The Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Man enjoying hydrotherapy pool

The Health Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Whether you are an athlete, hiker or just work long days, chances are you commonly seek avenues to improve physical performance and reduce muscle soreness and inflammation while increasing immune system function. The Alyeska Nordic Spa is founded on the Scandinavian Nordic Tradition of cycling hot and cold water treatments to provide a natural, atmospheric hydrotherapy treatment that offers these health benefits. 

What Is Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy utilizes water as a natural system of rehabilitation. Also known as water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy and balneotherapy, hydrotherapy uses a combination of hot and cold elements to engage your muscles in a ‘temperature massage’.

The Origins of Hydrotherapy

The physical health benefits of switching between different temperatures of water dates back as far as 4500 BC, and later Roman physicians Galen and Celsus recorded treating patients with warm and cold baths to boost immunity. 

The origins of hydrotherapy have a long history in “soothing sore or inflamed muscles and joints, rehabilitating injured limbs, soothing headaches, promoting relaxation… and stimulating the immune system.” 

At the Alyeska Nordic Spa, we are a natural, outdoor destination committed to offering the health benefits that are commonly used in hot and cold therapy. 

What are the Physical Health Benefits of Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy uses water temperature to improve the health of the circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems. Active treatments at Alaska’s only Nordic Spa include our sauna, steam cabins, the gathering pool, the reflection pool, the cold plunge pool and a variety of restful stops. These engage a variety of physical health benefits, including: 

The “warmth and pressure of water also reduces swelling and reduces load on painful joints, (and) promotes muscle relaxation.”

Stimulates blood flow

Repairs muscles

Eliminates toxins

Reduces stress

Promotes better sleep

Boosts happiness hormones

Why is Hydrotherapy Ideal for Athletic Recovery?

Hydrotherapy that immerses the body in hot and cold pools and steam rooms mimics the practice of using water to treat athletic recovery in other modern rehabilitative practices. 

Commonly, ice water is used after practices or games to facilitate recovery and decrease soreness and inflammation of the muscle.

Similarly, heat therapy is a popular source of athletic recovery. When active, our muscles are constantly in a warm state. Coordinating cold and hot therapy encourages our muscles to enter states necessary to heal and rejuvenate. Accordingly, “heat therapy works by promoting blood flow and circulation to the treatment area which allows for oxidation of the muscles and improved healing times… heat therapy also has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve mobility and performance following workouts.”

What is the Process of Hydrotherapy
at the Alyeska Nordic Spa?

At our Alpine sanctuary, you will first soak in the hot pool or element pool for 15-20 minutes, or relax in one of the four saunas or steam cabins. The hot pool and steam rooms are between 95-104 °F (35-40 °C).

Next, visitors move onto the cold cycle; by dipping into the cold plunge pool. The cold plunge pool can be between 41-50 °F (5-10 °C). Cold water treatments will reset your metabolism, and “regulate your cardiovascular system.” Even just a few seconds within the cold plunge pool will boost your metabolism.

Afterwards, your visit will focus on the rest portion of the Nordic Cycle to regulate the body’s systems, and to stabilize blood flow and heart rate. To do this, we offer a time to relax by the fire in a winterized, insulated hammock or on one of our outdoor Muskoka chairs. Alternatively, guests can reap the benefits of their hydrotherapy inside one of our cabin-style lodges or by grabbing a meal at the onsite Two Trees Bistro. We recommend repeating the hot, cold and rest cycles three times to maximize the health benefits of our hydrotherapy sessions.

1. Hot

The initial hot stage reduces blood pressure while stimulating blood flow to the skin and muscles. Experience this in both our hot pools and sauna facilities.

2. Cold

The cold stage stimulates blood pressure, forcing the production of more white blood cells– your body’s natural healing agent. You are then flushed of toxins, your muscles relax and you feel rejuvenated.

4. Repeat

Each cycle builds upon the previous, with healing white blood cell production growing each time.

3. Rest

After each hot and cold cycle we invite you to rest and relax, allowing your body to stabilize. 

Where Is The Alyeska Nordic Spa Located?

The Alyeska Nordic Spa is 40 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska in the town of Girdwood. The spa is located in a woodland setting behind the Alyeska Resort.
Convenient access is available at the modern Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

From the airport, take the scenic Seward Highway heading south. The Seward Highway was voted America’s Most Outstanding Scenic Byway by Scenic America, a national conservation organization, in 1995 and by the US Department of Transportation in 2000.

The Seward Highway follows along the Turnagain Arm with many interpretative rest stops and view points. Depending on the season, it is not unusual to spot beluga whales or Dall sheep from your car window. Take the highway and look for signs to Girdwood, the home of Alyeska Resort and Nordic Spa. You will take a left-hand turn onto Alyeska Highway and continue down the road for three miles. When you come to a “T” intersection – turn left and go one mile for Alyeska Resort and Nordic Spa.

Invest in Your Physical and Mental Health

Our setting is a true alpine sanctuary designed to rejuvenate your muscles and immune system. Utilizing warm and cold water temperatures to motivate the body to improve bodily performance has existed since ancient times and is a core form of recovery in many athletic practices today. At the Alyeska Nordic Spa, you reap these health benefits while being situated in a stunning setting for an epic atmospheric recovery experience.  Hydrotherapy access at the Alyeska Nordic Spa is open from 9AM-9PM. With the warmer weather slowly making its way to Alaska, we hope to see you trying our hydrotherapy treatment as a recovery method in the mountains!   

Alaska Ski Trip at Alyeska Resort Doubles as Wellness Holiday

Alaska Ski Trip at Alyeska Resort Doubles as Wellness Holiday

Alyeska Nordic Spa Healing Hydrotherapy Circuit is a new après-ski experience

Girdwood, Alaska (January 23, 2024): Alaska’s largest mountain resort, Alyeska Resort, is reimagining this year’s winter ski holiday, as the mountain opens for its first season as a member of IKON pass, and prioritizes physical recovery and mental wellbeing with new offerings at its Nordic Spa. Girdwood’s Alyeska Resort, located 40 miles from Anchorage is the perfect ski destination for athletes and winter sports enthusiasts looking to nurture and rejuvenate as they make the most of their time on the mountain. The Nordic Spa, which debuted in 2022, offers guests 50,000 square feet of outdoor hot and cold hydrotherapy pools, massage treatments, and yoga classes with a view. The experience includes cold water plunges and waterfalls, aromatherapy-infused steam rooms, a Halotherapy Signature sauna, a Finnish sauna, and an exfoliation cabin featuring Alaskan sea salt, all connected by a heated pathway. Alyeska Resort is the first Alaska mountain to become a member of the IKON pass, and this winter skiers can enjoy a new après-ski experience, with Twilight Soak available in the evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“Alyeska’s Nordic Spa is the perfect way to start or end a day of Alaskan adventure or a day on the slopes. The Nordic traditions of hydrotherapy aid muscles to recover and rejuvenate, while helping with delayed onset muscle soreness. The spa’s new Twilight Soak is perfect for skiers as a healthy take on après-ski with access until 9 p.m., preparing them for a good night’s sleep and another day back on the mountain. For the ultimate day of rejuvenation and recovery, the spa’s Hydrotherapy Access allows up to 12 hours of self-care and connection with nature,” shares Director of Nordic Spa Operations, Simmone Lyons.

Hydrotherapy involves alternating between immersion in hot and cold water which stimulates blood circulation, relieves stress, detoxifies the body, reduces inflammation, promotes better sleep, and repairs injuries. The traditions of Nordic spas provide great health benefits which include soothing sore muscles, creating a stronger immune system, reducing inflammation, and releasing endorphins. The Nordic Spa is a ​​1.5-acre footprint at Alyeska Resort, surrounded by the forest, and is the largest addition to the resort since the hotel was built in 1994. It provides a digital-free space that balances the cadence of the modern world with the guest’s desire to relax in nature. The addition of the Forest Loop connects two barrel saunas, two banya saunas, and six cedar soaking tubs (five hot and one cold plunge) and includes an elevated wooden boardwalk through the Chugach Forest, North America’s northernmost rainforest. Indoors, guests can find cozy nooks in which to unwind, 10 treatment rooms, wellness classes, and spacious and beautifully appointed locker rooms. Guests can also refuel and recharge in Two Trees Bistro, which highlights local artisans and a seasonal menu featuring unique regional selections. Visitors can rehydrate from a selection of juices, teas, and coffee or enjoy a carefully crafted wine and cocktail selection.

Director of Nordic Spa Operations Simmone Lyons shares, “The Nordic Spa provides guests an opportunity to experience the Nordic tradition of hydrotherapy, a health ritual Nordic people have practiced for thousands of years. Guests can cycle through stages of submersion in hot and cold water at their leisure, moving between the initial hot pools to stimulate blood flow and relax muscles, to cold, utilizing the cold plunge waterfall to flush the body of toxins.”

Guests can book Hydrotherapy Access from $119, which provides full-day access (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.). Reservations can be upgraded with 60-minute customized massage treatments including aromatherapy, couples treatments, and more. With full-day access, guests can rest by the fire pits or fire cauldrons and recharge at the Two Trees Bistro. Signature tartan robes lined with polar fleece are sure to keep guests warm. Unique to the spa world, but rooted in Alaskan hospitality is the inclusive nature of the Nordic Spa experience, designed to make all guests feel welcomed from its communal layout to its friendly staff.

A winter playground, Alyeska Resort offers glacier-filled vistas and Northern Light sightings. In the winter, guests can access 1,610 skiable acres including the longest double black diamond run in North America. The mountain is home to a 60-passenger aerial scenic tram with panoramic views, 76 trails, and over 669 inches of snow annually, plus seven dining options, including Seven Glaciers, a AAA Four Diamond Award restaurant with unparalleled views overlooking seven hanging glaciers. New for 2024, is the debut of its new Black Diamond Club, a luxury offering of premium accommodations, services, and exclusive amenities. Also, new for the season and perfect for families is the resort’s new terrain-based learning program which provides novice skiers an opportunity to develop their skills with a guarantee that if you aren’t skiing the green trails by Day 3, your lessons will be complimentary until you reach that goal.

Alyeska Resort, acquired by Pomeroy Lodging in 2018, is Alaska’s premier year-round destination featuring 304 guest rooms, world-class dining and impeccable mountain views and adventures. Whether in summer or winter, Alyeska Resort is the perfect base camp for endless adventure and relaxation. In the winter, guests have access to 1,610 skiable acres including the longest double black diamond run in North America. In the summer there are various outdoor experiences from the resort which include the Alyeska Bike Park for lift-accessed downhill mountain biking and 2.2 miles of intermediate to advanced hiking trails. The resort is conveniently accessible to the Kenai Peninsula, Whittier and Anchorage for day trips. 
Located just 40 miles south of Anchorage in the town of Girdwood, the spa can easily be reached by a scenic 45-minute drive on the Seward Highway or the twice-daily Coastal Classic Train from Anchorage to Girdwood. Its proximity and access to Anchorage make the Nordic Spa an ideal day experience for guests before their evening flights back to the lower 48. Hydrotherapy Access, yoga and pilates classes, use of locker rooms and access to Two Trees Bistro can be booked at $119 per person starting September 1. Treatment rates, guidelines and the full spa menu are available at Guests must be 18+ to enjoy the spa experience.