SEEKING OUT PLACES embraced by natural surroundings is a crucial component to a healing journey for many travelers. I’ve always been a big advocate of nature’s healing powers and the verity of the ancient Chinese proverb that credits nature, time and patience as being the greatest of all physicians. Western Québec’s Outaouais region proves one of those corners of the planet that seem to be perfectly in balance, whether covered in layers of sparkling snow, adorned in blazing shades of autumn, garlanded in spring blooms or wrapped in sunshine and a rush of summer birdsong — making it ideal for a spa-based getaway.
At Nordik Spa-Nature in the small town of Chelsea, I dash beneath a cascading waterfall that delivers icy water into a small, cold tarn, then sink gratefully into a rock-rimmed soaking pool fed by a hot thermal spring. This corner of the property is one of several that offer an opportunity for Scandinavian-style bathing, alternating heat, cold and periods of rest. A destination unto itself, the vast spa complex is divided into three sections: Kaskad, where the observance of silence creates a tranquil experience; Borëa, where whispering is allowed; and the Panorama Area, where socializing is absolutely fine (except for the silent sauna areas).
The spa features seven dry saunas and two steam baths that include a traditional Russian banya, where a blend of hot and cold treatments embraces the tradition of being struck repeatedly by a venik brush composed of bound birch branches and fragrant eucalyptus. The practice is said to quicken circulation and facilitate cleansing, pore-purifying perspiration.
After a full day of sampling the wet and steamy options and relaxing in several windowed cabins fitted with crackling wood fires, I meet my therapist for a Lumëa anti-aging facial. During the hourlong treatment, my face is gently exfoliated with a vitamin C-rich masque. My therapist, Crystel, delivers a soothing scalp massage while time allows an application of a toning cream to penetrate my skin. My face glows after the relaxing session, and I’m inspired to make one last circuit in the hot Vapora sauna before taking a dip in Rivër, the coldest of the pools at the base of the waterfall. After an additional 20 minutes in a suspended, heated, cocoon-like hammock, it’s time to head to Parc Omega.
I arrive at my small, private log cabin in the nature preserve well after dark and fall almost immediately asleep. The rising morning sun wakes me, pouring in through the wall of glass at the foot of my bed. The window wall faces an enormous enclosure housing a pack of gray timber wolves, rescued and made at home within the safety of the park. A lone wolf stands just on the other side of the glass, staring in at me, his curiosity perhaps piqued by the movements of the bedcovers when I sat up. I’m startled and enchanted all at once and sit on the floor facing the glass for several hours. Other majestic members of the pack approach the glass, clearly intrigued by the new exhibit in pajamas just on the other side.
An overwhelming sensory balm flows from the spaces where we intersect with the natural world. It was naturalist and writer John Burroughs who said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” His words resonate as I drive away to find the Hôtel Fairmont Le Château Montebello, an enormous cedar log cabin estate not far from Parc Omega.
I’m here to soak in a little more of Québec’s nature, and I begin with a few early laps in the hotel’s heated pool. The 75-foot stretch of water sparkles beneath an elevated ceiling in a separate log structure accessed from the main hotel via an underground passageway. The massive, beautifully painted ceiling above the water’s surface is supported by a series of artfully decorated totem poles.
Later, settled by the fire in the spa’s Salon La Clairière (which translates to “forest clearing”), there’s time to contemplate the wooded surroundings before a maple sugar body scrub. The treatment is delivered with a decadent helping of Bio-Maple compound, an antioxidant powerhouse drawn from maple tree resin.
The last stop on my wild wellness tour is The Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa in the tiny riverside town of Wakefield. The old mill-turned-lodge features a pounding river coursing through a forest next to the stone hotel building, with outdoor hot tubs constructed with unobstructed views of the cascading water of McLaren Falls. It’s completely mesmerizing.
As darkness descends, I leave the small Spa Eau Vive to warm myself in the red cedar sauna by the river and to soak in the water of the jetted hot pool beneath a silvery waning moon. Before leaving for the drive back to Ottawa and my flight back to the real world, there’s time for a yoga class on the riverside terrace and a Dream Weaver massage next to the waterfall, presented within the spa forest in a canopy tent. The water is the only necessary soundtrack, punctuated by the calls of birds going about their business in the tall trees: nature’s healing powers beautifully in attendance.
Hôtel Fairmont Le Château Montebello
392 Rue Notre Dame
Montebello, QC J0V 1L0
tel 1 819 423 6341
16 Chemin Nordik Chelsea, QC J9B 2P7
tel 1 819 827 1111
The Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa
60 Chemin Mill Wakefield, QC J0X 3G0
tel 1 819 459 1838
Imagine waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, a light breeze dancing on your face, and views so beautiful you begin to think it is a simulation. The United Kingdom is teeming with unique accommodations that will please your eyes. Check out these stays with stunning views on your next U.K. adventure.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
AdventureWomen, the travel company specializing in adventure tours for women, announced a partnership with African Wildlife Foundation. The organization supports the conservation of Africa’s wildlife through education, community development and sustainability projects. As part of the partnership, the two organizations will host a women’s safari to Zimbabwe in May 2022.
Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, where innovative wellness and balanced indulgence come together in one extraordinary beachfront setting, recently partnered with First Responders Children’s Foundation, a non-profit organization providing financial support to children and families of first responders. This partnership formed the Carillon Cares: Summer of Heroes offers, including a donation to the foundation for each stay booked, which supports giving back to those who fought on the front lines during the pandemic.
The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.
Although much changed in the past year, Cancún still has the joie de vivre we need right now after months of cabin fever — even with safety measures in place. In fact, the first half of 2021 may be a good time to rediscover Mexico’s home-grown Caribbean resort town in a slower, more relaxed mode that contrasts its rollicking “spring break” reputation of old. One place to take in Cancún at its best is JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, a mile up from the convergence of night clubs, chain restaurants, souvenir emporiums and shopping malls along Avenida Kukulkan.
June marks Pride Month, largely credited to bisexual activist Brenda Howard who organized Gay Pride Week and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade in 1970, one year after the Stonewall Riots. The parade eventually become the New York City Pride March, leading to Pride Month and similar parades and marches around the world.
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