Chair of the board for Leading Spas of Canada, Kathryn Gallagher wants to change the industry for the better.
This past May, Groupe Nordik announced it was building a $50 million nature spa near Edmonton, Alberta. When construction finishes in 2021, the Parkland County–based spa will become the company’s fourth location, after spas in Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario. It’s the next step in a strategy that includes opening 10 spas across North America by 2027, and a goal of propelling Groupe Nordik forward as a leading international wellness spa; the company continues to look for additional opportunities both in Canada and abroad. Groupe Nordik is on a growth trajectory with over 300,000 annual guests since first opening Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, Quebec; followed by Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature, in Winnipeg, the only Nordic spa in the Canadian Prairies; and subsequently, a third spa in Whitby, Ontario. The company’s Founder and CEO, Martin Paquette, was named business personality of the year by Le Droit and Radio-Canada.
How did you end up in the spa sector?
I enjoyed sports and once dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player. At age 18, I was sure of one thing: To reach my goals, I had to find pleasure in the effort it would take. From age 20, I took my first steps into the world of business while working as an educator in rehabilitation programs; then, as a police officer. My entrepreneurial instinct is truly the source of my motivation, and the field of health and wellness led me towards what would become the largest spa in North America.
Where do you find professional inspiration?
I am always on the lookout for new concepts, and I draw inspiration from what others in this field are doing around the world. Surrounded by experts, I am always innovating to push Nordik ever further. For example, I am actively involved with TEC Canada, a group for CEOs seeking to exchange information on self-improvement and expand on our knowledge. To fulfill my primary mission of making a difference in people’s lives, my company is socially involved with community organizations, such as a food bank, the Quebec Cancer Foundation and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. I get inspired by others, but I don’t copy – I innovate!
What are your long- and short-term priorities?
Currently, we are leading multiple projects and gaining momentum by identifying business opportunities, getting involved and bringing promising, large-scale projects to life. Our goal is to develop 10 spas across North America by 2027. The objective is to push the industry to new heights by offering leading and innovative experiences in a way that will transform the company into an international leader in Nordic-style spas.
What sets Groupe Nordik apart from other spas?
Over the years, Groupe Nordik has developed a vast knowledge and expertise in the spa domain, and we now wish to share this knowledge through partnerships in others’ projects, while always focused on our mandate to improve people’s overall wellness. What we bring to partnership is our mentorship, consultation and guidance; support in developing a health and wellness offer; a full range of packaged IT solutions specifically designed for the spa industry; business solutions for optimal spa management; organization, recruitment and management of human resources; plus marketing and communications support and general spa management.
Why is innovation so important?
Innovation and new experiences are what sets an organization apart and help to determine success. To succeed, you must be passionate about the work and committed to your projects. Since Nordik’s adventure began, the team has proven itself as an industry trailblazer through its commitment and mission. We have continued to innovate and evolve by introducing unique relaxation experiences, such as numerous saunas, each with their unique features; Aufguss (or infusion) rituals; many types of restaurant offers on site such as bistro, lounge and Biergarden; relaxation spaces that take their inspiration from beautiful, comfortable shelters all around the world such as Mongolian yurts, heated stone beds from Asia, or our Källa treatment – an epsom salt floatation pool inspired by the Dead Sea; and more, to eventually become the largest spa in North America.
Did you exceed your goals?
When I first built the spa in Chelsea, the intention of creating a village, such as what the spa became, was not on my radar. Now, I have a team behind me that is as passionate and dedicated as I am. We distinguish ourselves not only through our innovative and authentic experiences, but also through the atmosphere we create for our guests. Everything is done for the purpose of achieving the “Nordik way” with warmth and authenticity. We are driven by social and ecological awareness. We are committed to staying at the forefront of technological developments, and we strive to continue improving the efficiency of Nordik’s facilities. I would never have thought I would work with such dedicated, professional and amazing people to make my vision become reality.