Integrative health and wellness centre.
My friend invited me to the spa for my birthday, which by the way is a great gift for those who have plenty and want nothing This would be a relaxing afternoon of massages and saunas in Burnaby BC.
However getting there would be the hard part. The spa is not well signed. Located in a smaller, covered plaza; without street signage or its name spelled out across the building, it isn’t something you can easily spot driving by. Thank goodness of google maps. As a business this doesn’t help generate traffic or funds for them, but for us patrons, it meant we had the spa and its amenities all to ourselves today. And therefore it became our personal photo op and film set.
To see the vlog cover of our time here, please visit the link below.
What sets the “Art of Sauna” apart from all others is the number of sauna services that they provide. Nine different experiences from nine different cultures, all under one roof. In no specific order: a salt steam room, an Egyptian rasul, Himalayan salt room, aroma steam sauna, dry aroma sauna, Finnish dry sauna, Roman steam room, Turkish Hamman, and Russian Banya.
We brought a Groupon deal for a Swedish massage, which included unlimited access to all of the saunas above. My host had called to make the appointment, requesting a female masseuse for her comfort. However this ask was not recorded, and to her dismay she was offered the services of one of their male masseurs. Luckily the receptionist on today was a trained registered massage therapist and offered to jump in, in his place. I too prefer a woman’s touch, but for the sake of time decided to have my appointment alongside my host’s, accepting the service of the male masseur.
We were given waivers to sign, and after assuming all legal liabilities, were sent to the changing room to disrobe. It is advised that you bring your own bathing suit and some flip flops, however if you forget they can supply you with substitution in one form or another. We brought suits but ended up keeping ourselves decent with a towel around the chest. And we forgot flip flops, but where given the house loaners to use.
We were each given our own locker key to secure our belongings within. The key is more like a bracelet-fob, and with a swipe over the electronic sensor, you lock and unlock your assigned locker with ease. In each locker is a robe and two towels. All three were already showing wear from repeated cleanings (I hope) and use. That is my own major critique of the place. This was such a lovely spa, each of the Sauna rooms well designed and even better maintained, everything about them felt sanitary. It was a shame than this sense of cleanliness and relief didn’t transition into the locker room. I found myself visiting the washroom and looking for the cleanest toilet. A couple before my final choice had visible human waste on the bowl (And we arrived just as soon as they opened at 12pm, so no one had been on them prior). And now here we were dressed in a robe with frayed ends and discoloured spots. If it was once padded and comfortable, it lost all this recognition. The belt to secure it was the worse, as it was stuck in a matted state.
The above is a shame as I feel that this spa has so much potential. However with the mixed messages in sanitation, it is getting no where fast. Given the lack of patrons, I can safely assume that they are not doing well financially, and as a result need to cut corners. And in this case it means lighter cleaning coverage and using your equipment and supplies until they break. Otherwise money can be funnelled to make the spa more attractive for those coming in and staying within. A stand out sign and a lobby deserving of the quality and luxury they were offering just behind it. Although at the same time, when I was done my service, I walked out into the lobby with four employees crowded behind the counter chatting. Whereas they could have one less attendant and a cleaner that services the space continually (As I have seen at the spas within downtown Vancouver).
At least our overall, self directed experience was promising. So back to that and our massage before.
The massage is completed in individual rooms. It is a full body massage, which gives you the ability to cloth or leave your body bare. I went all natural and kept my dignity under the shield of a towel. Most of the work on your glutes is done above the towel, with emphasis on the outer side of the buttocks. No touching is done on it or around the thighs. You are given the ability to customize your treatment from heavier to lighter kneading, and how much additional time is spent on a specific part. I sadly fell asleep for a good portion of this service. I guess it is safe to assume that he was so great at his job that I was completely relaxed and comfortable enough to fall asleep on him. However, I was sad to have missed the sensations of this medium pressure massage, and was only awoken when it was time to re-dress.
I decided to leave the robe after my massage and instead opted to use the white waffle towel available as a wrap. A comfortable idea, but one that had me readjusting it repeatedly as it was quick to come undone. Thankfully there are no video cameras, so it was easy enough to face a corner and rewrap, especially as we were the only ones using the facility for a long time and when someone else joined, it was a couple that kept to themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, you get the run of the place; exploring each room at your leisure. Although I would have like the consideration of a guided tour. We were not spa enthusiast or spa connoisseurs by any means, so didn’t know what we were doing. (The notes I have gathered below were from my research after my visit.) So a suggestion on where to start and a run down on which room would give us the desired benefits would have not only changed the experience, but probably bettered it. It was only after visiting their website (after this visit) did I realize that there were additional treatments within each sauna that we could have added on to our experience. A handful of which I would have gladly paid for to try; like the massage done with a broom. What a missed opportunity for us and for some additional revenue for the spa. Isn’t that the point of Groupons? To lure you in with a coupon deal and have you spending more to supplement this discount, whilst generating repeat business. Alas, another missed opportunity for them.
The below are the different saunas offered and a little about each.
The salt steam room is an enclosed space decorated in black and white tile. On either ends of the room are high-back seats to recline against. Here they use salt infused steam to duplicate the feeling of being in the ocean, which in turn has an healing effect on your respiratory system. The steam is wet, so you walk out drench in fluids that are not necessarily generated by your own body.
The Rasul takes up a smaller space. Two chairs sit covered in and surrounded by shimmering glass tiles. Each of these loungers are heated. They are also more ergonomic that the seats above, designed with comfort and the body’s comfort in mind. It is here that you can enjoy their premium sapropel skin conditioning therapy for extra.
The salt room glows in backlit pinky-orange salt bricks. Here you relax and enjoy the benefits of salt sourced from millions of years old deposits, found deep in the Himalayan mountains. There are many benefits to surrounding yourself with the healing properties of salt. Amongst other things, it is believed that it has an antiseptic property, that also helps to restore electrolytes after the loss of fluids (say from an extended steam from the other rooms).
The aroma steam sauna is the prettiest of all the rooms, tiled in shimmery and iridescent blue, however this too isn’t very visible once the steam is in full force. Centred around a basin you are surrounded by the subtle fragrance of natural oils mixed with the heavy hot steam. The steam is thick and dense, you can hardy see what is in front of you.
The dry aroma sauna is designed to look like a wood cabin, which speaks to the origins of a traditional sauna. It combines dry heat with an herbal scent that wafts through the reclaimed wood.
The Finnish dry sauna is a more classic style sauna, centred around steam created from the pouring of water over hot rocks. This is one of their more spacious sauna rooms, which is enhanced with more backlit Himalayan salt bricks, thus combining the two treatments into one.
The Roman steam room is their hottest sauna with the highest humidity, and it definitely felt like it. Out of the need to breath clear, we were forced to spend the least amount of time here. In this confined space, water condensation on the skin, along with your sweat, helps to relieve the body of its toxins.
The Hammam creates a slow and deep body heating with lower temperatures, but without paying for the service you don’t get to experience it. The space has an authentic feel to it, with its white marble walls and floor, marble table and stone kurnas.
And lastly, the Russian Banya (Russian Sauna) uses high temperatures for rapid body heating, combining heat and steam to do the trick. It features a unique wood broom massage (venik) for extra.
There were also several public showers available for you to hop into and cool down with. I liked the novelty of the wooden bucket with pull string delivery system the most.
Although, I would have preferred a nice pool to soak and rest in, instead. However they did have a lounge area with beach chairs and a faux beach scene to relax within.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
You can definitely make a day out of this. A hidden gem in need of some improvement, but with so much potential I hope they do better in the future and get the following they deserve. Worth checking out with plenty of value if you utilize their Groupon deal.
ART OF SAUNA
7818 6th Street, Burnaby BC, V3N 4N8
1-877-224-8034 | 604-484-7944