Eric Harkonen has never seen relaxation as a luxury. The son of Finnish immigrants, Eric learned from a young age that relaxing in the sauna was essential to our health, and should be as commonplace as brushing one’s teeth.
“In Canada, we don’t take the time we need to remove ourselves from the stresses that build up in our lives, even though the benefits are undeniable,” says Eric.
Stress reduction boosts immunity, improves circulation and enhances mental clarity. In Finnish culture, this is done through thermal therapy cycles – a practice that raises the body’s temperature (to dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure) before a dip in cold water (to boost the immune system, improve circulation and increase energy), followed by recovery and relaxation.
While thermal therapy is common to Nordic spas, in Finland spa culture includes a uniquely social aspect.
It’s what spurred Eric to create Vettä Spa, a Finnish Nordic Spa set to open this fall in Horseshoe Valley. While many Nordic spas focus on quiet, Vettä welcomes social spa-ing, as the Finns do.
“Finns tend to be quiet, stoic people, but we open up in the sauna,” says Eric. “We all need to break away from the stresses of everyday life, unwind with friends and family, and immerse ourselves in nature regularly.”
Vettä prides itself on its authentically Finnish spa experience, replicating the techniques, architecture, and ambiance found in Finland. Located just 60 minutes north of the GTA, Vettä Spa’s facility is designed by Finnish born and trained architects, and built with wood sourced directly from Finland, finished with soaring 50-foot windows that overlook the 26-acre property.
“Saunas originated in Finland,” says Eric. “They’re a centerpiece of our cultural heritage.”
Drinking and dining after sauna is an immersive experience at Vettä, with menus carefully curated to reflect Finnish values of eating fresh and local. Expect to find colourful, responsibly produced, delicious foods that deeply nourish the body and soul of guests, regardless of dietary restraints and discerning palates.
While Eric dreamed up his Finnish spa long before the recent pandemic, he says the timing for its opening couldn’t be more perfect.
“We needed this before COVID, but this type of spa is even more essential now.”
Vettä Spa will begin pre-booking soon but invites guests to subscribe to their newsletter to stay in the loop as the facility nears completion.
“Now’s the time to relax, recharge and reconnect with family and friends. Take time for yourself and others. You need it more than you know.”
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE