Klar Sø Nordic Spa: Manitoba’s Newest Winter Destination

Posted February 23, 2024 | Author Lily & Josh

I’ve always adored the colder months – it’s a great time to slow down and give yourself permission to rest and relax.

But I also think it’s the perfect opportunity to hit the road and explore the serene getaways our province has to offer. Enter Elkhorn Resort in Riding Mountain National Park. I truly think wintertime in Riding Mountain National Park might be Manitoba’s best kept secret. The hustle and bustle of the summer crowd is gone and you’re left to discover the quiet and picturesque beauty of the area. And with the opening of Elkhorn Resort’s new Klar Sø Nordic Spa, now is the best time to come and unwind in this special part of Manitoba.

Fun fact: Klar Sø is Danish for Clear Lake!

We’ve made it an annual tradition to venture out to Riding Mountain National Park every winter. It’s where we spent our first ever New Year’s Eve as a couple and ever since it’s become a special place we eagerly look forward to visiting every year. With the opening of the new spa, we were extra excited to spend the weekend enjoying the new facility and restaurant amidst smaller crowds. On this trip we even managed to have enough time to spend the morning ice-fishing (a first for us!) before heading to the spa in the afternoon. Did I mention we went on the coldest weekend of the year?

On Saturday morning we packed up our car, grabbed some coffee to-go and began the three-hour drive to the park. Lots of folks think you need to spend an extended amount of time in the area because of the commute but we’ve done many two-day weekend trips. As long as you leave early, you can be enjoying your second cup of coffee in the park by 10 am!

Upon arrival, we checked in at the front desk where we received cozy – and luckily, very thick – robes and instructions on where to find the change rooms and how to use our lockers (simply input a short four-number pin). Then we were off to explore the facility.

Similar to other Nordic spas we’ve visited in the past, this one follows the “Nordic Cycle” – a hot- and cold-water therapy cycle that sees you going from one extreme to the other as a way to “shock the system” and provide a variety of health benefits, such as increased circulation and even a better mood.

Add the fact that we were doing this on a day where the mercury hit below 40 degrees Celsius and we were definitely feeling the effects of the hot and cold just simply walking between the different pools. In addition to the pools, there's also plenty of outdoor seating, lounging areas and fireplaces.

Speaking of pools, Klar Sø offers four different pool options – two hot pools, a temperate pool and the infamous polar-plunge. Spoiler alert: we did work up the courage over the course of the four hours we spent there to do the polar plunge and it actually felt a little temperate compared to the cold winter air! But it’s probably safe to say that was a one-off.

In addition to the pools, the spa offers a dry sauna, a steam sauna and a relaxation pavilion where you can load up on complimentary tea and enjoy some quiet time reading. I always pack my Kindle because it’s so easy to bring around from the pool to the sauna and there’s no danger of getting it wet like you could a book.

A typical hour for us looked like this: we’d start with 10-15 minutes in the dry sauna before making our way over to the temperate pool. Make sure to hydrate in between! There’s complimentary water available but you can also bring your own water bottle and refill throughout the day.

We then spent about 20 minutes in the temperate pool before heading to the steam sauna and restarting the hot cycle. The steam sauna also has a scrub available that you can use and rinse off before entering the sauna. It’s a great way to help stimulate and rejuvenate your skin and enjoy all the benefits of the sauna. Following the steam sauna (another 10-15 minutes) we made our way back to the temperate pool before switching to one of the hot pools.

Following the hot pool, we enjoyed some time in the relaxation pavilion where we poured ourselves complimentary tea and spent quiet time by the fire. Thanks to the extremely cold temperature outside and the condensation coming from the hot pools, the trees were beautifully coated in snow and ice and made for the perfect backdrop to a winter day at the

As the temperate dipped even further we experienced the “Manitoba Mascara” effect of thickly coated white lashes — so of course we had to snap some shots!

With all that relaxing you’re bound to work up an appetite and luckily Klar Sø offers a bistro on-site that offers both lunch and dinner. We made our way upstairs to cozy up by the fire and enjoy some food and refreshments.

One thing we really appreciated about their menu is while their cocktail offerings are extensive, they also had an equally long mocktail list with very reasonable prices – we’re talking $4.50 per drink! Since we were both participating in Dry January, we opted for two of their mocktails and were extremely impressed with the flavour and presentation.

Their food menu also had a great variety and clearly took inspiration from Nordic cuisine, ranging from different smørrebrøds (a traditional open-faced sandwich) to a Viking Bowl (featuring a Danish blue cheese dressing) with soup, cheese and charcuterie boards, flatbreads, salads, burger, steak, salmon and chicken rounding out the menu. It was easy for us both to find something to order and the service was quick and friendly.

To start our meal, we opted to share a cheeseboard which had a healthy variety of cheeses, pickles, spread and crackers. For our mains, my husband ordered the Arctic Burger which featured a AAA angus patty, garlic Skyr, havarti, grilled onions, braised cabbage and a BBQ glaze with fries. I opted for the chicken flatbread with flame grilled chicken, bacon, cherry tomatoes, red onions, BBQ glaze, ranch and mozzarella and a side salad. As always, we snuck bites of each other’s orders and both enjoyed the vibrant flavours and solid portions of our meals.

One of the perks of coming in during the off season is the smaller crowds. We were able to take our time eating and enjoying the new restaurant. We even indulged in two mocktails each!

We finished our stay at Klar Sø enjoying a few more rounds of the Nordic cycle before heading back to our accommodations for a cozy night in.

While the Nordic spa is Elkhorn Resort’s newest addition, there are plenty of other exciting ways to spend your time at the resort. Take a ride down the water slide at the indoor pool, roast some marshmallows by the warmth of a campfire, get your workout on in the fitness room or play 9 holes once the snow melts away. You could also opt to book a private chalet if you want more private accommodations with full access to all resort amenities.

Buffalo Bar is a well-known dining spot right at the resort where you'll find more of a casual sports bar atmosphere.

Need more reasons to make the journey out to Elkhorn Resort and Klar Sø Spa? They’re currently offering a Spa and Stay Package and Wine Tasting Experience. Learn more and book your Nordic spa experience at Elkorn Resort!

About The Author

Lily and Josh (@wpgeats) are a husband and wife duo who share food and destinations in Manitoba and beyond.

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