Closed for three years, Whitehorse hot springs to reopen soon as new spa facility

After a three-year process, the former Takhini Hot Springs will finally reopen as the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs after going through a massive facelift.

Well-known Yukon tourism destination added many health-based features

Garry Umbrich, owner of the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs in Whitehorse. The renovated facility has shifted to being more of a spa than the recreational facility it used to be. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

It's taken three years, but a Yukon tourism destination is getting ready to reopen.

Formerly known as the Takhini Hot Springs, the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs has gone through a massive facelift.

Owner Garry Umbrich said after taking part in a local business development program that gave him access to experts from around the world, he decided to change the model of his business.

"We've moved it from being a recreational facility to being a health-based facility. So it's very much in the direction of a spa," he said.

One of the pools fed by hot springs water at the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs. Umbrich said the water is hotter than it used to be by about 2 C or 3 C. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

In addition to the hot springs, Umbrich said they've added saunas, steam rooms, cold showers, a lot of seating areas and relax areas.

"The spa services are borrowed from the European tradition of going from hot to cold to relax," he said.

He added people will also see Turkish and Icelandic influences in the seating and relax areas, as well as a strong Japanese influence in the hot springs.

An Icelandic-influenced relaxation area. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

The water will also be hotter than it used to be, going from 37 C and 38 C to 40 C, said Umbrich.

"Instead of spending, say, 95 per cent of your time in the water, you might spend 50 per cent of your time in the hot water," he said.

The hotter water also means children won't be able to use the facility.

Umbrich said when he started planning for the renovated facility, he had hoped to keep a pool for children but eventually realized it couldn't be combined with the spa services he wanted to offer.

He added he talked to the owners of a proposed hotel nearby who assured him they would put in a family-friendly pool that would be accessible for everyone, including people who are not customers of the hotel.

Pandemic delays and cost overruns

Umbrich said the project experienced delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic and there were some cost overruns.

"Sometimes instead of waiting a week or two, we would wait a year for things to come in. So it really did slow us down a lot," he said.

He said he was lucky most of the construction of the new facility was completed before prices started going up dramatically, such as for lumber.

A sauna is one of the new health features that has been included at the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

He said they had finished about 90 per cent of the construction by the time the price of lumber doubled during the pandemic.

The project went beyond just putting up a building, though.

"We have to do everything from bringing in power to drilling for water, putting in our own filtration systems, our water, sewer, septic systems. We have to bring our own telephone lines with Northwestel. Then we had to build the buildings, the roadways, the parking lots, build the pools," he said.

Despite all that, he's happy with the end result and said overall, the process went well.

He doesn't have a firm date for when the new facility will open but said it is imminent.

With files from Vincent Bonnay