Once we were done enjoying lunch at Cafe Soup’Herbe on our second day in the Outaouais Region of Canada, our group drove a short distance to the Gatineau Park Visitor’s Centre in Chelsea.
We were greeted by Emily who told us all about the ecosystems within Gatineau Park and the rich biodiversity of the park. Approximately 230 bird species and 50 mammal species have been observed within the park in addition to 1,000 different plant species and 50 types of trees. There are also 165 kilometers of hiking trails (90 kilometers are also used by mountain bikers) and the park has 254 campsites and canoe and kayak rentals. Clearly there is a lot to see and do within the park!
I absolutely loved the group of people I was able to spend four very full days with during my time in Quebec. Everyone was so laid back and shared a genuine interest in the outdoors and we all jumped at the chance to go for an afternoon hike around Pink Lake within Gatineau Park after we left the Visitor’s Centre.
Pink Lake is a protected area of Gatineau Park and is surrounded by a 2.5 kilometer hiking trail. We saw a handful of runners and hikers out and about during our hike!
Isn’t Pink Lake stunning? I could not get over that view and spent a solid 10 minutes soaking it all in.
After our hike, it was time to check into the lodge at Nordik Spa-Nature, North America’s largest spa.
The lodge is a gorgeous cabin with modern comforts and is the only Nordik-affiliated accommodation on property, though there are plans in the works to expand the spa and build a hotel. Our group of five women took over the lodge for the evening and had a girl’s night which was so much fun!
Each of us were able to sleep in our own bed and Anne and I shared the upstairs loft. Our beds were each hidden by a curtain that opened up into a common area with a balcony that overlooked the first floor.
Once we threw our suitcases onto our beds, we quickly slipped into robes and spent the rest of the evening at the spa.
Nordik Spa-Nature is a day spa that focuses on relaxation techniques derived from Scandinavian countries. Massages, body treatments, saunas and hot, cold and temperate baths are available for guests to enjoy and our group was able to spend two hours visiting different saunas and baths. Cameras and electronics were not allowed in the spa area which I absolutely loved. It was wonderful to see people unwind and completely unplug. (The following images are images Nordik provided to us since photography was not permitted.)
Before my visit to Nordik, I was unaware of the various kinds of saunas and thought all saunas were similar. Nordik offers seven sauna experiences and of the four we tried, my two favorite saunas were the Finnish sauna and the hot stone sauna.
In the Finnish sauna, we were able to partake in the Aufguss ritual which was extremely hot and intense. During Aufguss, the woman leading the ritual used a large towel to alter the flow of the air, allowing participants to feel waves of intense heat that made us break out into an intense sweat as we inhaled relaxing scents like lavender and lemongrass. (Lemongrass = Heaven!) Instrumental music is played during the 10-minute ritual which only adds to the overall experience that I found incredibly intense, rejuvenating and refreshing.
Before we were able to enjoy the saunas, we went on a tour of Nordik where we learned about the proper way to experience the sauna treatments. Guests should remember “hot, cold, relax” and follow every 10 to 15 minute hot sauna experience with a cold treatment before relaxing for a bit and repeating the process. The cold treatments were freezing and I was a big baby when it came time to jump into cold pools or stand under an icy rain shower after we spent time in a hot sauna. Brr! I think this spa would be absolutely incredible for athletes with sore muscles!
Before dinner, our group made sure to take time to experience the Kalla treatment which Marianne told us was not to be missed. During the Kalla treatment, guests experience a feeling of complete weightlessness in a Epsom salt pool that mimics the properties of the Dead Sea. It was such a cool sensation to feel your body float with incredible ease. (Even Ryan who cannot seem to float to save his life would be able to float in this pool!)
I was kind of creeped out by the whole thing at first because when I walked downstairs to the pool, I saw a bunch of silent floating people with their eyes closed which was a bit eerie. Once we got in the pool and laid back to float in the water, I completely understood why they all looked so relaxed. I could hear light music underwater that was so soothing. We spent about 30 minutes in the Epsom salt pool before stepping under a freshwater shower, putting our bathrobes back on and heading upstairs to the spa’s restaurant. Yes, you can dine in your bathrobes! We were pretty psyched about that!
Since none of us had our cameras on us during this portion of the trip, we weren’t able to photograph dinner, but it was perfectly fresh and delicious. My favorite dishes included the grilled calamari and artichoke dip appetizers and my walleye entree that was topped with a strawberry salsa. Yum!
Once dinner was over, it was time for bed. I slept like a rock after such a relaxing evening. It was once heck of an incredible way to end our day in Chelsea!
Question of the Afternoon
- Have you ever been to a day spa?
- Do you enjoy saunas?
This was my first day spa experience and it was so, so cool! I would gladly go back again!