It had barely snowed all winter, so naturally the morning we set out for the South Georgian Bay area, there was a freezing rain warning first thing in the morning, followed by heavy, blustery snow. Schools were closed and roads soon followed. At least, I thought, the snowshoeing would be decent for the first time all season.
A long weekend away needs the balance of key ingredients such as outdoor activities, fabulous food, and a smattering,, no make that heavy hits of pampering or self- indulgence. With that in mind, our weekend started on a key note with a visit to Scandinave spa, just outside of Collingwood. Just a mention that you are going to or just returned from the area, the first question is usually “did you go to the spa”. It has become synonymous with the lifestyle that Georgian Bay offers .A Nordic spa, the majority of features are naturally outside. There is a suggested circuit to take, and take it we did.
A perfect day to be here , the wet snow and rain added to the moodiness. The transition from busy-ness to relaxation started almost symbolically walking across the wooden bridge from the parking lot to the spa building. Nestled in surroundings of tall trees, scents of wood fire mixed with a hint of eucalyptus hinted of what was ahead, I left my hurried week behind in the parking lot.
One of the staff explained the suggested route to us, so we changed into bathing suits, thick, fluffy white robes continuing the transformation . We took to the outdoors in our robes and flip flops, slightly apprehensive about spending all afternoon outside as it was -8 degrees. Our apprehension quickly disappeared once we started the circuit at the Eucalyptus steam room . Wet heat was suggested for the first stop as the eucalyptus has a calming effect, opens the pores of the skin and soothes the mind. The steam enveloped me, and I couldn’t see if there was anyone else there, but it didn’t matter, as I felt as if I could breathe for the first time ever. It has been referred to as the “Massarati of steam”. Silence please signs hung everywhere, which helped soothe the mind as well as the body.
We then moved onto more warmth in one of three hot pools (104 degrees), walking past an open fire surrounded by frosty looking Muskoka chairs.
Aaaahhh, easing into the pool was scrumptious and I could have stayed ages, but moving on within the recommended time frame, we scurried reluctantly to the cold plunge pool, nippy at 64 degrees. A full submerge was recommended. I don’t think so. As I stood up to my ankles for a full two seconds, I knew that was as far as I was going.
The other option was a roll in the snow – the cold being the most important component, as the pores you have just opened close and your heart rate quickens ,and blood rushes which equals energy and endorphins, translating to heat.
Stacks of magazines, my mind wandered, and I tried to sleep but was fascinated watching white robed people pass the windows making my imagination run wild. Silence beckoned again, so we sat, pretended to read, and chilled out for the suggested 15 minutes. We started the circuit again, this time changing to a different hot pool, and tried the third heat source which is a dry wood sauna, too toasty for me to stay at 180 degrees, visited another relaxing room and cold plunge to shake things up a bit.
After enjoying the luxurious showers in the change rooms, we changed into snow shoe appropriate gear, relaxed, energized and prepared for outdoor activities in a relaxed zone. A day pass for the total spa experience is only $48.00, and if you want that Saturday feeling on a Wednesday, there are mid-week specials.
Named a “Top 50 Spa” by SpasofAmerica.com, Scandinave Spa is located minutes from Collingwood and Blue Mountain Village http://www.scandinave.com
for more ideas on what to see and do in South Georgian Bay …and there are so many options every season, check out their website: http://www.visitsouthgeorgianbay.ca
photographs: Jeff Thomason