Winter wellness in Whistler, BC
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve felt drawn to the mountains. I’m not sure if it’s the sky-high setting, the crisp air, the sense of space, or the nature-drenched locale, but every time I head for the hills I find a literal “mountain high.” It’s as if nature is handing me a (therapeutic) prescription.
Rooted in a belief that life should have more mountains and less stress—ideally, of course—I often find myself wandering from my city digs in Vancouver, BC, to Whistler, BC. Both a world-class ski resort and a 2010 Winter Olympic venue, the high-alpine haven also doubles as a wellness retreat. Combine its woodsy coordinates with a health-minded community, and the result is a resort infused in Rx.
Stacked with a bevy of big-name hotels hugging the resort area’s hillside, my health-themed journey lead me to Nita Lake Lodge, a wellness-minded boutique hotel with all the bells and whistles of a five-star stay. And, while I wasn’t there to eat burrata cheese flown in from Italy, sample farm-to-table fare delivered by farmers, or sip Champagne while perched over its glacier-fed lake, I did appreciate Nita’s high-end accoutrements as I honed in on my health.
My first area of focus was sleep. Like many people, I don’t get enough ZZZZs. As the mother of a two- and four-year-old, my pace of life at home is rather rambunctious, and a good night’s rest is not always a guarantee. Keen to get serious about my slumber, I booked the hotel’s newly launched sleep therapy package.
Knowing how over-scheduled and overstimulated life can be, the hotel’s general manager, Theresa Ginter, (who is also a registered health coach) noticed a trend with guests: People were seeking out the lakeside hotel to find tranquility and transformation. As a restorative response, Mrs. Ginter and her team created the Nita Sleep Therapy package.
To kick-start my own state of stillness, I followed the sleep therapy’s protocol as soon as I arrived in the late afternoon. Beginning with a 75-minute Kundalini massage to realign the body’s rhythms and restore its balance, I melted into the table as my skilled masseuse set my body and mind adrift into la-la land.
While I pondered staging a sit-in on my cozy massage bed once the treatment ended, I was motivated by the other goodnight goodies I knew were waiting for me, starting with the spa’s eucalyptus steam. Once my body reached a state of buttery bliss, I floated back to my room to get ready for rest with the help of an organic lavender bubble bath (lavender is known invite the body into repose); a custom-blended essential oil roller designed to encourage a deeper sleep; and a pine-infused Zirbenherz sleep therapy pillow, intended to promote a restorative rest by boosting mood and relieving fatigue.
When the birds started chirping in the early morning light, I awoke wholly refreshed and ready to find solace in Whistler’s serene setting. With the goal of experiencing wellness at every elevation, I started the day on a high. Literally.
While flying over snowy peaks in a private helicopter is not my average morning commute—it typically involves changing diapers, preparing lunches, and consuming copious amounts of coffee—I welcomed the adventure with Blackcomb Helicopters with open arms (and a very warm snow jacket). Landing and standing at the apex of nature, atop a 12,000-year-old glacier, has a unique way of resetting your perspective and humbling your spirit. And, it’s just straight-up cool (pun intended).
Finally, as a firm believer in forest-bathing—the Japanese practice of being in nature and letting its sights, sounds, and smells breathe life into your senses—and the rejuvenating benefits of Finnish-style bathing, I spent the rest of the day practicing both remedies under a cathedral of trees at Scandinave Spa. Carved into a sloping hill with peekaboo views of the surrounding summits, the outdoor hydrotherapy heaven is unparalleled in its beauty. And, its circuit of hot pools, cold plunges, and invigorating waterfalls is equally worthy in its ability to address aches and pains, improve circulation, cleanse and tone the skin, and alleviate stress.
The nature-centric spa is the kind of place you visit once, and your body longs for when it requires some Rx. I find the mountains create that same longing. If only doctors could write actual prescriptions for “mountain time.” Until that time, I’ll try and take more time off to seek my peak life.
Where do you travel when you want some vacation Rx?
(Lead photos courtesy Nita Lake Lodge, massage photo courtesy Mirae Campbell, all other photos by Trip Styler.)