As I lowered myself into the cold pool, I remembered how spa director Allie Lurie had described it: “It’s right around the temperature of the Oregon ocean.” There’s a reason why I’ve never waded in past my knees – at 52 degrees, the Pacific Ocean off Oregon is cold! But I had been invited to test the healing waters of Knot Springs, Portland’s newest spa. I was determined to follow its “10 Steps to Relaxation” as posted on the wall.
And so I took a shower, relaxed in the tepidarium (99 degrees), soaked in the caldarium (104 degrees), took a cold plunge, went in the steam sauna infused with organic eucalyptus, cold plunged again, roasted in the dry sauna, cold plunged, revisited the tepidarium, and then relaxed and drank water. I’m pleased to report that it really worked. After the 10 steps, I felt my stress level decline by 90 percent.
Lurie, a licensed massage therapist who taught at East West College of the Healing Arts for 16 years, designed this spa ritual. As she showed me around Knot Springs, she was rightfully proud of the space she helped create. “We wanted to bring in elements that felt like we were bringing a hot springs right into the city,” she said. An enormous black walnut log serves as a bench for visitors to rest on. Macramé artist Emily Katz created a ceiling installation with 300 fake plants and 4000 feet of rope. Bathers have an excellent view of the Steel Bridge, the Burnside Bridge, and the whole city skyline.
Knot Springs believes in partnering with local companies. The signature scent — blended by local vegan apothecary Midnight Collective and used in the spa’s body care products — is a gender-neutral mix of balsam fir, white cedar, bergamot and grapefruit. Guests dry themselves with colorful Pendleton towels, and massage clients can wear something called a “roncho,” a hybrid, custom made robe/poncho combo sewn by Portland Garment Company.
So far, visitors are a mix of locals and travelers. All you need is a swimsuit; the spa provides the rest. Travelers who didn’t pack a swimsuit can buy one at reception.
In addition to the springs, the space offers eastern and western massage modalities and a gym. Exercise classes range from tough – such as high intensity interval training – to relaxing, such as yin and restorative yoga.
Brad Boggs, the programming director in charge of fitness, Boggs loves the holistic nature of Knot Springs. “You can get your butt kicked and then go soak,” he said. He works out six days a week, and regularly uses the springs and massage offerings to revive his weary muscles.
Since Knot Springs opened in September, they’ve attracted locals and tourists. Day passes are $55 for two hours of soaking. I suggest you go for a package deal, such as $65 for two hours in the springs plus one exercise class, or $75 for 30-minute massage plus an hour in the springs.
As I followed the 10 steps to relaxation, I looked out at the city and felt grateful to be sitting in warm water rather than hurtling down the highway. Knot Springs is a wonderful addition to Portland. I’m already planning my next visit.