Experience a winter spa getaway that embraces the Canadian chill.

the polar bears club

As many Canadians attest, our winters are not for the faint of heart. And while making the most of the frigid season with outdoor activities may help make it more bearable—think snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing and tubing—sometimes taking in the beauty of mounds of snow and subzero temperatures is best done from, well, a warm, relaxing environment.

Enter the Polar Bear’s Club, located less than 45 minutes south of Montreal. Taking a page from the Nordic spa experience, where intense heat is followed by plunging into fresh, chilling cold to minimize stress, boost circulation and eliminate toxins, this spa takes the best of Old Man Winter and couples it with outdoor hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas and more. Maybe the snowy season isn’t so bad after all?

The Winter Spa Experience

Set against the backdrop of the stunning Laurentian Mountains, this resort is brimming with charm, rustic elegance and options for relaxation. Quebec’s first Nordic spa, it’s over 50 years old and features everything from steam rooms and saunas to outdoor hot tubs and the nearby (sectioned off) lake, perfect for brave polar bear-wannabes. And, unlike its name suggests, the destination is not private but, in fact, open to the public. On-site, guests will love walking the Japanese style wooden boardwalks that run the full length and breadth of the spa and resort, particularly when fluffy snowflakes add to the picturesque outdoor ambience.

Guests opting to stay overnight are in for a treat. Lauded for its ultra-soothing, stripped-down simplicity, the decor of each loft and villa is designed to ensure that guests are able to reap the benefits of the exhilarating/calming Nordic spa experience. Rustic, cabin-chic style accented by a woodburning fireplace set the relaxing tone, and cozy terrycloth robes help guests feel at ease in their home away from home.

the polar bears club piedmont quebec

Spa Treatments to Try

Should gazing at mountains from the comfort of an outdoor hot tub or walking around the boardwalk in flip-flops and a bathrobe get old, pampering sessions are just a few steps away. This vast spa, winner of the Grands Prix du Tourisme Desjardin Laurentides 2010, offers a range of treatments, including Swedish massage, hot shell massage, prenatal massage, reflexology, body wraps, body exfoliation and signature facials.

The Best Time To Book

The resort is wildly popular with tourists and locals alike, so consider booking your visit throughout the week to avoid bigger crowds and make the most of the quiet mountainside experience. The resort offers many amenities on-site but often at an added cost. Plan to pack a bathing suit, sandals, a bathrobe, towels and a water bottle to minimize unnecessary fees. Though dining isn't offered at the resort, two nearby villages—Sainte-Adèle and Saint-Sauveur—offer many culinary options, as well as shopping destinations. Certain lofts also offer built-in kitchens that guests can use.Though the area reserved for polar bear dips in Rivière à Simon is sectioned off, it’s not a cause for concern for swimmers. While measures have been taken to ensure bather safety at all times, resort management notes that the water current is only strong enough to be a concern during the spring thaw.

the polar bears club resort piedmont quebec

Piedmont and the Surrounding Area

If exploring the neighbourhood is up your alley, pack your warmest outdoor winter gear and head to Glissades des Pays d’en Haut (glissade.ca/en) in Piedmont. You’ll find snow tube runs and slopes to satisfy even the biggest thrill seeker, along with many designed for those more inclined to gentle rides. Then drive five minutes to charming Saint-Sauveur for a meal at Restaurant La Bohème (restoboheme.com). A mashup of French cuisine with seafood and steak dishes, it’s acclaimed for perfectly prepared dishes, a fantastic wine list and warm, welcoming service.

THE RESORT: Polar Bear’s Club, polarbearsclub.ca/en
LOCATION: 930 Boulevard des Laurentides, Piedmont, Quebec
COST: Overnight loft rates start at $250 per night; overnight villa rates start at $300 per night. Daily spa access is $45 and offers admittance to Rivière Simon, five thermal therapeutic baths, two waterfalls, one steam bath, two dry saunas, two cold pools and an array of relaxation areas.