10 to Watch Winner 2024 – HAVN Saunas

10 to Watch Winner 2024 - HAVN Saunas
From left, Nicholas Van Buren, Kurtis Vallee (not pictured, Martin Walker) Photo By: Jeffrey Bosdet.

Sector: Health and wellness

Year launched: 2023

Principals: From left, Nicholas Van Buren, Kurtis Vallee (not pictured, Martin Walker)

Unique selling proposition: Through the use of hydrotherapy, HAVN aims to make guests more present in their bodies, minds and the urban environment around them.

Strategy: To provide a healthy and creative gathering space that brings people together and promotes health, wellness and reflection.

Website: havnsaunas.com

It’s hard to miss the hulking, 80-year-old barge tied up at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour. The Nordic-style HAVN (pronounced “hah-vin”) Sauna is built aboard a refurbished 1943 U.S. Navy barge, featuring cedar woodwork made completely out of salvaged driftwood.

“We didn’t want to cut down any old-growth cedar, so we collected logs out of the ocean and milled them all.” says partner and CEO Nicholas Van Buren.

HAVN is a floating, park-like environment with lush green spaces, cold pools, hot tubs and hand-built saunas that aims to bring people together for a vibrant self-care experience.

In its pitch to the city, HAVN said it wanted to bring a year-round economic boost to an underutilized part of the waterfront. The city supported the idea, saying the ambitious project would meet the goals of bringing vitality and tourism to Ship Point.
It also aligned with the official community
plan of diversifying the Inner Harbour.

HAVN features a hydrotherapy “circuit” where guests spend up to three hours roaming from feature to feature, or just relaxing on the leafy patio. One of the experiences that brings restoration and renewal is hot and cold therapy. Known as the “Nordic Cycle,” it’s an almost euphoric feeling that can occur when transitioning from one extreme temperature to another.

Next, if they’re brave enough, visitors can jump into a plunge pool or cold shower to immerse in icy cold temperatures. After the extreme hot and cold experiences they can relax in a calm space to allow the body to return to normal temperature. The process can be repeated several times over the course of two to three hours to make the most of the benefits.

In short, says Van Buren, “HAVN is an antidote to our hustle culture.”