Born and raised in Minnesota, Katie Usem is no stranger to sauna culture. However, when Katie was growing up, the idea of going into a hot, dark box wasn’t her idea of fun. It wasn’t until later in life when she experienced a friend’s sauna with a transom window that helped open up the magic of the sauna for her. The views from that sauna overlooking the lake gave her a sense of peace and openness. This completely transformed the idea of what a sauna could be.
Grand Marais is home
As a Twin Cities local, however, Katie was finding that the “visual magic” (as she refers to it) was missing in saunas for her. Fast forward to 2021, when Katie and her family made the move to Grand Marais, Minnesota: a small town on the north shore of Lake Superior. Previously just a spot they would vacation, it now serves as their home and the place for Sisu + Löyly. This is Katie’s business way of sharing that visual magic with others.
Grounded in Grit, Lifted in Spirit
Sisu is a Finnish word that roughly translates to the concepts of grit, perseverance and resilience. Löyly refers to the steam that rises off of sauna rocks when water is poured over them. It also has looser translations of “spirit” and “life force.” Thus, the name and slogan for Sisu + Löyly was born, “Grounded in Grit // Lifted in Spirit”.
Built into a 100-year old Norwegian fish house, the 2 on-site saunas offer epic views of Lake Superior in all its glory. Just behind those saunas is the main lounge offering locker rooms, reception, and a cozy fireside area to relax.
“Sauna is a sacred ritual in certain cultures and for some people. For others it is a wellness tool and / or a social gathering space. I believe sauna culture should be welcoming and inclusive regardless of “the why.” Sauna can be intimidating if you don’t have much experience with it and my hope is that the guest experience at Sisu + Löyly is affirming and inspiring for everyone who visits.”
Editor’s note: Big thanks to SaunaTimes Sauna Map champion Kevin for this write up. Interested in visiting Sisu + Löyly or other quality saunas? Check out the SaunaTimes Sauna Map.