Popping up across Canada, Nordic spas, employ a relaxation method that involves moving through a circuit of cold pools, warm pools and saunas. The country’s vast wilderness provides the perfect backdrop for these restorative spots. Here are four to try.
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa, this is the largest spa in North America. Admire the rolling hills of Gatineau Park while soaking in one of its outdoor pools. It’s worth heading indoors, however, to experience Källa, a one-of-a-kind, salt-water floating pool said to replicate the benefits of swimming in the Dead Sea. Spa-goers can enhance their experience with an outdoor massage or Lumëa, a specialty anti-aging facial. You don’t even have to leave after your day of rejuvenation as rental cabins are available.
Nordik’s sister spa is nestled within the city, but it’s situated beside sprawling Crescent Drive Park, so you’ll feel worlds away from city life. Complete the regenerating baths circuit either on your own or with a therapist if you book a guided thermal cycle and massage. Thermëa also has a complimentary exfoliation chamber, stocked with Epsom salt scrubs infused with essential oils to really get your skin glowing.
Located on the outskirts of the city, a river cuts through this forested spa. After heating things up in the atmospheric eucalyptus steam bath, it’s oh-so invigorating to plunge into the River Jaune. Swimming platforms and handrails make it physically easy, but mentally, it’s another matter. If the transition from hot too cold is too much, reset your temperature around an outdoor fire pit or inside one of the many transition rooms. Children are welcome here, but only on Sunday mornings (and mornings of school holidays).
Nestled within a spruce and cedar forest next to Lost Lake, visitors to this spa can take in views of the Coast Mountains from soothing pools that promise to revive tired ski legs. Stand underneath an outdoor waterfall to work out any kinks in your neck or try a Thai yoga massage to relieve residual tension. Inhaling the crisp mountain air as you mellow out around the outdoor fire pit is your ticket to a good night’s sleep.
Why Winnipeg is One of Canada’s Best Winter Cities
Rather than suffer, Winnipeggers have decided not just to embrace their winter, but to rock it. Skate along the Red River Mutual Trail (one of the world's largest), eat maple taffy at Festival du Voyageur, visit The Forks National Historic Site and warm up at the outdoor Thermëa spa.