The Kananaskis Nordic Spa: the best spa in Alberta

Last month, Louise and I decided that we were in dire need of a spa weekend. It’d been a busy month and heck, we felt like we’d earned some rest and relaxation.

Normally, when we find ourselves in need of some R & R, we do our best to hunt down the closest natural hot springs, but occasionally we find ourselves looking for something a little more luxurious.

I find that there are only so many naked hippies I can take before I need a change of scenery, and I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m not in the mood to bathe in eggy spring water either.

So with that in mind, we decided to head to the newly renovated Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge and the Kananaskis Nordic Spa for couple of nights. It promised to be a decadent weekend of great food, ultimate relaxation and unparalleled mountain beauty.

Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

This post will cover our experience in the Nordic Spa, but we’ll be following up shortly with a review of the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge!

This post contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products, but don’t worry, it costs you nothing and helps us keep our blog up and running! In addition, Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge were kind enough to host us as their guests during our stay, but all opinions expressed here are our own!

The Kananaskis Nordic Spa

What is a Nordic Spa?

Kananaskis Nordic Spa warm pool with hammock

A Nordic Spa is a hydrotherapy spa that requires a specific progression of treatments. Treatments follow a circuit that goes in the following order:

  • Hot
  • Warm
  • Cold
  • Rest
  • Repeat

The idea is that you start in the warmest conditions, work up a sweat, open up your pores and improve your circulation. Slowly, you then move from warm to cold.

The cold pool then closes your pores again, reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system.

Traditionally the cold portion would be jumping into an icy lake or a freezing river (you can definitely try this at Lussier Hot Springs), but most nordic spas simply offer a cold pool that you can run into.

Finally, you take a break from the cycle and rest in a temperate environment. Read a book, rehydrate, recouperate, then begin the cycle once more.

You can cycle through this process as many times as you like, but it’s recommended that you do 3 to 4. I think we managed 3 rounds before we’d had our fill.

On a personal level, and coming from someone who quickly gets bored of spas, this is a way more interesting and entertaining way to experience a spa.

The Hydrotherapy Cycle at the Kananskis Nordic Spa

Kananaskis Nordic Spa map

The Kananaskis Spa has honestly taken Nordic Spas to the next level. Instead of a simple hot, warm, cold pool setup, there are multiple options and combinations to explore. These include a variety of saunas, steam rooms and outdoor pools:

The Hot Spa treatments

Kananaskis Nordic Spa barrel sauna

The hot spa treatments that begin your cycle are by far the most numerous and varied. These include the following:

  • Banyan and Barrel Saunas – these are regular hot saunas where you can add water and choose between wet/dry heat.
  • Steam Cabins – these are steam rooms infused with essential oils.
  • Turkish Hammam Salt exfoliation cabin – When you enter the spa, you’re given a cup of salt for exfoliating. Bring this cup in here and exfoliate your skin with it in the steam room. Each seat has a cold shower attached to help you cool off!
  • Hot tubs – these are scorching hot pools with breathtaking mountain views. These are particularly nice to sit in when it’s freezing outside; I think I’d really struggle in these in the summer.

Hot pool temperatures: 35-40 ºC | 95-104 ºF

My thoughts on the treatments

I’m a big sauna guy, so I really enjoyed the different sauna and steam room options. I especially loved the essential oil saunas. We particularly liked the menthol essential oil room that really opens up your airways!

As for the salt exfoliation treatment, I really enjoyed it, but I’m still not really sure how I feel about sitting where someone else had been sitting, scrubbing the skin off their body.

The Warm Pools

Kananaskis Nordic Spa warm pool

These are relatively straightforward as your only options here are to enter one of the two medium temperature warm pools.

Warm pool temperatures: 32-38 ºC | 90-100 ºF

The Cold Pool

Kananaskis Nordic Spa cold pool
It is not easy to hold still for a long exposure photo when you’re literally hyperventilating!

Similarly, there’s only the one cool pool here, which is more than enough even when it’s busy. It’s pretty brutally cold. Extra points if you can stand under the cold waterfall.

Few people tend to linger here during the winter, although on a hot summer day I can imagine it gets quite crowded as people desperately try to cool off.

Cold pool temperatures: 5-10 ºC | 41-50 ºF

Rest

The rest part of the cycle is the bit that I find hardest to come to terms with. All I want to do after the cold pool is jump straight back into a hot tub and start the cycle again!

If you can bring yourself to rest a little in between cycles, it’s a great time to get one of the spa treatments or massages. You might also choose to go inside and grab some food from the Two Trees Bistro or simply chill with a good book. There are plenty of options at your disposal!

If you choose to stay outside, you can even zip yourself into one of the special winterized, heated hammocks or sit around one of the fire cauldrons while you rest. Fortunately, each guest is provided with a heavy duty gown to make hanging out outside a more comfortable experience.

Additional Spa Treatments

There are 5 additional treatments available at the spa. These are the following:

  • 60 minute Aromatherapy – $199
  • 60 minute Deep Tissue Massage – $199
  • Prenatal Pregnancy Massage – $189
  • 60 minute Relaxation Massage – $189
  • Couples Massage – $408

We didn’t actually have a chance to try any of the treatments this time, but if we go back we’ll be sure to check them out!

Massage sessions come with guaranteed free entry to the spa, so you won’t have to worry about lines if you choose to go this route!

It’s recommended that you book mid week treatments 3 weeks in advance and weekend appointments 12 weeks in advance! You can book them here

The most beautiful spa we’ve visited

Kananaskis Nordic Spa hot pool

As far as beautiful backdrops go, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a more beautiful spa, although it’s kind of reminiscent of the Scandinave Spa in Whistler. There are towering peaks on all sides, pine trees along the perimeter and of course, the spa itself is wonderfully designed.

With high fences, there are few prying eyes, and you really do feel like you’re in a secluded, mountain paradise.

Things to know before you visit

What should you bring with you

All you need is your bathing suit and maybe a water bottle. They do provide paper cups though, so it’s not mandatory.

Individual lockers are assigned, which will open with the bracelet you’re given when you go in. No need to worry about change for lockers etc.

You can actually even buy the bathing robes if you like them. They’re super warm and comfortable but they’ll set you back a pretty penny!

Are phones allowed?

The spa has a strict no phones or cameras policy once you enter the spa area. This is a challenge as it all looks so scenic, but resist the urge!

In case you’re wondering, we had special permission to take photos before the main guests were allowed in! It’s definitely not normally allowed.

Is talking allowed?

Unlike other Nordic Spas, talking is allowed here. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this, and personally I think I’d prefer it if it was a silent spa. The last thing you want is to travel all this way, only to have to suffer through someone else’s inane chit chat. I imagine this is unavoidable when the spa is very busy.

IMHO, I think it would be better if talking was only allowed in the rest areas; I think this is the general idea here, but it’s definitely not enforced.

Marriot Bonvoy Members – priority access

Marriott Bonvoy members are allowed priority access to the spa a full hour before the rest of the guests are allowed in. I can imagine that that first hour is worth its weight in gold during the peak months.

Little touches that improve your experience

I was suprised to see that there were are an assortment of grooming accessories available to you in the changing room, including razors, hair gel, shaving foam and more. There are also hair ties available for people who’d rather not get their hair wet in the hot pools.

Water is also available on tap (excuse the pun).

Long Lines and wait times

Unfortunately, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa has become a victim of its own success, and there are often absurdly long waiting times to access the spa. On Fridays and weekends, the line can often be between 2-5 hours long. It’s recommended that you plan your journey, get there early and check their twitter for line updates.

You can also click here to check wait times

Long waits for ladies, not men

We were reliably informed that the bottleneck generally comes from the ladies’ changing room being filled. That means couples or girls’ trips might have long waits, but if you want to plan a guys’ trip you might not actually have to wait at all, even on the busier days!

Is the spa weather dependent?

I generally think that the spa would be fantastic in all weather, although I would actually probably steer clear of it on a sweltering hot day (or I’d spend the whole afternoon in the cold pool). If there’s rain or snow in the forecast, I imagine it would be even more enjoyable.

I can see the spa closing if there are lighting storms in the area, and those do tend to be typical during our hot summer afternoons. But otherwise I would expect the spa to be open and enjoyable!

How much does the Kananaskis Nordic Spa Cost?

A day pass to the spa costs $85 CAD + GST

There are also package deals available at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge for $350 CAD per night that include guaranteed entry for 2 people into the spa per day. You can also pay $125 to guarantee extra guests entry. Click the deal above and use code SPA for the deal.

Offer available until Oct 14, 2020

What are the Kananaskis Nordic Spa’s opening hours?

Sun – Thu (9 am – 9 pm)
Fri – Sat (9 am – 11 pm)

Where is the Kananaskis Nordic Spa?

The Kananaskis Nordic Spa is buried deep in the mountains of Kananaskis Provincial Park, yet it’s also only an hour from Calgary. It’s amazing how quickly you can disappear into the wilderness with only a short drive! It’s also only an hour from Banff too!

The Kananskis Nordic Spa is attached to the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, and is almost next door to Nakiska Ski Hill.

It’s the perfect place to go to escape the Banff crowds, and while you’re there, why not try some of the epic hikes in Kananaskis! An afternoon in the Nordic Spa would be the perfect way to relax after a long, grinding hike!

Where should you stay when you visit the Kananaskis Nordic Spa?

Kananaskis Nordic Spa Pet Friendly

The obvious place to stay when you visit would be to stay at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. We’ll be writing our full review soon, but suffice it to say that we had an absolutely fantastic time there.

We stayed around Christmas time, and I’ve rarely seen a more festively decorated hotel. Log fires, free s’mores for guests and much more made it an absolute pleasure.

Also, it’s pet friendly! So we brought our cat along for the weekend! We’re told they’ve had hamsters, snakes and more staying at the hotel, so don’t be afraid to ask!

You can check hotel availability here!

Is the Kananaskis Nordic Spa worth the money?

We actually really enjoyed the spa when we visited. There’s a huge variety of treatments and saunas that’ll keep you busy for hours.

Get there early to get your money’s worth

The Nordic Spa is pretty expensive, so you’ll want to spend as much time there as possible. If you’re only going at the end of the evening, you’re really not going to get your money’s worth.

The ‘huge lines’ thing is a bit of an issue too, because once you’re in, you’re basically stuck in there unless you’re ok with joining the back of the line again.

There are options for food once you’ve entered the spa, but with so many amazing restaurants at the Pomeroy Moutain Lodge, it’s a shame that you can’t access them without leaving.

Perhaps our opinion is a little biased?

We’ve also only ever visited extremely early, had the spa to ourselves and have visited in the winter when hot tubs are at their most enjoyable.

We always avoid the Banff hot springs because we don’t like feeling crowded in the pools, and I imagine this is probably a similar experience when it’s at capacity.

Add in the ‘talking is ok’ policy, and it could be the opposite of peaceful.

In Conclusion

Overall our experience at the Kananaskis Nordic spa has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s easily the best spa I’ve experienced here in Alberta.

The staff are all lovely, the place is immaculately clean, and the treatments are all fantastic. It’s also a great gift to give to other people, particularly couples. We’ve already given gift cards to two different couples we know and they both had an awesome time!

We will definitely be back.

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