Kananaskis Nordic Spa (photo Mike Seehagel/Travel Alberta)

5 Outdoor Spas That Embrace the Great White North

By Stacy Lee Kong

Canada is home to more than a few luxe Nordic spas, and winter is the perfect time to visit. A centuries-old practice, Nordic (or Scandinavian) hydrotherapy typically involves stints in a hot sauna followed by icy plunges in an outdoor pool. Believed to improve blood circulation and trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s happiness hormones), it’s also more relaxing than it sounds. Try it yourself at one of these five Canadian spas that also boast stunning views.

KANANASKIS NORDIC SPA (Kananaskis, Alberta)
At Alberta’s first Nordic spa, visitors are encouraged to follow a hydrotherapy cycle. First, relax in the outdoor hot pool, sauna or one of the steam rooms, which are housed in cabins near the pools. Then, head to the warm pool, followed by a short but invigorating dip in the cold pool—or a snowbank, if you can handle it! There are also winterized hammocks and cauldron-style firepits, all the better for boosting a sense of tranquility.

POLAR BEARS CLUB (Piedmont, Quebec)
Quebec is known for its Nordic spas, but this one in the Laurentians might be our favourite. Its seven outdoor pools and baths, plus two hammams and two saunas are a huge draw. But the part we love best is the Rivière à Simon, a shallow river that winds through the property, perfect for a quick cool off.

Community watch: Kananaskis Country

The hot-spring pools at this Kootenays resort are open year-round. With views of Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains, they offer both beautiful backdrops and relaxation. There are warm and hot pools, and a “cold plunger” pool to jolt you awake.

Scandinave Spa

SCANDINAVE SPA (Blue Mountain, Ontario)
Skip skiing or snowboarding in favour of a day at this Nordic spa—its forest setting makes it hard to believe it’s just minutes from downtown Collingwood. Relax in the Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam room or hot outdoor baths, then cool down in the cold plunge pool or go for a roll in the snow.

Reasons to head west on a winter road trip to British Columbia

TEMPLE GARDENS HOTEL & SPA (Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan)
The indoor/outdoor rooftop pool at this Saskatchewan hotel is one of Canada’s largest geothermal mineral-water pools. Its balmy water springs from an “ancient seabed more than 1,350 metres below the earth’s surface,” according to the hotel.