By Cheryl Rade

Winter is upon us in Eugene, which means months of chilly temperatures, sunless skies, and sometimes unrelenting rain. So what better way to escape the seasonal chill than by luxuriating in a welcoming hot spa, a heated pool, or a steamy sauna? These activities may sound indulgent, not to mention expensive, but local aficionados are here to shed some light—and warmth—on available options.

Keith Baltrusch, longtime proprietor of Eugene Spa & Hot Tub, says there’s nothing better than a relaxing soak in a bubbling spa. “It’s a great way to relieve stress and get your blood circulating,” he adds. “You can sit in one seat to hit all the pressure points in your body. . . I use mine in the mornings and it enlivens me before I go to work.”

Spas have become much more mainstream in recent years, with more folks using hot-water soaks for therapeutic purposes, notes Baltrusch. “It’s not such a luxury item anymore,” he says. “In fact, now it’s kind of a necessity to some people who suffer from arthritis or who’ve had back surgery or any kind of pain.”

Baltrusch advises that purchasing a big-budget item such as a spa (Eugene Spa & Hot Tub offers three brands—Freeflow, Caldera, and L.A. Spas) is based on the customer’s individual needs. Some important factors to consider include location (either outdoors or indoors), seating capacity, usage, extra features such as placement of therapy jets, maintenance, and, of course, affordability.

Regarding cost, Baltrusch says spa prices start at $2,700 and go up from there. “A lot of people are downsizing these days, which means they’re going for smaller spas,” he says. “It all depends on their lifestyle.”

Scott Mayfield, sales manager at Emerald Pool & Patio, is in complete agreement, acknowledging that every customer has specific needs regarding what they want in a hot-water spa experience. “Especially in the winter months, people want to warm up,” he says.

Warm up, indeed. So why not workout in a nicely heated swim spa? Mayfield says that along with traditional spas and pools from such brands as Sundance and Jacuzzi, Emerald Pool & Patio offers swim spas (from TidalFit)—uniquely designed pools that allow users to swim against a current that’s adjustable to any speed or ability.

“They’re about 7½ feet wide, and our biggest model is 16 feet long,” Mayfield explains, noting that swim spa prices begin at $12,500 and end up at around $30,000. “It’s a great little fitness system that people love having.”

Another fitness system that’s all the rage is sauna bathing. Whether it’s traditional, steam, or infrared, the sauna experience, which activates perspiration, is a surefire way to release tension, flush toxins, and relax achy muscles. 

“There’s something about a sauna that’s a very personal experience for people,” says Susan O’Con, who operates Cedar Works Spa and Sauna with her husband, Jeff. “It has an emotional connection.”

The saunas come in three varieties—traditional, infrared, and steam––and all of them are manufactured by Finnleo from Finland. “There are different choices, and the decision-making process can be intimidating, but it all depends on what people want,” she states. “The first step is [deciding] what will fit your lifestyle and what’s going to feel the best for you.”

O’Con notes that aside from the obvious benefits of a sauna, it also burns calories, fights illness, allows for deeper sleep, and creates an excellent recreational and social outlet. “It just makes you feel good,” she says, and points out that the cost of Cedar Works’ saunas range (on average) from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on additional features.

O’Con says her top priority is to help customers make the best possible choice in accordance with their needs. “We do a lot of education to ease their purchase experience. . . We want the best for every customer.”

Cedar Works Spa and Sauna

4065 W 11th Ave.


Emerald Pool & Patio

1885 Hwy 99 N


Eugene Spa & Hot Tub

2096 W 6th Ave.