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A couple canoeing at Chute Lake during sunset. Chute Lake Lodge in the background

What’s Trending in 2023 in British Columbia: Wellness

November 29, 2022
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Seeking travel inspiration for the coming year? British Columbia’s tourism industry is embracing global trends with noteworthy experiences, promising plenty of adventure in 2023. Last week we shared the first of three travel trends we’re exploring for next year—culinary travel. Next up, it’s wellness travel!


Health and wellness emerged as a leading travel trend during the pandemic. Currently, the global wellness market is worth $4.37 trillion with wellness tourism alone generating $436 billion. In BC, wellness travel continues to attract visitors from around the globe, thanks largely to the healing powers of the province’s lush rainforests, craggy mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and expansive coastlines. Below is an overview of activities capturing attention among wellness warriors.

Floating sauna at Tofino Resort + Marina | Marcus Paladino

See you at the spa

Enter a stress-free zone at these new spa experiences around BC:

  • In 2022, Ritual Nordic Spa opened in downtown Victoria, providing a traditional hot-to-cold experience proven to stimulate cardiac function and promote blood circulation and mindfulness. The spa is a holistic wellness retreat with cedar and infrared saunas, a eucalyptus-infused steam room, cold plunge pool, salt lounge, Nordic bucket shower, massage treatments, and outdoor relaxation patios.
  • AIKA in Squamish is the first and only private spa experience in the Sea-to-Sky region. Here, guests can indulge in hot-cold therapy via wood-fired sauna and cold plunge, as well as yoga, breathwork, private dining, and targeted massage treatments. Benefits include a boost to the immune system, skin rejuvenation, improved sleep, increased stress resilience, and lower blood sugar, among many others. “Aika” is a Finnish word that means “spending time”—an ode to traditional Nordic sauna culture and the brand’s core values of building meaningful connections and prioritizing health. AIKA accepts group bookings of up to 10 guests for 90-minute, three-hour, and six-hour private spa experiences.
  • Tofino Resort + Marina in Tofino opened a remote wood-fired floating sauna in spring 2022. Located in Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve , the spa experience encompasses five hours of rejuvenation and revitalization, starting with a 30-minute boat ride to the floating sauna. There, spa-goers can ditch their cellphones and detox in the aromatic cedar structure, which features a floor-to-ceiling window looking out to the vast Pacific Ocean. The experience includes plenty of time to take dips in the cold water, relax in a hammock, or stand-up paddleboard along the bay.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park | Northern BC Tourism/Chris Gale

All hail the hot springs

Relaxing in natural hot springs soothes sore muscles after a long day of adventuring in BC’s wonderlands:

  • At Fairmont Hot Springs—home to Canada’s largest natural hot springs—crystal-clear pools beckon with steamy waters guaranteed to stave off the winter chill. The water temperature hovers at 39°C with over 1.2 million gallons of fresh mineral water flowing through the pools daily.
  • Radium Hot Springs, situated in Kootenay National Park, is one of the country’s largest hot spring mineral pools; soak away your tensions here while taking in the striking red cliffs of Sinclair Canyon (keep an eye out for bighorn sheep!).
  • Halcyon Hot Springs offers four mineral-rich pools overlooking Upper Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains; come here for what’s considered some of the most restorative hot spring waters in North America.
  • Ainsworth Hot Springs in the Kootenay region is owned by the Yaqan Nukiy people of the Ktunaxa First Nation. The area boasts a picturesque horseshoe-shaped cave lined with stalagmites and stalactites, anchored by warm mineral waters that have been healing visitors for hundreds of years.
  • Liard River Hot Springs, located in a provincial park along the Alaska Highway, is the second-largest hot spring in Canada. Known for a soothing setting of boreal spruce forest, the hot springs range in temperature from 42°C to 52°C. The boardwalk leading to the pools passes through a warm water swamp that supports diverse plant, mammal, and bird species.
  • Weewanie Hot Springs, south of Kitimat, is a boat access-only park in a semi-sheltered bay with a hot springs, and bathhouse. Mainly used by recreational and commercial boaters, the hot springs water comes from the ground on a hillside above the bathhouse with the temperature sitting at approximately 44.7°C at the source and 38.6°C in the bathhouse.

A couple canoeing at Chute Lake during sunset, Chute Lake Lodge in the background | Destination BC/Hubert Kang

Restorative retreats

Seeking an extended wellness holiday? Look no further than these rejuvenating retreats:

  • Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in Ainsworth Hot Springs—recently voted a top 5 health retreat in the world—welcomes wellness seekers to a holistic hiking and wellness getaway in the forested mountains overlooking Kootenay Lake. Days are filled with three to four hours of Nordic hiking—a heart-pumping activity that uses trekking poles to engage 90 per cent of the body’s muscles—as well as yoga and cardio kickboxing. There’s also a state-of-theart spa, complete with outdoor jacuzzi and plunge pool, and spa cuisine devoid of inflammatory ingredients like caffeine, sugar, and processed food.
  • Chute Lake Lodge in Kelowna beckons visitors with cozy cabins, yurts, and glamping tents that serve as home base for an array of wellness adventures. Guests can perfect their yoga practice, ski and snowshoe, view wildlife, ride ebikes along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, or soak in the onsite sauna.
  • Retreat to the crisp mountain air and cool ocean waters surrounding Nimmo Bay, a luxury wellness resort in the southern Great Bear Rainforest . Here, guests can indulge in an outdoor massage with the sounds of birdsong and a cascading waterfall easing both mind and body. Dive into the Pacific Ocean, soak in a cedar hot tub, and melt into a savasana during an outdoor yoga class. After a day of adventures, paddle to the floating sauna for a meditative steam, then return to your cabin for a well-earned rest.

A woman stares at ancient tree on Vancouver Island | Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben Giesbrecht

Adventures in forest bathing

Developed in Japan in the 1980s, forest bathing—or shinrin-yoku—involves being in nature and channeling your focus on what you see, hear, smell, and touch. There are plenty of places to forest bathe in BC (after all, two-thirds of BC’s land base, or 60 million hectares, is covered in trees). However, a guided adventure is ideal for beginners:

  • In Vancouver, Rockwood Adventures hosts a Rainforest Bathing Wellness and Salmon Adventure , where an ecoguide trained in forest bathing coaches guests on meditative walking as they wander among century-old cedars and Douglas firs. While listening to waves crashing against granite cliffs and inhaling the salty air, participants learn about the art and science of forest bathing. The tour culminates in a picnic beside Capilano River as guests watch something equally meditative—Pacific salmon spawning and splashing around the nearby hatchery.
  • In Whistler, Forest and Flow hosts forest-bathing sessions that invite guests to awaken each of their senses. Hear birds singing and the trickle of a flowing river; touch a tree’s rough bark and the delicate petals of a flower; and taste the forest’s bounty during a soothing tea ceremony. Fun fact: The healing effects of one forest bathing session can last up to 30 days.
  • Salish Sea Nature Connections offers forest and nature therapy walks on Salt Spring Island, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands. Led by a certified forest therapy guide, guests cover a distance of one kilometre or less in a little under three hours, which allows plenty of time to soak up the many health benefits of forest bathing, including decreased stress, boosted immunity, heightened mood, enhanced creativity, and improved sleep.