I now associate Thermëa in Winnipeg with a state of nearly catatonic bliss.
I went with Liz last summer as guests of Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba and it was so good that we went back the very next day. We now have an almost Pavlovian response to the very word “Thermëa.” Seriously, I’m saying it in my head right now and grinning like an idiot and actually murmuring, “Ahhhhh…” Like, out loud.
Photo by Nordik group, provided by Tourism Winnipeg
There’s a solid selection of spa services (including body treatments and massages) available, but we focused on Thermëa’s signature Thermal Experience, a series a series of alternating hot and cold elements and plenty of relaxation designed to eliminate toxins and help you achieve an incredibly blissed out state. It. Is. Transcendent.
Even if you’re not normally a spa person, you should definitely try the Thermal Experience. It’s a great deal and you can easily spend the entire day there, something Liz and I plan to do as soon as humanly possible.
You start by getting into your bathing suit and sandals and grabbing your towel and robe. (You can rent a plush bathrobe or do what the locals do and bring your own.) You can bring a book or magazine, but leave everything else in the locker room. If you want to order a drink or food at the attached restaurant, all you need is the wristband they give you when you check in, which also opens your locker.
The Thermal Experience starts with heat. There are four saunas, steam showers and a toasty warm whirlpool as well as a more temperate bath if you want to warm up gradually. (I recommend the steam shower with eucalyptus. It’s one of my favorite scents on earth.)
Photo by Nordik group, provided by Tourism Winnipeg
Yes, some of these areas are outdoors, but don’t try to tell me that it’s too cold. Every Winnipeg friend that’s been to Thermëa told me about sitting in the outdoor hot tub in the middle of winter (sometimes with snow falling on their hair, for maximum poetic effect) and said it was incredible. Thermëa is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, during every season, so our neighbors up north clearly aren’t letting a little intemperate weather get in the way of their relaxation time. If it gets really cold, they just don hats and go about their business.
As your body warms up, your temperature rises. The heat eliminates toxins and your muscles relax. That’s Step #1. Then it’s on to the next step in the thermal sequence — the cold plunge. This is my favorite.
A dip in the cold plunge pool or a cool stream of water releases a shot of adrenaline that you really have to experience to believe. It’s magical. It’s a rush. When I first tried it at a spa in Las Vegas, I jokingly asked the women next to me if they’d spiked my complimentary water bottle with something a little stronger.
Liz is always cold, so she was content to move from the sauna to the hot tub to the steam shower to the hot tub, skipping the cold plunge entirely. She looked on with her signature brand of bemused interest as I squealed gleefully, wondering aloud how I could willingly dump buckets of ice cold water on my head.
I told her she was missing the best part. The contrast between heat and cold was literally breathtaking on a cool, rainy summer day, so I can’t imagine how wild it must feel during the winter, when the air itself is cold.
Then it was on to #Step 3, relaxation. There are lots of little areas to unwind alone or in groups. People stretch out to sun themselves in lawn chairs and snooze in hammocks in the summer and cluster together with warm drinks at the indoor relaxation areas when the weather is cooler.
We took a break to try the fabulous restaurant, indulging in mussels and lovely salads and the prettiest cheese tray I’ve ever seen. (Thank you to the management team, which graciously allowed me to violate the strict “no phones” policy for about 30 seconds in a quiet corner of the patio in order to show you just how lovely said it was.)
When dinner was over, we went back to repeat the thermal cycle a few more times: Hot, cold, rest…hot, cold, rest…hot, cold, rest. It really does lull you into a Zen-like state of bliss.
Confession alert: I am truly terrible at relaxing in every day life. Rest is not my strong suit. My friends regularly scold me to chill out and slow down. (I have asked them to do this. They persist, despite the fact that I resist the very advice I have asked for approximately 93% of the time. I have very patient friends.)
But I am a champion at chilling out at Thermëa. We dozed on heated stone benches while relaxing music played in our headphones. We stretched out on warm beds in the dark. We drank herbal tea cuddled up on our robes. We chatted around a crackling fire, the smell of wood smoke in our hair.
Do you want to go to Thermëa yet? Good. I can’t wait to hear what you think.
775 Crescent Drive
Open to guests 16 and older
What about you?
What do you think of Thermëa?
Do you relax better at home or in a spa setting?
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
As I mentioned above, our first day at Thermëa was a gift from my tourism partners. Neither they, nor Thermëa required coverage in return and no one needs to approve my stories except me. As I also mentioned, we went back again (and paid full price) because this place is fantastic. (I just have to tell you all that for reasons of journalistic integrity.)
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