Claudine met us at Scandinave Spa, the urban spa tucked away in the heart of Old Montréal, and when we say “tucked away”, we mean it. It is an oasis, a shelter away from the outside world and our electronic devices, and work discussions. Here time stops, and stress is left behind. Claudine Duperre has been the marketing director of this establishment for the past three years. Their banner initiatives, which have taken hold in places across the country that you can only dream of, are a mark of minimalism and quality: if silence is golden, relaxation is platinum.
While spa services in general are trending ever more diverse, Scandinave’s plan is to run counter to that movement. “Here, we promise quiet to our clients, and it’s pretty hard to make good on that with a nail salon and alcohol bar,” the thirty-year-old begins. “It’s a true luxury today to be able to cut yourself off from the world, and that’s exactly what we guarantee our clients here.” No excess, no decorations striking the eye, its Scandinavian DNA gives the spa a clean, relaxing look. “’Less is more’ is really what we’re aiming for,” the young, energetic woman underlines. Everything in the spa was carefully chosen by going through qualified personnel, from the products to the furnishings. Nothing was left up to chance. The eucalyptus calling from Saint-Sulpice road just near the spa itself is a sign of relaxation.
More than 70 massage therapists work at Scandinave – some have been there for 10 years, since the business opened – and the whole staff is at the client’s disposal, from arrival to departure. “We try to remove the distance between us and our clientele,” she explains. They have recently started presenting less formal in their marketing and advertising material. “That’s really it. No need for complication, we get to know you, we’ll give you what you need, and it’s just simple.”
“We work with local brands, and they bring us real value,” Claudine explains. “We offer Mimi & Hammer bathing suits, an Old Montréal brand. We also partner with the Saint-Sulpice Hotel, and Hotel Monville. We serve smoothies prepared from recipes that are exclusive to Scandinave in Old Montréal, and only with seasonal fruits and vegetables. For shower products, we use Oneka and Iodine bio,” she finishes.
For activities like bachelorette parties, Scandinave teams up with l’Atelier coiffure et esthétique to split the relaxation and beauty responsibilities. “When we get together, and work as one business, we all benefit from the client traffic. We also put a big emphasis on working with our neighbours, like for example, over our 10 years of business, we’ve worked with Maison Christian Faure and Chocosina.” Familiar with the SDC network happy hours, Claudine has a whole network of business partners who have proven themselves to be a part of this historic neighbourhood.
Through the years, spa clientele has grown. With tailored specials, businessmen from other countries, women, and students have become more numerous. But even Old Montréal inhabitants get their own special on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “Today, taking care of oneself has become a social necessity, and people are not willing to give up these moments of rejuvenation,” the director notes. “In the context of performance at work, as well as in school, Scandinave has adapted and responded to this need without all the unnecessary fluff.”
The spa updated its furnishings and remodeled a part of its premises this summer in order to further increase its available massage space – demonstrating that this astonishing tone of simplicity can attract, no contest!
Hyper-connectivity, the arrival of millennials to the workforce, and the changes our society has undergone are just some of the factors that have turned businesses to start thinking more about their workers’ health. With their massages and hydrotherapy offerings, Scandinave has well understood this: “We are fitting into this niche,” Claudine explains. “We are in the midst of developing our range of deals for businesses.”
Whether the employer pays for all or part, be it for bath access or massage discounts, “particularly if the company has insurance for its employees, we will find the best solution for the SMEs that approach us.” You don’t need to be a multinational enterprise to take care of your employees at a cost that is often less than you would think. And it’s a choice you should take, to prevent separation or burn-out. “It’s a fun way of integrating well-being and health into the workplace,” Claudine emphasises. “It’s also an excellent way of separating yourself from the competition in a labour-scarce market.
When a business turns to Scandinave, it’s a turn-key solution, and relaxation starts at the agreement. “We really want to simplify the establishment and communication of rates to employees,” Claudine assures us. We have worked on internal communication packages for the business as an engaging way of announcing this offer to employees! This is the other advantage of not offering aesthetic services: we are aiming for a more “serious” image, which allows us to work well in professional settings.”
“There is no obligatory time limit on our premises,” Claudine mentions. “I would say expect spending a minimum of 45 minutes, as that’s typically as long as it takes to take a full lap around the baths. But between us, two hours for two circuits and a little break is ideal, I think,” she let me know. And the marketing director made sure to say: “You need to find time to let your hair down, and let go for real: that’s how you relax.”
And when it comes to questions on activities and workshops, Claudine is on it: “We are continually doing special activities every so often, but we especially like early morning meditation with Sophie Marfolini. We don’t want to bother our regulars, nor our commitment to silence,” expounds Claudine, who also wishes to remain open and not box herself into too strict a regimen.