Winters can be (really, REALLY) long in Ottawa, so we try to break this up by heading over to Spa Nordik close-by in Chelsea, Quebec at least once a year to relax and recover. It is only a 30-minute drive away and it is as if we are in a different world. The Nordik Group has 2 locations currently (Chelsea and Winnipeg), with a third to open up in Whitby, Ontario in Fall 2019. According to their website, this location in Chelsea is apparently the largest spa in North America.
They have a large parking area with a couple of free electric vehicle charging stations. We were pleasantly surprised to be able to get a decent charge on our Tesla for the 5 hours we were there.
The check-in process is very simple. We usually would book a massage along with use of the spa ahead of time. The thermal experience (including baths, saunas and relaxation areas) is $68* per person. There is usually a package deal for the both the massage and baths (for $158* per person). Here, you can also rent bathrobes (for $12* each) and purchase flip-flops too if you did not bring your own. The fee includes a bracelet which gives you access to a locker and a towel for your use. If your towel gets too dirty during your visit, you can always trade it in for a fresh one. You can also load money on your bracelet using cash, credit or debit, to make purchases while you are in the spa. Don’t forget to bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated. There are complimentary water stations throughout the spa.
There are 3 sections of the spa for your various needs. The Kaskad or silent area is great for a nice retreat. The Borëa or whisper section allows for quiet speaking, whereas the Panorama section is where you would want to go for socializing. In each section, you will find various hot and cold baths, saunas and steam rooms, hot and cold showers, as well as relaxation areas.
To truly experience the nordic spa, one is to spend 5-15 minutes minutes in a hot bath or sauna, then briefly be exposed to the cold (either in the cold baths/showers or just by walking around in the Ottawa winter coldness). Finally, it is recommended that one spend some time (at least 20 minutes) in the relaxation area.
The hot baths have various themes and varying temperatures. Remember to take a look at the sign before stepping in. Some are super cold. Don’t expect the hot baths to be super scalding temperatures like those found in Japan onsens though. They are usually under 40 degrees celsius here.
I especially love their relaxation areas. Most have water and hot tea for keep you hydrated. They have rooms with hot stone beds, areas with chairs in front of the fireplace to listen to music or read, shacks with real wood-burning fireplaces, rooms where you can lie down and listen to music, as well as heated cocoon hammocks that is the most therapeutic experience ever. Just climb inside, zip yourself up and enjoy the warmth and the slight swaying of the hammock. Just remember to put a towel or your flip-flips outside of the cocoon so someone doesn’t accidentally unzip you, thereby disturbing this amazing experience.
The most sweat-inducing experience would have to be the Aufguss Ritual where essential oil-infused ice spheres are melted on heated stones in the middle of the sauna and then the vapours are then swept towards you using mesmerizing towel movements. The heat and vapours gets quite intense so get ready for the ride. It’s available at the Finlandia sauna once every 2 hours and you will hear the gong right before one is about to start. The Aufguss masters really put on quite the performance while they fan the air with towels along with the music. The last time we went, the music was on the ball including a James Arthur track.
For an extra cost, you can also try the big salt pool or the Källa experience. We had tried this once (accidentally, as we thought it was part of the overall spa experience and only found out later that we were supposed to pay extra for it – oops.) You basically float in a large pool of epsom salt with your ears immersed in water. The point is that you’re supposed to feel weightlessness. It was interesting, but I am not sure if I would be willing to pay an extra $45* for it though.
The massages here are always really good. You can make reservations online but you will need to call if booking a couple’s massage. We usually get the duo Swedish massage. We’ve also tried the Californian massage which includes stretching and is more focused on relaxation. For an extra $10* you can also get your massage in an outdoor cabin. All their therapists are RMTs so you can get receipts for insurance purposes.
For food, there is a main restaurant (Restö) as well as a cafe (Mëzz) near the reception. We have eaten dinner at the main restaurant before and felt that it was not the most memorable. I would much rather head over to the Panorama section for some small bites. For a romantic experience, head to the Panorama Lounge. It’s a ritual for us to get a glass of wine with a charcuterie board, cheese plate or my favourite artichoke-spinach dip plate by the fireplace. If you are looking for a more casual environment, I am really loving their new addition of the Biërgarden. Here, you can some nice cold beer, a hot cup of mulled wine or some hot apple cider and some quick bites – like their chilli, tacos, or absolutely gooey and comforting grilled cheese. You can even bring your beverage (in plastic cups) over to one of the hot baths in the nearby area if you so desire. Just make sure to hang on tight, so that your cup doesn’t blow off the side of the bath to the parking lot below…(Not that this happened to us…)
We’ve always had great experiences here at Nordik Spa-Nature. Hope you will get the chance to visit this lovely spa if you happen to be Ottawa! You can even rent out a lodge to stay the night at the spa!
*Prices listed are as of February 2019 and may have changed since the writing of this post