An urban oasis: Thermea Winnipeg

thermea title

So around Christmas time, my coworker/one of my best friends Dayna, sent me a text.  It went like this:

Dayna: Cuba or Jamaica for $700.
Me: When?
Dayna: Leave this Saturday.
Me: So tomorrow?
Dayna: I guess… ha

If you are from Winnipeg, you know to expect -30 C weather (sometimes colder).  I’m pretty sure Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was discovered here (probably not, but you get my point).  My Instagram feed is filled with posts from people in tropical, warmer locations, and although I’m just busy with life right now/saving for my condo which will be built later this year, unfortunately a winter vacation is out of the cards for 2015.

The second best thing to me than a vacation is visiting a spa.  Sometimes all you want to do is just relax, shut off that cell phone, and spend some time alone or with a best friend or significant other (I’m lacking in the second department, but the best friends more than make up for it in a non-creepy way) in a soothing environment where you can just chill and escape from the world.  There are a handful of places like that in Winnipeg, and lucky for us, there’s something new on the plate to take us away from the stress of everyday life.

Officially opened as of last Thursday (January 15), Thermea Winnipeg is an experience totally new to the Winnipeg landscape. Owned by Nordik Spa-Nature, this Scandinavian spa experience is the first one of its kind outside Quebec. Located in a park off Pembina Highway near Crescent Drive Golf Course, this spa takes you through a unique relaxation experience in nature. Although they do offer massages and body treatments, you are coming to Thermea for the thermic experience.

Thermea pools

I got the chance to check out Thermea last Friday, where I got to experience the spa first hand.  I met with spokesperson Marianne Trotier, who hails from Quebec, who took me on a tour around the facilities, explaining how everything works and the benefit of each part of the journey.

I was told to bring my bathing suit, flip flops, a reusable water bottle, and a toque prior to visiting.  You will need a robe as well, as Thermea does not supply them for free (there is an $11 charge to rent one).  You are provided with an electronic bracelet upon check in, which has your locker number on it.  You hold up the bracelet to the electronic sensor on the locker to open it where there are two towels inside.  There is also an on-site bistro, which is only for guests, where you can load your credit card info onto your bracelet, so you don’t have to carry around cash in case you get hungry.

finlandia Sauna

The first part of the Thermal experience starts in the sauna, where you are supposed to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes.  In the sauna, the temperature of your body will rise, which will clean it from the inside by eliminating toxins.  About every hour or so, someone will come in and pour scented ice over the rocks, releasing a fragrant, soothing aura.


Once you exit the sauna, you go outside for the most exciting part of the process. Called Polarber, you walk through a 10 degree Celsius pool, where your body will release adrenaline, a stimulating hormone.  It gets your heart racing and – not gonna lie – you’ll probably be swearing the entire time you pass through, but it was definitely my favourite part of the process.

When I visited on Friday, the weather outside was -12, so going from the cold into a cold pool isn’t the most comfortable experience, but it was exciting.  For those who may be too terrified to do the polar bear plunge, there is another pool that is heated to 21 degrees C.

Steam sauna

After the plunge, you go back indoors to the steam saunas.  Choose from either the eucalyptus sauna or the orange one (which is a little less warm than the eucalyptus one).  First you sit for 15 minutes, then enter the shower area where there is an exfoliating scrub (choose from eucalyptus or lavender).  Use the scrub all over your body and then rinse off.  After, head back in the sauna for another five minutes.  The steam opens up the pores, getting rid of toxins (you will literally be sweating them out) and the scrub will make your body nice and smooth.

relax tea

After the steam room, you are done round one of the experience.  You can head into the last building, where you can rest in either normal room temperature or in a heated room (those ropes in the photo help you get up).  There are headphones in each room where you can just zone out to relaxing music (music is also playing in the room, but if there are some chatty people, its nice to pop on those headphones).  This cabin also has tea and flavoured water.

hot tub open air cabin

Each cycle is supposed to take 45 minutes, and to get the full benefits of the Thermal experience, you are supposed to do each cycle three times.  I did it once because I had to get back to work, but trust me, I felt at zen the entire afternoon.

Thermea is open seven days a week, 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day). They are open 9 a.m to 10 p.m. everyday, so there is no rush to get through it.  If you want to just chill for the day, there is also a massive hot tub right in the middle, as well as an open-air cabin which has a fire pit inside.

Although I think it’s an amazing experience to do in the wintertime, it will also be an awesome experience in the summer, as Marianne mentioned that they plan to have a little outdoor area for relaxing, which will include hammocks and chairs.

Like I said, they do offer body treatments and massages, however, the real draw, and the main reason I will be coming back, is to do the Thermal experience again. By doing this, you are releasing your body of toxins, relaxing muscles, improving sleep quality, boosting your immune system, and increasing body oxygenation.

If you live in Winnipeg, definitely check out Thermea, your body will thank you.

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