Snowshoes & Spas in Whistler


Path to Scandinave - Colleen Friesen



Although the Scandinave Spa directions are simple, the whole things tends to sound a little silly:

  • First, sit for about 15 minutes in either the steam, sauna or hot tub.
  • Then, fling yourself under the icy waterfall or into the cold plunge pool (that’d be the silly part).
  • Finally, lounge for 15 minutes in the solarium.

Repeat these instructions at least three times. Do this while respecting the deep woodsy silence that surrounds you and your fellow white-robed monkish participants.


Pools in the Snow - Colleen Friesen


It doesn’t sound like much would happen.  But it does. It is one of those things that is greater than the sum of its parts. The resulting feeling is a dialled-down state of relaxation that is hard to explain.

Imagine champagne, that most effervescent of celebratory drinks, as something worn externally, like a fizzy euphoric bath that bubbles its way from the skin into your deepest core, leaving the body and mind in a deep state of blissful quietude.

This all came to pass because wrote to ask me if I was interested in writing about other fun things you can do in Whistler besides ski.  

I’d been to Scandinave Spa before and I’ve visited other spas like it in Quebec as well, so I was quick to reply with a suggestion of snowshoeing and spa-going.

Blessedly, Expedia concurred…

It wasn’t hard to convince Kevin that checking into Creekside’s Nita Lake Lodge, snowshoeing the easily-accessible Lost Lake trails and hanging out at Scandinave would be a great first day. The trails are close to the village, easy to access and a great way to feel like we’d done something before lounging at the spa.


Guide on the Trails - Colleen Friesen


But it was the next day’s snowshoe that was an unexpected gift…

The original plan was to snowshoe at Whistler Olympic Park, only 16 kilometres southwest of Whistler. The snow was flying thick and fast when we left Nita Lake Lodge, but by the time we got to the park, it looked suspiciously like rain or at least something more akin to snain than snow.

We turned back, headed past Whistler village, past Green Lake and turned off at the sign to Wedgemount Lake. Out there, the snow was coming down hard.


We slid to stop, pulled on our snowshoes and headed down the Sea to Sky trail. But there was hardly a trail to be seen. We were making the first tracks in through a deep marshmallow landscape. No sound but the shuffling sound of our caged feet.


Yay for Snow! - Kevin Redl


We huffed and puffed up past the sign that warned of the 20% grade, slogged slowly past waterfalls and over a bridge. We walked past the creepy abandoned camper and kept working hard, sustained by my homemade energy bars (recipe here).


Ghost Camper - Colleen Friesen



We were hoping to find the ghost town of Parkhurst, but had to turn back so I could be on time for my Kundalini signature massage back at the Lodge.

Sometimes life’s a struggle like that.

I arrived in time for a pre-massage steam. Then, for an hour and a half, Catherine Vigneault did her wonderful ministrations over my inert form, leaving me noodle-like and very happy. I swear I could barely dress myself but I’m glad I did…our dinner that night was at the Aura Restaurant conveniently located off the lobby in the Nita Lake Lodge.

After burning all those snowshoeing calories and the wonderful relaxing therapeutic session, I’d worked up an appetite of rather epic proportions.

This, my friends, was a good thing, because Aura had a dinner special called Winter Trio – $49.00 for a three-course menu.

I ooh-ed and ahh-ed my way through the starter of pan-seared scallops on a crisp yet tender slab of pork belly with a parsnip puree, hoovered up my Elk chorizo-crusted Sturgeon (so rightfully called the steak of the sea) that was sunk on a pillow of chive-mashed potatoes and then licked up every last bit of Earl Grey milk chocolate mousse with its cinnamon crunch smeared with a warm chocolate sauce.

Yes. I. Did.

And lest you judge me as a bit of a glutton, I’d just like to mention that Kevin didn’t leave any evidence behind on his plate of Venison chops with sour cherry jus and sage gnocchi (and yes, alright, I can attest that those gnocchi puffettes had been carmelized in a pan to include perfect crispy-crusty outsides).

(You did check out this link describing how many calories are burned while snowshoeing, right?).

Seriously. The food was divine.

So. If you would like to try a little alternative to the usual skiing and dining arrangements at Whistler, I respectfully suggest the following:

Book your stay at Nita Lake Lodge (your kitchen includes a French press and real cream (not that powdered abomination called whitener) for your coffee.

Make dinner reservations at Aura (if you still think you need to dine in Whistler, Nita Lake provides a free shuttle service that runs back and forth every half hour).

Book an appointment at the spa for the end of your day. Don’t forget to allow several hours for your visit to Scandinave. During the day, tromp around in snowshoes (Nita Lake has some free pairs) on a marked trail like Lost Lake or Whistler Olympic Park.

Or, head off into the fresh untracked snow on the Sea to Sky trail (please let me know if you find that ghost town).

Who needs to ski?



2 Responses

  1. Jody Robbins
    Jody Robbins at |

    I’m headed to Whistler for the first time next month. Really appreciate these tips, as it’ll make my visit that much better. Did you go inside that creepy camper van?


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