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Nordic spa

Nordic spa

What’s not to love about a day of relaxation and rejuvenation in the middle of a holiday? Whether you’d like to alleviate some of those aches and pains that come with age (the least exciting part of being a baby boomer!), or find a way to escape some stress, a spa can be the perfect activity when you travel.

And if you’re worried about selecting from the myriad of treatment options, you may find starting with Nordic Spas the perfect answer. They’re also great for people who aren’t sure they want to strip down to their skimpies and have lotions and massages applied by a masseuse–in fact, with a Nordic spa, it’s just you in a bathing suit enjoying water therapy.

Dressing room at the Spa des Neiges outside Quebec City.

Dressing room at the Spa des Neiges outside Quebec City.

Nordic spas, put simply, are a circuit of pools of water with temperatures varying from frigid to hot, and usually, a sauna or steam bath room or building as well. You may also hear some, or all, of the treatment called hydrotherapy or thermotherapy, which goes way back to the days when mom told you to soak in the bathtub if you weren’t feeling great.

Spa des Neiges

I recently had my first experience with a Nordic Spa on a trip to Quebec City, where I visited Spa des Neiges. It’s situated just outside the city, adjacent to the St. Lawrence Seaway. The country location is perfect for the spa, as it provides a quiet, peaceful atmosphere that really lets you leave everything else behind while you relax.

Linda Aksomitis relaxing at Spa des Neiges outside Quebec City.

Linda Aksomitis relaxing at Spa des Neiges outside Quebec City.

We started out on the deck, visiting over a glass of beer–or wine–depending upon your preference. Watching the flames from the gas hearth was mesmerizing and I soon forgot I even had sore muscles from the day’s hiking, even before the water.

But I’d come for the water!

My first stop was the largest pool, which is kept at 37 degrees Celsius. Then I moved up to the very hot whirlpool at 40 degrees, before jumping into the cold one with its chilly waterfall. Moving like this between the different temperatures provides the therapy with a Nordic spa.

But of course, there’s another step to Nordic spas. And that’s the extreme heat. At Spa des Neiges, you have two options: the Hammam (a hot steam containing essential oil of eucalyptus) or the Finnish sauna (building heated by hot rocks that produce a dry heat of about 80 degrees Celsius).

The body’s response to this intense heat is to sweat out wastes from the skin and other body functions. It also accelerates the healing process, so works well for anyone with chronic pain or conditions such as arthritis.

A selfie of Linda Aksomitis in the "cool" pool!

A selfie of Linda Aksomitis in the “cool” pool!

And me, well, I chose the Hammam, which was quite a shock as I did it right after the cold dip!

Opening the door, the smell of eucalyptus engulfed me along with the steam. No walls. No lights. No furnishings. Just whispery vapors that wrapped themselves around me as I stood, barefoot, on the textured floor.

I gasped and heard a laugh. A voice, seemingly attached to one of the thin strands of steam, floated across the room to me. “It’s not too bad after a minute or two.”

And she was right.

Within minutes my eyes adapted to the steamroom, so I found my way to a bench along the edge, and dropped onto the boards while the steam continued to do its magic. My sinuses cleared. My breathing felt cleared, and easy, so I could inhale the moisture around me. My heart rate increased, pumping blood throughout my body like I was exercising while I was simply relaxing. Amazing!

The History of Nordic Spas

Societies around the globe have been enjoying water therapies for millennia. From the Greek and Roman baths, right to the Finnish saunas that are most like today’s Nordic spas, the restorative powers of water have been acknowledged.
Click here for a great history of spas.


I visited the Spa des Neiges during a trip to Quebec City hosted by Destination Quebec and Tourism Quebec. My enjoyment of the Spa des Neiges, however, was all my own! If you’ve ever tried a Nordic Spa, please tell us about your experience in the Comments. We’ve added CommentLuv to guide2travel, so you can link your last blog post for our readers to see just by checkmarking the box.

Getting to Spa des Neiges

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