If I’m lucky, when at home, I can find time to schedule a massage about once every two months. After sitting at the computer most of the day, working out and running around with the regular life stuff, I really need it—physically and mentally. So I was thrilled to be invited to participate in a spa-themed travel writing trip to enjoy four spas in as many days. And to sweeten the pot, they were all located in Canada in the province of Quebec, encompassing 20 tourist regions.
If you’ve never been to the Quebec region, you absolutely must add it to your travel destination list! From its vibrant metropolitan cities to its quaint towns, diverse geographic landscape, and warm and welcoming people, it is a truly captivating part of Canada as well as North America.
On this visit, our exploration of the province involved the Lanaudiere region, which, along with the Mauricie region, is often referred to as “Authentic Quebec.”
Our first spa stop was Kinipi Spa & Bains Nordiques in the charming town of Trois-Rivieres (which means “Three Rivers”), located only 90 minutes from both Quebec City and Montreal, which are to the east and west respectively.
Derived from the Native American Algonquin tribe language, “Kinipi” (pronounced Kee-KNEEE-Pee) means “Your Water” and “Bains Nordiques” (pronounced Noor-deeks), means “Nordic Bath.” The “rules” here were very simple: Unplug, unwind, enjoy the silence and rejuvenate. And once you see the environment, you’ll know exactly why.
Opening a little over two years ago, it was founded by a former industrialist who appreciated the Zen ambiance he had experienced in Bali. From that, he recognized the benefits that a meditative ambiance centered around water and restorative body treatments could have on those around him. The result is an amazing, 19,000-square-foot, primarily alfresco spa haven that soothes the body, mind and spirit.
The three log cabin-style buildings on the property are fashioned in a U-shape, offering a sense of unity with each other and the surrounding woodsy ambiance. Inside, guests will find expansive men’s and women’s locker rooms, a dry Nordic sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, relaxation alcoves and an upscale restaurant.
Outside, you will find several upper- and lower-level leisure areas complete with comfortable Adirondack chairs, chaises lounges and footrests. One is located on a semi-circular outdoor patio with a fire pit, another under a pergola backing up to the awe-inspiring Canadian woods.
After checking in, donning your hooded, full-length terry cloth robe and grabbing the provided oversized bath towel and water bottle, the suggested “itinerary” is to spend about 10 minutes in one of the 104-degree hot spas, followed by the eucalyptus steam room, to open your pores and release the toxins in the body, then (as long as you can stand it!) one of the 39-degree cold plunges to close the pores.
Each of the spas offer plenty of places to rest, such as on underwater ledges, behind waterfalls, next to massive boulders and beside the beautiful landscaping elements. In the winter, the patio and pool ramps here are heated, allowing you to move comfortably between each element.
In between, guests are invited to enjoy a wide array of spa or aesthetic treatments, including therapeutic massages, reflexology, facial hydration, their signature back mud treatment and more. You’re also welcome to sip hot tea, curl up for a nap in the comfy blankets dotted around property or enjoy a fantastic spa meal in the restaurant—all while wearing your bathrobe and flip-flops.
Many guests (about 70 percent women during the week, approximately 50/50 on the weekends) come for only a few hours, others for the entire day and still others for an entire evening—they are open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on the weekends. Either way, Kinipi is a remarkable place for you to reconnect with yourself and with nature.
Respite in the Canadian countryside
After spending several blissful hours at Kinipi, we drove about an hour to Auberge le Baluchon. Loosely translated as “The Backpack Inn” (Auberge means “Inn” in French), Auberge le Baluchon (pronounced ow-bear-j, lay, ball-yu-shone) truly embodies the great outdoors.
Situated in a rustic setting in the spectacular Canadian countryside, the resort property is highlighted by picturesque rivers, dramatic waterfalls, breathtaking forests, scenic overlooks, expansive plains, lush vegetation and boutique islands peppered with walking, hiking and horseback riding trails.
Amenities here include indoor and outdoor dining areas, fire pits, a wind mill, gardens, a bar and gift shop, four distinct lodges offering an array of accommodation options, a private chalet for families and groups, special events facilities and a health spa featuring an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna and exercise room.
Both lodging guests and day visitors here can take advantage of the wide array of services offered at their SPA Sante. These include head-and-shoulders massages, Swedish massages for pregnant women, marine algae body wraps, peat mud wraps, therapeutic leg massages, hydralessence and aromaplasty facials, heated stone and deep-acting bamboo canes massages and a variety of themed spa packages for couples, girlfriends and so forth.
The indoor and outdoor Nordic elements cycling between hot and cold water plunges here are breathtaking, each carefully designed to stimulate blood circulation, enhance relaxation and promote overall well-being. Each of these areas feature cozy chaise lounges, oversized chairs, rustic decor, scenic vistas and complete rejuvenation.
Dining options at Auberge le Baluchon include their “Eco-cafe” and bar and a Sugar Camp/Sugar House site (a horse-drawn carriage ride to the camp is part of the fun!) for delicious meals and maple syrup taffy treats in season. In the main dining room, breakfast is a sumptuous buffet featuring the customary pastries, eggs, fruit, granola, cereals and the like, plus plates brimming with cured meats, gourmet cheeses, pates, marinated vegetables and other items. At dinner, diners enjoy the resort’s superb, award-winning, four-course gastronomic fare featuring dairy, meats, fruits, vegetables and other products garnered from local farms and food artisans in an upscale ambiance and complemented by a large selection of premier wines and spirits. The service is excellent, the food is incredible and the ambiance is simply delightful.
More to come
In our next adventure, we’re venturing into the Canadian hillsides to two more awe-inspiring Nordic spas and accommodations that will leave you breathless.
Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Auberge le Baluchon: 800-789-5968, 819-268-2555, www.baluchon.com
- Kinipi Spa & Bains Nordiques: 888-954-6474, 819-693-99991, www.kinipi.ca. Note: Although the website is in French, there are English-speaking staff members who can answer any questions you have over the phone and while at the spa.
- Tourisme Quebec: 877-266-5687, www.bonjourquebec.com