10 to Watch Winner 2024- RITUAL Nordic Spa

10 to Watch Winner 2024 - Ritual Nordic Spa
Principal Marci Hotsenpiller. Photo By: Jeffrey Bosdet.

Sector: Wellness

Year launched: 2022

Principal: Marci Hotsenpiller

Unique selling proposition: To deliver affordable, traditional sauna culture and self-care to locals first, visitors second.

Strategy: Immerse. Rejuvenate. Repeat. Ritual Nordic Spa seeks to recreate the experience of a traditional Finnish sauna.

Website: ritualnordicspa.com

All those bodies bobbing in our frigid Pacific waters, local folks sold on the benefits of cold plunging, are imitating what the Finns have known for generations: the healthy kick of cold and hot therapy. The difference is, there’s no sauna to step into when you emerge from the ocean and gingerly step on the beach.

Marci Hotsenpiller had seen the popularity of Nordic spas and sauna houses rising and kept waiting for someone to build one in Victoria. No one did, so in 2022 she opened RITUAL Nordic Spa in the Harris Green neighbourhood, offering saunas, a cold plunge pool and more.

Sauna and cold plunge offers physical and emotional benefits — boosting immunity, pumping your circulation, even offering a longer lifespan, as well as supercharging all the feel-good hormones, endorphins and dopamine for some sudden euphoria.

And, says Hotsenpiller, there’s another benefit, that of community, gathering with others in a hot sauna.

A popular phrase from her Finnish upbringing is “Everyone looks the same in a towel,” hinting at the experience as some sort of great equalizer. It’s estimated that there are three million saunas in Finland, a country of 5.5 million people. Steamy, spiritual and stress-busting: is that why Finland is the happiest country in the world (according to the UN)?

Affordably priced and centrally located, RITUAL runs more than just hot and cold, though. There are registered massage therapists on staff and the spa features a licensed bar for the après sweat-and-soak crowd.

Hotsenpiller recalls standing in the icy waters off Willows Beach after finishing the Victoria marathon before driving to the Oak Bay Rec Centre for a hot sauna, then driving still farther to get a massage, before meeting friends for beers.

“I thought if I could put all those four things together — cold plunge, hot sauna, massage and a beer — I’d be onto something, and that’s what I did.”