It all began in a wooden shed in Halmstad, Sweden in 1950 when, at the age of 22, Sven-Olof Janson started a company called AB El-spiraler, spinning coils for electrical elements.
This year, celebrating its 60th anniversary, that same company, better known as Tylö, is one of the most prestigious names in the sauna and steam room industry and still produces similar elements that are used in its products that are sold in 90 countries worldwide.
Yachts, cruise ships, luxury apartments, boutique hotels and private health and golf clubs – even the world-famous Icehotel! – are just some of the bespoke projects incorporating Tylö products, many of which have been pioneered by the company’s UK distributor Golden Coast, which this year itself celebrates a 30-year association with the Swedish manufacturer.
In recognition of the part played in the success of the company, Tylö has bestowed the distinction of ‘Certified Distributor’ on a select few ‘partner’ companies, including Golden Coast for the UK.
Reliability & quality
Two words sum up Tylö products – ‘reliability’ and ‘quality’ – attributes on which the company has built its reputation, so much so, that it was awarded one of the highest international design accolades in the ‘Red Dot Awards 2010’ for its new ‘Scandinavia’ sauna heater.
It was this obsession for quality that brought Tylö and Golden Coast together. David Adams, the founder of Golden Coast, first came across the company at a Spatex show in Brighton when his company was solely involved with building swimming pools.
Well before the word ‘wellbeing’ entered everyday English language, David saw an opportunity to add value to his portfolio by offering a complete leisure package to develop the untapped UK market for sauna and steam. As a result he approached Tylö, becoming the South-West agent, one of eight agents in the UK.
In the early 1980’s David and Brian Patterson of BOS Leisure, the agent responsible for Wales and the west at that time, joined forces to form ‘Swedish Saunas’, which superseded the agency network. With nationwide exclusivity, the new company changed its name to ‘Tylö UK’, becoming responsible for promoting and marketing the brand throughout the country.
Following the new company’s success, the Swedish parent company set up its own presence in the UK with its own showroom for a brief period. This eventually closed with the Swedes reverting back to Golden Coast, now on its own, being its sole UK certified distributor.
Introducing the leisure suite
With an emphasis at that time on commercial pools, Golden Coast incorporated sauna or steam into dedicated leisure areas adjacent to pool halls for hotels and the new up-and-coming independent fitness and leisure centres. On the residential front it introduced the concept of sauna or steam bathing in the home, utilising space in bathrooms, attics, garages or even a spare room to create a ‘leisure suite’.
As both markets became more dynamic, heralding the arrival of a number of other sauna manufacturers, Golden Coast remain resolutely committed to the commercial market working directly with architects and interior designers who started to incorporate sauna and/or steam in prestige developments. To satisfy and retain a foothold in the residential domestic market the company established a nationwide network of dealers.
“With personal wellbeing rising in popularity as fitness centres developed, so the Tylö brand really established itself in the UK market. This raised the status of sauna away from the stereotype downmarket view of it being linked with massage parlours, to an acceptable way to relax. As a result, the demand opened up a new market,” explains David.
“From the very start the product’s quality was, and remains, its greatest attribute and it sells itself; sales since the early 1990’s have remain stable with steady order levels being maintained,” he added.
One of Tylö’s claims to fame is that it manufactures and assembles nearly all the components used in its products in-house, from sauna heaters and steam generators, to cutting, preparing and assembling the specially chosen wood for its sauna cabins and vacuum forming the interior of its steam rooms.
More than just ‘a wooden box’
Now described as ‘rooms’, Tylö saunas have moved away from the image of a ‘wooden box with benches and a heater’. The company leads the industry with pioneering innovative designs, including curved toughened tinted glass walls and metal frames that replace traditional straight wooden panels, much of which has been copied by others.
This use of glass has been paramount in commercial projects to create inspiring designs that maximise the surroundings and provide bathers with views across golf courses, countryside or even distant seascapes. There is even the option of ever-changing combinations of concealed mood lighting and music to create a ‘zone of relaxation’.
The ability to literally ‘think outside the box’ and adapt Tylö products to meet project design demands comes naturally to Golden Coast and its dealers. Golden Coast Director, Shaun Adams was the author of the original SPATA guidance on saunas and steam products, which formed the basis of the industry’s standard for installations.
Equally, its Surrey-based dealer, Leisurequip – holders of a ‘Most Prestigious Contracts’ award in recognition of its work – matches the demands for creative projects, such as when a Croatian billionaire bought a £14 million iconic Sunseeker superyacht, complete with Tylö sauna.
As a ‘first’ for Sunseeker, the project presented a number of challenges, not least incorporating a sauna that would meet the required fire rating of its glass-fibre yachts. Leisurequip has subsequently installed saunas in other Sunseeker superyachts. Since then, a second sauna has been installed in a Sunseeker boat, this time the company’s latest 40-foot superyacht.
Similar design demands were made at ‘Cascades’, the prominent apartment building fronting the River Thames adjacent to Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands, where the completely refurbished gym and swimming pool includes a double-aspect bespoke uni-sex sauna, enabling entry from the separate male and female changing rooms.
Just down the road adjoining Wimbledon Common and with a price tag of £15 million, Curzon Place Properties developed what has been described as ‘a truly spectacular residence of unparalleled scale and luxury’.
Working with the London Swimming Pool Company, a separate sauna and steam room were constructed with matching angled mirrored exterior walls, overlooking and reflecting the spa and indoor pool. More recently work has just been completed on a new fitness facility, complete with swimming pool, sauna and steam, at the prestigious Central London residential project.
Formerly the Lancaster Gate Thistle Hotel, ‘The Lancasters’, as it is known now, offers 77 ultra-prime luxury apartments, located behind the shinning white Grade II listed Victorian property built in a French Renaissance Terrace style with stucco façade.
The apartments, with price tags ranging from just under one-and-a-half million pounds for a one-bedroom ‘living space’ to £17 million for the top-priced four bedroom penthouse suite with uninterrupted views over London’s Hyde Park, all have access to a fully equipped leisure facility that includes a 15 metre x 14 m swimming pool, spa, gymnasium and the eight seat bisazza tiled steam room.
Tylö’s Swedish team of designers has always pushed the boundaries of design with striking concepts to create a futuristic oval ‘space capsule’ sauna and ‘Asia’ sauna, complete with sealed sliding doors, mood lighting and music coupled with the soothing sound of an interior water feature.
Developing sales & expanding the dealer network
In line with its Swedish principal, Golden Coast also pushes the boundaries, continuing to expand its nationwide dealership network and year-on-year sales, with the brand becoming synonymous with quality and the ‘must have’ name for sauna and steam suites.
Today 40ft containers regularly arrive at the company’s Barnstaple warehouse, the loads being parcelled out for the various projects in hand, with onwards delivery by Golden Coast’s own transport fleet supplying the respective dealers around the country.
Having an unparalleled expertise of Tylö products, Golden Coast maintains its pre-eminent position as the UK’s exclusive certified distributor by linking its dedicated quality customer service and support with one of the world’s major brand leaders.
Tylo at the Ice Hotel
And finally, the combination of sauna or steam and ice come together every year at the world-famous Icehotel, located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.
In this constantly cold environment, Tylö creates two saunas – the permanent traditional sauna and steam room suite in the conventional hotel, whilst the other is an ‘Ice Sauna’ – a snow-floored igloo that remains at -5o to replace the usually plunge pool or cold shower.
There is even a Tylö sauna heater transformed into a work of art – sculpted totally out of ice, of course!
Head & shoulders above the competition
And it’s not just the Tylö products that gain the accolades, but the way Golden Coast has adapted itself over the years to meet the needs of customers in the changing markets.
“The pool product supplier that always stood out head and shoulders above all others was, and still is, Golden Coast, says, Tony Line, managing director of London Swimming Pool Company.
“This has been achieved largely thanks to David Adams who fully recognised from the beginning the power of public relations and its vital role to the growth of any business. They realised that PR is the type of marketing investment which will achieve excellent returns and needs to be a permanent fixture of the business, not just a knee jerk reaction in a recession.”
“In their position as trail blazers, Golden Coast, has therefore inspired London Swimming Pool Company to also put in place a clear PR and marketing function and has become the distributor which we like to make referrals to and to credit in press editorial,” he added.
Tony highlighted the prime examples of Golden Coast’s one day Fresh Ideas seminars, which are designed to enable customers to benefit from some very useful talks on strategy and marketing.
“A more recent initiative has been the launch of Wetleisure.Co and YourPool.Co in conjunction with their newly redeveloped main website. These two linked micro sites offer a new online business forum for industry members and a consumer support area offering advice on all aspects of pool and spa ownership connected to suitable service providers,” said Tony, concluding that London Swimming Pool Company looks forward to seeing the positive effects of bringing the market together in such a way.