magnificence from below, either on coastline cruise boats or in small canoes. However, as experienced hiker Bill Russell points out, taking “hikes into the surrounding mountains… really provides the visitor the fullest opportunity to experience the beauty and culture of the area in a special way not available by boats alone… it’s a glorious experience viewing the fjords from above.” In fact, he goes as far as to say, “Fjord hiking is the experience of a lifetime.” With over 15,000 miles of coastline and thousands of fjords, fortunately one could never run out of new sites to explore.

from Caractère Paris

Meloyfjord Sunset from Amnes

Sounds intriguing, no? If unfamiliar, you might be wondering what a fjord is exactly and about the origin of their funny name. The word “fjord” comes from Indo-European origins, with fara meaning travelling or ferrying. The Old Norse adaptation of this verb, fjǫrðr (or fjord) indicates a body of water that resembles a lake, often used for cruise and ferry ship transit. In geological terms, the name defines a lengthy, thin inlet surrounded by cliffs of steep hills or mountains. Fjords were created thanks to thousands of years of glacial melting since the last ice age. In fact, as the glaciers melted, through the abrasive pressure exerted by their weight on the land below the ice, the glaciers carved out deep tunnels. After they melted, these tunnels eventually became submerged by the sea. At the same time, this intense pressure pushed the surrounding land upward, creating the picturesque views that enthuse many a traveller to visit Norway today.

from Caractère Paris

Bergen from the Fløibanen Funicular

Often, hikers begin their voyages in Bergen, considered by many one of the world’s most beautiful cities and the “gateway to the fjord country.” Rich in an elegant mix of classic Norwegian style and the new minimalist Scan school of architecture, with plenty of cultural institutions, Norway’s second largest city has enough to offer on its own to be worth a visit. However, it’s the city’s proximity to the fjords that interests most tourists.

from Caractère Paris

Sognefjord, Norway, just outside of Bergen

Given the mountainous terrain, one can expect to travel an average of five to eight miles (11-18 km) per day. Waterfalls, rolling streams and quaint cabins line the journey. From Bergen, one can reach Sognefjord in a day, the world’s third longest fjord (the longest in Norway) at 203 km (136 mi) and the second deepest (again, the record holder for Norway) at 1,308 m (4,291 ft). The surrounding  mountains rise another 1,000 metres (3,281 miles), providing unrivalled views of the coast from every perspective. However, don’t let what sounds like a steep incline intimidate you — there are hiking paths available for every fitness level, from the professional to the amateur.

from Caractère Paris

Geirangerfjord, Norway

Further north along the coast, the Atlantic road continues along some of the country’s most beautiful and lesser known fjords. The Troll’s Road, Trollstigen, was a feat of modern engineering when constructed. It cuts directly into the Andalsnes mountain with hairpin turns, surrounded by waterfalls that have been described as “simply breathtaking.” Trollstigen leads to Geiranger, where many view the remarkable Geirangfjord from boat. Experienced travellers boast that the best vistas are from the trails north of Hellyslt. While in the area, the neighbouring Strynevatnet Lake contains gorgeous waters of a unique turquoise colour that cannot be found elsewhere. Also, the peaceful rural town of Hjelle serves as a perfect point to stop and rest.

from Caractère Paris

Sørfjord and Lofthus in Hardanger

One cannot go wrong by continuing along the Panorama Road, which wraps around the Gamle Strynefellsvegen fjord a third of a mile above sea level with stunningly picturesque views. Not to miss: the Kjenndal, Loen, Olden and Briksdal Glaciers. The nearby Saebo and Hjorundfjord sport some of the most remarkable views in all of Norway. With an extremely steep incline (nearly vertical), one is left with the feeling of floating on top of the world. The Highway 60 that passes by Geirangerfjord and Sunnylvsfjord sports what has the reputation of “one of the best vista spots in Norway.” Vinnufossen, in the neighbouring region of Sunndalsora, is the sixth tallest waterfall in the world. The gorgeous, protected Amotan Park will help visitors reconnect with nature, in addition to offering more scenic valleys with impressive waterfalls and a highly recommended hiking trail, the Trodalen.

from Caractère Paris

Stigen Farm, Aurlandsfjord

If you have yet to book the next flight to Oslo, listen to a short excerpt of one hiker’s experience of the fjords: “We hike past mountain farms, similar to the one situated 600 meters above Simadalsfjorden and only reachable by foot until the beginning of the 1970’s. We glimpse these old farm houses, where you can see how your ancestors used to live, and where it is still possible to meet people who protect the local song heritage by singing the old tunes, and by playing the Hardangerfiddle.

from Caractère Paris

Mountain pasture on the Geiranger Fjord

“As we hike along the heritage trails in Ulvik, in the hills and mountains that surround the village, you get to know more about life in the area in the days gone by. The trails beckon and the high pastures where flocks of sheep graze, clear streams, blue lakes, and striking mountains provide hikers with plenty of off-the-beaten track adventures.”

Sounds delightful! At Caractère, we offer a variety of items to make your fjord hiking experience easier and more comfortable. Our products include supplies designed for rural guest houses and camp sites, which range from disposable sheets and blankets to towels and baby hygiene products. For those who plan to take advantage of Scandinavia’s world renown saunas and spas, we also provide massage wear, slippers, sandals, bathrobes and towels. Comfortable, recyclable and easy to use, you cannot go wrong with disposable supplies from Caractère. Best of all, we ship anywhere in Europe, including the UK and Norway. If you choose to go, have a wonderful trip and please write to us about your travels.
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Finally, some links to help you plan. For hiking route ideas and itineraries, see the hiking and itinerary pages of Norway Fjords, Fjords.com, REI, FjordNorway, Russell Tours and Web Walking. For guided hiking tours, visit The Norwegian Trekking Association’s official website. For more fantastic pictures of fjords, see The Norway Fjords and Fjords.com.

Finally, a short video about hiking in the fjords from Visit Kristiansund:

From the Involucrum to the Kimono Gown and Cape: A History of the Barber Shop and Hair Styling Professions

from Caractère Paris

Ancient Roman Ornatrix

In ancient Rome, just as in the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia, baths and bodycare were an essential component of daily life. Sanitation was important enough for rulers to install public toilets and sewers, in order to avoid dirtiness in the streets and the spread of disease. Both the number and variety of beauty and hygiene-related professions flourished, predecessors to today’s hair stylists and make up artists in salons and spas. Rich, noble families and Senators had the means to hire personal barbers who lived with them in the decadent private villas of Rome and worked directly with their clients on a daily basis, or as often as required. Female stylists were kept busy, with the sole purpose of caring for the lady of the household, without any break or time to care for themselves. These domestic beauticians, called Ornatrix in Latin, also took care of the household and bathrooms, and created hair arrangements with the help of copper-based mirrors, primitive combs and fibulae brooches.

from Caractère Paris

Ornatrix statue in the Carthage Museum, Tunisia

Far from being a privilege reserved for the few wealthy classes, many more Romans sought their grooming in public barbershops, either inside a dedicated building or out on the street corner. These workers distinguished themselves with specially designed haircut gowns. They were mostly preoccupied by the care of men, whose beards required weekly attention. Aside from the basic format of the service, the functional aspects of aesthetic care were important. Often, only a single seat was available in the neighbourhood Botteca Tonsor, or barber shop. This gave the client the hair dresser’s full, undivided attention during sessions. Early versions of mirrors, different sizes of scissors, statues and paintings on the walls provided the client with ideas of styles from which to choose. For the customer’s comfort, more luxurious shops provided towels or protective cape-like covers, called Involucrum, but this was a relatively uncommon practice.

from Caractère Paris

Ornatrix from Pompei

In addition to the simple purpose of hair salon, the Tonsor also operated as it still does today in many countries of the Middle East and Asia, as a sort of general physician/practician, herbalist, nutritionist, psychologist and private consultant. Even today, as in ancient Rome, the barber was responsible for taking care of a variety of important rituals that marked the milestones of a person’s life. These ranged from “shaving the first offering to the gods” (circumcision), to the application of disinfecting creams and lotions to kill fleas and ticks, to treating the client with leeches for bloodletting, considered for centuries the best remedy to every illness. Above all, the barber shop was (and remains in some capacity today) a social place where the latest news and gossip were shared, where people shared their personal problems and where important decisions were made. What’s more, they served as a host for vibrant political discussions and helped people come to agreements.

Culturally, there is an abundance of well-known examples (that is, of course aside from the Barber of Seville), such as the classic novel ‘Moustache‘ by Tahsin Yucel, considered one of the greatest Turkish writers of the Twentieth Century. It describes the changes in society from the perspective of a barber shop in a small village of Anatolia. On the other hand, the hair stylist’s role in literature has remained a central part of Italian culture. Toward the end of the Roman empire, the satirical story Martial and Juvenal (Marziale e Giovenale in the original language), focused on those obsessed with hair styles, those lazy ones stuck “between the mirror and comb” (Martial).

from Caractère Paris

Frontispiece Depicting Juvenal and Persius

The stories are numerous enough to give specific information on the trends and styles instituted under the emperor. Dyed hair wigs imported from the Indian provinces became a popular style. Although hair styling tools from the Roman period have been impossible to preserve until today because they were usually made of iron and subsequently destroyed by rust, there are many directions for the beard cutting process and style left by Etruscan, still well preserved to this day in bronze reliefs. During the Middle Ages, the barber’s shop became a learning place for surgery, according to the teachings of Hippocrates, Galen (Galeno) and Avicenna.

Today, the single sex, community barber has virtually disappeared, replaced over the last century by commercial, unisex hair salons and spas. At the same time, in recent years there seems to be a recovery of some neighbourhood community barber shops. While the size, health standards and hygiene have evolved rapidly, and new services are offered such as massage sessions, facials, manicures and pedicures; today’s beauty salons have reincorporated many of the same wellness and health services that were common two thousand years ago.

Caractère offers a variety of products, some even inspired by the early concept of the Involucrum, including protective gowns, kimonos, capes, supplies for hairdressers, massage wear, sauna products and much more…

The Fountain of Eternal Youth: A History of Roman Thermal Baths

by the German painter L. Alma Tadema

Baths of Caracalla

Yet again, the origin lies in the name. Thermos, the Greek word for “heat,” situates itself among many concepts recovered and recycled from ancient Greece by the Romans, who popularised the communal bath system during the fifth century BC. Initially, the Romans privatised the baths’ use for the elites, such as Senators and merchants. Ahead of their time in terms of hygiene, as with most things, the Romans discovered the basic health benefits of thermal baths by the first century. However, the use of spas on a mass scale took until the Empire of Augustus, who was advised by Agrippa to make his generals frequently take cold baths. With the trust of the Emperor won, the ‘public bath’ concept was born.

by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

The Baths at Caracalla

The first spas spread rapidly throughout the Empire, transforming into a popular site of congregation and socialisation for members of every profession, social class and milieu. While originally known for its health and hygiene functions, the spa soon became an indispensable component for a healthy society — a sort of community centre and meeting place all-in-one, where all types of relationships and business intermingled. The sense of relaxation and intimacy provided by this place, designed with attention to architectural detail unimaginable today, was elaborated by an entranceway with restrooms, exercise areas, a primitive version of a locker room, saunas and steam rooms, and three deep basin pools filled with water of different temperatures: one hot, one warm to tepid and one cold. Through the various rooms, guests could benefit from Roman thermal baths in nearly identical ways to how visitors to the modern version of the spa do today.

Today a church

Roman Baths of Diocletian

In continuous use until roughly the sixth century, which depended on their location, many of the Roman baths were destroyed or neglected during the disintegration of the empire. Over the Medieval period, given the mounting support for Christian morality, modesty, and the intolerance for promiscuity, the baths were often transformed into monasteries. One such example is the Baths of Diocletian, the largest of any baths built in Rome, which could at one time accommodate up to 3,000 bathers, was transformed into a series of religious buildings during the sixteenth century.

During the twelfth century, the repair of many older spas and the opening of new ones were undertaken, mainly in the Tuscan and Emilia-Romagna regions, which to this day remain the regions of Italy with the highest concentration of spas. The Baths of Casciana and those of di Lucca, originally property of the Countess Matilde, count among the many examples. Their use was once private, with a four week long treatment that consisted of various baths between 30 minutes to two hours, with the time gradually decreased over the period of treatment. The principle behind this very exact regimen remains a mystery, but it is believed to date back to Hippocrates’ Theory of Humours, which attempted to treat symptoms of disease with their exact opposite. For example, sulphur-rich water was used to treat skin infections, and waters rich with minerals were intended to cure infertility. The steam rooms were also a very popular cure for body odour linked to sweat.

at Hotel Helvetica

Contemprary Spa in Porretta

Renaissance thinkers and artisans rediscovered the classical charm and advanced theories (for their time) of Greco-Roman cultures, which put considerable pressure on local leaders, such as princes and lords, to ameliorate the former spas in terms of structural features and artistic design, but their use remained essentially non-medical, for example at the Porretta spa in Emilia. Later, during the age of imperialism, and especially after the remains of Pompeii coincidentally surfaced in 1779, a romantic vision of Roman culture led many elites of the era to want to reinterpret their lifestyle and customs. Numerous paintings on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris exhibit this viewpoint, where the term, “a century of the baths,” denotes the formation of a well-defined civil society.

England's most famous bath

Roman Baths in Bath, England

Since the late nineteenth century, due to medical progress and experimentation, along with the gradual gentrification of society, leaders regained a sense of social obligation for hygiene, even if this obligation remained limited to the privileged classes. Not only did the nobles of Europe rediscover the therapeutic sense of a day at the spa, but also a dimension of overall well-being, which included body, mind and spirit. In the modern era, scientific progress proved the advantages of combined therapies, exemplified by the importance and variety of today’s wellness centres and spas. For example, those suffering from chronic illness in Northern Italy have deemed the Baths of Casciana in Pisa an indispensable part of rehabilitation. Other well-preserved spas from the Roman era preserved a fun and relaxing attitude, such as the hot springs of Saturnia or Petriolo, openly accessible by all ages and social classes for recreational as well as therapeutic use. (Baths of Caracalla by the German painter L. Alma Tadema)

An interesting phenomenon over the past few years has been the rise of specialty spas

England's most famous bath

Bath, England at night

flanked by villas and boutique hotels that offer a mix of public baths and private therapeutic services, often catered by a specialized team with experience in medical treatments, physical therapy, massages and other services. While non-clinical in nature, these specialised spas advertise custom treatments and wellness programs in targeted sessions of a few days to weeks, in a naturally pleasant environment to rejuvenate both body and spirit.

Some other locations where original Roman spas can be found in abundance include France, England, Germany, Spain and Turkey. Here is a list of some such locations, many still functioning in their original capacities today and others renovated or redesigned for other uses, as provided by Wikipedia:

  • United Kingdom: Bath – Roman Baths; Exeter, Devon; Leicester – Jewry Wall; Ribchester, in Lancashire; Tripontium, near today’s Rugby, Warwickshire; Welwyn, in Hertfordshire; Chedworth; Fishbourne Roman Palace; and York.
  • France: Arles – Thermes de Constantin; Glanum, near today’s Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; and Paris – Thermes de Cluny.
  • Germany: Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg; Trier; and Weißenburg.
  • Italy: Baths of Agrippa, Baths of Caracalla, Baths of Diocletian, Baths of Titus, Baths of Trajan,  Pompeii (ruins), and Herculaneum.
  • Spain: Caldes de Malavella, Gerona; Caldes de Montbui, Barcelona; Clunia, Burgos; and Lucus Augusti, Lugo.

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For a list of spas in Italy, please see http://www.termeitalia.info/
For a wide variety of products ideal for spas, such as soft and durable bathrobes, slippers, sandals, bathing suits, Asorbtex and microfibre towels, please visit Caractère’s spa page at http://disposable-linen.co.uk/bed-sheet-towelling-bedding/contents/en-uk/d115_spa-wellness.html
For all other Caractère products, see http://disposable-linen.co.uk/bed-sheet-towelling-bedding/