Welcome Tom, Public Sauna Map manager and correspondent to SaunaTimes as he report’s on May’s public sauna of the month, Sauna Du Nord.
So many sauna owners start their business because they love sauna and want to share it with others. But for Megan Kress of Sauna du Nord the sauna was secondary, a means to an end.
She seems to love the sauna itself no more than an artist loves cleaning brushes or a Handyman loves maintaining a website. What Megan truly loves is creating space for people to connect in a deep and unique way; she found that sauna accomplishes this like nothing else. Megan derives great joy from watching this bonding happen and experiencing it herself.
Coworker healing during Covid
Megan experienced saunas occasionally throughout her life; she even enjoyed many of them “but if you told me a few years ago I’d own a sauna business I’d say you’re crazy.” It wasn’t until a pandemic-era sauna party with her coworkers that she experienced the “ah ha” moment of what sauna can be. Staff shortages, takeout orders, supply chain problems… Covid “kicked the shit out of” the staff of the deli where Megan worked. The owners rented a mobile sauna for a staff gathering and Megan watched in amazement as her coworkers gelled and together healed some of the physical and emotional damage of months of stress. Soon after, she decided to start her own mobile sauna.
Mobile sauna planning and deployment
At the famous American Berkebiner ski race Megan connected with Eric of Voyageur Custom Saunas and started planning. Mobile saunas (especially those of the standard to which we know Voyageur builds) don’t come cheap but on hearing Megan’s passion about the idea a friend not only encouraged her to begin immediately, but funded the down payment! Several others (including some guy named Glenn from a sauna website) offered Megan advice on so many occasions she felt compelled to offer payment, but no one would take her money. So with excellent support from the sauna-verse and a whole lot of sweat Sauna du Nord came together and opened its hot room door to paying guests late in 2022.
Sauna du Nord is a lightweight mobile sauna with a classic design: Small changing area, Kuuma-heated hot room with space for 6 to 10, all on a platform that lowers right to the ground – no climb up a rickety set of steps to an unsteady trailer here. Guests attend community sessions with strangers or rent it privately for a night or a week, where Megan transports the sauna and provides firewood and all the accessories, including chairs and rugs. This Summer she has a permit from the Duluth parks and will try out several different sites, offering cold plunges in rivers and Lake Superior wherever possible. Megan also plans many events in conjunction with a similarly aligned business. For example: a Paddle and Sauna event on Lake Superior with a local outfitter.
Sauna for all
Megan works tirelessly to remove the barriers that can prevent people from becoming sauna converts. Sauna du Nord is inclusive, accepting, and accessible. The community sessions are reasonably priced and knowing sauna often intimidates the unfamiliar she lets her guests define their experience. She shies away from an “over-guided over-facilitated” sauna: “It’s not about me telling you what it should be.” Megan also gives her guests an opportunity to connect with nature and water in ways often reserved for those wealthy enough to own waterfront property or large, isolated parcels of land. “Sauna is for everybody; you don’t have to have a grandparent to immigrated from Finland.”
And so for Megan’s commitment to offering the Duluth area (and its visitors) a space in which to connect differently and more deeply than almost anything we can think of, we’ve selected Sauna du Nord as Sauna Times’ Public Sauna of the Month for May. We hope you can visit them soon.