As any avid skier or snowboarder can tell you, when partaking in a Jacuzzi—besides champagne and a beau—there?s nothing better than snow. Pretty to look at, better to jump out and roll around in before diving back in to simmer. The hot/cold contrast shocks your system, mentally and physically. The 47-degree plunge pool at a proper schvitz exists for a reason. Yogis use Ishnan, or very cold showers, for spiritual cleansing. For Finns, a post-sweat run through the snowy woods into an icy stream or lake, known as avantouinti ("ice hole swimming"), is practically a national pastime.
The natural stress improves circulation as blood rushes back from the skin to the organs, tightens pores, stokes the immune system, increases metabolism, decreases inflammation and pain, and contrary to the cold-shower-when-hot-and-bothered lore, actually pumps up testosterone levels. Plus you just feel like a man.
So while modern spas have perfected the art of heat, they?re only just now feeling the chill. Leave it to Vegas to lead the way. After exploring the 50,000-square-foot expanse of Caesars Palace?s Roman-style Qua Spa, grab a robe and head to the igloo-like Arctic ice room. It?s a relatively comfortable 55 degrees, and there are ice chips for exfoliating steaming skin, peppermint-infused air, and "snowflakes" falling from above (it?s actually the special-effects foam used in movies). With heated floors, the effect is brisk refreshment and comfortable cool-down without the heart-jumping shock of a cold shower. Sans special effects, Spa Castle, a massive multistory Korean aquatic Disneyland in Queens, manages the same with its a blue-lit cold sauna, perfect after feeling the ions in its gold- and jade-plated hot offerings.
K-West Hotel & Spa fittingly takes a more extreme bent given that it has supplanted the Columbia as London?s prime rock band tour pit stop. Like a high-design freezer box with frost-covered stone walls, the Snow Paradise room blasts spa-goers with five-degree air and real snowdrifts. Woozy turns to energized, and you leave remarkably light and centered. Should you prefer to freeze in luxury, head to Gstaad, Switzerland, where the five-star Grand Hotel Bellevue keeps its Ice Grotto at a relatively balmy 10 degrees.