Walking the short quiet entrance trail through a snow-laden spruce forest mixed with a few old growth cedars sets the mood. After a long day of skiing Whistler Blackcomb, the scene of large snowflakes drifting down to the pools billowing with steam seems far more inviting than a crowded, raucous bar.
Nothing pairs together as well as skiing and soaking. After skiing, the hotel hot-tub is filled with splashing kids and braggarts. But Whistler Scandinave offers an adults-only soaking après for a different experience designed to yield utter relaxation. Skiers can also get ski and spa packages that tie together the snow adventure with renewal by water.
After the check-in and a quick shower, we walk outside where a paved path circles a hillside dotted with small buildings — a steam room, sauna, and solariums. There's also two hot pools, two cold plunges, a Nordic shower, and fire pits for resting.
Opting to start in the red water tower-shaped room, the eucalyptus steam bath, we enter a blast of wet heat. As I recline on the top shelf to focus on deep breathing, my body begins to unkink, like a taut rubber band loosening. No one speaks. In fact, signs remind soakers to be silent as a way of sinking into bliss.
After a while, the steam begins to suffocate, so we depart outdoors to the adjacent cold plunge of 16 C (61 F). A frigid waterfall spills into the pool. We drop in, only to feel the air suck from the lungs, and the sharp cold makes me violate the silence with something between panting and squeaking.
Then, we retire to one of the solariums to re-establish our normal body temperature and rest in wooden Adirondack chairs. I pick up a magazine, but can’t focus on the words. Instead, I close my eyes and descend into a deep calm only a fraction above falling asleep.
At the Scandinave, expect to stay about three hours. The experience requires repeating the cycle of hot, cold, and rest periods. Called hydrotherapy, the cycle produces a calm relaxation rather than the pruney-noodle feel from sitting too long in a hot tub.
We try a cycle for each of the hydrotherapy options — the steam room, wood-burning Finnish sauna, the 39 C (102 F) hot pool with a thermal waterfall, and the 40 C (104 F) hot pool. Heating is supposed to take 20-30 minutes, but we can only last about half that in the hottest pool.
Following each heating period, we cool down for 15-30 seconds in the cold plunges, the coldest at 14 C (58 F). Surprisingly, it’s easier to stand longer in the outdoor Nordic shower.
For relaxation, soakers curl up in chairs around an outdoor fire or rest in one of two solariums, where background meditation music accompanies the snow drifting outside the window. This time allows for blood circulation to return to normal, and the silence enhances tranquility.
Access to the Scandianvian baths costs $58. That includes a use of the pools, locker rooms, lockers, and two towels. You can add on massages for extra.
For skiers and snowboarders, the Scandinave has designed two packages that combine a day on the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb followed by an après soak. The Ski and Bath package costs $134; the Ski and Massage package costs $215. Ski, lodging, and spa packages are also available.
For reservations, call 604-935-2424. For more information, look here.