Wellness design: Matteo Thun on creating confidence in spas

By European Spa

By European Spa

23 December 2020


As part of a series of interviews, we asked three international designers what spas can do to make their existing wellness spaces more suitable for post-pandemic operations in 2021.

According to leading wellness architect Matteo Thun, the principal goal of wellness design is to provide the ultimate relaxation experience, so spas should focus on smart design concepts to help reassure guests.

JW Marriott Venice, Italy

“First and foremost, it should be stated that there is no evidence that coronavirus spreads to people through the water in pools, hot tubs or water features. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention*, standard operation and maintenance systems, including disinfection with chlorine and bromine, should inactivate the virus in the water.

“Nonetheless, stringent hygiene and generous space allowance will be top priorities in wellness design going forward, with cleanliness as important as health and fitness in the longevity of spa facilities.

Jod Schwefelbad, Germany

“As well as private treatment rooms, the layout of high-traffic social spaces will need to be revisited to ensure proportions that grant social distancing. Also, intuitive access to automatic and sensored sanitisers and washbasins should be provided throughout.

“The introduction of contactless wristband access technology, which could be used for all spa purchases as well as timed spa experiences, would also help reduce possibly problematic touch-points.

Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence Bürgenstock, Switzerland

“A warm, human atmosphere can still be easily conveyed through the use of natural colours and materials such as wood and stone, further complemented by lush indoor planting to aid air purification. It has been proven that we regenerate and recover quicker and for longer in a natural environment, so focusing on this will benefit your guests’ wellbeing.

Matteo Thun’s wellness design takeaways

Spatial reconsideration: The size, location and ventilation of spaces within a spa will become critical to maintaining the health of guests


Talking tech: Immunity-boosting treatments and features will become a focal point for reopened spas


A new menu: Think about how you can incorporate nutritious food menus and innovative spa treatments to reinforce your preventative health message

“Spa visits in the future will be driven by a desire to improve our immune systems. As architects, we should consider the latest technology-driven solutions for air purification in order to offer the highest quality of clean air as this will become critical in spa operation.

“State-of-the-art purifiers could also be discreetly integrated within existing spa designs, with screens used to relay air quality levels as well as maximum/current occupancy numbers in various spaces. Additional technological enhancements include self-cleaning spa features that can be activated when not in use by guests.

Jod Schwefelbad, Germany

“Although spas have traditionally focused on social gatherings, the increasing stresses of everyday life and the inability to disconnect from technology, as well as the effects of Covid-19, will see a shift towards wellness spaces that evoke mindfulness through solitude and self-contemplation.

About Matteo Thun

Practice: Matteo Thun Milano

Notable spa projects: Vigilius Mountain Resort, Lana, Italy; Terme Merano, Italy; Waldhotel Bürgenstock, Switzerland; and Jod Schwefelbad, Bad Wiessee, Germany (opening soon)

Design ethos: Timeless, pure, durable, intuitively understandable

“This focus on the ‘inner self’ in spas will be reflected in the choice of soft music, the sounds of water and nature, low-level lighting and incredible views that nurture and stimulate inner peace rather than lively social interaction.”


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