OTTAWA -- Dominic Morin says opening his spa was tough in a global pandemic, but Koena Spa and Nordic Bath opened its doors Monday, despite the difficult economic landscape. 

Morin designed and managed the 40,000 square foot spa, located at 1172 chemin Aylmer. 

“It was quite the challenge (to open during a pandemic), but we have done our best to keep everyone safe,” he said. 

Construction started last June, but it came to a halt for nearly two months this spring when the province of Quebec shut down construction work because of the pandemic. 

When it was time to open, Morin says the business had to make changes to its design and layout to allow for physical distancing. He had to add sanitization stations, touchless electronic bracelets, and decals on the floor. 

Masks are mandatory and must be worn when customers move around the spa, but when customers are seated, are not moving, and physically distant from others, they are allowed to take them off. 

Capacity was also brought down from 308 to 200. 

“We were supposed to buy more furniture but did not because of the fact that we want to put two meters between everything. We have a lot of space here, and we are mostly outside, so it is easy to space out,” says Morin. 

Even with the challenges posed by COVID-19, Morin says the spa is an opportunity to generate money into the local economy. With more people staying at home, and fewer people travelling, Morin says this is a way to create a place for people in the Ottawa-Gatineau region to go for a “staycation.” 

He says, “It starts with the golf course, and I saw the potential with the hotel and I wanted to create like a resort and the location is incredible. And I want to tie it all together.” 

Morin has plans when more restrictions are lifted to host golf tournaments with packages at the spa and hotel. The spa will also offer after-work specials. 

Sixty new jobs were created, including three people cleaning and disinfecting at all times.