Entrepreneurs float idea for first-of-its-kind Glasgow wellness centre

Alex Robertson (Float One)

A TYPE of relaxation therapy popular among A-list celebrities has arrived in Glasgow with the opening of the city’s first floatation spa, Float One, at Morris Park, Oatlands.

Launched by an entrepreneurial couple, Alex Robertson and Mhairi Caulfield, the centre will house four state-of-the-art floatation pods where people can experience what is known as sensory deprivation – floating in complete darkness and silence, in a tank of Epsom salt water.

The couple recently received a £50,000 loan through Finance For Enterprise and the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme to help get the centre ready to welcome its first customers.

By day, Alex also runs a home and furniture removals company and has seen first-hand how floatation therapy can help alleviate physical and mental stresses and strains. The concept of saltwater floating was first explored by American neuroscientists in the 1950s and in recent years has grown in popularity with professional sports teams, Olympians and movie stars all reporting the benefits of float sessions.

Alex and Mhairi formerly lived in London and regularly visited a local float centre but spotted a gap in the market and an opportunity to launch their own business when they moved back to Glasgow in 2016. Morris Park was chosen as the best location for the first Glasgow centre, with a burgeoning business community and 14 gyms in the local area.

A typical float session lasts for 60 minutes and can be used to boost wellness, relieve the symptoms of chronic pain, treat injuries, reduce stress, and even improve sleep. Celebrity fans include actress Emma Watson, footballer Wayne Rooney, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and Beatles legend John Lennon, who had an at-home floating tank in the 1970s.

Alex Robertson said: “The benefits of floatation therapy have been widely reported and documented, and with wellness becoming a more routine part of people’s lives, we saw a great opportunity to bring float pods to Glasgow. Many people make the effort to regularly visit the gym or go for a massage and we see float sessions becoming another common element of self-care.

“Our float pods are suitable for all ages and we expect people to feel the benefits instantly. It is completely hygienic, with the water drained between each customer and filtered using advanced technology to offer an experience like no other. The pods provide a dedicated place to stop and take a break from the pressures of day-to-day life.

“After initial conversations with the company that manufactures the float pods, we were introduced to Finance For Enterprise and the Start Up Loans programme as an avenue for funding. It has been a great source of support for us so far, particularly when it came to purchasing the equipment and financing the fit-out of the unit. We’ve already had an encouraging level of interest with enquiries about memberships and gift vouchers too.”

Float One is one of more than 900 businesses in Glasgow to have received over £7.5 million in funding from the Start Up Loans programme since the scheme launched in 2012.

Barry McCulloch, senior manager, UK Network, Scotland at the British Business Bank, said: “Alex and Mhairi are taking advantage of a gap in the market to start an exciting new business in Glasgow and we are pleased to be helping them to get ready for launch. The Start Up Loans programme was set up to give entrepreneurs support to turn creative and unique business ideas like Float One into a reality. Alongside our network of delivery partners, we offer mentoring, networking and access to a range of resources to help with the process of starting a new business.”

Gillian Pickard, business lending manager at Finance For Enterprise, said:

“Starting a new business can be an exciting time for any aspiring entrepreneur, but one of the greatest obstacles they can face is accessing the financial support they need to put their plans into practice. Alex and Mhairi had a well thought out business plan with realistic growth targets and as a result of the Start Up Loan funding they’ve received, more people will be able to enjoy access to floatation therapy, as means of improving mental health and recovering from physical injuries.”

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