Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna

Located on the shores of Lake Superior, near downtown Grand Marais, you will find Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna. Opened in 2021, the sauna provides a unique experience complete with breathtaking views of Lake Superior’s East Bay.

A Sauna Revival

Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna BuildingUsing a sauna for health and wellbeing has been a tradition in Nordic countries for centuries. The tradition came to the US with the many Finnish immigrants who decided to settle in the Duluth area. There was once a time when many traditional community saunas dotted the Duluth hillside as recent immigrants created the traditional sauna experience they were familiar with back in Finland. As time went on, these community spaces became fewer and fewer, essentially dying out. The closest traditional community sauna space was located all the way up in Thunder Bay, a bit of a trek for those seeking this experience.

The love of sauna didn’t end with the disappearance of community saunas, however. Private home saunas have grown in popularity. In fact, many Cascade Vacation Rental homes have private saunas, a direct result of the area being home to so many Nordic immigrants. But, while private saunas grew in popularity, this amenity was mostly reserved for those who could afford it. Many still desired the traditional Nordic sauna experience of the past. A community space where people could gather to experience sauna without the expense of maintaining their own. And that is where Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna comes into play.

A Traditional Experience on the North Shore

Sisu + Loyly Fire PitWe sat down to chat with Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna owner, Katie Usem and asked her about her motivation to open a traditional sauna experience in Grand Marais. Katie herself had grown up experiencing and knowing the many health benefits that saunas provide. It’s a tradition that Katie values and had the interest to bring to the North Shore. So, when she and her husband saw a unique Real Estate listing on the Lake Superior shoreline, an idea was born. That idea was the Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna.

The couple purchased the land and spend some time fixing the property up. The saunas are located in a historic 1930s fish house, which required extensive renovations. Finally, in October of 2021, Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna opened its doors to private individual and group rentals. The Covid-19 Pandemic had put a bit of a damper on the more traditional aspects of Nordic saunas- being a community experience. However, for the time being, Katie is just happy that the sauna is finally open. The community aspect will become more available soon.

The Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna Experience

Grab a robe and head out for your saunaThe property that is home to Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna offers a unique sauna experience not available anywhere else. The welcome center has been beautifully renovated.  There is a small shop and check-in area, two bathrooms and changing areas, and a large main room. The main room has a lovely seating area around a fireplace and then enough open space for the sauna to host yoga classes. Wall-to-wall windows make the space bright and inviting, even on dreary winter days.

After checking in for your appointment at the front desk, guests head to the bathrooms to change for their sauna. In the bathrooms, you will find many things needed to get ready, including things you may have forgotten to bring like make-up wipes and hair ties. Guests slip on provided sandals and soft, white robes, grab provided water bottles filled with ice-cold water and then head outside to their assigned sauna.

Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna has two side-by-side saunas, both equipped with multi-tiered benches and picture windows facing Lake Superior’s East Bay. The view is very much a part of the experience. Lake Superior, with her ever-changing moods, will provide a different experience almost every time. From waves to ice to calm, clear waters and everything in between. She offers it all, sometimes within the same appointment time!

In the Saunas

Inside a Sauna at Sisu + Loyly Nordic SaunaWhat guests do during their allotted sauna time is up to them. However, it’s recommended that you alternate between being in the sauna and cooling off. Guests can do this by enjoying a little time outside around the campfire or just relaxing outside to cool off. At this time, access to the lake itself isn’t possible for cooling off, but Katie is exploring ways to make it possible in the future. Guest are encouraged to drink lots of water to stay hydrated, hence the provided water bottles. Guests can refill their water bottles back in the main building where coffee and tea is also provided.

Once your sauna time is up, just head back into the main building to shower off and change back into your clothes. We personally feel that pairing a nice sauna with a light lunch and a nap really helps complete the experience.

Experience It Yourself

Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna is open for business! Head on over to their website to learn more and to book your sauna experience. More services and sauna experiences are coming, just as Covid-19 restrictions allow. Check back often to see what changes have been made since the writing on this article.

And listen in to “Exploring the North Shore” as Jaye and Martha visit Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna to experience the traditional sauna experience for themselves.

More Images (Click to Enlarge)

Nordic Sauna Building Sisu + Loyly Fire Pit at Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna The view out of a sauna window at Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna Gathering space inside the main building Other side of the main building Mugs and tea offerings