In the village of Laugarvatn, which is about a 50 minute drive from Reykjavik ( smack dab in the middle of the well-known Golden Circle tour), there’s a new Iceland spa & wellness center called Fontana. This new facility offers steam baths, Finnish-style saunas, and geothermal-heated soaking pools and a hot tub. While this may not sound like anything out of the ordinary if you know anything about Iceland – Iceland is awash in geothermal hot springs – what makes Fontana particularly unique is that it was built right on top of a natural hot spring, called Laugarvatn. The steam rooms don’t have steam pumped in from some other source; they are built on top of an active, simmering hot spring from which steam from the earth seeps up through grates in the floors. This provides a truly unique and intimate experience – I for one have never heard of a spa that works like this. If you are a steam bath aficionado, this is Mecca.
Besides the steam baths, Fontana also has a couple Finnish-style saunas which are hotter and less humid than the steam baths. A couple of these saunas have oversized windows that overlook the small lake which is called Laugarvatn. In fact the whole facility is set against this lake, so you can look out on the water while soaking or enjoying a steam bath.
Fontana also has several geothermal-heated soaking pools and a very nice, over-sized hot tub. Put it all together, the steam baths, saunas, pools and hot tub and you have a smorgasbord of water wellness – and all from natural sources.
The facility itself is no slouch either. The building is modern and well-designed, with all kinds of thoughtful details. It uses local volcanic stones for the façade and altogether has a bright and open feel. The changing rooms and showers are clean and modern. The showers are amazing with giant water heads that dump copious amounts of clean, warm Icelandic water on you – like a warm waterfall.
After this pleasurable h2o experience (showering beforehand is mandatory), you step outside to the facility itself and from there you can choose which form of geothermal heat you want to enjoy first.
If there’s an Iceland vacation in your future, this is one experience you want to try. For more information, check out Fontana’s website. – David Brooks