Stepping into Thermea in Winnipeg, is like shedding a second skin. The seductive scent of wood smoke wafts through the air, as an outdoor fire cracks and steam rises off the outdoor pools begging you to take a dip. Nestled at the edge of an expansive park, you’ll forget all your cares once you step foot into this nature oasis.
Who would think that within Winnipeg lies a little slice of Scandinavia? And yet, here it is, opened since 2015. What makes Thermea (by Nordik Spa-Nature) special is that it’s a true nature spa. Meaning: the outdoors and wellness treatments derived from nature are infused within the experience.
A series of outdoor pools and wooden buildings containing an assortment of saunas and are your path to wellness. At Thermea, you’ll be privy to Scandinavian spa rituals, as you alternate between intensely hot and freezing temperature fluctuations. All in the name of health and wellness, of course.
Step 1 – Hot
According to the pamphlet you’ll be given upon arrival, your first order of business is to warm up for 10-15 minutes. Instinctively, I head for the aromatic steam sauna, praying the pungent scent of eucalyptus will wake me up. It does. Inhaling the zesty steam, I feel rather like Gwyneth about to embark on a sacred detox (minus the vajayjay steam).
Barrels of ice are set outside the Vapor Room doors, but it’s the infused salt scrubs in the exfoliation chamber that really get your skin tingling. After my steam, I layer on menthol and eucalyptus salts, whisking away dead skin like nobody business. My skin is zinging. The pungent scent of eucalyptus has got my senses firing. I’m awake and ready to tackle the next challenge.
Step 2 – Cold
After sweating it out, you’re to pass under a waterfall or take a quick dip in the cool plunge pools to bring your body temperature down. Why go from hot to cold? Apparently, this transition releases adrenalin (this is a good thing?) and increases your heart rate.
I’m not hot or brave enough to attend to the cold, so I cheat and melt into the Geyser pool. Hearing only the wind rush through the leaves and the pummeling of the waterfall, I float while wondering if aqua-meditation is a thing. My chatty mind has slowed down and thoughts that enter and leave just as quickly. Again, I’m too chicken to go full on cold, so I sneak back into the sauna area and give the dry Finnish sauna a whirl. It does the trick and within minutes I leave the cedar infused chamber and barrel into the bracing water of the PolarBer pool. It’s actually not that bad, even refreshing some might say. I’ve got my bravado on so I race through the waterfall and spend a few minutes taking my polar dip.
Since I’ve ignored the recommended circuit cycle thus far, I return to the inhalation sauna, before rushing back outside and pulling a menacing looking cord so a bucket of icy water dumps on my head. Now my friends, it’s time to relax.
Step 3 – Relax
Apparently the reason this cold stage was necessary is so during the rest phase that adrenalin turns into endorphins. After your “thermal transition” you’re encouraged to find a spot and chill as a deep sense of peace sweeps through your body.
Cocoon yourself in a hammocks swaying under leafy trees or head indoors to the relaxation chamber. One resting lodge looks like an upscale camp dorm with thick mats set bunk-style in a secluded room. I make a beeline for the curvy tile loungers heated up to 39°C and zen out while gazing over greenery. If you’re feeling tribal, you can hang around the outdoor fire pit on wooden Adirondack chairs, watching the smoke trail up to the dusk coloured sky.
It’s the perfect place to cozy up with a book, listen to smoothing music on the headphones provided or let your thoughts come and go. But when you’re spending a spa day at Thermea, be sure to budget plenty of time for a nap, as you’ll most definitely drift away during your stay.
To get the most benefit from your spa experience, you’re to do this thermal cycle three times. Hot, cold, rest, hot,cold, rest, rinse and repeat. If you really want to do it up right, book yourself in for a massage halfway through your cycle.
Thermea struck me as a fantastic girlfriend getaway destination except for one crucial element – Silence! signs. Guests are strongly encouraged to whisper, which makes sense, but you know how we gals get when we’re having a good time. Still, if you manage to keep a lid on it, you’re sure to have a blissful experience.
Good to know before visiting Thermea
- Spa goers must be over must be over 16-years-old
- BYOF – flip flops
- A licensed (!) on-site restaurant dishes out attractive meals. There’s a lot more to the menu than salads and you’ll spot several chocolate dessert options. Eating in your robe is encouraged. Can it get any better?
Have you ever been to a nature spa? Would you be able to get into the experience with no loud talking or cell phones permitted?
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