Scandinave Spa has the advantage of being located in one of the most spectacular locations in the world - Whistler, Canada. Nestled among the spruce and cedar trees of Lost Lake Park north of Whistler Village and surrounded by neighbouring mountains, the hydrotherapy installations, Scandinavian baths, and massage pavilion provide a haven of tranquility after an epic day of playing in North America's largest ski resort.
Access to Scandinave Spa is off the Sea to Sky Highway (also known as Highway 99). Turn off Nesters Road and follow the signs that say 'SPA' and you'll meander your way across a single lane bridge over Fitzsimmons' Creek, up a hill until you reach the parking lot. Scandinave is becoming quite busy these days. That, coupled with the fact that people tend to stay there for hours makes finding a parking spot a real challenge. Here's a tip - go around 6 pm (about 3 hours prior to close) when many are leaving the spa for dinner at one of Whistler's many restaurants.
The entry gates take you on a short path toward the main building and reception area. There are two lines - one for bath access only and the other for massage appointments. Bath access is $70 and includes two towels. You can bring your own robe or rent one for $13. You can also rent their spa slippers but I just like bringing my own. Massage appointments include bath access as well as robe rental - and is generally the most cost effective option, in my opinion. The reception area is open concept and features a café toward the back with large windows overlooking the grounds. It's a good place to further relax with a steaming chai latte after your treatments but also a smart way to hydrate before you begin.
The change rooms are basically large locker rooms complete with shower stalls, bathrooms and a vanity area that includes hairdryers, flatirons and cotton pads and swabs. Plastic bags are also provided for your wet swimsuit at the end of your experience.
As soon as you leave the change room, there are signs everywhere reminding you that Scandinave Spa is a place of inner peace and silence - so leave your mobile device in your locker - and keep quiet. I know the rules can seem strange and draconian for some but trust me when I say that silence is what can really heal and calm the noise in your head. Isn't the whole point to go to a spa is to feel rested and relaxed? Otherwise, what's the point? I can't tell you how many times I've seen people ignore those reminders and essentially disrespect others who are there to focus on their inner calm.
Scandinave Spa essentially has two offerings - hydrotherapy (the Scandinave baths) or massage therapy. If you book massage therapy, you'll automatically get access to hydrotherapy (which is why I wrote earlier that it's the best deal). Of course, you can just go for hydrotherapy - and you don't even need an appointment as drop ins are welcome.
Here is my struggle though: since you don't need an appointment, there isn't a limit to the number of people who are using the facilities at any given time. So while the idea of going to the baths to sit and relax in silence is enticing; you could also be there at the same time with a ton of other people. It's unpredictable - because you just wouldn't know when you'd get more space to yourself. Totally relaxing? Maybe not, but the concept is still great and as long as people stick to the rule of silence you still achieve a level of decompression.
I arrived at 5 pm for my 5:15 pm massage and the baths were incredibly busy - just full of bathers. Luckily by the time my massage was over, people started to file out and I actually felt like I could breathe (other than the incredibly noisy twenty-something partiers who were squealing jumping in and out of the cold pools. [insert eye roll].
Let's talk about my massage for a minute. The menu is quite simple - there are six massages to choose from. Swedish Relaxation Massage (long strokes with lots of oil), Deep Tissue Massage (slow, sustained pressure with little oil use), Restorative Massage (in between a Swedish and Deep Tissue), Registered Massage Therapy (basically a deep tissue massage that you can charge back to your extended health plan), Prenatal Massage and Couples Massage.
I went for the 60-min Restorative Massage ($190, incl hydrotherapy access) which made me wish there was a 90-minute option. My therapist, Karine, started off with the lower back first, which was interesting as massages usually begin with the neck and shoulder. I didn't mind it actually, as it kept me guessing. There was a fair amount of pressure released from my lower back, which had been bothering me all week and was also causing issues with my posture. The favourite part of my massage was when she turned me around and started massaging my forehead and scalp - it felt amazing. Although it was only 60 minutes, she was fairly efficient with her time and managed to provide a stimulating leg massage, varying her strokes - sometimes long and deep. My treatment was completed with a focus on the neck, shoulders and chest - and I felt like butter at the end of it.
Just a tip - you may wish to schedule your massage after your baths - in other words, do your hydrotherapy first. The reason is two-fold: you cannot enter the baths directly after your massage - you must shower off the oils first. I personally like the oils on my body, so I kinda felt cheated having to get squeaky clean before I could head outside. The second reason is that after your massage, you'll feel like heading off to bed, so going to outside and going from hot to cold pools probably seems counterintuitive.
Stunning location, beautiful facilities and you can really feel relaxed.
COULD BE BETTER
No reservations are required for the baths so they can get quite crowded.
4.6 out of 5
90-Min Spa Rating: 5H Spa (AHHHHH - Amazing) Learn more about the spa ratings.
Photos provided by Scandinave Spa