If you are lucky enough to live in Canada’s National Capital Region, the best day ever is only minutes away.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m as surprised as you are. A few months ago I moved to the region and was looking for ways to fill my time while I waited to make new friends. And I found something great. Across the border away from the chaos of Parliament Hill, are the Yin and Yang of the perfect day: Quebec’s Gatineau Park and the world renowned Le Nordik Spa Nature.
Gatineau Park is For Every Kind of Outdoor Person
I always say, “I love nature. I just don’t want it to touch me”. Gatineau Park is the perfect place where nature-loving bug-o-phobes like me, and hard-core canoe carrying campers can get a nature fix. A massive 362 km of mountains, trees, lakes, trails and lookouts, visitors can see the park for a day or camp overnight in cozy four-season tents, yurts or cabins. People come here to cycle, hike, ride horses and rock climb among other things.
During my visit I hiked around unique and beautiful Pink Lake. A meromictic body of water protected by the surrounding landscape, the upper and lower waters of Pink Lake rarely mix. This means no oxygen reaches the bottom of the water making it mostly uninhabitable for wildlife. The only life you’ll find down there are sulphur eating pink photosynthetic bacterium. During my hike I wind around the trail taking in wonderful views of the surrounding wilderness and wildlife. Afterwards, I stand at the main lookout admiring the scenery and think to myself…me legs are sore.
Le Nordik Spa Nature
My sore legs and I leave the park and head literally next door to North America’s largest spa, Le Nordik. The massive grounds blend seamlessly with the exquisite natural setting and offer a variety of relaxation treatments including Nordic baths, waterfalls, steam baths, Finnish Saunas and a salt-water pool overlooking the valley and city. Just passed the original quiet space filled with pools, baths and spas is the newly constructed Panoroma Lounge. Created to include a bar and lounge, here visitors can enjoy tapas, drinks and a chat between treatments. Seeking more than water therapy I consider some treatments from the menu of massages, facials and body treatments before my selecting the Källa and Aufguss treatments as my drug of choice.
Aufguss. It’s German for “Infusion”
Part spa treatment part performance art this is Finnish dry sauna practice uses traditional vaporization techniques to generate bursts of hot, humid air by smashing chunks of ice onto the hot stones. This treatment is somewhat ritualistic lasting 10 minutes and carried out to music for a small group of revelers—and it is awesome. The fragrant vapor bursts rise from the stones of hot room and are whipped about the by the Aufguss master who commands the air with a towel. The towel maneuvering is not only effective at directing warm cleansing bursts right at me, it makes me imagine the Aufguss master (a fit French woman) as a kind of wellness-Matador grandly whipping around the room. All you have to do is relax, take in the vapors and enjoy the sweat. I loved Aufguss so much I went twice in one day.
Källa. The “A Source of Water”
Underneath all the baths, saunas and lounges, Le Nordik has built a therapeutic salt-water pool for a weightless, rejuvenating Dead Sea experience. I enter the quiet, peaceful, blue room to float effortlessly in magnesium salt filled waters. They render me weightless, warm and utterly relaxed. There are only two of these salt-water grottos in the world and this is the only one in North America. Källa treatments are not only relaxing but can improve circulation, reduce stress and inflammation and an hour in here is said to be as restorative for your body as five hours of sleep. Book. It. Now.
How to Book:
For more information about activities, events and bookings in Gatineau Park click here.
To plan your visit or to get more information about Quebec’s Outaouais region, visit Tourisme Outaouais’ website here.
The writer was a guest of Tourisme Quebec. The tourism board did not review or approve this article.
*All photos of the spa are property and courtesy of Le Nordik Spa Nature. Photos not allowed on the premises.