Travel Guide: Ontario and Québec Nordic Spas

Travel Guide: Ontario and Québec Nordic Spas

With their proximity to the U.S. border, these two provinces have multiple Nordic-style spas to choose from at relatively affordable prices.

Why Plan a Trip to Canada for a Wellness Boost?

Ontario and Québec are the two largest of Canada’s 10 provinces, both in terms of geographic size and population. Ontario is located in east-central Canada, bordering Minnesota, Michigan and New York. Located further east, Québec shares borders with Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

For Americans, the journey to these Canadian gems is not only geographically convenient, but also offers a seamless cultural transition to our neighbors up north. For some added fun in Québec, you can even stretch your high school French muscles, and then immediately default back to English when you loose your nerve.

Traveling from the United States to Canada can often be pretty affordable for Americans given the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar (USD) and the Canadian dollar (CAD). Over the last five years, the Canadian exchange rate has fluctuated between $0.70 and $0.80, so if you really think about it, when you shop in Canada you’re saving money! That’s how that works right?

But Canada isn’t just for bargain shoppers, it’s a hot spot for sauna enthusiasts. For those who love contrast therapy in all shapes and sizes, indoor and outdoor, Ontario or Quebec should be on your short list of next travel destinations.

What is a Nordic Spa?

Nordic spas, deeply rooted in Scandinavian wellness traditions, offer a unique and holistic approach to relaxation and health. The concept revolves around the practice of thermotherapy, which involves alternating between hot and cold treatments followed by periods of relaxation, or as we like to call it, Hot-Cold-Relax®. This cycle detoxifies the body, improves circulation, reduces stress, and boosts the immune system. Nordic spas typically feature a range of amenities within their facilities, such as saunas, steam baths, hot tubs, cold plunge pools, lounge areas, and are often complemented by natural landscapes.

The visual style of Nordic spas is characterized by minimalism, simplicity, and elegance, reflecting some of the core principles of Scandinavian design. This design ethos just happens to pair perfectly with a spa environment, because it lends itself to a sense of peace and calm. Picture environments that are grounding, yet elevated. Beautiful, yet understated.

Why Are There So Many Nordic Spas in Ontario & Québec?

Both provinces have seen a significant increase in the number of Nordic spas within the last decade. The growth is due, in part, to spa development groups like Groupe Nordik and Groupe Scandinave providing the capital and resources needed to build sprawling facilities that one would typically find in Europe.

Columnist Elizabeth Corney-Booth argues that the recent Nordic spas boom has to do with the fact that they are fun, relaxing and perhaps most of all “they’re best experienced in cold weather countries” [1]. Weather certainly is a factor in both provinces! For a reference, average winter temperatures in Toronto range from a high of 0C (32F) and an average low of -7C (19F). As you travel even further north to where many of the Nordic spas are located, average temperatures can range from a low of a low of -15ºC (5F) to -30ºC(-22F). The contrast between the cold outdoor temperatures and the warm waters of the spas adds something truly unique to the whole experience.

Finally, the concept of the Nordic spa also draws heavily from the traditions of Scandinavian countries where sauna culture is a way of life. Canada has a diverse multicultural population, including Scandinavian influences, so it's natural that this aspect of wellness culture has been embraced and integrated.

Our Top 5 Nordic Spa Picks in Ontario & Québec:

1) Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain (Collingwood, Ontario)

Scandinave Spa, Blue Mountain Ontario

The Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain is located at the base of a popular year-round ski resort of Blue Mountain. This spa, which opened its doors in 2006, quickly became a sought-after destination and presented a model for other locations in Ontario to replicate. The spa's design harmonizes with the surrounding landscape, offering panoramic views of the forested areas and the Niagara Escarpment, making it a year-round destination for those looking to escape and replenish. The spa is a very short distance from the base on Blue Mountain ski resort which makes it a perfect Après-ski activity. The peak rate costs $105 which give you unlimited time experiencing the spa amenities which include: outdoor hot baths, cold plunges, eucalyptus steam rooms and finish saunas.

2) Nordik Spa-Nature (Chelsea, Québec)

Nordik Spa Chelsea Quebec

Nordik Spa-Nature, situated in the picturesque village of Old Chelsea in the Outaouais region, near the scenic Gatineau Park, advertises itself as the largest spa in North America. This title is confirmed by its comprehensive amenities and sprawling layout that offers a diverse and rich experience for visitors seeking relaxation and wellness. The spa, which opened its doors in 2005, offers thermotherapy and massage therapy, all in perfect harmony with nature. Visitors to Nordik Spa-Nature can enjoy a wide range of facilities including 10 outdoor baths, 9 distinct saunas, an infinity pool, a saltwater flotation pool, numerous resting places, a yoga and meditation room, an exfoliation room, and 7 outdoor massage pavilions. The spa also houses 4 restaurants to make it a true one one stop shop!

For those planning a visit, the thermal experience at Nordik Spa-Nature, which includes access to all baths and saunas, is priced at $94. This rate also covers the rental of a bathrobe, a towel, and a locker. Massages and body care treatments are available at additional costs, starting at $130 for a classic massage and $120 for a classic body care treatment. The Källa treatment, a unique saltwater flotation experience, is an optional add-on at $54.

3) Muskoka Beer Spa (Torrance, Ontario)

Muskoka Beer Spa

Referred to as the “quintessential Canadian spa” and your place to “detox, retox and relax,” the Muskoka Beer Spa is perhaps the most Canadian of all on the list. While still technically a Nordic spa, it has an aesthetic that is much more Canadian than Scandinavian … which we think is a good thing. This distinctive spa experience caters to those who not only appreciate the art of brewing but also seek a novel approach to rejuvenation and leisure. Situated amidst the stunning natural beauty of Muskoka, known for its crystal-clear lakes, dense forests, and rocky landscapes, the beer spa offers beer-themed treatments and amenities, designed to harness the natural antioxidants and nutrients found in hops and barley.

A day past cost $49 and gives one access to all amenities which include outdoor hot baths, saunas, stream rooms, relaxation pools, a forest beach and social cabanas. Some of the unique amenities include Beer Soaks: Luxurious baths that incorporate craft beer ingredients, providing a rich source of vitamins and enzymes that promote skin health and relaxation.

4) Strøm Nordic Spa (Vieux-Quebec)

Strom Spa Nordique Vieux Quebec

Strøm Nordic Spa in Vieux-Québec, set against the backdrop of the St. Lawrence River's vastness and tranquility, is a testament to both modern relaxation techniques and the area's rich maritime history. Completed in 2018, the spa was designed to evoke the harbor's past, integrating the physical and historical landscape seamlessly into its design. Its architecture, inspired by the old harbor wharves, creates a series of spaces that alternate between open and enclosed areas, descending towards the river and mimicking the historical layers of the site.

Among its highlighted installations are outdoor whirlpools, hot and cold baths, North America’s largest flotation bath surrounded by candles for an almost meditative experience, and an infinity swimming pool for contemplation. It also features Finnish saunas, eucalyptus steam baths, thermal and Nordic waterfalls, and a variety of indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with fireplaces. Weekday spa visits cost $114 with discounted rates in the evenings.

5) Vettä Nordic Spa (Oro-Medonte, Ontario)

Vetta Nordic Spa, Orillia Ontario

Described as an authentic Finish sauna experience, Vettä offers a serene escape in the hardwood forests of Horseshoe Valley in Oro-Medonte, Ontario. It officially opened its doors to the public on January 3, 2022, providing a much-anticipated wellness retreat [2]. The spa is designed to immerse guests in an authentic Finnish spa experience, surrounded by nature and offering a variety of amenities to cater to overall well-being. Visitors can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of cycling through hot (Kuuma), cold (Kylma), and relaxation (Levata) phases, in line with traditional Finnish hydrotherapy practices. The spa's architecture features tall, sleek designs with authentic Finnish touches, including Siparila wood imported directly from Finland.

Amenities at Vettä Nordic Spa include adult-oriented spaces, a café, day spa facilities, outdoor experiences, saunas, and a steam room. The spa emphasizes connection with the body, environment, and those around you, offering both social and quiet zones to suit guests' preferences. Large relaxation pools, sauna rooms, and the world’s largest saunas are available for socializing or enjoying solitude. A day pass during the week is $99 while weekend peak times cost $109.

Not ready to make your trip up to Canada just yet? Book a visit at the bathhouse.

Citing our Sources:

1. Elizabeth Chorney-Booth (2019) “What are Nordic Spas and why are they suddenly so popular in Canada?” in

2. Karen Longwell (December 2021) “Nordic spa near Toronto finally ready to open.” in BlogTO.

March 12, 2024
By: Sauna House