The main attraction: Temple Gardens' mineral pool (photo: Temple Gardens)

Taking the Waters at Temple Gardens

By Lea Currie

As I sit back and watch the sunbeams dance on the calm waters of Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa’s mineral pool, I can’t help but think the universe has just handed me an olive branch.

Call it serendipity. Or kismet. Or just plain old good luck. But on my first day back at work after a seven-week medical leave, an email pinged in my inbox: It was an invite to Temple Gardens’ 20th-anniversary celebration, including a special reveal of their renovations.

In the small-town-meets-big-city locale of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Temple Gardens has long been considered Western Canada’s most luxurious spa resort hotel. And while spas and resorts feel like a dime a dozen these days, Temple Gardens draws visitors from around the globe thanks to its claim to fame: Canada’s largest therapeutic geothermal mineral water pool. The composition of the water is similar to the famous baths of Bath, England, with minerals such as Epsom Salts and magnesium. Taking the waters can have incredible health and healing benefits for your muscles, joints, skin and lymphatic system.

After months of hospitals, surgeries and doctors, I was eager to experience the benefits for myself. At the young age of 34, I’d recently been diagnosed with a heart condition that necessitated a pacemaker. There were many stress-filled days and sleepless nights in the hospital, so to say I needed some relaxation and recuperation was an understatement.

temple gardens spa hotel moose jaw lobby guestroom renovations
Temple Gardens’ renovated lobby and peaceful guestrooms (photos: Temple Gardens)

The first toe dip into the rooftop pool catches me by surprise. Heat radiates from the water; it seems more like a hot tub than a swimming pool. A sign next to the pool announces that the indoor water temperature is 37°C while outdoors it hits 39°C. As I sink down into the blue water, heat envelops me and for the first time in months, I find I’m able to truly let go. In a deep state of tranquility, the only action I can muster is to idly watch my travel companions—my six-year-old niece and her mom—splash around.

It’s important to take breaks from the pool though—the maximum recommended time per session is 20 minutes due to the heat of the water. I retreat to the newly renovated deck for some reading and a cat nap. After a few more dips in the mineral water, my muscles and my mind have relaxed. Once I start to prune up, it’s time for some dry-land activities at the on-site Sun Tree Spa. I dive in head first with a facial and spend a few hours getting primped and pampered.

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To ensure I have enough energy to keep up this rigorous routine, I decide to grab a bite. Temple Gardens has a café next to the pool with light fare, along with a licensed sit-down restaurant, Harwood’s. You’ll have to swap out your bathing suit for street clothes at the latter, but you won’t regret it. Kick off your meal with a Harwedge salad, featuring a chunk of romaine hearts, topped with marinated tomatoes, bacon marmalade, whipped egg yolks, blue cheese and green goddess dressing.

For my entree, I debate between the mushroom or lobster ravioli, deciding upon the water-loving crustacean. For landlubbers, there are many options, including a 10-ounce AAA strip loin or the winemaker’s burger with red wine shallot butter. Satisfy a sweet tooth with a home-grown Saskatoon berry crisp or sweet-meets-tangy lemon buttermilk cheesecake.

With another day of relaxing pool time and good eats planned for tomorrow, my heart has finally found its happy place again. The therapeutic benefits and blissful memories of Temple Gardens will stay with me long after I’ve dried off.

temple gardens hotel spa moose jaw harwoods restaurant dessert
A sweet treat at the hotel’s restaurant, Harwoods (photo: Temple Gardens)

THE ESSENTIALS
Getting there: From Calgary, drive east along the Trans-Canada Highway for 6.5 hours. Or catch a flight to Regina and rent a car for a shorter 45-minute drive. AMA members can save up to 20% and earn up to $25 in reward dollars on Hertz car rentals.

What’s new: Relax in Temple Gardens’ newly renovated lobby and pool area. Guestrooms are also being updated.

Things to do: Go underground with a tour of Moose Jaw’s infamous tunnels: The Chicago Connection guided tour showcases Al Capone’s former booze-filled cavern. And the Passage to Fortune route will open your eyes to Canada’s not-so-pretty history. Then shop Moose Jaw’s Main Street for souvenirs—such as Saskatoon berry chocolates at Chocolate Moose Fudge Factory, or stone cat garden statues at Ellen’s Flowers & Gifts.