A few months ago, I went for my first massage. Friends had told me that massages are the ultimate treat for the human body, but I had my doubts. For one, I am ticklish. Not extremely so, but enough to be wary of an hour-long massage, and these worries ended up being warranted. At regular intervals during the massage, I would twitch and attempt to avoid laughter with all my will. I was also unprepared for the amount of physical pain to be endured during a massage. I am a fairly active person, becoming more and more prone to muscle aches as I get older. A massage should have helped, but for me, it was like throwing water on a grease fire. I just couldn’t let go of the tension, and the more the masseuse tried, the greater the pain I felt.
When Yashy and I recently won (yes another win!) a spa-themed getaway in Quebec’s Outaouais region, I was excited for two things: spending some alone time with Yashy and hitting up an IGA I had been told contained a great selection of craft beer. The other activities on the weekend agenda, which included a yoga class, a massage, and a day at the Nordik Spa, had little appeal for me. I participated in the yoga class because I enjoy yoga, but I do yoga on a weekly basis, which limited the allure of doing it on a weekend morning. I skipped the massage; I have likely had my last massage. As for the Nordik Spa Nature, I expected a boring afternoon sitting around doing nothing. I could not have been more wrong.
Disclosure : Our visit was in partnership with Tourism Outaouais but, as always, opinions are TOTALLY ours.
My expectations began to change as soon as we pulled onto the dirt road leading up to the spa. I felt transported into the Swiss Alps as the large chalet came into view. The exterior of the spa was replete with bubbling streams and a slow-burning fire pit, while the unseen sound system pleasantly played bird sounds and chamber music. I remained dubious of benefits of the experience I was about to enter but was impressed by the details. The Nordik Spa clearly took serenity very seriously.
After we registered and put our robes and bathing suits on, we sought instruction from the girl in the information area just outside of the dressing rooms. We identified ourselves as newbies, but the instructions were quite simple. Our guide informed us that we should head out to the spa, start off at a ‘hot’ station, either a sauna or a hot tub, and relax in the heat. She assured us that our bodies would let us know when it was time to move on; at which time, we should find a ‘cold’ station. While having drinks with friends the night before, I was informed of the hot to cold process of the Nordik spa visit, and so I was at least prepared to get a little cold (little did I expect that this would be my favorite part of the spa). The final component of the cycle was to find a ‘relax’ station. Easy enough!
We entered the spa in the Borëa Section and made our way to the aromatic steam saunas, choosing the side with the orange aromatics over the eucalyptus. I started to sweat the minute I sat down and was feeling a little overwhelmed by the heat but didn’t want to call it quits at the first station. We probably only stayed in the sauna for 5 minutes before we were both ready to leave. Stepping outside, we were greeted by Iceber, the cold waterfall, that allows one to descend into waist-level icy cold water and walk about for about 5 meters before ascending the steps on the other side. Dripping with sweat and feeling flushed after exiting the sauna, I decided to go for it. The plunge totally shocked my system, and left me looking like a whimpering animal as I rushed over to grab my towel, but within seconds, I felt totally alive and refreshed. We then walked into the relaxation chalet, poured some raspberry tea, and sat back on the reclined wooden benches lining the back wall. Each spot contained a set of noise cancelling headphones. I put them on to hear classical music overlaid with birds chirping. That was the moment I learned to stop worrying and love the spa.
Included in our day pass was the special Källa treatment, which is a salt-water floating pool (the ONLY one in North America!) that replicates the effects of the Dead Sea. We descended underground to get to the pool and slowly waded through the shallow water to find a place at the back where we could lie back and float in total relaxation. Yashy used one of the available neck pillows people use on airplanes to keep her head level, but I found that I didn’t even need the pillow. I was able to lie back and essentially experience weightlessness. The pool was indeed very relaxing but I found myself ready to leave 15 minutes into the recommended treatment time of 30-60 minutes. Perhaps knowing that we would not be able to spend the entire day at the spa, I was anxious to discover the other stations. Yashy could have stayed, but graciously came with me as we sought other pleasures. The Cold Plunge was located just outside the doors into the Källa Treatment and so I jumped in, once again a little shocked by the initial temperature (even though this one was less icy), only to find myself enjoying it immensely after a few moments.
After a few more stations, Yashy was excited to take part in a ritual in the Finnish Sauna and so we stepped in just before lunch. Space was at a premium and so I left Yashy to do the ritual while I went over to enjoy the eucalyptus sauna, where the fumes did wonders for the stuffy nose I was saddled with that day. I managed to stay longer in the intense heat this time. Perhaps knowing that an invigorating plunge into the cold waterfall awaited, I enjoyed the heat on this second visit to the sauna, as I let the steam work its magic on my aging muscles.
We both got the boar & venison burger for lunch, which was strangely disappointing. Perhaps we were unlucky with our dish selection, of which there were many, but we were not there to focus on fine dining. We both agreed to do one more cycle after lunch, which would include the eucalyptus sauna, yet another dip in the waterfall pool for me (this time I submersed myself completely), and a few more minutes in the relaxation chalet. We didn’t get to cover all the stations, needing to get on the road back to Toronto, but I left the spa quite content. Massages may not be for me, but I would never refuse a day at the Nordik Spa.
While at the Nordik Spa one is not allowed to take any pictures or videos (though Yashy did manage to click two before being informed of that etiquette) but it’s all very picturesque and I can see how one can spend an entire day taking in the view, napping in the cabanas and reveling in the kid-free luxury of it all. Would we go back? In a heart beat! We can only imagine how lovely it must be to be immersed in the warm infinity pool during a snowfall!