It was freezing. So cold that the novelty of being in minus 110°C temperature, all in the name of health, began to lose its appeal in about 30 seconds. But this arctic-like cold sauna, called cryotherapy, is quite an amazing, and exhilarating, wellness therapy. So I endured.
This cold treatment has been around since the late 1800s, and is designed to decrease cellular metabolism to such a degree that it actually enables speedy healing by easing inflammation (especially post surgery), and promoting circulation. Think of it as an kind of extreme ice-pack. The cold also helps to destroy diseased tissue and when used surgically (which is not the case at Sparkling Hill), it can involve the application of liquid nitrogen or argon gas directly to the cells involved.
Cryotherapy for Wellness
Although cryotherapy is popular in Europe, Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, British Columbia, is the first spa in North America to offer this chilly wellness experience, alongside a variety of steam, sauna and shower therapies, as well as traditional spa treatments.
Add to this the resort’s showcase of more than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals and you begin to understand why Sparkling Hill is one of the most talked about wellness destinations in this part of the world. The complex is owned by Mr. Gernot Langes Swarovski, patriarch of the famed Austrian crystal family.
Carved into a granite cliff overlooking Lake Okanagan, Sparkling Hill offers eagle-like views of the neighboring Monashee Mountains beneath which lie the championship greens of Predator Ridge Golf Resort. Within a half-hour’s drive is the lush Okanagan Valley with its promise of Napa-style vineyards, orchards, and garden farms.
Sparkling Hill’s high-tech design and one-of-a-kind architectural features blend West Coast style with European sophistication. Cool colours, natural fibres, floor to ceiling windows, and creative uses of $10 million in Swarovski Crystal elements provide an atmosphere of calm and serenity. Crystals are etched into glass walls. Illuminated as crystal fire- places in every bedroom. Shadowed discretely onto the ceiling as intimate lighting. Infused into waterfalls. Strung together for eye-catching chandeliers; look up and you’ll see that every crystal multi-strand lighting fixture is shaped as an individual maple leaf as an Austrian salute to the Canadian surrounds.
Holistic Spa Wellness
Then comes the KurSpa – the resort’s raison d’etre and the focal point of anyone’s stay. With over 40,000 sq ft of amenities, the spa offers all manner of wellness treatments from pedicures and facials to a range of wraps and massages including hot stone, reflexology, and aromatherapy. An entire wing of the building is dedicated to 48 treatment rooms and seven saunas and steam rooms with different temperatures offering a variety of scents, textures and stimulants to promote rejuvenation and relaxation. The Kneipp Waterway pool is a unique creation designed for strolling knee-deep in changing water temperatures. The outdoor inifinity pool creates serenity with the illusion of dropping off towards Lake Okanagan – 380 metres below.
The Three Minute Chill
Which brings me back to the icebox, aka Cryotherapy. As exhilarating as it is, the treatment involves a few simple rules lest you find yourself sticking to the wall or ending up with a frost-bitten finger.
We had been instructed to wear shoes, and upon arrival, were given ankle socks, woolly gloves and ear-muffs to protect our extremities. Still, since benefits are derived from exposing as much skin as possible, the rest remains swimsuit-bare. Since your heart pumps into high gear in sub-zero temperatures, your blood pressure is taken beforehand. You’re also accompanied by a therapist who is somewhat more warmly dressed and there’s a time-keeper monitoring you through the frosted window.
Temperatures are so coldly dire that three minutes is the maximum stay during which time felt as if it had frozen still.
After 30 seconds, goosebumps were all for naught.
At 90 seconds, the frost from my breath had whitened my eyebrows and lashes with ice.
At the two-minute mark, I began to wonder how it must have been for the Titanic passengers clinging to slabs of ice-floe; or being an ancient Inuit who walked into the cold Tundra to meet with the Great Spirit.
But as the final 30-seconds counted down, determination replaced bravado. The heavy metal door swung open to the cold middle chamber. We moved back to the cool room. And then we were back in the warm world of spa with a triumphant feeling of WOW; can I go again?
The Last Word
An amazing sense of warmth and well-being which no other three-minute spa treatment can provide.
© Travelink Publishing - All Rights Reserved