April 30, 2018

Alberta's First Nordic Spa

I'll be the first to tell you I am a self proclaimed expert when it comes to being a lazy butt, and a day at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa (KNS)  is where that expertise comes in handy. 

I was over the moon, like Tom Cruise jumping on a couch excited when I found out Alberta was finally getting a Nordic Spa! What the heck took ya'll so long? I've been a huge fan of the Scandinavian Spa in Blue Mountain . I'm  also pretty obsessed  with the whole hot/cold water therapy thanks to my regular visits to Body Blitz Spa when I was in Ontario.  
So lets cut to the chase, KNS opened up early March and we were here mid April. The entire facility isn't quite open yet.  They've broken up their opening into two phases.  Phase 1 (currently open) includes:

  • Three outdoor pools (hot, warm and cold) 
  • Main lodge
  • Two Trees Bistro
  • Banya sauna
  • Finnish sauna
  • Alchemist and Eucalyptus steam cabin
  • Two barrel saunas

The entire spa is 50,000 sq ft of indoor/outdoor space and is an 18+ facility.  
When you first walk in, you walk through the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge - which is actually pretty gorgeous btw.   After that, you walk through a little narrow bridge into the lobby of the spa. Some parts of the spa still have that "under construction" vibe. We got there around 11am on a Saturday morning and it was pretty quiet and calm when we walked in. 
The main lobby and check in counter consists of a tiny merchandise corner with some cute throw pillows, Lululemon gear, and all that kinda jazz. There is also a cafe/bistro with a bar and a bunch of lounge stations. Spa passes are a flat daily fee of $70. 

The bistro was hella cute ya'll. It was decked out in lush textures and giant comfy couches. Ugghhhh like you're killing me. This place was right out of my winter goals Pinterest board. The tartan and the throws were so inviting. Too bad it was swamped on our way out so we didn't get to grab a bite to eat. I would have loved sitting around in my robe (which is totes appropriate here) and enjoy a hot chocolate or coffee.  
After checking in and receiving your robe, slippers and locker key (the blue bracelet), you head downstairs to the change room. I immediately noticed how super clean and well maintained the change rooms are. It just set the tone for an awesome first impression. 

The change room is equipped with showers (shampoo and conditioner provided), and a few vanities set up with curling irons and blow dryers to freshen up.  If I was being really picky, I would have really liked it if they went the extra mile and offered q-tips, cotton swabs, body lotion and hair ties. I love it when a spa goes above and beyond to meet your needs.  I've always appreciated this service at other establishments. And lets get real here, I can't see it costing much to offer these little goodies, but it goes a long way and adds to that super pampered feeling. 
By the way, don't give me shit for the quality of these pics. I completely ignored the "no picture/cell phone" signs and snuck these shots in for you guys. I know, I'm a badass! 

Eventually, a very nice gentlemen at the desk did politely tell me to put my phone away. Service by the way, from the staff during our entire visit was fantastic. Which is saying a lot cause service is always one of those kinks that need to be ironed out when a business first opens. 

The first pool is the warm pool. Then the furthest one is the hot pool and the one hidden behind the tree is the cold pool.  Way in the back is an exfoliation cabin. There were also a couple fire pits and "chill" zones too. I absolutely loved the aroma of burning wood, floating through the air. Nice touch, KNS! 
But onto the things that bugged me the most. 

Sorry fam. You knew this was coming. 

First, I wish there were more clear signs of which pool was what. I also wish there were more signs or an easier way to know how to complete the water therapy circuit. IMHO, to thoroughly enjoy a Nordic spa, there is a specific order (hot cold, hot cold) and a few trips into the steam/sauna rooms that is always recommended. They had a few paper signs here and there but nothing concrete that I could reference, not even a laminated piece of paper I could carry with me. Again, it's the little details they missed the ball on.  
Next up, the noise. It was so damn loud. They asked for no cellphones for privacy and to keep ambience at the spa but they did nothing about the yapping mouths all around us. There were families yelling across pools and groups of girls giggling and cackling with each other. At the pool, in the sauna, at the steam room, it was everywhere. How is a girl suppose to chill out if she has to listen to you talk about your bridesmaid dress fitting?! It was absolutely horrible, I felt like I paid 70 bucks to sit at the public pool at the YWCA. Not cool. 

I am happy to say when I brought up these concerns to the KNS team, I was told by the Spa Director Phase 2, (planned to be open by summer) will include a "Reflection Pool, Salt Water Pool and Relaxation Building. This area will be coined our “Reflection Area” and will encourage our visitors to quietly reflect, relax and enjoy." I was pretty stoked to hear this. Again, going back to my comment about service, top notch. My concerns were addressed right away. 

I also found there wasn't enough hooks to hang up your robes. There were a little less than 50 hooks (my buddy Brian counted) in the whole place and people were just throwing their robes and wet towels everywhere. It was worse than a Good Life Fitness locker room. I would have loved to sit and chill around the fire pit but people were using the chairs to hold their robes & towels. They were essentially just hanging them off the hammock hooks, and putting them on the benches by the sauna cause there was no where else to put them. At one point, the four of us shared one hook for all our robes - and towels! 

In all honestly, I feel like little details, like this one, was overlooked so they could open sooner in the season. Which I am totally cool with if these issues are non-existent on my next visit. With any new business, things are bound to be rocky in the beginning, none of these issues turned me off enough to never come back.
One of the highlights of our visit was the quick nap I got in one of the heated hammocks. Ya'll, I crawled in as an ugly wrinkled caterpillar and emerged as a beautiful well rested butterfly. It was hella dope ya'll.  I forgot to mention, it started to straight up snow during our visit. Like huge chunks of snow falling from the sky.  What a magical experience to be warm and cozy but still get to watch the gorgeous snow falling amongst the mountain backdrop. I felt like I was living inside a Netflix Christmas special. The moment was absolutely remarkable.  I loved the juxtaposition of being toasty and warm, but also feeling little droplets of ice on your face. 

That's another perk of KNS, it's beautifully situated amongst the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. How can you go wrong with that view? That's essentially the main reason that got me excited to visit and will probably be the reason that gets me going back. They really nailed the location.  

Besides the typical pool and saunas they also had an Exfoliation Cabin. But let's get real, it just got too loud in there for me, so I booted it out of there as fast as I could. I did walk out of there feeling like the 100 emoji. My skin was feeling like butter. 
So, over all,  there are a few kinks to work out - understandably for such a new establishment. But there is so much potential, and they pretty much nailed it on the important things! Rumour has it they're also looking to bring this concept to Edmonton. I'm looking forward to seeing the 2nd phase roll out. Finally, for someone who doesn't ski, snowboard, or hike (like me) - this is the perfect mountain activity to partake in! 

We're headed out there for Mother's Day brunch in a few weeks and I'm hoping they'll have some updates on Phase 2.  Peep my instagram for a sneak peek.



1 comment:

  1. Just went yesterday, was super quiet and there were lots of people there. Also they’ve added tons of hooks now and it’s way prettier even than from your pics with the snow gone and some landscaping done. A wonderful place to spend the day. They do need to have some more clearly marked signs or a ha shelf guide to the spa. But the was get Really Hot for 20 min., then move into warm until literally your heart slows down from pounding so much, then hit the cold. Then rest. The time limit is different for each body... and then you can mix and match what you consider hot vs warm.. and you can use the ice cold water bucket or the cold pool or sitting by the for the cold as well as the chilly water in the steam eucalyptus exfoliation room, which was empty when I was in it. It was recommended to do both kids of exfoliating salt oil treatments on different visits into the exfoliating steamroom do you have layers of the essential oils soaking in and the salt doing its job well. Lotsa choice at this place. was nice to curl up with a book in the bistro for a while on a big comfy chair with a soft cozy cushion to snuggle with as well, with mt kids right beside me shining down through the window. Amazing service and great staff as well as impeccably clean.

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