Work on Finnish spa set to begin this week

When Norman and Robin Dupas had their epiphany about bringing a Finnish spa concept to Winnipeg nearly five years ago, never in their wildest dreams did they envision launching it in such a dynamic environment.

The combination of high-profile construction projects, the return of the NHL and newfound civic pride and confidence has the husband-and-wife team eager to get the shovel in the ground at Crescent Drive Golf Course, off South Drive in Fort Garry.

Quebec-based Nordik Spa-Nature will open its spa at the site late next year, with the couple serving as project promoters and investors. The nearly $7-million project will employ more than 110 people.

“We knew investment-wise that Winnipeg is a phenomenal place to invest,” Norman Dupas said. “Tonnes of people are investing here. A lot of people have realized this is a great place to do business.”

Martin Paquette, Nordik’s CEO, couldn’t believe the group’s good fortune, either.

“I’ve never been as positive and sure about my investment as I am today,” he said, noting within days of Nordik completing a leasing deal with the City of Winnipeg, the press conference announcing the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg was held.

“It’s a wave that you feel here,” he said.

Nordik’s concept includes dry saunas, cold waterfalls and temperate pools, steam baths, outdoor hot baths, outdoor fireplaces and relaxation areas. Paquette said while spas are often thought to be for the wealthy, people can drop in at Nordik for $45 a day. Services such as massages or other body treatments are extra.

Civic dignitaries and economic-development executives said the Nordik investment is a continuation of the momentum built up by the likes of the new stadium being constructed for the CFL’s Blue Bombers, a new downtown hotel, the IKEA development and millions of dollars of investment at both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.

Mayor Sam Katz said it takes a rare commitment for entrepreneurs who have been successful in one part of the country to expand to another.

“It’s nice to see a Quebec-based company bringing something new to our city. We’ve earned the reputation as the best city in Canada to invest in,” he said.

Golfers need not worry anything will happen to the nine-hole, par-three course in Fort Garry. It will be open for business next spring. Paquette said the rundown clubhouse will be torn down today and a new one will be built adjacent to the spa. One kitchen will serve both facilities during the summer.

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