Picture this: you’re sitting in a hot spring, warm and cozy as can be with a drink in hand, looking out over the hillside while snow falls around you. Such is the magnificent, relaxing atmosphere of Nordik Spa-Nature during the winter.
Nordik Spa-Nature (most commonly referred to as the Nordik Spa) is North America’s largest outdoor spa. Complete with 9 saunas, 4 cold bathes, and numerous pools and chalets, it’s the perfect place to relax on a cold winter day. Bring friends, your significant other, or go alone – the Nordik Spa is perfect for anyone looking to relax and recharge.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Nordik Spa in the winter!
Visiting the Nordik Spa in Winter
Getting to the Nordik Spa
The Nordik Spa is located in the small and lovely town of Chelsea, Quebec. If you’re coming from out of town and wish to visit the spa, you will likely be staying in Ottawa, Ontario, or Gatineau, Quebec. From Ottawa, Ontario, the spa is a 20 minute drive from the downtown on Autoroute 5 South.
Why Visit the Nordik Spa in Winter
The Nordik Spa is open year round, and winter is a lovely time to visit. The snow transforms the spa, so that it looks like a hot spring you might find up in the mountains somewhere. I can’t think of a better way to warm up on a cold day than by soaking in a heated infinity pool!
Nordik Spa Prices and Hours
The Nordik Spa is open daily, including holidays like Family Day, Easter, and over Christmas and New Year’s. The spa opens each day at 9AM, closing at 11PM Sunday to Thursday and at Midnight on Friday and Saturday.
The Thermal Experience (which gives you access to the 3 main zones of the spa) is $55 Monday-Thursday, and $65 Friday – Sunday and on peak days. Add a massage, treatment, or other service to your package. View prices here.
Nordik Spa-Nature Zones
The Nordik Spa consists of 3 different zones, each with it’s own atmosphere and unique elements to enjoy. Panorama is a social area, where you can relax with friends, chat, and enjoy the beautiful multi-level infinity pool overlooking the Gatineau Hills.
Borëa is a whispering zone. Here you will find more pools, and saunas where you can experience spa rituals that are both exhilarating and relaxing. Finally, Kaskad is the quiet zone where you can enjoy the silence in yet another beautiful pool before dozing off in a heated hammock.
Nordik Spa Rituals and Treatments
The Nordik Spa integrates traditional spa experiences from around the world, so that your day at the spa can include unique experiences that are both relaxing and invigorating.
The Thermal Cycle
The Thermal Cycle is a Nordic tradition for relaxation that involves moving from hot to cold, followed by a period of rest and relaxation. Choose from any of the 9 saunas at the Nordik Spa to start your cycle, allowing your body to heat up for 10 – 15 minutes. This opens your pores and cleanses your skin. Next, immerse yourself in cold water bath for 10 seconds, to close your pores and stimulate an adrenaline release. Finally, find somewhere to rest. Choose a chalet, a pool, or one of those heatd hammock (these are one of my personal favourites).
This ritual is based on an ancient Finnish practice, and if you hear the gong sound you’ll want to make your way straight to Finnish Sauna to experience it. During this ritual snowballs infused with natural essentials oils are set on hot stones.Water is poured over top, releasing vapours. The Aufguss Meister then uses a towel to distribute the vapours throughout the room, so that you are hit with different scents. The room heats up as the experience continues to the tune of Lindsey Stirling electronic-fiddle music, taking you to a state of energized relaxation.
When the Aufguss Meister brings in a bucket of snow, make yourself a snowball that you can hold up to forehead to cool down when the heat turns up. Sit near the front of the sauna your first time, as it is even hotter at the back of the room.
The Banyä Experience takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 2PM. Our visit was on a Friday, so we were unable to have the whole experience this time around. This is a treatment that I hope to experience on my next visit to the spa though. It is an hour-long ceremony drawing on Russian traditions dating back hundreds of years, including everything from a birch veniks beating ritual to a shooter of Russian vodka. The experience is followed by exfoliation with salts and essential oils, a step that is always available and which I did enjoy after spending some time in the sauna.
The Källa Treatment was my first time in a floating pool, and it was one of the most relaxing parts of my experience at the spa. The Källa pool is located beneath the Panorama Lounge, and you can add access to your spa package when you arrive.
The water in Källa is saturated with 12% epsom salts, and maintained at body temperature. The result is a weightless, floating sensation when you lie back in the water. With your ears slightly below the surface, you can hear gentle music. The Källa Treatment does seem unusual at first, so give yourself a few minutes to settle in to. I found the sensation a little foreign at first, but after a few minutes I was completely relaxed.
Dining at the Nordik Spa
Take in a view of the Gatineau hills with an Ottawa-brewed beer in hand at Biërgarden, located in the Panorama section, or enjoy a glass of wine and cheese platter with friends in the Panorama . Back inside the main chalet, have an afternoon tea, hot chocolate, or coffee at Mëzz | Café. Ready to sit down to a heart meal? Restö is a bistro setting that serves lunch and dinner. The menu changes with the seasons, and there are always delicious options.
Save room for dessert! On our visit, we ate at Restö. After a delicious pan seared cod dish, we finished off our meal with ‘’Xango’’ for dessert. It was a warm, crispy rolled tortilla stuffed with cheesecake and dulce de leche. Most adequately described as the perfect cross between a beaver tail and cheesecake. It might just be the best dessert I’ve ever tasted!
What to Bring for Your Spa Day
There are a few things that I recommend bringing along for the perfect spa experience!
- Rent a robe ($12), or bring your own.
- A hair clip and clarifying shampoo.
- Flip flops for walking from one pool or sauna to another.
- A swimsuit that is not your absolute favourite one. It’s possible for swimsuits to become discoloured when you go in and out of pools all day. Keep that in mind when choosing which swimsuit to bring.
- A reusable water bottle.
- A book.
- A towel, this will be provided for you.
- Cameras and phones are prohibited in the spa.
- Outside food is not permitted. Treat yourself at one of the Nordik Spa-Nature restaurants instead!
My Experience at Nordik Spa-Nature
As a full-student, I loved visiting the Nordik Spa during reading week. While it can be tempting to take the week to travel, I found that studying for the first few days and then taking a day to relax at the spa was just as relaxing and rejuvenating as a vacation would have been.
One of the things I enjoy most about the Nordik Spa is that there are no cameras or phones permitted once it’s open. It is such a wonderful feeling to disconnect, and not constantly be checking your phone or remembering things on your to-do list.
If I were going to give one tip to anyone visiting the Nordik Spa, it’s this: don’t try to “do” everything at the spa. It’s tempting to want to do everything, see everything, experience each ritual, swim in every pool, and pop in to every sauna. Release that feeling, and just go where the day takes you.
Thanks to the Nordic Spa Nature for providing me with complimentary access to this beautiful place! All opinions and ideas expressed are my own.