Productivity Booster

The Sauna at Sand Springs

I have a neighbor who is living abroad and I keep him up to date with the restaurants and other businesses in town because that’s what we do. I told him I’ve become a sauna regular and he said “The sauna is like the popular new kid in a John Hughes movie, everyone is talking about it!”

For those who are not my townies, Sand Springs in Williamstown is a warm springs that has been used for hundreds of years. The story from my family is that one of my wife’s aunts sang for Tommy Dorsey when he played there in the 1930’s and asked her to go on tour with them. I have no idea if that’s true.

When I was a kid it was a public swimming pool, apparently there were years where it had owners who considered making it a spa but since we moved back it is again a community pool. I’ve always loved that for less than the price of shocking a pool (if I had one), I’m able to get a summer membership and enjoy evenings poolside from June to September.

Executive Director Henry Smith arrived in 2023 and at the end of the swim season announced that they would try running the sauna through the winter. What started in October as a few nights a week became popular enough to get up to 6 days a week, expanded hours, with days of 30-40 people coming in for the sauna.

And please keep in mind I am a random guy who goes there, there is nothing official about this post.

So, questions I’ve been asked:

What’re the rules? You show up and can buy a day pass or a membership. It’s a single sauna that is co-ed, everyone wears clothes. Showering before entering is appreciated. Some days/times are designated quiet hours where conversation is kept to a minimum. There have also been Women Only days, for a Bro-Free experience.

You should ask the crowd before pouring water on the heater to increase the heat/steam. There are two levels of benches, you can sit on either, the higher one is hotter. There are also wooden stools you can use for your head if there are few enough people inside that you can lie down.

You can buy a stylish Sand Springs Sauna Hat (or at least stylish if you are a garden gnome), which keeps your head cool so you can stay in the heat longer. These are not required.

How long do people stay? Do they go in groups? Or just run into people there? There are two general approaches – there are hippies that go with the flow, and performance athletes that probably have at least one time running, but the approach is similar, 10-15 minutes in the heat, and then take a cold plunge in the pool. Repeat around 3 times. There are many variations and a lot of sauna lore, I’m not going to get into that here.

What’s the capacity? With both levels of the benches being used it starts getting crowded with more than 10 people. It’s really a roll of the dice, I’ve had days where I’ve waited in the lobby for seats to open up, and days where I have it to myself.

Are there snacks? Drinks? Do people bring edibles? There’s always Tea and most of the time clementines. Wild Soul River on Cole Ave. got me into Barley Tea which I didn’t know anything about until they stocked the tea station.

A lot of people bring their own water. I bring my stainless steel teacup because I’m psyched to finally have something to use it for. While sauna season has been “adults only” (high school staff are considered adults here as Sand Springs trusts them with the lives of our children during the summer as lifeguards). I’m pretty sure drug use is not allowed at the facility, this is a family kind of place.

Who goes? Why do you go? As one sauna guest said: “It’s the only activity for adults in Williamstown after 6pm that isn’t drinking.” One of the big surprises to me was that it’s been a hit with Williams College athletes. Up until this point I’ve never seen a Williams kid at Sand Springs because it didn’t open until they had gone home for the summer and closed before they came back in the fall. That has been great for me because I don’t work at the college so it’s been fun meeting the athletes from the tennis, lacrosse, soccer, football and hockey teams.

There are summer members who are regulars and follow updates on Facebook. I’ve been surprised that there are people who have found out about the warm spring and drive an hour or more to visit.

When we were living in Boston I would use the steam room at the gym which helped my rickety bones after a workout, and I was up for trying the sauna just because it’s something to do in the winter months and right around the corner. I normally have a lot of problems with my sinuses and allergies year round. My winter kickoff ritual is getting NyQuil to prep for 2-3 winter colds (and I’m talking buying at the warehouse club, not at the drugstore.) This winter I had no sinus problems for the first time in my entire life. I also didn’t have any of the dry skin that I’m normally stealing my wife’s crazy expensive face lotions for. Not getting sick is a huge game changer for me, the sauna will be part of my winter from now on.

What’s next? Sauna season is closed and there is work being done on the clubhouse so they are ready for the upcoming summer season. Henry has mentioned the possibility of a second wood fired sauna outside. The demand is there for more hours, that’s for sure. Given the success of this year hopefully Sand Springs will be open again for the winter!

2 replies on “The Sauna at Sand Springs”

No pictures of the spa?!

Where I now reside in America’s Dairyland, with the plethora of people of Scandinavian descent, many have their own saunas and spas. I’ve never been a big fan, but now I have another reason to visit y’all!


Yeah, when I started reading more there were a ton of articles on “The Midwest Does Winter Right.” There’s not much to photograph, unfortunately it’s just a huge closet with wooden benches.

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