Scandinave Spa (Whistler)

Peter and I spent the morning of our “day off” at Scandinave Spa, which is located a few minutes (drive) from Whistler Village.

At Scandinave Spa, you can choose to do the baths only (hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, and solariums) or you can choose to do a massage and baths or, I suppose, you could also choose to do a massage only, but that would be silly because the main premise of the spa is the baths.

Protip: Bring flip-flops or other “slide on/off” shoes like Crocs.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the spa has a strict “no electronics” policy so I do not have photos of the baths, but if I’m being truthful, my photos would not have compared to the photos on their website because my photos would have contained a lot of people in various swimming costumes and robes. That sounds kinkier than it actually was.

The spa officially opened at 10am on the day, but we quickly found out that people started arriving well before 10am. We rolled into the car park at 10:01am and there were already 25 cars parked with no occupants. I lied to myself by telling myself that all 25 of those cars parked in the prime spots closest to the entrance belonged to employees. They did not…

We arrived at the entrance at 10:03am and quickly joined the queue of ~30 people. The queue doubled in size within 10 minutes, with everyone smashed into the reception area with overflow in the adjacent coffee shop.

Technically there were two queues, one for massage appointments and one for “baths only,” but it was impossible to see those queues because of all the people in the cramped space with a queue that snaked around coffee tables, chairs, and sofas.

Protip: There is limited seating in the coffee shop; do not expect to get a coffee and a small bite to eat and be able to consume it in the coffee shop area once the spa fills up.

Although there were two queues, reception dedicated all four staff to checking in massage appointments, of which there were only a handful of guests there for massages. Around 10:40am, the flood gates opened, and they began checking in guests for “baths only”.

By this point, I felt as though the mob was becoming an angry mob. Even the Canadian woman behind us began shouting, and that behavior is not very Canadian-like. She later apologized for shouting, which was very Canadian.

We were given two towels and locker keys at check-in and told that we could have as many towels as we wanted and that clean towels were scattered throughout the property. The “baths only” fee was $70 CAD, and robes are available to rent but are incredibly expensive at $13 CAD. We declined the robe rental.

Protip: Grab an extra towel or two from the big table between reception and the coffee shop on your way down to the changing rooms so that you don’t have to come back up to reception as a soaking hot mess after your visit to the baths.

Protip: Bring your own robe if you have one; otherwise, using a towel in place of a robe works just as well.

The women’s changing room was clean. There were a ton of lockers to choose from when I arrived; however, the changing room layout caused everyone to be on top of one another. I switched lockers three times because people kept getting in my way.

Protip: Select a locker near the entrance of the changing room. This is a high-traffic area with less privacy; however, you will not constantly be having to shuffle your belongings around.

One thing that continues to amaze me is how many women think it is acceptable to be on their mobile phones in changing rooms, texting, checking email, taking photos, etc. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

They say to get the most of the baths is to follow this workflow:

  • Visit a hot installation for 10-15 minutes. Hot installations include saunas, steam baths, and hot tubs (aka hot baths).
  • Visit a cold installation for 10-15 seconds. Cold installations include cold plunge baths, Nordic showers, and waterfalls (aka pouring a bucket of ice water over your head).
  • Visit a relaxation area. Relaxation areas include solariums, outdoor fireplaces, and the yoga studio.

We started in the wood-burning sauna. The first five-or-so minutes were pleasant since we had walked to the sauna outdoors and with only a towel to protect us from the frigid temperatures. Then an employee put more wood into the stove and it became unbearably hot. We exited the sauna around the 15-minute mark.

Protip: There are sand timers hanging on the walls inside the saunas that you can “flip” to start the 15-minute timer.

We walked a few steps to the cold plunge pool from the wood-burning sauna. Peter went right in, and I was like, oh god. I walked in to about my knees and ran out, whispering, “I can’t do it”.

I was then peer pressured by a stranger and went into the pool and thought my heart would stop. I have a new respect for people who do the Polar Plunge.

We skipped the relaxation stage and went to the hot tub because it looked so nice and steamy, and a sliver of sunshine shone directly into the hot tub.

From the hot tub, we stood under the Nordic waterfall. The water was ice cold. I was only under the waterfall for five seconds when I had to get out because I was having issues breathing. I actually could not breathe at one point. That was the coldest water I have ever submerged my body in. I do not need to do that ever again.

After the Nordic waterfall, we attempted to hit up the solarium for our relaxation stage, but there were no loungers available and we did not want to lay on the yoga mats because we were soaking wet.

Instead, we sat around the outdoor fireplace, which ironically provided no heat whatsoever. Soon enough, I was shivering, and we hit up the Finnish sauna. The Finnish sauna overlooked the Nordic waterfall and offered great people-watching.

I’m not a diehard sauna, but I preferred the wood-burning sauna to the Finnish sauna. There is something neat about the smell of burning wood when in a sauna. It clears out my sinuses like a natural Flonase and makes me feel Scandinavian.

After the Finnish sauna, we skipped the cold installation stage because I did not want to do another cold installation. Simultaneously, we saw two loungers in the solarium open up, and we could not waste a single second because they would be gone.

The solarium was nice. The loungers were comfy and the temperature mimicked the temperature of a beach in the summer. The downside was that it was so relaxing that some people had fallen asleep (hence the lack of lounger availability), and at least one person loudly snored.

Protip: Bring your sunglasses to the solarium because they will come in handy if the sun is shining.

Protip: Respect the “no electronics” policy. There was a woman playing solitaire on a MacBook Air in the solarium, which was distracting.

We decided to head back to the changing rooms to shower after the solarium. We’d been in the baths for nearly two hours and were hungry. I’d say two hours is about the average time for guests to enjoy the baths because many of the same women who were in reception when we were in reception were getting ready in the changing rooms at the same time I was getting ready.

Overall, I felt the $70 CAD ($55 USD) entrance fee was worth it. I would visit again, but during an off-peak time, though I’m not sure if there ever is off-peak time.

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