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Spa Franklin takes a relaxing approach to growth

“We can see that the spa is starting to take off,” says Nathaniel St-Pierre, who co-owns Spa Franklin with Arielle Benny. The pair are gearing up for the start of the summer season, which sees visitors flock to their tranquil corner tucked between the fruiting orchards along the Rivière aux Outardes in Franklin.

It has been just over a year since they began accommodating clients in tiny all-season cabins in the woods located near the spa facilities. The cabins were booked over 80 per cent of the time, including more and more multiple-night stays.

“It is a great success,” says St-Pierre, of the popularity of their tiny cabins. “When you are an entrepreneur, you make business plans that you hope will work, but you try to stay conservative, so you don’t get carried away. Then when you put your plans into action, you lower your expectations,” he says, noting it has been really satisfying to see the spa expand.

St-Pierre admits their success can sometimes be challenging. The spa now employs around 30 people, and they are not always prepared for every situation. “The spa is growing, we are growing, and so is the staff, so we are always adapting,” he explains, suggesting this creates harmony because they listen to their employees and respect their contributions. “We have a golden team,” he adds, noting many have been with the spa for years.

Having the right team in place has allowed St-Pierre and Benny to develop the business quickly but in a sustainable way. “Since day one, it has been very important to go up just one step at a time,” says Benny.

“There is a huge potential for growth,” adds St-Pierre, noting they own undeveloped land on both sides of the river. Benny agrees but suggests they will focus more on fine-tuning or making small improvements that customers will notice.

The popularity of the spa is propelling their growth as well. The facility has undergone three expansions in as many years, starting during the pandemic when the business was forced to close over an extended period. “This year, you can barely tell,” he says. “We are right back at the stage we were three years ago, lacking a changing room.”

The pair also made significant investments in terms of water quality management. When they purchased the spa nine years ago, the water in their outdoor pools and baths was controlled manually. They became one of the first spas to install computerized equipment for water quality management for the outdoor spa and pools. “There is so much stability in the level of water control that it is always impeccable,” says St-Pierre, who notes the improvements also resulted in dramatic reductions to their water consumption.


Spa Franklins Arielle Benny and Nathaniel St Pierre are proud of their success having grown the number of visitors to the spa from 1500 to over 12000 in their nine years as co owners PHOTO Spa Franklin


Their attention to the environment is consistent with the sustainable values they have developed over the years. “We do everything without denaturing the beauty around us and the air,” says Benny. The tiny cabins are a case in point. Not a single mature tree was removed to build the cottages. In one case, the building was constructed so close to a tree that they added details that would allow the tree to eventually grow into the building.

As the spa is in a rural and agricultural area, Benny and St-Pierre have been careful to respect the natural environment, as well as the different municipal and provincial regulations in terms of development. St-Pierre says that while this can be time consuming, it is important to work with the levels of government. “Whether it is the town, the citizens, the surrounding communities, the MRC – we have always felt that everyone is behind us,” he adds.

Both owners were raised in the Valley and are very committed to the region. “We really want to become the tourism hub for the Haut-Saint-Laurent, to attract people and help them to discover the rest of the region,” Benny says, noting they include a list of nearby attractions and places to discover in the cabins.

“We see the spa as a bit of a catalyst,” explains St-Pierre, who feels tourism development in the area is starting to flourish.

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