Picture a beautiful, rustic and cabin-type outdoor spa. You sit in a bubbling stone hot tub, relaxing your tired muscles as the beat of house music pulses steadily in the background. As you look around, you notice that the rocks surrounding the tub are illuminated with soft, coloured lights that give this rustic setting an urban, club-like glow. Around you, people chat casually to each other, just melting away the stress and tension of a busy workday. If this type of spa experience sounds appealing, then Nordik Spa-Nature’s “Jeudis Lounge” experience is for you.
Located in Chelsea, Québec, just a 10-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, “Le Nordik” as it’s known locally, is home to the entertaining “Jeudis Lounge” or Lounge Thursdays evening the last Thursday of every month. Usually a quiet, relaxation spa where silence is golden, Le Nordik sheds this image during Lounge Thursdays, replacing silence with a DJ spinning great tunes and creating a more social experience for spa-goers. Unlike regular spa days, conversation is encouraged during Lounge Thursdays.
As my boyfriend and I pulled up to Le Nordik, which happens to be the largest spa of its kind in North America, I didn’t know what to expect. Though I am fond of these natural outdoor spas and could stay in a hot tub forever, I knew my spa experience could be cut short if he, who enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding and more extreme adrenaline-pumping attractions, was not content with just relaxing. But regardless, we each paid the $59 CDN and headed in.
The $59 fee gives you access to Le Nordik’s thermal baths and saunas experience, which features hot tubs, cold pools as well as steam rooms and dry saunas. According to Le Nordik, in order for the thermal experience to be beneficial, guests must alternate between the hot tubs, the cold pools and periods of rest.
On a regular day, this whole process is done in silence. But as it was a Lounge Thursday, we happily went from one phase to another joking and chatting about whatever would come up. And we weren’t the only ones. All around the spa there were couples, groups of girlfriends and even groups of guy friends just relaxing and having a good time. The age range of spa-goers was also wide, going from young professional 20-somethings to 45 and 50-somethings. It’s a popular Ottawa-area activity!
As we walked by the spa’s biggest dry sauna –Finlandia – someone hit a gong, which we learned announces Nordik’s “Aufguss” ritual. Curious, we entered the sauna to see what Aufguss, which means infusion in German, is all about.
In this 10-minute sauna session, we sat comfortably in the heat as an Aufguss master subjected us to an infusion of essential oils. Firstly, a mixture of snow, water and essential oils is poured over the sauna’s hot stones. The resulting vapour is then moved through the air by an Aufguss master, who uses a towel to agitate the air and gently fan guests. The essential oils create a pleasant smell that awakens your senses, while the agitation of the air creates a more intense dry heat.
Whether you’re a fan of saunas or not, this Nordik ritual is worth attending just to see the Aufguss master in action. You can either close your eyes for the duration of the ritual or keep them open to watch the Aufguss master move the air with his mesmerizing towel movements. Nordik is actually home to the only two “Sauna Meisters” in Canada.
Nordik’s Aufguss sessions are available every day at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. But during Lounge Thursdays extra sessions are added, occurring hourly from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., as the spa is open until midnight. And I can tell you from experience, you don’t want to miss the last session of the evening!
Though we had already tried Aufguss earlier on, we opted to go back into the sauna for the 11:00 p.m. session called “Voyage of Dreams.” In this session, we were once again subjected to an infusion of essential oils and intense dry heat. The difference this time however, was that the session took place in the dark. We sat there, relaxing, as the Aufguss master moved the air around in a routine that seemed perfectly synched with the coloured lights that danced their way around the room and the slow, classic rock n’ roll music that played in the background. This session was unlike anything we’d experienced before and put us in a dream-like state.
After our second Aufguss session, we were in need of a snack, so we wandered over to the spa’s relatively new Panorama Lounge. Located near Le Nordik’s infinity pool, this bar area offers alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, a food menu, two gas fireplaces, cozy seating and red fleece blankets. Wrapped in our blankets, sitting next to the fire, we sipped craft beer and shared a spinach dip before making our way home.
In total, we spent about four hours at the spa, which was a great relaxing retreat on a week night. And much to my delight, my adrenaline-loving partner in crime did not complain once. There’s so much to do at Le Nordik, that there really is something to appeal to every discerning spa-goer.
The thermal baths and Aufguss are only a snapshot of what the spa offers. You can opt to take your Lounge Thursday experience one step further by adding a massage to your evening or booking a session in Le Nordik’s salt water Källa floating pool. Located five meters (16 feet) underground, the Källa pool is a quiet, relaxing experience that mimics the Dead Sea and offers health benefits such as accelerated wound healing, improved blood circulation and increased creativity, among others. This unique pool is only the second of its kind in the world, as the other one is located in Switzerland!
While I was at the spa, I stopped to chat with Le Nordik’s spokesperson Marianne Trotier. She said the spa began offering the Lounge Thursdays experience back in 2012 after spa-goers kept requesting a type of “social day” at Le Nordik. She added that this more social night just keeps gaining popularity. “Lounge Thursdays are progressing throughout the years, as we’ve included Aufguss rituals and have invited our employees to be more creative in their Aufguss presentations,” she said.
Trotier also noted that in January, Le Nordik started incorporating a theme into each Lounge Thursday evening. She said that so far, the themes have included Gourmet Discoveries, Gin & Raw and just recently, Sugar Shack, which offered delicious complimentary maple taffy on snow to spa-goers.
If you’re coming to Ottawa, I would recommend adding a Lounge Thursday into your trip. It’s a great way to spend an evening as a couple or amongst friends at any time of the year. You can also take advantage of Ottawa Tourism’s getaway packages.