Located in Latvia and situated within a lush national park, Ziedlejas Wellness Resort is both a tranquil, transformative spa and an architecture lover’s dream. As the spa team explains, “Here at Ziedlejas, we believe that nature shows us the right pace. That it prefers flow over rush. The proximity of nature inspires calm — it heals and nurtures us, giving us strength. Therefore people can be their best selves when they are in tune with nature and at peace with themselves.”
John Stanton of Chōsen Experiences spent time at Ziedlejas and he shared his experience with us: “Ziedlejas is a special place that puts on display the millennia-old tradition of the Latvian sauna: Culture, advanced recovery, mindfulness, and a deep connection to nature. What makes Ziedlejas unique is that they make the cultural and recovery aspects of the spa accessible via a stunning design aesthetic that utilizes the natural environment to amplify this effect. Sauna masters bring cultural wisdom and scientific relevance while acting as a personal guide during your experience. Ziedlejas is where spas should go in the future, by connecting more deeply to the wisdom of the past.”
Ziedlejas is unlike any other spa. You will not be getting massages or facials at Ziedlejas but you can be confident that you will leave restored and transformed. The main aspect of the resort is “pirts.” According to Sustainable Tourism and Entrepreneurship in Countryside, “Latvian traditional pirts is known as wet bathhouse, where one gets use of the hot air, moisture (steam), water and plants as they work on human organism. Several types of pirts are accessible in Latvia and one of them is called smoke or black pirts. It is the oldest bathhouse that Latvians have used over many centuries. Steam bath is both physical and spiritual purification, self harmonization, evening up of all functions, and source of energy.”
At Ziedlejas, there are glass, smoke, and woolen pirts with their own unique benefits for each. The glass pirts are open and well-lit, good for groups, and near a lake for swimming. The smoke pirts offers a traditional experience of ancient saunas, is intimate and quiet, and is ideal for a healing, in-depth experience. The woolen pirts has wool material that offers the healing effects of lanolin and it is a calm, meditative sauna experience. The pirts heats to about 149 degrees F. There are different pirts rituals such as birthday pirts, healing pirts, or marriage pirts. These rituals range from 4-6 hours. A pirts session is simply a break in your day to restore your mind and body and those sessions are about 4 hours. Ziedlejas recommends only wearing rubber or pool slippers as wearing a bathing suit could be uncomfortable.
Accompanying you in the pirts rituals are pirts masters, or pirtnieks. According to Trafalgar, pirtnieks have to study at a specific pirts school for “between one and two and a half years to qualify for the privilege of purifying your body and mind.” Ziedlejas has 9 pirts masters who have all studied to receive that title and they all specialize in their own approach to pirts rituals.
We have written about the benefits of sauna use but some of the key benefits include boosting endurance, promoting the growth of muscle, preventing Alzheimer’s disease, boosting brain function, aiding in recovery, and more. The sort of sauna use done at Ziedlejas is likely very different from what any of us in the United States have ever experienced. Traditional sauna use goes back to pre-Christianity. In fact, it is said to have originated around 2000 BC. Ziedlejas takes ancient Baltic traditions and melds them with the modern.
At Ziedlejas, there is also the option to stay overnight in one of the “Glass Room” cabins. These are small cabins, 258 square feet, with a bed, loft for a child’s bed, bathroom, heated floors, and fridge, and a view overlooking the pond which the guests have swimming access to. This is a true retreat from day-to-day life as you will not have wifi and there will likely be no cellular signal. During the days, when not enjoying the pirts, you can swim in the pond, bike through the grounds, or hike.
The stunning architecture of Ziedlejas is another reason to visit the resort. As Arch Daily explains, “the saunas are fundamentally true to custom yet aesthetically and ergonomically enhanced. The choice of materials – linen, wood, metal – is guided by nature and local heritage.” The architect of Ziedlejas is Zane Tetere-Sulce of Open AD. The property is visually stunning, taking inspiration from Japanese culture and architecture as well as natural elements.
Learn more about Ziedlajas on Instagram.