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Visitors take a dip at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa.

Lee Horbachewski.

Kananaskis Country used to be one of Alberta's best kept secrets. While tourists explore Banff National Park, locals would quietly slip off to K-Country for their al fresco adventures. That all could change with the opening of Kananaskis Nordic Spa.

No need for prerecorded Gregorian chants here. Wind whispers through lofty lodgepole pines, the seductive scent of wood smoke wafts above cowboy cauldron fire pits, and you can't help but feel grounded when gazing up at Mount Kidd, one of the many snow-clad peaks encircling the spa.

Following an age-old Nordic thermotherapy practice, visitors first surrender to the steam: hitting either a cedar-infused sauna (Finnish or Russian) or the aromatic alchemist steam cabin. To achieve maximize benefit after sweating it out, take a polar dip in the 5 C to 10 C outdoor plunge pool – a transition said to release adrenalin. That adrenalin turns into endorphins during the final phase of rest. This could be accomplished by cocooning inside a heated hammock built à deux or submitting to a robust massage.

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In true Alberta maverick fashion, K-Nord isn't your typical Scandinavian spa. For starters, it's licensed. Instead of meandering through the meditation labyrinth (opening in April), you could become one with the elements after polishing off a few pints of local craft beer inside Two Trees Bistro. With no signs reminding spa-goers to be quiet, the vibe is decidedly more Canadian kitchen party than silent sanctuary. Here, you won't be shushed for having a good chin wag in one of the cascading, heated outdoor pools.

Fans of peace and quiet will fret less when Phase II opens in June, with a dedicated quiet pool and Relaxation Lodge. While this 50,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor oasis doesn't allow children, it sits on the grounds of Delta Lodge at Kananaskis, which offers daily childcare and recently underwent a $36-million renovation.

$70 a day; knordicspa.com. The author was a guest of the Delta Lodge for one night.

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