Holiday Gift Guide at Ritual Nordic Spa in Downtown Victoria, BC, Canada

Make this holiday memorable with RITUAL Nordic Spa. Show care and appreciation with these holiday gift ideas of wellness – a delight to share with friends, family, coworkers and clients. Giving that feels good!

Centrally located, this downtown Victoria spa offers unique wellness experiences including sauna and cold plunge circuit, massage, and private sauna suites. Check out a range of gift giving ideas for everyone on your list, available online!

Holiday Gift Ideas, Victoria Spa Gift Certificate for sale online

Choose your experience!
– Available as an inclusive Nordic Circuit visit, (with robe, towel, locker plus gratuity and tax)
– Or any service or amount you choose!
– Shop in the Spa, or online for instant delivery

Holiday Gift Ideas,
Multi visit passes for your Sauna Lover 

Multi visit passes for your Sauna Lover 
For those who LOVE sauna and cold plunge — Our best deal on 5 visit pass to the Nordic Circuit! Good for midweek or wknd, includes robe for chilly winter days, plus towel + locker. Buy for yourself or a friend. No splitsies! Special holiday pricing SAVE 40% off single visits. ON SALE for only $235

Holiday Gift Ideas
unique Date Night Experience
Couple time in a private sauna suite!

Couple time in a private sauna suite!
For the ultimate experience, (and unique date idea!) reserve a private sauna suite. Two hours to relax in traditional 4 person sauna with private cedar soaking tub, plus access to relaxation lounge and outdoor patio. Afterwards you can meet in the Après Café for a cold kombucha, “Cold Plunge Pilsner” or prosecco on tap. Reserve online or available as gift certificate.  $279 (+ 15% gratuity and tax)

Holiday Gift Ideas
Victoria Spa Nordic Circuit
Perfect for Corporate Giving and Stocking Stuffers

Perfect for Corporate Giving and Stocking Stuffers
Gifts for everyone on your list at great savings! These Nordic Circuit passes sold in packs of 10 include access to our signature service, including towel and locker use. Great value! Sold in packs of 10, $500. Visit Spa to purchase or call 778-440-9009.

Holiday Gift Ideas Massage package gift certificate
Completely relaxing and restorative

Completely relaxing and restorative
Try a Combo! One hour Nordic Circuit paired with your favourite massage. Hot, cold, relax – and repeat! Our Nordic Circuit offers sauna, steam, cold plunge and salt lounge relaxation area, and is excellent preparation for the massage therapy treatment. To book, go to COMBO and choose your RMT Massage or Swedish Massage treatment, prices will vary. May also be purchased as gift certificate.

Ritual Nordic Spa sauna membership— The gift that lasts all year!

MEMBERSHIP— The gift that lasts all year!
Our Memberships are designed to make regular visits easy and affordable, with some extra perks rolled in. Members enjoy monthly Nordic Circuit visits, PLUS 10% off Swedish Massage treatments, retail and café purchases, and a free buddy pass every month.  Three levels to choose from. Learn more or sign up online.

Women enjoying the wellness benefits of a cold plunge at Ritual Nordic Spa Victoria

When RITUAL Nordic Spa was in the planning stages, there was a thoughtfulness about different ways to welcome community. One idea that stood out was to set aside time, one evening a week, when the spa was open exclusively for women. As an urban sauna house following Finnish tradition, RITUAL at its heart is casual, comfortable and welcoming. Visitors attest that the warm social atmosphere of the Nordic Circuit is a key part of the experience. 

When planning Ritual we intentionally designed the spa to be accessible and relaxing for all genders, making choices along the way like having very few mirrors, multiple change rooms, and limiting use of phones and cameras in the space. We also admired local recreation centres that have created women-only swim sessions, making it possible for women whose religious practices require female-only spaces to take part.

In short, we knew we wanted to create space for women to feel comfortable, experience body neutrality, explore wellness, and build community.

And so Women’s Wellness Wednesday (WWW) was born. Each Wednesday evening from 5-9 pm, the guest attendance is women-only (including those who identify as female). The vibe shifts into something special in Victoria… Women Wellness Wednesdays are a hit, and one of our most popular evenings!

These concepts have all been proven valid and valued, and yet there is a bit more magic to these events we have yet to name. Why are these evenings so awesome? How to explain the vibe that occurs when women gather like this?  With the popularity of WWW we thought we’d take a moment to dive into this topic, while exploring some of the benefits of Nordic Circuit to women’s health. Read on to get a sense of why women are building hot and cold therapies into their lives.

The serene pose of a woman. A cold plunge pool, part of Nordic Wellness at Ritual Nordic Spa in Victoria.

Health Benefits A-Plenty!

Research shows that spending time in the sauna or other hot environments can boost your circulation, alleviate chronic pain, reduce joint stiffness, and even strengthen your immune system. The body responds to the heat of sauna by releasing dynorphins and endorphins in the brain; these cause discomfort at first but then biochemically deliver enhanced effects on our mood and body, which is why after sauna we feel a nice type of mellow, glowy happiness.

-And then there is the Cold Plunge, a practice that requires determination and grit, a test of mental fortitude and stamina, that has been described as empowering and liberating. Immersing in cold water and building tolerance can feel like a victory — many people who are initially tentative to try it later claim they look forward to it, and the mood boosting effects may even be slightly addictive. Cold plunge and cold water swimming isn’t new (people have been doing it for centuries). It’s gained more popularity in the last decade, and in particular the last few years. Perhaps for its exercise and social opportunity during pandemic restrictions, or maybe because it helped many counter the stress and anxiety of a difficult time. For many, it has become an important ritual benefitting their general wellness and state of mind.

-Why does cold plunge work? Immersing yourself in frigid water triggers the release of stress hormones, such as noradrenaline and cortisol which give you an immediate wake up. Then, after your dip, studies report increases in “happy” brain chemicals that regulate mood, such as dopamine. Getting you body (or even just your face) into cold water can activate the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which helps the body relax after a stressful event. 

-Plus, when you do hard things you learn that you CAN do hard things. And on Womens Wellness nights, the friendly calls of “You’ve TOTALLY got this!” from other women passing by the pool definitely make the plunge easier.

A view of the steam room at Ritual Nordic Spa. Contrast therapy can be part of your Nordic Wellness regime.

Good for specific health concerns or symptoms
-Women of any age can benefit from the sauna / cold plunge combination, also known as hot cold therapy or contrast therapy.  It’s effective for helping the body recover from exercise and sports, or simply relaxing, managing stress and getting a mood boost

-Cardiovascular health gets a boost too: did you know the heat of the sauna triggers the same mechanisms in the brain and body as if you were doing cardio? It’s true! In the sauna your heart rate and blood flow increase, and your blood vessels dilate as your body works to cool down and regulate its own temperature. Heart health for all genders is an important factor in living a long healthy life. For women it’s critical!

Moderating Menopause? We think so
We are still waiting for the definitive studies on this topic – showing that regular use of the sauna or sauna plus cold plunge helps reduce the symptoms of menopause. But while we wait let’s trust and share our valid LIVED experience: many women in or going through menopause also find the Nordic Circuit helps reduce symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, low mood or anxiety. We hear it each week as happy WWW guests leave the spa:  “My God I’m going to sleep SO WELL after this.”  And it’s true! There’s something about the experience –whether it’s the release of stress, the detox from sweating, the happy mood of endorphins, the physical “reset” of the plunge, or the chance to spend two hours among friends and other women, leaving the worries of the day behind — these all help deliver the most amazing sleeps. And let’s say it here too: having a fun night with friends that doesn’t focus on alcohol means you get to skip the sleep-disturbing impact that a few glasses of wine can deliver. 

“I feel that it’s been easier since starting this. The sweats and the night sweats haven’t been so bad. I also suffer with anxiety and I’ve found my anxiety levels don’t feel as bad either.”

Women enjoying the social atmosphere. Ritual Nordic Spa offers opportunities for social gathering both during the Nordic Circuit and afterwards at the Après-Café.

The Social Benefits of Gathering
There is a social atmosphere at RITUAL, an ease and an openness as women share space, that many women say is part of what makes Womens Wellness Wednesday great. We shouldn’t be surprised! Women have been going to spa for centuries, gathering after a day of work to bathe, rest, cleanse and connect. We also know that social activity can have a positive impact on mental health, and that a range of different types of social interactions have value. Many guests come to Ritual solo while others bring a friend, co-worker, sister or mother. 

You can find a quiet moment if you like, but frankly some of the best conversations happen in the pink Salt Lounge, relaxing in our robes, after we’ve cheered each other on in the cold plunge.

There is often friendly chatter among guests and ages range from 18 to 80. The WWW vibe shifts weekly, based on who arrives, how everyone is feeling and sometimes even, the music we throw on! Think mellow, happy, calm, liberating, empowering, fun.

Two women embrace the chilling sensation of an ice cold shower. Relax in the quiet solitude of Ritual Nordic Spa's Salt Lounge and reap the benefits of Nordic Wellness.

Womens Wellness  — How We Work to Widen the Circle
We recognize that going to a spa or saunahouse is a privilege, one not every woman can afford. Since the beginning, when we started offering Womens Wellness Wednesdays, we acknowledged that many women struggle to take care of more basic needs such as personal security, food security and basic health. So we made a decision: a portion of the fee for every woman that attends WWW is donated as cash, to a local charity that works to improve the lives of women. Twice a year we quietly pass along these funds. 

This year during the month of May as we celebrate our Mothers, honour ourselves as mothers, value the work of mothers in our lives, and take part in Women’s History Month events and readings, we will be adding a portion of Nordic Circuit fees from Mother’s Day guest visits to this fund.

We hope you will help us shine a light on women’s wellness. Join us when you can, cold plunge and sauna where you can, and share your own stories of the benefits of contrast therapy for yourself or women than you know.  #womenswellness #womenswellnessyyj #ritualnordicspa

Woman enjoying the benefits of relaxing sauna at Ritual Nordic Spa

A Healthy Way to Manage Stress

Life can be stressful, and finding healthy ways to better manage stress can be game changing. Many people have been discovering hot and cold contrast therapy, a practice where you challenge your body (and mind) to do something that it doesn’t normally do. It’s not easy to go willingly into a cold body of water right after being in a really hot space. But by doing so, you become more resilient to stress in your world, by showing yourself that you can handle this simple act of stress itself.

Discover the Benefits of Hot Cold Therapy

There are some great studies on this, particularly by Dr. Rhonda Patrick who looks at the benefits of sauna and cold immersion.

Enjoy the benefits of hot and cold therapy - group of people sitting in sauna while a man takes a cold therapeutic shower

Practicing hot cold therapy – moving your body between hot elements (such as sauna) and cold elements (such a cold water) – can offer many positive effects on the health of both mind and body.  

Physical Benefits of Contrast Therapy
– Increased circulation
– Strengthened immune system
– Improvement for endurance exercise
– Elevated heart rate and related cardio benefits
– Reduced inflammation
– Better sleep

Mental/Hormonal Benefits
Looking for a quick mood boost? Contrast therapy can trigger a release of positive hormones. Regular practice can offer longterm benefits affecting mood and mental energy. Alternating between hot and cold exposure stimulates hormone behavior such as:
– The storage and release of norepinephrine, improving attention and focus.
– Increase in prolactin, which helps your brain function faster by enhancing myelination and repair of damaged neurons.
– Encourages growth of new brain cells, improving the ability to retain new info, and lessening certain types of depression and anxiety.
– An increase in dynorphin, which results in your body becoming more sensitive to the benefits of the release of endorphins.

Social Benefits
We have long known that humans benefit and thrive from social connection. However busy lifestyles in the urban world frequently resort to digital tools that connect us in some ways but disconnect us in others. There is a need to be with and physically gather with other people. The social, communal element of a saunahouse offers this opportunity for connection, often with others who you might otherwise not cross paths with.

Still Curious About Sauna Plus Cold Plunge? Read on…

“One of the most common reactions to taking a sauna is that it simply seems to make people feel better. As it turns out, there are some measurable scientific reasons behind that.

Two men relaxing in a hot sauna, a technique for encouraging healthy dopamine release at Ritual Nordic SpaSauna exposure causes a significant release of Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, and Beta-Endorphin, a neuropeptide hormone. These substances cause a sense of euphoria, as well as improved mood, energy, sense of calm, and pain tolerance. The level of endorphins released during sauna bathing can be three times normal, similar to a middle distance training run. This “runners’ high” that occurs can be somewhat addictive and may affect regular sauna users in the same way it affects regular exercisers.

Sleep is also improved after a sauna, with some research showing longer stage 4 sleep, which provides a deeper, more restful sleep and healthier dream activity. Sleep affects so many other aspects of health, including mood, immune function, and ability to handle stress, that this alone would seem to suggest a significant health benefit from regular sauna use.

The psychosocial aspects of group activity such as sauna bathing may also be an important part of the health benefits of sauna. Social connection, sharing with friends and feeling a part of a community, as well as the personal nature of conversation that is fostered in the sauna, all play parts in the cultural validity of group sweating that has existed in so many cultures over time.”

SOURCE: The North American Sauna Society

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Growing up in Canada with Finnish heritage and sauna culture

Hi! Or Hei as they say in Finland –

I’m Marci, a Canadian girl who learned a lot from my Finnish Grandma. Especially how much fun it is to introduce friends and new people to the fun of doing sauna. And by sauna I mean cold plunge too since going from hot into the cold is where the fun begins!

I grew up doing sauna with my Grandma at her cottage by the lake, and assuming everyone’s Grandma had a sauna too. In my teens, my friends came to visit they tried it too—first out of curiosity and then it became the fun thing to do. They loved it—even the ones who insisted they hated getting hot and didn’t like to sweat. Running into the cold lake was the icing on the cake. As I grew up and travelled, I sought out a sauna wherever we went. I craved the hot+cold contrast that comes with a sauna plus a cold plunge, cold lake, cold shower, or even jumping in a pile of snow.

In 2022 I opened RITUAL Nordic Spa, an urban saunahouse in downtown Victoria BC so that others can discover and enjoy these experiences.

Sauna-curious? Read on…

As we roll into 2023, there is much buzz around wellness. You may have heard of ” sober curious”, an exploration of living an alcohol free lifestyle. Or perhaps you are trying a “dry January” (or even a “dry-ish” one!) when we give our bodies a break from a decadent December. At RITUAL we propose the perfect complement to these and other healthy choices. We encourage you to be sauna-curious and cold plunge-curious this month and discover the many benefits of hot cold contrast.

Owner of Ritual Nordic Spa, Marcia standing at the entrance of the Sauna Circuit at Ritual Nordic Spa

 What can I expect during my first visit to RITUAL Nordic Spa?

Our main offering is the 2 hour Nordic Circuit, a self-directed journey through elements of hot, cold and relax. You decide how long to stay in each step, choosing from traditional Finnish sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool, Nordic bucket shower, Himalayan salt lounge, and outdoor patios to relax on. RITUAL is not a “silent” spa… We are based on the traditional Finnish-style social saunahouse where it’s fine to chat with friends or fellow sauna-goers.

All you need to bring is a bathing suit and water bottle, and we provide the rest—locker, robes (if desired) and a fun licensed café to relax in after your circuit. Our Nordic Circuit Hosts are present to share their knowledge of hot and cold therapy, and guide you if you’re new to sauna or cold plunge. We also have a massage wing with RMTs on staff, as well as private sauna suites for booking.

Why are people SO into this?

During Covid I noticed how people were trying cold plunge as a recovery practice for sports or dance. It went from being freaky—standing in the ocean or a bucket of ice water—to being an accepted thing. I think Wim Hof (the Iceman) helped the awareness grow too.

I think the flow of city living also makes gathering with others for a wellness experience appealing. When I heard about smaller, modern, urban sauna houses and bathhouses being built in cities like Brooklyn, Asheville, Portland, and even Calgary, I knew that Victoria BC deserved its own urban saunahouse too.

What’s the vibe like?

Our goal was to create a space that was friendly and “delightfully unpretentious” like a ski lodge. Where other guests welcome you inside on a cold winter day, even if they have never met you. RITUAL uses streamlined Finnish design elements — wood, water and wool, and a Nordic palette that focuses on form and function — to make it feel like it could be a spa in Helsinki, Oslo or Stockholm. Even the snacks and beverages in the café have a Scandinavian hint to them!

Certain days and nights have a different vibe. Fridays are very social in the circuit as a fun thing to do (read: date night!) before couples and groups of friends go out into the city for a meal or drinks. Wednesday is Women-only 5-9 pm and very social as well; whereas Sunday mornings are quieter, with classical music.

Customers enjoying their time at Ritual Nordic Spa's sauna circuit

Social or Silent?  Do I have to talk to people?

RITUAL is a social saunahouse—not a quiet or silent spa—so people chat with each other in the sauna or salt lounge. That said, it’s a fairly quiet atmosphere usually and many guests come alone and enjoy the peacefulness. There is no requirement to talk. And for sure there is no physical contact in any way.

I’m a bit nervous about getting in my bathing suit…

The RITUAL guest experience is a digital and phone-free space, with very few mirrors.  That was intentional to create a freedom. We can take a break and experience a true moment of being in our bodies, without wondering how we look in a bathing suit. We believe in body neutrality (which is a bit different than body positivity). This philosophy is based on the idea of valuing your body as an instrument for moving through the world, rather than as an ornament for being seen. This resonates well with guests.

Who Goes There? Who Will I Meet?

With the goal to be an inclusive, welcoming space for all people, design was guided by the idea of “urban, sporty Nordic” that could encompass all expressions of gender, more in line with a gym or recreation centre than a typical luxury spa. In our first year we have met a wonderful mix of folks of all ages (tho we are limited to 18+). Experience levels range from “sauna curious” first timers, to those who LOVE sauna and cold plunge, and find it essential to their lives each week.

Who you might meet in our main sauna circuit changes every day—we are as popular with locals as with visitors to Victoria, plus our Cold Plunge Club members who visit regularly. We have become a hot spot for athletes who love the therapeutic aspects of contrast therapy. We also get a lot of mother/daughter dates, and couples or groups of workmates coming in before a night out. Some people enjoy the Nordic Circuit as their “reward” after a long week or a challenging yoga class. Being tucked into a private alley right in downtown Victoria, people often visit on the way home from work or after the gym, combined with downtown errands, or while staying at a nearby hotel. 

How much does it cost?

With a weekday circuit for $59 or weekend $69, our price point makes RITUAL a nice addition to the local spa landscape. We are priced in the middle between the high-end luxury spas and the local recreation centres. People find they can afford to visit weekly or monthly and build us into their lives rather than having to save up and visit once a year.

How do I give it a try?

You can book online here on our website, selecting your desired date and time. If you have any questions or need assistance, give us a call at 778-440-9009.

See you in the sauna! XOXO


Finland Tops World Happiness Report for Fifth Time in a Row

For the fifth year in a row, Finland landed the #1 ranking as the happiest country in the world in the 2022 World Happiness Report. And it’s in good company with other Nordic companies appearing in the top 8. It’s an interesting time to be thinking about happiness as the world faces distressing challenges such as COVID recovery and war. Perhaps by exploring the elements that contribute to this ranking, some light can be shed on how to build happiness in other countries—their structures, policies and actions.

The report—now in its tenth year—comes out of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. And while the topic might seem “light”, this group takes data gathering seriously. The report relies on global survey data to report on how people evaluate their own lives in more than 150 countries around the world.

Top 10 Happiest Countries in the World

According to the report rankings, the top 10 countries are as follows:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. The Netherlands
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Israel
  10. New Zealand
    (Canada lands at 15)

What Goes into the Ranking?

The report measures well-being based on three factors: life evaluations, positive emotions and negative emotions, paying specific attention to daily emotions. It looks at data from the Gallup World Poll, which asks people to evaluate their current life, from 10 to zero, with 10 being the best possible life, and zero being the worst.

The study maps average life evaluation per country and explains the results by six factors: dystopia, perceptions of corruption, generosity, freedom to make life changes, life expectancy, social support and GDP per capita. It aims to measure overall contentedness with life while at the same, comparing it to data gathered in previous years. Three years of data go into the calculations – the 2022 edition used answers from 2019 to 2021 to calculate the 2022 rankings.

Photo by Eric Ward

Can Happiness be “Structured” into Place?

The report claims there are identifiable key determinants of wellbeing that can inform the policies that countries, cities and town create to help achieve happier societies. People in Finland and elsewhere understand that contentment and satisfaction don’t just occur. You have to construct and maintain the culture and the social institutions that form the basis and framework for individuals and communities to build their happiness.

For example, Finland with the rest of the Nordics supports democratic governance and human rights. Education and healthcare are available for free, or nominal cost. They also know that balance is part of the happiness equation: in one section of the report, researchers examine data from a separate global survey about balance and harmony to look at how they relate to happiness. In that survey, 90.4 percent of Finnish respondents deemed their lives to be “in balance,” a top result matched only by Malta. Many in Finland see access to parks and wilderness as an important part of their lives. We also know that many in the Finnish culture prioritize wellness, community, and of course spend a lot of time in the sauna!

finnish people prioritize wellness and sauna

Factoring Values into the Picture

Finland’s repeated success in the World Happiness Report can be attributed to factors that show up in other reports, indexes and international comparisons. Finland is considered the world’s most stable and least corrupt country, ranks highly in good governance and in political and civil freedom and ranks second in press freedom, second in gender equality, third in children’s rights and fourth in education. It tops the Sustainable Development Index and the Work-Life Balance Index, and places third in the EU Social Justice Index. Finland is also the EU country where people express the most trust in each other.

It’s difficult to process happiness when tragically unhappy things are occurring in the world, and Finland faces its own challenges this year on the global stage. The World Happiness Report offers a moment to glimpse what happiness can mean to a nation or a people, and provides an annual opportunity to think about the elements that shape it. We hope, for other nations too.

Better than book club! Bring your bathing suit. Turning every Wednesday night into Women’s Night.


We’re setting aside one night a week to offer women-only urban wellness inspired by the classic Scandinavian sauna tradition. A chance to decompress and relax in the middle of the week with female-only time in the spa. Join us for our signature, self-directed 2 hour Nordic Circuit, some great tunes, and in future – options to chat with a women’s wellness expert after the circuit. Another important part of Wellness Wednesdays for Women is giving back. A portion of WWW circuit sales are donated to  local charities working to improve the lives of women and girls. 

women only spa use Victoria BC


RITUAL Nordic Spa, Victoria’s newly opened modern sauna house located downtown at 989 Johnson Street. RITUAL reimagines the hot/cold/relax circuit for our busy lives, by offering a modern sauna experience in a delightfully unpretentious, urban setting. Bathing suits required: we follow a “suits on, phones off” policy. 


Each Wednesday evening from 5-9 pm, starting March 16. Reservations required. Online booking for the 2 hour Nordic Circuit available on the half hour, with the last booking time at 7:00pm. Four spaces available in each “wave.” Book for a group or yourself – solo visitors welcome. 


Open to women 18 and older, including those who identify as female (includes cis and trans individuals identifying as female). We have three changerooms, towels, water, lockers, plus robe and sandals, if desired. 


We’ve heard from you that Victoria needs more lovely spaces where women of all cultures can relax together, in the name of wellness. (We’re inspired by Crystal Pool, where they’ve been offering women-only swim slots for years.) In European cultures, women have gathered in the spa for centuries. Whether for cultural preference, personal comfort, or a chance to socially connect with other women – we think it’s a new Ritual worth trying in Victoria.  

RITUAL Nordic Spa aims to provide a comfortable, welcoming environment for women / those who identify as women, to experience the Nordic spa circuit, and reduce barriers or concerns when trying something new. As part of creating this space, we maintain an atmosphere of body neutrality: the growing movement that believes the best life is one lived without having to think too much about our bodies one way or another, positive or negative. Every body is amazing. Guests focus instead on health, wellness, and how great the feeling can be, when you move through the hot+cold+relax cycle of the Nordic Circuit.

outdoor spa patio with firetable for Ritual Nordic Spa guests

The RITUAL Nordic Circuit starts at $59 for a mid-week visit or $69 on weekends. Regular guests can choose one of the series passes starting at $160 for three visits or a monthly Cold Plunge Club special at $184/month. 

Check out our hours of operation and book online, or for more information call 778-440-9009.
RITUAL Nordic Spa observes all provincial public health guidelines. Read our policies.