17 Jun Dipping into the Nordic Thermal Cycle at Thermea in Winnipeg
We sat on a wooden bench, engulfed in an intense dry heat, and waited for the Aufguss ceremony to begin. As the gong rang, the Aufguss master entered the sauna with a wooden pail full of snowballs. Each snowball was infused with a different essential oil, and the ritual began as the music started. The first snowball was dropped onto the hot stones. As the sizzle took hold, the master fanned her towel over the stones and around the room in a mesmerizing twisting movement. We sat in silence, soaking up the atmosphere as the heat intensified and the snowballs were placed on the hot stones one by one. With each fan of the towel, a wave of heat encompassed our bodies until we almost couldn’t take it any longer. But we persisted, and after 15 minutes the ceremony was complete. With clear minds, we exited the sauna and made our way to the waterfall for a quick plunge into the icy waters. Then it was time for relaxation by the fire and under the stars. The thermal cycle experience at Thermea in Winnipeg, Canada, kept me relaxed for days.
We are huge fans of relaxing in baths, spas and hot springs, and I have to say that the Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature has to be our favorite one yet. The soothing atmosphere combined with the relaxing thermal cycle therapy washed my cares away in an instant.
Thermea is set up part inside and part outside, and even though Canada’s winters can be rough, the spa is open year round. There are several buildings spaced throughout the property that house a variety of saunas and relaxation areas, and outside you will find pools and more relaxation stations.
The Nordic thermal cycle is a tradition that dates to more than 2,000 years ago. It is a heat therapy treatment, and the cycle consists of a circuit of hot-cold-rest. There are numerous benefits from heat therapy for both your body and your mind, and by following the three-step circuit process, you will notice the healthy impacts for days to come.
To start, you spend 10-15 minutes in a hot sauna to open your pores and cleanse the toxins out of your body. There are four different sauna options at Thermea, all with different aesthetics, heat sources and temperatures. The Finnish sauna is a large, traditional dry sauna with a wood stove and stones radiating heat and it is also home to the Aufguss ritual which is held several times each day (75º-85ºC or 167º-185ºF). The Barik sauna is much smaller—it fits up to 8 people—and it is a barrel shaped space with curved walls that is made from cedar (75º-80ºC or 167º-176ºF). Inside the Vaporo building you will find two steam saunas. One steam sauna is infused with a gentle orange aroma and the other is infused with an aroma of eucalyptus and mint. Both of the steam saunas offer healing benefits from the essential oils and they range in temperatures between 45º-50ºC or 113º-122ºF. The Vaporo building is also home to an exfoliation station with lavender and eucalyptus exfoliating salts—exfoliating is a great way to kick off your thermal experience!
Step two consists of 15-30 seconds of a cold treatment such as an icy waterfall or a cold pool. While I was hesitant to try this step, it is critical to reaping the benefits of the thermal cycle. The cold water snaps your pores shut and releases adrenaline from the thermal shock. For this step, Thermea offers ice buckets or an icy waterfall to stand under (10ºC or 50ºF), a cold plunge pool (15ºC or 59ºF), or a larger temperate pool (21ºC or 69ºF) to help you ease into the idea of step two.
The third and final step of the cycle is to spend 20 minutes in the rest stage. This stage allows your body to restore and recover from the shock that the hot and cold circuits bring to your body. Once you allow yourself to rest and relax, your body will feel an incredible sense of peace and calmness. There are several options available for the rest stage at Thermea such as hammocks, lounge chairs, heated benches, a hot tub, restful beds with headphones for music, and Fläm, which is an open roofed, wood structure with Adirondack chairs and a fireplace.
Once you complete step three, it’s time to repeat the cycle again. For maximum benefits and relaxation, it is suggested you repeat the cycle three to four times. This means you will have plenty of opportunities to try out the multiple offerings from each step! I couldn’t resist trying out practically every station on site, and a few of my favorites were the Aufguss ritual in the Finlandia sauna, the icy waterfall and the Fläm rest station.
There is also a spa on site that offers a variety of services such as six different types of massage, facial care, body care, foot care, relaxation treatments, anti-aging treatments, and a vivifying treatment. We didn’t try the spa services on this visit, but I would love to get a massage on our next visit to the spa…because there will definitely be another visit sometime in our future!
If you get hungry during your visit, you can dine at the delicious restaurant or order s’mores to roast by the fire. Seating is offered both inside and outside, and you are free to wear your robe when you dine at the restaurant. The menu is created with local flavors and seasonal ingredients, which means that it changes on a regular basis. You can order the four-course tasting menu for what is sure to be a culinary adventure, or you can order anything you wish off the regular menu.
Because we visited on such a beautiful day, we had to take advantage of dinner on the patio and we decided to order off the menu. There were too many fantastic options to choose from, but I ended up with a pasta dish that had pork, mushrooms and a cream sauce, and Micah decided on the fish plate with seasonal vegetables and roasted potatoes. Everything was delicious, and if we weren’t so full, we would have ordered the s’mores to snack on by the fire. Next time. For sure.
Visits at Thermea typically last around 3-4 hours, but honestly, I feel like I could have spent the better portion of our day there. We arrived around 6:30 p.m. and stayed on site until closing at 10:00 p.m. and I was not ready to leave!
In order to make the spa accessible to a wider range of individuals, Thermea offers an à la carte pricing structure. This means that you just pay for what you plan to use—the thermal experience, spa treatments, bathrobe rentals, and the restaurant are all priced individually, but they also offer package options, as well. Towels and a locker are provided to all guests upon arrival, so you just need to bring a swimsuit and sandals. You can also bring your own robe and reusable water bottle if you would like.
Thermea is only available to patrons who are over the age of 16. And, in order to keep the atmosphere relaxing, there is a whisper policy throughout the site, while the saunas and some relaxation areas employ a rule of silence. Also, in respect for guest privacy, photos are not allowed—the only reason we have photos for this post is because we asked if we could take a few photos for our website after the spa closed, and thankfully they obliged. But there are many beautiful spots in the spa that you just need to see and experience for yourself, so if you are ever in Winnipeg, you might just want to pay Thermea a visit!