Walk into Loyly's new Northeast location and you needn't set foot inside the cedar saunas to start reaping the benefits of Scandinavian-style relaxation. With 20-foot ceilings anchored by exposed wooden bow trusses, the 2,700-square-foot space feels like the inside of a ship setting sail for the island of ahhh.
Loyly's signature minimalist aesthetic is still on display, but with new amenities like a blue-tiled, sky-lit cold shower room located between two big saunas and plenty of kick-off specials, the grand opening of Loyly NE on March 15 is sure to be a hit.
Owner Jessica Kelso had been looking for a place to branch out from her flagship SE Clinton neighborhood location for years. "We've had a huge demand in Northeast and we wanted to be able accommodate more people from this part of town. It generally seems like an accessible location from so many neighborhoods—I feel like the eastside is a good fit for us, and it is still close to downtown."
We sat down with Kelso to get the scoop on the new space, the popularity of sauna culture in Portland, and what's next for the company:
Have you been surprised of the popularity of sauna culture in Portland?
I'm surprised how many people come in that have never really experienced the sauna, outside of their gym or a hotel, who become immediately hooked and start to visit us regularly. Sauna pretty quickly shows its benefits as a way to feel renewed and relaxed and pretty much sells itself. With our temperate weather and propensity for healthy living as a whole, Oregon does seem like a natural fit.
Do you think the sauna culture you've helped developed in Portland is similar to the nordic culture that inspired you, or is it its own thing?
I think our national spa experience is generally geared more towards solo pampering, but that also makes it more exclusive and expensive. The Scandinavian sauna experience is definitely more cozy and familiar as far as personal space and it's a very every-day, casual experience. In Finland, toddlers are playing on the floor of the sauna, and people are drinking beer out on the sidewalk while cooling off. Since we do massage services and we also want to have to spa feeling, we are kind of a hybrid of American Spa with the accessibility of sauna culture. A lot of our job is telling people, "Try it this way, you'll like it!" And they do.
Do you view sauna visits and massage as indulgences or health care maintenance...or both?
Sauna is definitely health care maintenance in my mind. Especially with the recent studies about sauna habits and health, it should be seen as part of a healthy lifestyle. Something that is fun, relaxing, and good for you is a winning combination. It's great that it feels like an indulgence though—I don't go to bars so it's nice to have a social relaxing event with friends outside of the drinking culture. I think of massage as preventative maintenance, rather than a reward once you are totally burned out. Paying for a massage once and a while prevents me from going to more expensive physical therapy when my various injuries flare up.
What's next on your to-do list? Another location? More retail items like your wellness boxes?
I think we will expand our take-home wellness selection. People are really looking for ways to bring wellness home and a little Loyly helps. I do love the idea of making the world a better place though sauna, it's something I can feel really good about and sleep well at night knowing that we are spreading well-being. When I'm traveling I do see where Loyly would fit in well in so many cities, but we'll see. This project took the better part of a year from conception to loan to lease negotiating and then 4 months of construction. After this scale of a build-out, right now all I really want is a massage.
3525 NE MLK Blvd
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