Spa Life in the Laurentians - Quebec, Canada
The Laurentians region of Quebec becomes a wellness
luring spa goers from far to it's rolling hills
the province of Quebec decides to designate
just one region as a "wellness" destination
then certainly The Laurentians would a healthy
contender. Dotted with clear lakes and networked
with spring fed rivers and streams, the mountainous
area is a gold mine of spa facilities neatly
tucked into verdant hills. The "wellness"
label can, in fact, be traced back to much earlier
days when the Quebec government looked at the
mountainous region as one of the healthiest
in the province and decided that it would be
the ideal setting for its first national park
- Parc du Mont-Tremblant, the largest provincial
On the shores on Lake Mont-Tremblant sits one
of the area's oldest and largest lakefront properties,
Hotel Club Tremblant. Its spa, aptly called
Spa-Sur-La-Lac (Spa on the Lake), is where I
began this spa-hopping holiday.
Perched on a hillside overlooking the lake,
the mountains etched with ski trails and the
postcard-pretty town of Mont-Tremblant, the
intimate spa offers a full menu of services.
From its wide expanse of veranda, spa goers
come to soak in the view and the serenity. "The
main attraction is the view," says Patrick
Dault Marketing manager, "summer and winter." Dault adds that from October to April deer can
often be seen grazing the lawns and, in winter,
the hills are alive with skiers.
Waiting for services, spa guests help themselves
to juice and herbal teas, fresh fruit and delicious
banana bread. Treatment rooms - nine in total
- have names like Chamomile, Ginseng and Lotus.
The Apricot room is booked for my Spa-Sur-La-Lac
Body Polish. The 90-minute treatment ($105)
begins with a body exfoliation with salt from
the Dead Sea, washed off with a Vichy Shower.
I soon realized why the Vichy Shower - an overhead
bar with a series of shower jets - has never
been one of my favorite treatments. Water temperatures
can be somewhat temperamental. My therapist
Marie-Pierre makes every effort to keep the
water at a comfortable temperature but the system
is just not cooperating. Then again maybe it's
just me. To make up for the capricious nature
of today's Vichy Shower, she offers me a hydro-therapy
bath. It does the calming trick. The treatment
ends with the application of a soothing body
The rambling 100-year-old, Swiss-style chalet
with its one, two and three bedroom self-contained
condos has become very popular over the last
few years for girl getaways combining spa and
Dault says that along with
great skiing, the year-round resort area also
offers sailing, canoeing, golfing and guided
hikes personalized to one's level of fitness.
Club Tremblant also has its own ski school.
In the nearby town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts,
the year-old Stonehaven Country Inn and Spa
is a haven with a history. The 400-acre lakefront
estate was once the home of a Catholic congregation
and prior to that a sanitarium for patients
recuperating from respiratory illnesses. The
glassed-in rooftop lounge, once used by convalescents,
is now the spa's serene relaxation area where
draped gauze curtains add a whisper of privacy,
and an outdoor deck overlooks a collection of
salt and spring water pools, whirlpools and
a Finnish sauna. Steps away there's a natural
spring pond for ice cold dips, and a unique
hammam (steam bath) built into a hillside topped
with a blanket of ferns and wild grasses.
Guests come here not only for the spa and thermal
baths, but for the food. Along with a wide selection
of French inspired dishes, Chef Marc Vinet gives
a nod to wellness with organic and light selections.
Innovative combinations of foods and flavors
are artfully presented and way-too-tasty for
anyone counting calories.
Many of Stonehaven's spa treatments are also
enhanced with wellness extras. In the 90-minute
Revitalizing Facial ($155), for instance, my
therapist Patricia applies an active mud along
the length of the vertebrae to detoxify and
re-mineralize the body, while she goes about
applying Anne Sémonin products from France
to exfoliate, rehydrate and moisturize the face.
All in all, the new owners of Stonehaven have
done its history proud by recreating a true
One of the most unique spas in the area is the
Ofuro Spa. Focusing on the art of the Japanese
bath (the Japanese word Ofuro means "bath"
or "the meeting of the waters") visitors
to this day spa can go back and forth between
hot and cold water treatments - from steam rooms
to whirlpools and a refreshing mountain river
- all day long for just $35 per person. A collection
of pagodas grouped on this rocky mountain setting
house rooms set up for a variety of massages,
body treatments and esthetics. It's the perfect
solution is you're staying at a nearby hotel
or inn without a spa facility.
Three-days of spa-hopping offers only a glimpse
of the world of wellness tucked into folds of
The Laurentians. I'm thinking a visit could
very well become an annual tonic.
Anne Dimon is a travel and spa journalist and founder/editor of www.traveltowellness.com