Hot Wine & Cold Sauna: 2 Extraordinary Spa Treatments

by Alan Rider
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In my 20-plus years as a travel writer, I’ve been to a fair number of fancy-schmancy spas (I know, tough job but somebody’s gotta do it). And, invariably, I come away convinced that most of the exotic spa treatments they offer—especially the ones using downright bizarre ingredients—are mainly designed to separate well-heeled visitors from their money.

That said, I just heard about two unique spa treatments that I think qualify as truly extraordinary experiences. Not that I actually believe they have any real therapeutic benefit mind you but, hey, these people certainly get points for originality.

The first, offered at Japan’s Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa Resort, offers a chance to soak—and drink—your cares away in a giant steaming pool of Beaujolais Nouveau while a sommelier stands at the ready to keep your wineglass full. If red wine isn’t your thing, the resort also offers spas filled with hot sake, green tea and even coffee for the ultimate java buzz.

unusual spa treatments cold sauna

Relaxing at-166 F?

On the other end of the temperature spectrum is the new Cold Sauna treatment offered by the just-opened Sparkling Hill Resort in British Columbia’s tranquil Okanagan Valley. This European-inspired regimen starts you out in two progressively colder ante-chambers (-15 and -60 degrees Celsius, or +5 and -76 degrees Fahrenheit) before allowing you to spend up to three minutes in the final chamber chilled to an incomprehensible -110 degrees Celsius or -166 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, did I mention you’re wearing nothing more than a swimsuit, warm hat, thick gloves and socks, and mouth/ear protectors? The treatment is said to create a pleasantly warm feeling and a surge in energy as it gives your nervous and circulatory systems a big kick in the butt. For longer-lasting results they recommend follow-up treatments, though I’m pretty certain that one time around would be quite enough for me!


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