Sauna on the East Bay of Grand Marais Open to Public

Katie and Sam Usem have created a sauna that is open to the public on the shore of the East Bay in Grand Marais.

The Usems were both employed in careers that allowed them to work remotely, so they were spending time in their Hovland cabin when they decided to buy a house and move to Cook County full-time. In May of 2021, they purchased the long-time home of John Henry Eliasen in Grand Marais, adjacent to the Best Western Hotel, and became full-time residents.

Katie was seeking a place to start a business as well as a residence and this property was the place. “Seeing this place made it all possible,” Katie says. “We loved the property and the house and I could see the potential for Sisu and Loyly.”

Finnish words, Sisu is interpreted as grit and perseverance. Loyly refers to the steam rising from the sauna rocks and the rising of the spirit. “I love that the grit and fortitude of Sisu are paired with the lightness of steam and spirit,” Katie says.

The saunas are built in an old fishing shack that has been on the property since the 1930s. To make it a stable building, the Usems received a variance from city planners to move the structure and install a suitable slab foundation under it. “The building has a ton of character,” Katie says. And she clearly enjoys telling visitors its history.

The Usems remodeled a nearby building that was a mechanics garage originally into the sauna lounge with showers and a sitting area for guests. They even host yoga classes in the lounge on Monday evenings.

The side-by-side saunas have vaulted ceilings and large windows giving panoramic views of Artists Point and the East Bay of Lake Superior. Katie says, “Sauna has personally been a great thing for me, as has nature.” And she added that her own mild claustrophobia approves of the sauna windows and high ceiling to take advantage of both.

Katie and Sam have been married for 10 years and have two children. Theo is five and Emma is seven. Both children attend Great Expectations School, took the move to the North Shore in stride, and enjoy all the activities the community offers. Their dog Kota loves life on the shore and being out in the woods.

The Sauna offers a variety of service formats. Most importantly, Katie says, “It’s important for people to feel welcome.”

The business opened its doors the last week of October in 2021. “We’ve met some amazing people,” Katie says. “Local and visitors.”

Sisu and Loyly are located at 110 2nd Ave E in Grand Marais. Reserve your sauna time at