This functionally exquisite health and wellness retreat sits along the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota.
What started as a shed, a storage area for a lawn mower and rakes, this 12′ x 16′ structure was quickly “repurposed” into a wood burning sauna. Truth be told, while shopping for a Lake Superior vacation home, I’m pretty sure Tom, the owner, was more attracted to the “shed” and its potential, than the main house adjacent.
Like most vacation home shopping, this purchase was anything but an overnight process.
Tom spent literally years trolling up and down the shoreline, comparing properties for sale, dreaming, imagining. The trolling could perhaps be still going on. However, Jdub, Tom’s boss, finally said “enough.” Jdub, looking over Tom’s shoulder as he looked at property listings on his computer, commanded: “Tom, you’ve been talking about buying a place up there for years. If you don’t do it now, you may never do it. Put in an offer. I’ll cover you.”
Like in The Godfather, he gave Tom an offer that he couldn’t refuse.
A financial boost to help with the downpayment is an exceptional way to treat a valued employee. However, just as all gifts should be, the gift was its own reward. Within 12 hours after closing, Tom brought me in to turn his “shed” into an authentic sauna retreat. It is a beautiful sauna, probably the best sauna I’ve ever been in, and not just because I built it. The hot room is perfectly spaced, with a window looking out into Lake Superior. The changing room is also tongue and groove cedar of exceptional craftsmanship. I am very proud of “Uncle Tom’s Sauna.”
But the gift keeps on giving. Tom and Jdub love the sauna. While bouncing through turbulence on final descent en route to another sales call, Tom closes his eyes and smiles while imagining this sauna, HIS sauna, awaiting him by the cool lapping shores of Lake Superior. Jdub, recognizing Tom’s hard work and dedication, smiles too – understanding how important Tom’s sauna is to his sanity and performance. A gift that keeps on giving.
A free standing sauna is also a physical escape from everyday life.
The pathway down to the sauna is a metaphor – walking away from the hustle and bustle, a retreat towards health and wellness. Often, when a sauna is an independent structure, running electrical can be difficult. Many saunas don’t have power. Many are lit just with a simple candle or modern day battery flashlights. When I built this sauna, I wired it internally for power. Yet every time Tom wants to sauna, he needs to add to his ritual running a 100 foot extension chord from the main house down to the building for lights and music.
All this is about to change.
During this Christmas season, there now awaits another gift. This gift sits atop the Health & Wellness Retreat. This year’s Christmas gift to Tom is a solar system to power his sauna. Solar has quickly become a viable option to take free standing saunas off the grid. Affordable and independent, a solar system can be installed for couple few thousand dollars. Solar is a bright idea for a Christmas gift for your or for someone you love. A gift that lights up your sole. A gift that feels even better giving than it does receiving.
Tom, Merry Christmas from Jdub and Gman.
Keep the light on for us.