Wind filled the sails of Little Wing, and as we skimmed across the broad expanse of Halifax Harbor, the knots in my shoulders relented—a bit. Ahead, white sails and colorful spinnakers whirled like dervishes on the water. Captain Max Page skillfully maneuvered the 36-foot Morris sailing yacht around the racing boats while pointing out islands and shoreline sights, identifying seabirds, and sharing tidbits about this Nova Scotia city’s rich history. By the time we docked back at the Muir Hotel Halifax two hours later, my shoulders had surrendered to the healing powers of wind and water, fresh air and sunshine.
At the Muir, which means the sea in Gaelic, wellness is rooted in the harbor-front location. This Marriott Autograph property, located along the Halifax boardwalk, opened in December 2021 in the city’s new Queen’s Marque waterfront district. Its Windward Wellness center’s name also nods to the city’s maritime heritage. Besides sailing aboard the Muir’s handsome yacht, guests may book a cruise aboard Reach, the hotel’s 24-foot motorboat, mosey the boardwalk on cruiser bicycles, or explore the harbor on paddleboards or in sea kayaks. In addition to outdoor offerings, fitness and vitality also come under the Windward Wellness umbrella.
After sailing, I retreated to the vitality area, where I’d booked a 15-minute session in the dry halotherapy salt room. A staff member greeted and guided me past the vitality and plunge pools to a private room with a Himalayan salt-block wall and an oversized, heated and tiled chaise. While I settled in, the attendant poured Atlantic sea salt into a particle generator that releases a salt mist into the air.
Salt therapy dates back to the mid-19th century, when a Polish physician noticed that unlike other mineworkers, those in salt mines didn’t suffer from lung diseases. I entered with no expectations, but as I relaxed and breathed, I felt the salt’s tickling my lungs. The experience enhanced my overall sense of wellbeing.
Familiar with the Nordic spa ritual of alternating hot and cold with rest, I entered the eucalyptus steam room, touted as improving breathing, circulation, and overall wellness. After that, I plunged into the cold pool, where I chilled while counting off 60 seconds. Then the reward: letting my body rest while sprawled on an oversized cushioned chaise lounge. Through half-mast eyes, I watched rays of natural light stream through a privacy-slatted wall of windows and shimmer enticingly in the vitality pool’s waters.
Rousing for another round, I entered the infrared sauna, which uses infrared light to warm the body from within. This contrasts with saunas that heat the air, which in turn warms the body. While it is said that both produce the same cardiovascular benefits, the infrared’s lower temperatures made it easier to stay in longer and didn’t leave me feeling physically depleted when I emerged. Energized after another cold plunge, I eased into the vitality pool, sailing away mentally surrounded by bubbling massage jets.
Refreshed and relaxed, I padded back to my room, gazed out the windows, and saw Little Wing breezing across the harbor waters. Smiling, I poured a glass of wine and raised it to the restorative powers of fresh air, sea-salted winds, and healing waters.