Takhini Hot Springs in the capital of Canada’s Yukon Territory has been closed to the public for over a year. A new facility with a new name is on track to open next February. The water will still be heated by geothermal activity, but that’s about the only thing that will stay the same.
There is nothing more magical than a bath in a hot spring on a cold winter day. But for residents of the Upper Lynn Canal, the closest hot spring is in Whitehorse, and it hasn’t been open for over a year.
Next February, owner Garry Umbrich says that will change as he expects to open the new Nordic hot springs Eclipse in the same place as the old swimming pool.
“We removed the old building, it was demolished. We have recovered everything we can, the old pool, we have to demolish the entire concrete base of the pool and remove it from the site. And so we have a completely new 100% installation, ”said Umrich.
He says there will be four soaking ponds to choose from when the new facility opens, but only three will be in use during the winter.
“It doesn’t have the shape of a swimming pool. And it’s not very deep, so you can’t really swim in it. It’s a series of soaking pools, and they’re made in the Japanese style. So if you’ve ever heard of an Onsen Pool, that’s kind of what we’ve built, ”Umbrich said.
He says that the bottoms of the pools are covered with slabs that allow for a variety of sitting positions and that the pools will be lined with large boulders giving them a more natural feel.
“We took concepts all over the world. So you know we tried to bring a bit of Liard Hotsprings, which is on the Alaska Highway, having a boardwalk you walk on, walking to the facility , after parking. You know, we try to keep the forest nice and close to the pool, to give you that feeling of being in nature, ”Umbrich said.
In addition to the pools, there are now several saunas, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, lounge chairs, fire pits, walking trails and benches in the woods. The establishment will also have a new restaurant with what Umbrich calls Spa-Fusion food.
“There will be a soup of the day, there will probably be a few different kinds of sandwiches, meat, vegetarians and fish. There will be more sophisticated spa types like charcuterie platters or cheese platters, pickles and olive platters, ”Umbrich said.
They’re trying to get a beer and wine license, but it’s still going on. Umbrich says there are currently groomed cross-country ski trails open and he expects the campground to reopen in the spring, although the old hostel has been converted into two Airbnb suites.
But all of this comes at a cost. Admission prices will start at around $ 25 for off-peak hours and climb to around $ 50 for the busiest hours. And it doesn’t last all weekend or even all day. If you leave the facility to return to camp and take a nap or go to dinner, you will have to pay again for another bath.
Umbrich says the project cost around US $ 6 million.
Originally, the new hot spring complex was supposed to be open last winter, but Umbrich says the coronavirus pandemic has caused many delays.
And for Alaskans, a visit to the new facility will require some planning in advance, as Canada’s Yukon Territory has implemented general COVID-19 mitigation practices. These include proof of vaccine, photo ID, and masks for anyone 19 years of age or older entering restaurants, recreation centers, or any indoor gathering area, with a few exceptions.
At present, masks are also required inside public saunas and steam rooms.
All non-essential U.S. or Canadian citizens traveling by road from the United States to Canada will need proof of vaccination and an approved molecular COVID test within 72 hours of arriving at the Canadian border. Canada’s policy of allowing their citizens to travel to the United States for short trips without testing has been suspended. US travelers will also need to use the ArrieCan app or the web version.