Refuge in Carmel: Did Someone Say Endorphins?


Looks like a refuge to me!

The idea of plunging into a pool as cold as a glacial stream might sound more like a Fear Factor stunt than a means to relaxation, but it is, in fact, a crucial step in the thermal therapy process. A relaxation and healing ritual dating back to ancient cultures, thermal therapy in modern times is widely popular in Europe , seen as an alternative medical treatment. Now, thermal therapy is available in the United States with the opening of Refuge, the country’s first facility solely dedicated to thermal therapy.


Set among twisted oak trees and rolling hills, Refuge is an ideal setting for a one-of-a-kind thermal therapy center. The facility boasts ten mineral pools at varying temperatures (cool, cold, warm and hot). Rock and waterfall features surround each pool, adding to the ambience. Thermal therapy takes advantages of the body’s reactions to hot and cold temperatures and affects the body by stimulating the nerves in the surface of the skin. The nerves, in turn, carry the impulses deep inside the body where they have multiple effects including stimulating the immune system, circulation, digestion, hormone production, reducing pain and reducing stress. The feeling people have after thermal therapy as experienced at Refuge is likened to a “runners high” and the Bikram Yoga afterglow.


This special sanctuary, located in Carmel, California, has only been open for two months and is already the number three thing to do in Carmel according to (Visiting Point Lobos and Carmel Beach are #1 & 2, respectively). It’s received all “Excellent” ratings on TripAdvisor as of January 24, 2012, and of the 997 visits to Refuge before Christmas, 992 ranked their experience a 9 or 10 out of 10.


Guests at Refuge follow a simple method of heat up, cool down and relax. The process begins by heating up the body in the eucalyptus steam room or the grand Finnish cedar sauna, the largest sauna in the United States , which fits over 50 people. After 10 minutes of intense heat, guests step into one of the chilly Nordic waterfall pools, cooled to Pacific Ocean and Icy Stream temperatures. The dramatic change in temperature expands circulation and then contracts blood back to vital organs, stimulating the release of endorphins.


Did someone say, “Endorphins?”


We’re in!


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