There are a lot of prevailing theories about wellness.
Some are rooted in centuries of cultural practice, while others are fodder for rich people, but regardless they often have something in common — an emphasis on nature.
Communing with nature has proven to be therapeutic both spiritually and physically. Be it shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) or the Wim Hof cold plunge, some of the best spas in B.C. are taking their cues from schools of thought that put nature at the centre of wellness practices.
These spas have outdoor mineral pools, massage tents, or combine the treatment experience with nature in inventive ways. Check out these seven outdoor spas in B.C.
Circle Wellness, Vancouver
Circle Wellness is a hidden oasis on Industrial Avenue in Vancouver. Despite its urban setting, the outdoor courtyard that houses the cedar soaking tub, cold plunge tub, and heated river stone pad feels completely private and secluded.
There's also an indoor Himalayan salt sauna that combines light and sound for a full sensory experience.
The spa is completely self-guided, with no practitioners on-site and no other patrons in the spa at the same time, but because of this, there is a lengthy waiting list. The spa opens up bookings monthly, so keep checking back.
Scandinave Spa, Whistler
Perhaps one of the best-known and most popular outdoor spas in B.C., the Scandinave Spa in Whistler is a Nordic-style experience with a series of hot and cold baths, showers, and saunas.
People are expected to enjoy the spa in silence although a journal or book is permitted and there are lounges, yoga studios, reading nooks, and fireplaces dotted around the facility for guests to relax. There are also five massage treatments available.
Tality Wellness, North Vancouver
Tality Wellness is a very DIY setup compared to the other entrants on this list, but it's also a hidden gem in North Vancouver.
The outdoor ice bath and sauna are attached to Tality Kombucha shop, so there is also an unlimited amount of kombucha on tap for guests. The idea is to cycle between the cold for one to five seconds and hot for five to 15 minutes and then take a break for kombucha by the fire before doing it again.
People have to book in advance for the secret spa.
Nimmo Bay, Mackenzie Sound
Only accessible by boat, floatplane, or helicopter, Nimmo Bay is an all-inclusive West Coast Wilderness retreat.
What began as a sport heli-fishing lodge has since evolved into a world-class wellness destination as well. The spa components—massage, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge—are fluid and maneuverable with the stunning rugged setting of the Great Bear Rainforest as the backdrop.
A sauna on a private dock in the middle of a remote bay, a hot tub and outdoor rain shower next to a waterfall, a clawfoot tub on the beach with a fire beneath, and a massage on a private island are all possible. Weather depending, the spa experience is entirely customizable, and the food experience afterwards is also second to none.
The Healing Grounds Spa, Clayoquot Wildnerness Lodge
Clayoquot Wildnerness Lodge is a luxury tented resort on Vancouver Island that's only accessible by boat or seaplane. The Healing Grounds Spa is a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces consisting of two treatment rooms and a yoga and meditation room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the outdoor lounge space with cedar hot tubs. There's also a waterfront massage tent and a sauna. Nature is ingrained in every part of the experience at Clayoquot, and the extensive spa treatment menu is no exception. Chose from facials, massages, body wraps, or clothed bodywork, all of which incorporate the Pacific Northwest old-growth they're surrounded by.
Halcyon Hot Springs Resort, Nakusp
Nakusp is a small town in the West Kootenays that doesn't get that much attention but is home to a natural mineral hot spring. Halcyon Hot Springs resort takes advantage of this natural wonder and built a series of pools on two decks overlooking the Monashee Mountains and Upper Arrow Lake.
As well as the hot springs pools, there's a cold plunge and seasonal mineral pool that's only open in the summer for when it gets too hot. The attached day spa offers massages, facials, and yoga, and all treatments include access to the pools.
The Ancient Cedars Spa at the Wickaninnish Inn is split into two parts.
The primary section is in the main building, as close to the oceanfront as the luxury hotel gets. The exception is a treatment hut that's right on the water with double doors that open onto the shore and a patio behind the hut that's sheltered by the treeline for a private indoor-outdoor spa moment.
Signature treatments include Lomi Lomi, a rhythmic massage and energy work treatment based on traditional Hawaiian practices and the Cedar Escape body scrub and massage treatment that uses sea flora body polish and rockweed exfoliant.