Nordic Spas Continue to Grow in Popularity in QuébecBeginning with just one in 1964, today Québec has approximately 94 Nordic spas across its regions. A Nordic spa is where guests can indulge in a thermotherapy wellness ritual practiced in northern Europe for over 2,000 years. A three-step circuit, thermotherapy involves exposure to hot and cold temperatures, followed by a mindful resting period to achieve a state of deep relaxation.Here are some of Québec’s top Nordic spas to discover:

  • Polar Bear’s Club: Nestled along the banks of the Rivière à Simon in the Saint-Sauveur Valley just 45 minutes from Montréal, the Polar Bear’s Club is a pioneer of Nordic spas in Québec, offering thermotherapy for over 50 years in the Laurentians. In addition to seven outdoor pools, steam baths and saunas, guests can relax in one of the solariums or outside relaxation areas to enjoy the tranquility of the spa’s serene setting.
  • Nordik-Spa Nature: Nordik-Spa Nature is a premier spa located near Gatineau Park in the charming village of Old Chelsea in the Outaouais region. As the largest spa in North America, guests can choose from 10 outdoor pools, nine distinct saunas with guided Aufguss rituals (multi-sensory sauna experiences), float weightlessly in the Dead Sea-inspired Källa saltwater pool, and many other amenities.
  • Spa Eastman: Resting on a 323-acre estate with views of Mount Orford, Spa Eastman in the historical Eastern Townships is a two-time winner of Canada’s Best Wellness Retreat (2021 and 2022). For over 40 years, the spa has offered world-class thermotherapy facilities, including Nordic baths, Finnish saunas, eco-ponds, igloo showers and much more.
  • Thuya Spa: As part of the Nordet eco-tourism centre in Pointe-Saint-Pierre in the Gaspésie region, Thuya Spa is the first Nordic spa on the Gaspé Peninsula. The secluded and intimate full-service spa is primarily outdoors, complete with Canadian red cedar hot and cold pools overlooking the forest, a barrel sauna and outdoor relaxation areas with a fireplace.

Urban Nordic Spas: It’s still possible to get an authentic Nordic spa experience during an urban stay in Québec. Here are some of the best Nordic spas in Québec’s largest cities:

  • The world-class Strøm Spa Nordique in Old Québec City features the largest floatation pool in North America, a steamy outdoor infinity pool along the bank of the St. Lawrence River and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with fireplaces.
  • Anchored in Montréal’s Old Port neighbourhood, Bota Bota is a historic river ferry-turned-upscale “floating spa” with multiple levels and decks for a truly unique urban Nordic spa experience.
  • The globally-inspired Spa Le Finlandais in Laval offers a unique lineup of Nordic inspirations, like suspended Helsinki “bubble seats” and a Viking Sauna with views of the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

Photo credit: Bonjour Québec / Strøm Spa Nordique

A Cozy Escape Awaits at Québec’s Winter LodgesQuébec is an ideal destination year-round, but winter converts the province into a snowy playground with plenty of outdoor sports and activities. Fun in the snow is central to a memorable Québec winter vacation, and a cozy chalet with a crackling fireplace and warming Québécois comfort food adds the finishing touch.

Here are just a few suggestions to add to your winter bucket list:

  • The Hobbit House at Hébergement Les Pieds Sur Terre: In Saint-Calixte in the Lanaudière region, the Hobbit House at Hébergement Les Pieds Sur Terre isn’t just for Lord of the Rings fans. As described in the books, the Hobbit House is tucked away in natural terrain with a circular, brightly coloured door. Rounded entryways and tall ceilings decorated with fairy lights characterize the surprisingly spacious interior of the house, and a wood-burning stove plus heated mattresses ensure a cozy winter stay.
  • Hinterhouse: With a design influenced by cabins seen in Norwegian mountains, Hinterhouse offers a secluded getaway in Mont-Tremblant. The space has floor-to-ceiling windows with forested views, heated floors, and a rotating wood-burning stove. Outside, guests can follow the path down the inlaid steps to a mini private Nordic spa for relaxing after a day of skiing at Mont Tremblant Ski Resort.
  • Terre & Neige: The Terre & Neige family-run retreat is nestled in a mountainous haven in Val-des-Monts in the Outaouais region, and offers an A-frame chalet surrounded by towering trees, a wildlife observatory-style cabin perched on a rocky outcrop, and a new, off-grid lakeside cabin that will open in the spring. Daily breakfast baskets filled with locally sourced produce and homemade pastries are included with accommodations. At the nearby Nakkertok Park, guests can go Nordic skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and more.
  • Chalets Hygge: What many describe as a “magical little village,” the Cheribourg ski chalet community in Orford, Eastern Townships, is home to the Nordic-inspired Chalets Hygge. The interior of each chalet is modern with rustic flair and has tall windows allowing for plenty of natural light. In addition to the slopes at Mont-Orford Ski Resort, nearby lakes and parks provide additional winter entertainment. Keeping with the “hygge” theme, the chalets are also pet-friendly.
  • Pourvoirie du Cap au Leste: An idyllic wintry landscape can be seen along the snow-covered Saguenay Fjord and surrounding tree-covered hills from the cliff-top Pourvoirie du Cap au Leste in Sainte-Rose-du-Nord in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. Accommodations here range from individual to multi-bedroom chalets, each with traditional wooden interiors and varying amenities. Guests can explore the Valley of Ghosts in the Parc national des Mont-Valins, indulge at the Eternal Spa, go dog-sledding and more.

Photo credit: © hinter inc. / Official Instagram (@hinterhouse)

Québec City’s World-Famous Winter Carnival Returns February 3 to 12

As the 69th consecutive Winter Carnival approaches, preparations are in full swing in Québec City. This February 3 to 12, the city is hosting winter festivities and celebrating Québécois traditions with Bonhomme, Carnival’s much-loved snowman ambassador. Visitors can expect to see new programming and installations this year, including Videotron Bonhomme’s Campground, a climbable ice mountain and more. Besides glittering snow and ice sculptures lining the city’s luminous neighborhoods, visitors will also be treated to French-Canadian cocktails and cuisine served by outdoor vendors, as well as ice canoe races, nighttime parades and Bonhomme’s Ice Palace, the carnival’s showstopper. Special events offer VIP tickets, which visitors should purchase early before they sell out.Photo credit: Bonjour Québec

Hôtel de Glace Adopts a Nightlife Theme for 2023There is only one hotel in North America made entirely of snow and ice, the Hôtel de Glace, inspired by the IceHotel in Sweden. In Village Vacances Valcartier, just 30 minutes outside Québec City, Hôtel de Glace opened for its 23rd winter on January 4. Attracting over two million visitors since 2001, the hotel is constructed using over 23,000 blocks of ice and 30,000 tonnes of snow with a floor space of 4,273 square metres and ceilings almost six metres high. Each year, a new theme and architectural plan are introduced, and this year’s theme is nightlife-inspired. Guests can tour the hotel, visit the ice bar, get pampered at the on-site Nordic spa and even stay for a chilly overnighter. The hotel usually remains open until late March, when the weather warms enough to signify the season’s end.Photo credit: Bonjour Québec

New Nighttime Carousel to Open at Le Massif de CharlevoixThis coming June, David Gauthier, Cirque du Soleil co-founder and owner of Le Massif de Charlevoix, alongside a team of creative directors, producers and artisans, will unveil the world’s first mountainside chairlift-carousel, Le Vol De L’Oiseau Mécanique (The Flight of the Clockwork Bird). This large-scale, nighttime production will showcase Le Massif as never seen before through surround sound, lighting effects and interactive elements over a six-kilometre, hour-long circuit. Tickets are on sale now with available dates until September 4, 2023.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.