Spa Scandinave les Bains Vieux-Montreal

Stimulation for all 5 senses

The location of Spa Scandinave les Bains Vieux-Montreal couldn`t be hotter. Nestled in the heart of Old Montreal, with a view of the port, stepping through the doorway feels like you`re travelling through time from the historic stone beauty of the exterior into a sleek, ultra-modern spa designed around the ideas of refinement and discretion.

Though the original concept was to primarily cater to tourists, since opening its doors in January 2009, the spa has quickly become a mainstay for Montrealers. This was achieved by prioritizing the clients’ needs. “We know that if we create connections with our clients, meet their needs and provide real therapy, they will come back,” says Nicole Desrosiers, spa director. “With this in mind, we have more and more repeat customers. We have selected excellent therapists who focus on the clients’ needs and really ask the right questions to best understand their clients. They will mix different techniques together to create the exact experience to ultimately benefit the client.”

Easy indulgence

One way the spa caters to the needs of their local clients is by offering operating hours to work around the busy schedules of today. The doors open at 7:00 am, so people can go to the spa on their way to work. “It really helps you have a better focus for the rest of the day—many people plan spa visits on mornings before big meetings,” Desrosiers adds. “You can come in at 7:00, spend time in the baths, then have a 60-minute massage, and you’re out by 9:00. This way, we become part of our customers’ routines, their life habits—they will come weekly or monthly, as part of their overall wellbeing plan.”

To make it even more simple for clients—and creating an atmosphere of indulgence—everything, short of a bathing suit, is provided onsite. Clients are each given sandals, a robe, and towels; the showers and changing rooms have it all—shampoo, conditioner, soaps and creams (for various skin types), gels and sprays—everything from the mundane Q-tip to hair straighteners. “This way, clients can visit us without needing to carry a large bag,” Desrosiers says.

The sense of being catered to extends beyond the locker room. In the siesta lounge, a health bar, Les Courants, offers a variety of organic snacks, smoothies, and teas. Water is available and encouraged—it’s important to drink plenty after the baths and treatments.

Tantalizing experience

With the focus firmly on body and mind, this downtown paradise offers no connection to the outside world. Everything is created out of natural materials, in a natural setting, for complete relaxation.

“To fully benefit from the experience of the hot and cold baths, you must rest and relax in between, and we ensure it,” Desrosiers says. “There are no sounds, no interruptions—you just focus on yourself. We’ve created an experience targeting the five senses, complete with essential oils wafting through the ventilation system to tantalize your imagination.”

A variety of treatments are offered in 60- or 90-minute massages, or for two-person massages, including Swedish, deep tissue, and hot stone options. And they are all done with a unique touch to make the experience a magical Scandinave memory. For example, the volcanic rocks treatment finishes with cold rocks on the face to refresh.

The spa’s signature treatment is a Swedish exfoliation, which combines massage therapy, aromatherapy, and exfoliation to leave you relaxed, reenergized, and rejuvenated. At the beginning of the treatment you choose from four optional scents, each with its own unique scrub. Following 30 minutes of massage focusing on your specific needs, the scrub is then mixed in with the massage lotion for an exfoliating full-body massage for the rest of the hour. If that’s not close enough to heaven, the slow, deliberate use of hot, moist towels all over your body to rinse is absolute bliss.

Scandinavian ritual

Everyone who visits the spa is encouraged to take the time to really indulge in the experience of the baths. Scandinavian baths are both awakening and soothing, altering hot and cold, interspersed with periods of complete relaxation. At Scandinave, extra attention to details has made it a transformational ritual.

Visitors have the option of a eucalyptus steam bath, a Finnish sauna, or a hot bath beneath a silky waterfall to be enveloped in warmth to heat the body and cleanse. From there, a Nordic shower or cold plunge will stimulate the nerves and close the skin’s pores. The layout between these various features, and the natural stillness and textures of the materials used encourage a truly physical experience.

The spa of the city

Spa Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal epitomizes that which is Montreal: modern and sleek but set within historic surroundings; serenity and beauty focused on both relaxation and reenergizing. It delights all the senses and is indulgent while simultaneously therapeutic and a cornerstone for personal well-being. With a wealth of regular clients, the weeks are quite stable. All visits to the spa must be reserved in advance, even for the baths. “We limit access, to ensure an agreeable experience in a serene environment,” Desrosiers explains.

Not only does the spa offer an ideal environment to its clients, but great efforts are made to reduce the spa’s footprint. A robust recycling program is complimented by the composting of everything organic. LED lights are used throughout. And the ventilation and heat is produced by a Dry-o-tron system, which recycles the heat and is used for everything including the baths, so no extra electricity is consumed to maintain the tingling warm of the pool.

Though you need to see it to truly understand the stunning natural elegance of the spa, a growing list of awards speaks for its bold urban architecture. Most recently, the Ordre des architects du Québec awarded the spa First Prize in Commercial or Corporate Interior Design category this past January. Old Montreal is a tourist’s Mecca, for obvious reasons: fine-dining options abound, a wealth of pubs, lounges and clubs appeal to every taste, and entertainment is on virtually every corner. With Spa Scandinave in the middle of it all, the cobblestone city is a destination that can’t be beat.

Total size: 12,000 square feet
Number of rooms: 11 massage rooms; one for two-person treatments
Employees: 30 employees, 45 therapists
Product Line: Comfort Zone
Busy season: July-August, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, holidays, weekends

Heather Ednie | Spring 2011