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Maximum relaxation

Nordik Spa-Nature offers a flawless and blissful retreat in the woods

Located in the village of Chelsea, only 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa, Nordik allows city-dwellers to experience some luxurious relaxation in nature. Credit: Courtesy of Nordik spa.

The best time to experience Nordik Spa-Nature is in the winter. One might think walking around in a robe and flip-flops surrounded by ice and snow a preposterous idea, but this Scandinavian-style haven in the woods will quickly change your mind. Tucked away in the hills of Chelsea, this gorgeous spa offers a few essential things visitors must experience for maximum relaxation.

Nordik recommends working slowly through a thermal cycle, which is the practice of alternating between cold, warm and hot waters. With pools scattered around the property, some overlooking rolling hills in the distance, some with waterfalls, the ridiculousness of tub-hopping in the dead of winter floats out of the mind. Though I tried only one of the frigid ice-water pools (complete with its own waterfall), moving from more temperate to hot pools is a dream. It awakens the senses and makes the skin feel rejuvenated. Is Nordik the fountain of youth we’ve all been searching for? Basically, yes.

If the chill factor kicks in, take a quick nap in one of the three outdoor, heated hammocks. I fell asleep in one for 20 minutes, woke up, then asked someone walking by to give me another push to rock me back to sleep.

There are a few standout saunas on the property. The Vaporo is the most intense wet sauna my sinuses have ever experienced. The combination of extreme heat and eucalyptus vapour quickly clears any congestion or worry out of your head.

After a cool shower to lower your body temperature, head to the Tuli sauna at the top of the hill. This octagonal dry sauna is made of solid wood and is heated by a fireplace in the centre. The heat currents run in a circular pattern, which is apparently good for the back. It is bliss.

There is an aromatic sauna, called the Aromi, but I’d skip it and sneak into one of the tiny barrel-shaped saunas instead. There’s even a two-person barrel . . . sadly, it cannot be locked from the inside.

Finally, check out the Källa pool. Dug five metres into the rock on which the spa is built, this 23-centimetre-deep pool is so packed with Epsom salts anyone who enters it floats. It’s truly a magical experience. Once the earplugs are in and the underwater music kicks in, cross your arms behind your head and float away. Only 20 people are allowed in at a time, so encountering anyone else is a rarity. I did bump into someone, but I simply let his toe push me off toward a stone pillar in the corner.

While more cliché activities like wine and cheese by the fire are available, I recommend spending time in silence or whispering to a loved one while sweating profusely — and then freezing like a polar bear.