Getting much needed time away
from the hustle and bustle of the city is just what everyone needs from time to time. This July, I was fortunate to spend my vacation away time in Quebec, a short plane hop or leisurely road trip with friends from either New York or Toronto.
Vacation Day One: Nordik Spa-Nature
The first stop on our summer getaway vacation was at Nordik Spa-Nature, situated in beautiful Chelsea, QC, no more than a 15-minute jaunt from Ottawa. The largest spa in North America, Norkik-Spa is known for offering a stimulating and rejuvenating experience, as well as providing phenomenal accommodations, offering two exquisite lodges, both with rustic architecture, insanely amazing views, and refined décor to unpack and lay your head. Now, deciding whether to spend time in your lodge or at the spa right next to it, can be challenging! Numerous outdoor baths, saunas, a meditation room, and an amazing infinity pool overlooking the bucolic Quebec landscape, make you never want to leave. And of course, my favourite part of the spa, the Källa pool! The large floating salt-water pool containing 10 tons of Epsom salt is only the second of its kind in the entire world, the other being in Switzerland, making this unique spot the perfect getaway. But our vacation didn’t stop there!
Vacation in Outaouais
Next, on our way to Montebello, we enter the rustic Outaouais Region, just over an hour east of Ottawa, and make a pit-stop for the world’s best poutine and burger at Delice Champetre. This 'Casse-croûte gourmet' sources all their ingredients locally and we could definitely taste the difference! It was the perfect experience. After all, a great vacation needs to have great food, right? And to add to this amazing experience, Daniel, the owner himself, welcomed us like family, making sure we all enjoyed our delicious meals.
Enroute we checked in with the local wildlife at Parc Omega. The park lets you discover the wildlife of Canada from the comfort of your car. In addition to the car tour, there are also two leisurely walking trails where you can stroll and feed carrots to deer and farm animals. Be warned though, I was totally “attacked” by hungry goats, creating a feeding frenzy for my bag of carrots! For those who may want to stay a while, the park has a large picnic area and comfy accommodations should you dare sleep near the bears and wolves!
Vacation in Kenauk
The next stop was just north of Montebello (still within the green Outaouais) at a magical place called Kenauk, a 100 square mile, 65,000 acre protected wilderness domain originally granted by the King of France (it’s that old!). Kenauk is one of North America's largest and longest-established private reserves with more than 70 lakes within its borders and a pristine jewel in the crown of the Outaouais region. There are a handful of chalets that you can rent and are mostly in very remote, tranquil locations on your own private lake. You will not see another person for the full duration of your vacation. This year, we opted for the new Chalet Wilson with all the modern conveniences, but still, a completely rustic feel. The lake was not private but still quiet and perfect for us to kick back, relax and enjoy our vacation downtime. This is my 8th continuous year visiting Kenauk - it has definitely become an annual vacation tradition. We love how this is the one week a year where we reconnect with nature and for the most part - disconnect from the world. Most of the reserve has weak or no cell phone reception (trust me, it’s a good thing and you will be okay!), focusing you to disconnect and enjoy each other’s company.
As always, it is hard to say goodbye to Kenauk and indeed Quebec, but we know we will be back for another vacation adventure soon.
Barry Hoy AKA Asianmapleleaf is a Canadian travel, lifestyle and food blogger living in New York and a regular contributor to followsummer. You can follow Barry on his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages, enjoying his daily adventures, vacation destinations, unique experiences, and culinary exploits.