Nordik Group’s $11-million Thermëa spa opens Jan. 15

It’s being billed as a spa unlike any other in the city, featuring year-round outdoor pools and hot tubs, an outdoor waterfall, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and a series of cedar saunas and steam rooms, connected by heated outdoor paths.

When Nordik Group’s $11-million Thermëa spa opens Jan. 15 on the city-owned Crescent Drive Golf Course, it will also be the latest addition to Winnipeg’s growing list of world-class tourist attractions, said one local tourism industry official.

The 50,000-square-foot Winnipeg spa is designed after the Nordik Group’s flagship nature spa in the Gatineau Hills outside of Ottawa, which Tourism Winnipeg senior vice-president Chantal Sturk-Nadeau visited two or three years ago.

“It’s very unique and very much has that feel of not being North American,” Sturk-Nadeau said in an interview.

She said the Fort Garry Hotel’s Ten Spa also has a European feel, but it’s an indoor spa, while Thermëa is focused on providing an outdoor spa experience.

“So… it has a very different feel than Ten Spa.”

Sturk-Nadeau said the new spa has the potential to attract spa enthusiasts from as far as 1,600 kilometres away. It’s also another attraction, along with places such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Journey to Churchill polar bear exhibit, that local officials can tout when trying to lure national meetings and conventions to the city.

“It gives them another good reason to come here or to extend their stay here. So it’s going to be another great addition to the marketing mix.”

The Nordik Group touts Thermëa as a new tourist draw for the city.

“We are so proud to open in Winnipeg because the region has so many interesting and unique tourist attractions,” said Daniel Gingras, Nordik’s co-owner and vice-president of marketing. Gingras is a co-owner of the Winnipeg spa along with Nordik president Martin Paquette and Frederic Jenni, who will be overseeing the operations here.

“We believe that in addition to providing another distinctive tourism experience, the spa will also contribute to the well-being of local residents.”

Nordik officials are hoping the idea of enjoying a spa experience any time of the year in a natural setting will strike a chord with Winnipeggers.

“When you’re in our pools you are outdoors, surrounded by trees and stars, if you want to go there at night,” spokeswoman Marianne Trotier said in an interview.

Thermëa is opening about 15 months later than expected, and with a final price tag that’s about $4 million higher than was first thought. Trotier said that’s because Nordik decided to add some additional features, including a big, log-cabin-style relaxation centre and a two-tier, 80-seat restaurant.

She noted the Winnipeg spa, which will employ more than 100 people, is about the same size as the Chelsea spa when it opened in 2005. However, the Chelsea complex has doubled in size since then and is now the largest spa in North America, she added.

Asked if the Winnipeg spa might one day be that big, Trotier said, “It’s not in the plans right now, but that doesn’t mean it will never be.”

Another unique aspect of the new spa is it’s situated on the edge of a nine-hole golf course.

“Combining outdoor activities and a spa is just the best,” Trotier said, noting it gives customers the option of going golfing, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, depending on the season, and then coming to spa to eat or relax.

Thermëa’s restaurant and patio will be for the exclusive use of spa customers, which means it won’t be open to the general public. That’s because most spa customers will likely be dressed in bathrobes when they go to the restaurant, Trotier said, and might feel uncomfortable seated next to non-members dressed in regular street clothes.

“The combination of the two types (of customers) wouldn’t really mix.”

The spa doesn’t have any on-site lodgings or meeting/reception rooms. But it will be partnering with some local hotels that can provide those services, Trotier said.