Modeled after Europe’s traditional wellness centers, the KurSpa at the Sparkling Hill Resort, hosts the first cold sauna in North America.
The 40,000 square foot KurSpa at the Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, British Columbia sits high on a ridge overlooking Lake Okanagan, the Monashee Mountains, and the Predator Ridge Golf course. The 152-room Sparkling Hills Resort, which is owned by Gernot Langes-Swarovski, features 1.9 million Swarovski crystals along with a wealth of natural elements. Rather than being showy or ostentatious, the crystals are secreted into the design, creating a serene, natural atmosphere with an old world European flavor.
The resort aims to improve the overall health of its guests. Hotel guests have access to the spa’s six aromatherapy sauna and steam rooms, three traditional pools, therapeutic Kneipp waterway, and the Serenity Lounge. In addition, guests can consult with a staff physician who can design a week’s worth of treatments individually tailored to benefits one’s health concerns. Physiotherapists and massage therapists also work with guests to design unique programs.
The name KurSpa is derived from the German words for healing by water. True to its name, KurSpa offers more than 100 different treatments, including the cold sauna, fango mud bath treatments, facials, electro treatments to stimulate the nervous system, hydrotherapy, alpine massages, couple’s massages and therapies, men’s grooming programs, health baths, hair removal, and a full service salon. The spacious spa has more than 48 treatment rooms.
A separate area houses the 4 steam rooms and 3 saunas. The steam rooms are large and each room has a specific aromatherapy fragrance and set temperature. Some rooms accommodate as many as 25 guests, making this spa a perfect location for hosting wedding parties and other events. The three dry saunas have different drying options depending on one’s needs. Showers in this area offer choices ranging from the mist of a tropical rain to the full blast of a thunderstorm. Guests can also relax in the aqua meditation room or cool off quickly by stepping into the Ice Igloo.
Cryotherapy, which is also known as the cold sauna, is considered a signature treatment at KurSpa. The cold sauna consists of three separate chambers starting at -15C, moving to -60C and ending with a -110C chamber. This allows guests to adapt gradually to the cold temperatures and prevents the cold air from escaping. The goal is for guests to spend between 1.5 and 3 minutes in the cold chamber. Guests typically work their way up to 3-minute sessions, which allows the skin temperature to drop to 5C although the body’s core temperature is maintained. Guests new to cryotherapy usually spend one minute in the -110C chamber. Sessions cost $40 or 10 sessions for $300. For full benefits of cryotherapy, guests can schedule two sessions each day, and a total of ten sessions are recommended for systemic benefits.
Cryotherapy guests wear bathing suits in an effort to expose as much skin as possible to the cold. To prevent frostbite, guests also wear surgical face masks, headbands, gloves, socks, running shoes, and ear protection. Once guests make it into the final chamber they’re not allowed to stand still. They’re encouraged to wiggle their extremities and move about.
Cryotherapy, while widely used in Europe, is considered controversial in North America. Cryotherapy is reported to help with recovery from musculoskeletal disorders, depression and fatigue. In addition cryotherapy may alleviate pain, reduce inflammation and the hypertonicity of muscles, improve joint and muscle function, relieve skin irritation, improve immune system function, balance hormones, and improve dermatitis and psoriasis. These are considered systemic benefits that result after 10 sessions. After one session, guests may feel more energetic and invigorated.
Exercise and Outdoor Activities
With a truly holistic emphasis on health, exercise physiologists and trainers at the resort encourage their guests to partake in the many exercise classes and outdoor activities available. Guests are encouraged to visit the resort’s FunFit Studio with its state of the art cardiovascular and strength training equipment and the Movement Studio, which offers a variety of yoga, Fusion dance, Tai-chi and stretching classes. Outdoor activities include golf, water sports, and hiking.