The Scandinave Spa Experience
You're Meant to Be Here
By Katherine Fawcett | Images by Joern Rohde
It’s been a week of late nights, gnarly bike rides, long hikes, and boisterous parties. Fun, yes, but draining, and I’m behind on some projects. So when I pull into the parking lot of Whistler’s Scandinave Spa, running late and feeling flustered, I’m not so sure this is a good idea. I’m overcommitted, over-caffeinated and overwhelmed. But I also know I need this escape — from all of it!
Nonetheless, I fling my bag over my shoulder — inside is a bathing suit I don’t love and a journal I haven’t written in for ages — and head up the trail.
Immediately I’m struck by the scents. Cedar. Wet forest. I walk through the woods, across a quaint bridge, and enter the spa — the only one of its kind in the region. I take a deep breath and feel my spirits start to lift.
In the lobby, people lounge on seats next to enormous windows, by the fireplace, or in the cozy bistro. Some have just come from a massage, and others have spent hours relaxing in the facilities. Everyone looks serene. I turn off my phone and head to the change room.
Signs throughout Scandinave Spa remind guests of the code of silence. I’m relieved. This mandatory device disconnect eliminates small talk and adds an element of distraction-free reverence to the experience.
Hydrotherapy, an ancient Finnish tradition, consists of heat, cold, and relaxation cycles. The spa recommends that guests repeat these processes over several hours. It strikes me that I could, in fact, stay all day.
Outside in Scandinave’s forest sanctuary, I hang my fluffy white bathrobe on a hook and step into the wood-burning sauna, a cabin heated by burning pine. The heat prickles my skin and I am enveloped by warm comfort. Several other people occupy the benches. I’m suddenly self-conscious about my bathing suit, but they’re in their own world and there’s plenty of room for me to stretch out on my towel. For the next 10 minutes, the heat flushes my system of toxins and stress. As I melt into bliss, I recall the ancient Chinese proverb: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
Next is the cold. I muster my courage and dunk under the Nordic waterfall. A sharp inhale, an adrenalin surge, and I feel more alive than I have in a long time. No, it’s not comfortable, but it’s invigorating, and I know that if I can do this, I can do anything. I try to stay under the waterfall for 10 seconds and step out feeling refreshed and proud (even though I only made it to nine). Now, I’m ready for relaxation. I stroll up the stairs to the hammocks, which overlook the spa and offer a sublime mountain view, and retreat into my private hanging haven.
My day is shaping up perfectly. I plan to try the decoratively tiled eucalyptus steam bath next or soak in one of the hot baths, and then my goal is to complete at least the full 10 seconds in the outdoor Nordic shower or a cold plunge bath. Then perhaps I can relax in the cozy lounge chairs by the outdoor fireplaces or even take a well-deserved nap in a solarium. But here, curled up in the quiet sanctuary of this hammock, in this unique oasis in the forest, I open my journal and begin to write.
“This is who I am. This is how it’s meant to be.”