For the Finns, stepping into a Finnish sauna to sweat away your worries (and your sins), is a part of everyday life.

Getting to the Harriniva Resort, in Kittilä, Lapland, proved to be a bit of a nightmare  (messed up connections and bad weather had me arriving in Finland a day later than planned), but when I arrived it was so obviously worth the journey. Kittilä is located some 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, and tourism there is focused is on nature and outdoor activities as a way of revitalizing body and mind. Harriniva is dedicated to what they call the “Circle of Complete Well-being”, which encompasses a balanced diet of fresh and healthful foods, natural, outdoor activities and traditional treatments.

My serene wood-cabin styled room at the resort had its own personal sauna (and essential black out curtains, as I was there in the summer when the sun doesn’t go down), and there are larger communal saunas throughout the property. Activities at the resort include horseback riding, white-water rafting, hiking and fishing in the summer, with dog-sledding (there are some 400 huskies at Harriniva), snow-mobiling and ice-fishing in the winter.

Most popular at Harriniva are the “safaris” they offer, trips ranging from seven to thirteen days that take guests on epic trips from one wilderness cabin to the next. There is no power at the cabins, many of which are in a traditional Finnish wooden teepee style hut, but all have wood fired saunas and some the even have smoke-saunas (savusauna). Plunging in to the river completes the cleansing process (with holes cut in to the ice when necessary).

I was there to relax, so spent a fair bit of time in the spa, which was pretty fantastic. The signature treatment at the resort’s spa is a ritual using local ingredients: After being slathered in honey and cloudberry seeds, guests are then sat in the sauna to sweat it off, with feet resting in a bath full of moss and are given fresh cut swatches of birch to lightly swat themselves with.

This is followed by a full body wrap in peat-moss, then naked outdoor Jacuzzi, followed by a heavenly massage. That treatment was probably one of the most perfect experiences that my body has ever gone through, birch swatting and all.

Catherine Marguet, a guide at Harriniva, says that it takes very little time for people to forget their stresses once they are at the resort, especially when they are on one of the husky safaris. “You are forced to be in the moment, all that matters is the dogs and the journey, so you forget whatever was stressing you out before you came,” she says, “and there are no distractions here in Lapland. All that matters is getting to the next camp and that sauna at the end of the day.” Being out there with the huskies was fun, and exploring the forest almost magical.

But then all of Lapland has a fairytale feel, with tiny flowers and berries carpeting the floor of a forest of stunted trees. Reindeer stand in herds by the highways. Whether bathed in 24 hours of sunlight, or in the half-light of sunless winter with the aurora borealis dancing across the sky, the landscape seduces you. Marguet, a Swede, says that after visiting once, she was infected with “The Lapland Virus” and knew she had to move there permanently. I can understand why.