MYVATN -- In this northeastern district of Iceland, inhabited by
about 470 people around Lake Myvatn, a group known as the Lake
Myvatn Bath Society plans to develop a natural spa attraction and
have it up and running by July.
The group was founded in 1996 with the goal of reestablishing an
ancient bath tradition in the Lake Myvatn area, among the most
geologically active in Iceland.
The lake itself was declared a national conservation area in
1974 and is a popular tourist destination for trout and salmon
"People in the Lake Myvatn area have used its geothermal
activity for bathing for ages," said Petur Snaebjornsson, general
manager of the 41-room Hotel Reynihlid here and president of the
"They bathed in natural steam, underground lava caves, warm
pools and warm sand."
The bath society's project builds upon an experimental
geothermal steam bath, which it has been running for research
purposes for four years.
The little-known steam bath accommodates about a dozen people.
The shelter's plastic canopy top allows light to enter, and its
wood-plank floor allows natural steam to pass through the cracks.
Wood benches seat up to about 12 guests.
The steam bath happens to be located near a lagoon of geothermal
water (similar to the Blue Lagoon, near Reykjavik) overflowed from
the nearby Krafla Power Station.
A cautionary distinction is that, here, bathers can't count on
the temperature of the lagoon being appropriate or even safe for
The Lake Myvatn Bath Society's plans are to relocate the lagoon
and regulate the water's temperature to approximately 104 degrees
"The northern wind provides for cooling," said Olga Gudrun
Sigfusdottir, architect for the project.
New steam bath shelters; indoor and outdoor showers, and
changing rooms also are planned to be built by July.
"We will have one or two cabins accommodating 10 people each as
well as a number of small ones accommodating two to four people
each," Snaebjornsson said.
The admission fee to the spa will be $8.50. Reservations will be
accepted through a Web site in the works, Snaebjornsson said. The
attraction will be open year-round.
Sand baths, Jacuzzis and stairway access to a natural warm-water
cavern nearby are planned for future phases of development.
Based on a positive feasibility study for the project,
Snaebjornsson said the bath society has decided to start the
building process this winter, after finding investors.
"We are expecting every third traveler already coming to the
area, which means about 42,000 guests in the first year and growth
of about 5% a year," he said.
Regarding U.S. market interest, Snaebjornsson said he expects it
to be especially strong from "those looking for deserted and
[relatively] unknown places for recreation."
For information, contact the Lake Myvatn Bath Society at (011)
354 464-4170; fax: (011) 354 464-4371, or e-mail: [email protected].