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Roaring Fork builders come up with mobile, wood

Jun 11, 2023Jun 11, 2023

News News | Aug 2, 2023

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It’s not a 1970s, pot-infused space to enjoy with your buddies. Rather, Hot Box is the first mobile sauna unit in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Saunas have gone in and out of trend in luxury homes. Along with steam rooms, light therapy beds, ion-detox footbaths and more, homeopathic health and wellness solutions have become privatized, so now comes the mobile, private sauna.

Built in winter 2022 and launched on wheels this spring, Hot Box is the brainchild of Caleb Mikenas and his stepdad, Lukas Stuemke.

Mikenas was raised in the Swedish tradition of sauna and created his first mobile sauna in the family’s construction lot. His family moved to the valley three years ago from Cheyenne and owns a family construction business.

Between building commercial spaces and roofing, they thought they would construct an offering that represents Stuemke’s familial Scandinavian tradition, the sauna.

Visit Finland estimated there are 3 million saunas in the country of 5.5 million people. It’s a way of life. In Sweden, it’s much less popular with an estimated 300,000 for an almost 10.5-million-person population. However, the two countries have the most famous of the sauna experiences.

Finnish sauna culture is moist and steamy and may even be smokey. The Swedish sauna is dry. Mikenas prefers the Swedish sauna.

He uses the sauna for a variety of health reasons, including the reduction of inflammation that he claims helps him with his arthritis.

“In high heat, the body releases endorphins that minimize pain, and reduce inflammation,” said Mikenas.

Other benefits of the sauna include cleansing skin and eliminating lactic acid and other toxins that may be present in the bloodstream or pores.

“The heat induces a deep sweat, helping rid elements of things like lead, copper, zinc and other toxins commonly absorbed in our daily environments,” he said. “It’s also a great tool for recovery from intense exercise, to relieve stress, and to induce a deep sleep.”

While there are some models of a mobile, wood-burning stove on wheels across America, Mikenas couldn’t find one locally. Hence, his first rollout. He had materials around to use and researched and purchased the others.

Sauna, health and wellness sales are all on the rise with higher-than-average expected growth in the next few years.

The first version of Hot Box can accommodate up to six individuals. Mikenas delivers the Hot Box to your chosen location and sets up the experience in 20 minutes. He lights the wood-fired stove that heats the cedar-sided sauna and then shows customers basic operations, and then he and his trailer are off.

The sauna’s stove is from a century’s-old manufacturer in Michigan, where the Scandinavian tradition is more popular.

Towels, extra wood, water for the coals, and essential oils are all included with the spa experience.

“What makes the sauna experience more effective is pouring water on the rocks to create steam, which heats the sauna up and cleanses pores,” said Mikenas.

Hot Box is already constructing their next model and hopes to add a cold plunge into the logistics.

“I had it up at Ruedi Reservoir in mid-July and it was great. It’s awesome to be able to sauna, then jump in the lake or river to cool off,” said Mikenas.

He plans to book it for numerous large-scale events, weddings, private parties and everything in between on an Aspen Ranch.

“They rented the Hot Box for the week so guests could come and go as they please,” added Mikenas.

Why the need for mobility?

“I kept hearing how saunas would stop working and it would take so long to get someone to repair them, they would just sit unused,” said Mikenas.

“We get calls now and then for sauna issues,” said Adam Wibby, owner of Confluence Electric. “However, we are on a two- to three-month wait time for clients right now. We do have a high priority pricing if people want to pay the premium, but I hear that the wait times for electricians across the valley can be long.”

Sauna trouble-shooting and connections are often done by electricians, but the Hot Box is a wood burning sauna, which is more reliable and has low maintenance.

During COVID, sauna-seekers often bought saunas offered from online retailers.

“We can’t service any sauna unless it is sold by us,” said an employee of Crystal River Spas in Carbondale. “We are happy to service the two types we sell, but it’s just too hard with the all the brands out there. We stick to our companies we know and trust.”

Saunas also need regular maintenance. Mikenas thought, why have people do the work if they just want to try the service or only want it for a couple times a month?

Neighbors or friends can split a subscription and get access to the sauna once a week. The original heat-in-the-forest schemata can now be your heat-in-the-yard event for $347 a day.

Hot Box is recommended for 20 to 30 minutes per session, before cooling off and returning to the heat if desired. For more information

Aug 2, 2023

It’s not a 1970s, pot-infused space to enjoy with your buddies, rather, Hot Box is the first mobile sauna unit in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Aug 2, 2023

Jul 28, 2023

Jul 27, 2023

Jul 27, 2023

Hot Box owner Caleb Mikenas steps into his mobile sauna.