A Day at a Nordic Spa in Winnipeg, Canada

by Gigi Griffis

This spa visit was complimentary, thanks to the lovely Thermea Spa. All opinions, as always, are my own.


We didn’t really know what to expect from this city smack dab in the center of North America. Would it be just another city stuck in the plains? Would it be urban or have a small-town feel? Would we love it or end up working through our stay, unthrilled?

What we didn’t expect was what we found:

Birch syrup ice cream in a tiny chocolate shop. A cute apartment overlooking a park. Hipsters. Boutiques. Evidence of a foodie scene. And the best spa day I’ve ever had.


The spa day was at Thermea, a Nordic-style spa near the river. If you aren’t familiar with Nordic-style, the idea is this:

The spa experience goes in cycles. First, you spend about 15 minutes (or as long as you can reasonably stand it without getting light-headed) heating up in a scented steam room or a dry sauna or a hot tub. Then you take a cold plunge, diving into a cold pool of water or walking through a waterfall, dropping your temperature quickly. Then, you spend some time relaxing somewhere warm, like a fire pit or a hot tub or, in this case, heated tile seats that cradle you toward sleep.

Then you do the cycle again. And again. At least three times in order to get the maximum benefit.


At Thermea, this experience is enhanced by a special hot experience every few hours called the Aufguss (a word that means “infusion” in German). This ritual, which lasts about 10 – 15 minutes, is held in a dry sauna, where the master of the ritual throws snowballs infused with various essential oils onto hot rocks and then weaves and dances with a towel to spread the heat and the scent throughout the room.


Our own spa day started mid-morning with a massage, mine relaxing and Chad’s deep tissue. As usual, I hovered between sleep and wakefulness, while Chad asked his masseuse everything he could think of about how massage works and what kind of massages he needs in future to work out the knots from his particular workouts and work.

After that, we changed back into our day clothes and had a relaxing lunch in the spa restaurant. Chad chose the Scandanavian carpaccio, raw bison tenderloin with mustard and chives, and I dove into the bison burger with its havarti cheese and avocado. As usual, we shared our bounty. And my favorite was the burger and, perhaps even moreso, the baby arugula salad with blackberries and rosemary vinaigrette. The fine-ground Chai latte was also excellent.

Full and happy, we then headed outside for our hot-cold-relax repetitions, which we did four times before heading home, where Chad has been feverishly planning to make spa days a regular part of our schedule.



flowers dining

dining room


You can book your own Thermea spa day here. Again, a big thanks to Thermea for hosting us and being part of what made our time in Winnipeg so lovely.

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