A Day Trip to Scandinave Spa in Whistler

Immerse yourself in wellbeing at the incredible Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

My friend Julia and I had just finished up breakfast at North Vancouver‘s Tour de Feast (a hidden gem if I’ve ever seen one, tucked away in an unassuming industrial park) and standing in the grey drizzle of Saturday morning, we were discussing what to do for the day.
Originally we had thought to do some hiking in the north shore mountains, but the dreary weather seemed uninviting that day. I mused out loud that all I really wanted to do was lounge around in a hot spring and that’s when Julia had a brilliant suggestion: while natural hot springs were too far for us to go in a day, we were already in North Vancouver– why not go to Whistler and spend the day soaking in the outdoor hot pools of Scandinave Spa?

Whistler Scandinave Spa

Without hesitation we were on the road to Whistler. Since I was visiting from out of town, the just barely two hour drive was a perfect opportunity for us to catch up, and with the incredible scenery of the Sea-to-Sky Highway flashing by, we were at Scandinave in no time.
Scandinave Spa is a beautiful resort just outside of Whistler Village. There’s plenty of parking and a short walk through the woods to the peaceful main building. There’s options for plenty of appealing-sounding massages– Swedish, Thai, deep tissue, etc.– but that day we were only there for the pools. Waiting to collect our towels, it was difficult not to already be swept away by the airy and bright reception area, with a small cafe tucked in the back and floor to ceiling windows revealing the pools surrounded by towering spruce and cedar trees.
The pools themselves are situated up and down a hillside, each with different features and purposes, adhering to the practices of hydrotherapy and drawing inspiration from the Scandinavian bath experience. Hot baths warm the body and increase blood flow and relaxes muscles, while cold water pools close the pores and stimulates circulation. There are cascades of warm water, meant to massage and soften even the tightest neck and shoulders, and “Nordic” showers, buckets of icy water for a good shock.

Whistler Scandinave Spa

I have to admit, Julia and I were a bit surprised by the strict no talking rule in the pools area. There was even a smidge of crankiness initially as we sat silently side by side in a large hot pool, itching to giggle and gossip with one another. But slowly and surely, we began to sink into the vibe.We started following the suggested hydrotherapy cycle: 10-15 minutes spent stretching and relaxing in the warm space of the Finnish sauna or inhaling the fragrant eucalyptus mist in the steam room, then a gasping plunge into the cold pool, followed by another 15 minutes collapsed in a lounge chair, warmed by the sun that somehow hovered over the valley that afternoon, despite the clouds draped over the surrounding mountains.
By the time we had finished our second hydrotherapy cycle, we were practically languid, loose and relaxed in a lounge chair. Julia opened one eye and looked at me. “I am feeling soooo blissed out right now,” she whispered. Two women suddenly entered the pool area, unaware of the silence rule and talking at full volume. We both turned to stare at them, their conversation interrupting our reverie, and I couldn’t help but smile– while we had started as them, we were now fully sold on the silent Scandinave experience.
Our limbs on the drive home felt like jelly. Conversation was limited, as we both gazed out the windows at Howe Sound, the mountains and islands and ocean lit with the brilliant glow of an autumn sunset. When you’re as relaxed as we were in that moment, talking is no longer necessary. We had reached, to quote Scandinave’s website, the “inner stillness leading to complete relaxation”.
Scandinave Spa is a just over two hour drive from Vancouver on the spectacular Sea-to-Sky Highway. Reservations aren’t necessary for the outdoor pools, but should be made for massages. Bring a bathing suit and sandals. Robes are available to rent.