The sauna at the Taulu estate in Toivakka is up for a special inspection – it's in the running for a new official certificate of excellence that would mark it as one of the best steam rooms in the world. The first certificates were handed out in November, and ambitions are already high.
Carita Harju is the executive director of Sauna from Finland, an interest group whose mission is to promote Finnish sauna culture abroad. She says that the new certificate is the start of a new era of worldwide Finnish sauna awareness – and domination.
The Authentic Finnish Sauna Experience certificate is based on a quality manual that was compiled by a hundred businesses and more than a thousand regular Finnish sauna-goers.
Tough rules, 800 euro fee
Pekka Krook is a sauna auditor for Sauna from Finland, and his message is clear: to properly quality check a real Finnish steam bath it's no use walking around in a suit with a clipboard in hand.
The whole experience is personally assessed from start to finish, including what happens in preparation and what the facilities offer after the steaming is done. Safety and hygiene also factor in, as do paraphernalia such as the quality of the birch-branch vihtas for people to slap themselves with while bathing.
The 800-euro certificate is far from a done deal for even the best of saunas: entrepreneurs and businesses will have to break a sweat to rise to the challenge.