Elite Escapes

Epic Iceland spa resort promises sensory new escape

Francesca Street, CNNUpdated 17th November 2017
(CNN) — There are already plenty of reasons to visit Iceland, but if its abundant waterfalls, lava fields, glaciers and natural baths aren't enough, there may soon be another.
Architects are proposing to build a stunning new spa resort north of Reykjavik inspired by an Icelandic saga and the country's majestic landscape.
It's hoped the project will help to encourage visitors to explore beyond Iceland's increasingly over-touristed capital.

The power of nature

This new proposed Iceland wellness resort faces Snæfellsjökul, a 700,000-year-old glacier covered stratovolcano.
Courtesy Ikonoform
This new resort would rise from the craggy terrain of the Snæfellsness peninsula -- simultaneously offering escape and connection to the outside world.
"In a place so spectacular as Iceland I think it is important to create spaces that offer more than a pleasant hotel room, a pool and a nice view," architect Johannes Torpe, whose company Johannes Torpe Studios created the design, tells CNN Travel.
Both inside and outside, nature intermingles with man-made elements.
There are wide glass windows showcasing sweeping views, sky courtyards enclosed by glass panels, grassy rooftops and a red concrete exterior to blend into the volcanic terrain.
As well as a spa complex, the resort would include a creative center for artists.
Courtesy Johannes Torpe Studios
"Our approach was to embrace the contrast between man-made construction and nature," says senior architect Kit Sand Ottsen. "The landscape naturally plays the leading role and we invite it inside and let it grow over the buildings."
"In many ways the location told us what we had to do," adds Torpe. "The landscape is unparalleled in its rough beauty and the local sagas and tales of elves and trolls adds a layer of mysticism and otherworldly poetry to it all."
The proposal includes a hotel with 150 rooms and 20 bungalows -- plus a creative center for artists in residence.

Solitude and serenity

The resort intermingles man-made elements and nature.
Courtesy Johannes Torpe Studios
The proposal takes the Icelandic saga of Bárður Snæfellsás as its inspiration -- Bárður is said to have renounced the world of humans in favor of solitude and serenity inside the glacier.
The sensory spa experience is designed to mimic the voyage of Bárður: Guests will travel through five emotional states: contemplation, exposure, confrontation, clarity and enlightenment.
In the tale, every time Bárður experiences an emotional change, fog appears -- in the new spa, steam is a recurring motif.
The wellness resort will offer a variety of pools and baths.
Courtesy Johannes Torpe Studios
The architects hope visitors to the spa will have their own version of self-discovery akin to Bárður's in the story.
Spa visitors will also enjoy wind tunnels, ice pools and fire baths -- the offerings are designed to replicate the dramatic Icelandic weather.
The architects want to ensure a sense of solitude and seclusion, while ensuring the resort caters to modern expectations of luxury.
"The design is both pragmatic and poetical," says Ottsen.

From a dream to reality?

The project is still in the proposal stage.
Courtesy Johannes Torpe Studios
Whether the proposal will undergo its own Bárður-style journey from dream to reality remains to be confirmed -- but if it's built, it'll join the under-construction Moss Hotel at the famous Blue Lagoon as one of the key luxury attractions out of Iceland's capital.
"Tourism in Iceland right now is very centralized around the capital Reykjavik," Torpe adds. "It is easy to understand why, but from an economic perspective I think it is very important to de-centralize some of the tourism efforts and engage the millions of visitors in new ways to explore the country and its magnificent nature."
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