Soaking and Soothing at Canada's Scandinave Spas

In Montreal, spa-goers can relax in the hot tub or under the thermal waterfall.

Combining age-old thermal tradition in a stunning natural setting, Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant (Quebec, Canada) made its debut in 1999. It was founded by Pierre Brisson and Benoît Berthiaume, who possess more than 35 years of experience in project management, marketing, and communications in various recreation and ski and resort centers. Unfortunately, the concept was so cutting-edge for the time that they received little financial support from the banks. Instead, they had to make due with a few grants from young entrepreneurs, such as former NHL players Vincent Damphousse and Eric Desjardins, who became shareholders in Gestion Riviere du Diable, the company responsible for developing Scandinave Spa (multiple locations) and managing it. Based upon the success and lessons learned from the Mont-Tremblant location, the brand expanded with the Blue Mountain spa opening in Ontario in 2006, the Old Montreal spa opening in 2009, and the Whistler spa in British Columbia opening in 2010.

According to Deana Prud’homme, director of Mont-Tremblant and vice president of Gestion Riviere du Diable, each location employs between 80 to 100 massage therapists and approximately 50 employees for the various departments. Here, she shares the secrets to the brand’s success.

The outdoor pools at Whistler are an enticing draw to spa-goers.

[Q+A]

To what do you attribute Scandinave Spa’s Success? 
Our treatment and connection to our guests is vitally important. After all, the spa is a personal experience. Our brand foundation of hydrotherapy and relaxation, no talking or digital devices on site, and cleanliness are paramount to feeling revitalized and at peace. 

Why do you think the business has been able to succeed where others have failed? 
Authentic and inspiring, our spas continue a thousand-year tradition of Scandinavian baths in a calm, natural environment that is second to none. We believe this is what contributes to our success, our authenticity, and adherence to the original vision of the brand. It’s very important for us to stay real to the Scandinavian traditions when it comes to our experiences. Another contributing factor to our success is our staff. We see it daily in our comment cards. Our customer service is something that will turn a guest experience from great to amazing. There is a team of dedicated and passionate people working to provide excellence for which Scandinave is known.

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Soothing massages at Mont-Tremblant. // Photography: DFMotion 

What response have you received from your quiet policy? 
The responses we receive are positive if guests are aware of the policy before going on site. However, large groups can occasionally get upset if told to be quiet, but we actively campaign to make sure guests are aware of the value and benefits of silence. It’s important for us to explain the reason for silence and not just to enforce the policy. That being said, we usually get an overwhelming positive response about the silence policy, and repeat guests really appreciate the fact that we enforce it. Even if it may be difficult at first to spend a couple of hours in silence without a digital device, it really makes a difference in the quality of relaxation. What if we recharged ourselves as often as we recharged our phones?

What have been the biggest challenges in expanding and growing the business? 
Balancing a peaceful environment with demand during busy periods.

Visitors can take advantage of the saunas, such as this one at Mont-Tremblant. // Photography: DFMotion 

How were the locations chosen? 
The three nature locations were chosen to be near ski resorts, which have a culture of activities and wellness as well as having beautiful natural surroundings. The spas’ unique settings attract tourists and locals alike who come to relax 365 days a year.

How do the locations vary? 
Our Montreal spa is located in a heritage building in the historic old port of Montreal, which just celebrated its 375th anniversary. It has a very modern and urban feeling. Our natural locations have similar features and design. They are nestled into the local environment—Whistler being in the Pacific Coast Mountains, Mont-Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains, and Blue Mountain being on the Niagara Escarpment next to Georgian Bay.

How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit? 
We offer a unique and memorable experience that truly resonates with our guests.

The Mont-Tremblant location features a similar aesthetic to the other locales.

How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business? 
Digital marketing is a core part of our marketing reach and connection. Each location manages its own social media to keep in contact with our guests and be 100 percent genuine.

How do you keep the treatment menu fresh and relevant? 
We are not a beauty spa, so we keep our treatments simple. We don’t feel any need to change traditional massage therapy techniques.  

What plans for the future do you have? 
We plan to open new locations. 
 

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