Therme breaks new ground in the visitor economy developed in Romania by a growing international company. Similar day resorts will open in Manchester and Glasgow by 2025. Therme’s are game changers in the visitor economy and they are triple bottom-line responsible. The product has been tried and tested by the airport in Bucharest, it is 10 minutes from the city and less than five from the airport.
Therme is a new concept and it is hard to describe. I have been in Romania as a guest of Therme for the weekend. I was on Sunday at Bran Castle, a stunning attraction which pre-Covid was attracting around one million tourists a year and it will again. Therme is now attracting 1.3 million domestic and international visitors a year. The attraction can absorb up to 4,000 at any one time, on its peak day it had 9,000. Iit is ticketed and avoids overtourism.
But what is it?
Therme describe it variously as a “wellness centre”, an “exotic destination for the whole family” an adventure playground with 16 waterslides offering 1600m of pure adrenalin “the most spectacular indoor slide system in Europe.” I didn’t try the slides.
I click on the site as I write this and Therme are promoting a concert with Romania’s greatest showman, a live concert on the sand at Therme – they have the largest urban beach in Europe. In winter you can lounge in an outdoor heated pool while there is snow and ice around you, indoor there are 1,500 plus palm and olive trees, living ones, carefully watered and nourished individually though pipes from below.
Therme is not merely a visitor attraction – it is better understood as a destination with three differently themed restaurants meeting the needs of gourmets and children. With a low entry price it is accessible for many for family groups, young people and the elderly who come to relax and use the many different wellness experiences and treatments.
This morning I was there with a real mix of people, predominant elderly but mixed. Young people bring their granny or grandpa, aqua gym exercise classes, hydro therapy pools, water massage and Jacuzzis – all for the entry price.
I am put off by the wellness label. To me it sounds medical, worthy, exclusive, expensive and lacking fun. I am British. Therme is none of these things.
Therme is a fun exotic experience, one for all the family and for different interests from spa treatments to pop concerts. Take a look at the website which is strong on the visitor experiences and weak on sustainability.
But Therme is a leading example of responsibility. It is at the core of the experience. Therme does not preach about it. Rather they deliver it. Personally I think they should make more of it in their marketing, sustainability and the determination to be the best at it, drives the business. Outdoor heated pools when the temperature is – 15°C – how can that be responsible and guilt free?
- Heating is geothermal (and the curative properties of the minerals in the water are used in the spa pools
- They are driving down electricity consumption and generating an increasing amount of it from solar.
- Water is harvested on site and 92% is recovered, cleaned and recirculate, only a small amount of water is lost to evaporation and the sewers.
- Therme is committed to making wellness and wellbeing accessible to all, it is already accessible to the majority.
- Alcohol is available, and there are a few places where people can smoke outside, but Therme is a well-managed destination: clean, comfortable and safe for women and men, old and young and the differently-abled.
- The entry price is accessible to the majority in Romania. Entry starts at € 13.50 for one adult for three hours and for pensioners and students 2€ less, a child under 14 €10.
- Therme has strong local supply chains.
Therme is best understood as a responsible destination it is way more than an attraction. And it is triple bottom line sustainable. Therme is raising the bar for responsible destinations.
It remains to be seen what the impact in in Manchester and Glasgow. For sure the new Thermes will attract large number of visitors, they will be commercially successful adding to the visitor economy and helping hotels sell bed nights. Thermes offer an exotic, beach holiday year round. Winter sun will no longer be confined to a week or weekend away. You won’t need to fly for winter sun, you could have it every weekend.
For the UK Therme has a 90/90 vision – 90% of the population to live within 90 minutes of a Therme. That will be a game changer.