Just opened: Iceland’s Sky Lagoon features views of the ocean, seals, and lava spewing volcano

Located a short drive away from Reykjavik, the new thermal spa offers a surreal setting and some relaxation in the warm waters of its lagoon

At 2.5 tons and 20 square metres, this is Iceland’s single largest window, and the view from it is, predictably, rather dramatic: Vast expanses of grey sea; swirls of tides rolling in and out; on a clear day, the President’s residence; and the Fagradalsfjall volcano in the distance, asleep for the most part but seething occasionally as is the case now, given that it started emitting lava in March, and still continues to.

The famed window in question belongs to a cosy sauna that is part of Iceland’s newest attraction, the Sky Lagoon. The abode of rest and relaxation opened its doors to the world on a sunny Friday in May. “The sun showed up for a whole month after the opening which is quite unusual for Iceland in May. It felt like a good sign,” says Elva Rut Erlingsdóttir, Guest Experience and Marketing manager, Sky Lagoon, over an email interview from Reykjavik.

Situated in Kópavogura, a short drive away from the capital city of Reykjavik, Sky Lagoon (a project by Nature Resort and Pursuit Collection) sprawls across 5,000 square metres. It houses hot lagoons with infinity edges that give one the sense of being part of the Atlantic Ocean — which it overlooks —, cold plunge pools, a sauna, changing rooms, Sky Café and Smakk Bar, and a turf house (those beautiful fairytale style cottages covered in grass that Iceland and the Farore Islands are known for). Reefs, cliffs and the open ocean surround the space, as the call of the gulls and therapeutic sounds of the water fill the senses. The sweeping views include the grand, old Snæfellsjökull glacier — a 700,000 year-old stratovolcano, the Keilir mountain, said to be so perfectly triangle that it looks like it is hand drawn using a ruler and crayons, and a seal or two, that look at you, part curious and part shy. And with some luck, in winter, one might just catch the Northern Lights from the lagoon. For now it is the midnight sun that is in the limelight, as the sky remains a delicious shade of orange even past 11 pm, when the spa closes.

An overview of Sky Lagoon.

Iceland is generously sprinkled with natural hot springs and pools. For years the Blue Lagoon has been on the list of every traveller visiting this Nordic island nation. And now, there is this new addition vying for attention. “We wanted Sky Lagoon to tell the story of Icelandic bathing culture and give people a chance to discover the Icelander’s ancient love for geothermal bathing in beautiful natural setting. Immersing in water is how we treat ourselves, from childhood swimming lessons to the elderly meeting in hot tubs, this is our core, it is who we are,” says Erlingsdóttir, adding that they want their guests to reserve their moment for calm and gain strength from the ocean.

With sustainability being their key focus, Sky Lagoon, uses geothermal energy as their primary energy source to keep the lagoon hot. The temperature of the water is approximately 38–40°C (100–104° F). “Fresh hot water constantly enters the lagoon and warm water flows out. We capture the warm water exiting the lagoon to heat spring water for the showers, to heat the buildings via an in-floor system and heat up the pavement around the buildings to keep the areas free of snow and ice in the winter,” explains Erlingsdóttir.

The turf house at the lagoon

With eased restrictions, the thermal spa has started receiving guests from other countries as well. “We are delighted to welcome vaccinated guests from all over the world. Most of our guests have been from the US but we see an increase in Italian and UK visitors,” Erlingsdóttiradds adds. There is a stern focus on maintaining hygiene, with sanitary workers on the job 24/7. “Though the lagoon has over 500 lockers in total, we have been taking in fewer people to maintain social distancing and follow the government’s restrictions,” she says, adding, “At this point in time over 60% of the nation has received their first dose of the vaccine and by July 1 everyone should be vaccinated,” she adds.

For details, log on to www.skylagoon.com

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