New and exciting changes are coming to Ottawa's Rideau Centre. Last week, the cosmopolitan city welcomed high-end American retailer Nordstrom, which is great news for fashionable cross-border shoppers already familiar with the brand. The department store replaced departing luxury retailer Holt Renfrew. Well heeled Ottawans will also be pleased by the recent announcement that Tiffany and Co., Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman will be opening stores in Rideau Centre, slated for late 2015.

News of the incoming retailer had had the city buzzing in anticipation. In February, press and media officials had been invited for a sneak peak of the 157,000 square foot space Nordstrom now occupies. Staff worked feverishly to dress the windows and artfully arrange product displays for the March 6th grand opening. 

The Nordstrom building was designed like no other in the city. Glossy white floors and fixtures are awash in natural light provided by an impressive wall of windows on the building's facade. The interior boasts a contemporary design and has a light and airy aesthetic. With such a clean, chic design, it's impossible for pedestrians not to admire the new Nordstrom. Located on the ground floor is the beauty department where beauty concierges are on hand to demonstrate products and provide advice. In addition to cosmetic and fragrance retailers, the beauty department houses a salon and spa with services not limited to hair, make up and grooming. The second floor hosts the full-service bistro restaurant, Bazille, which features both an espresso and cocktail bar. Further, it has its own outdoor patio, perfect for socializing, depositing non-shopping friends or resting fatigued feet on a well deserved shopping break

The womenswear section features everything from fitness wear to evening gowns, divided into 'lifestyle' sections for a diverse shopping experience. Alongside an extensive brand selection that is sure to provide hours of browsing opportunities, are seven professional stylists, on hand to help shoppers find the best style to suit their personal needs. And if it wasn't already apparent that Nordstrom knows how to curate an outstanding shopping experience, the department will feature 'girlfriends dressing rooms.' Now instead of shuffling between change rooms, magnetic curtains easily allow social shoppers to try on outfits in close proximity, with privacy and convenience. Moreover, the entire floor is outfitted with plush, modern seating areas for shoppers to take a few moments off their feet and more carefully consider their selections.

The menswear department has a similar "lifestyle" layout as womens wear, but will have the extra facets of luxury that has made the Nordstrom brand world renown. Customers are not only able to browse suit styles from Gucci, Armani, and Canali but the department will also offer made-to-measure suits and a small in-house alterations service to provide for the perfect tailored fit. In a sort of homage to Mad Men, Nordstrom provides classic shoe shine booths in their men's department where customers can stop in before work to get a world-class shine job.

Although extensively positioned as a high-end retailer, Nordstrom entered the Ottawa market with a mix of mid-to-high-end brands that aim to make the store accessible to all shoppers. Both the men's and women's departments offer plus size options and of course, carry a wide offering of brands sure to impress both the casual and discerning shopper. 

It is value added amenities like shoe shine booths, professional stylists and beauty concierges, as well as a generous return policy (irregardless of condition or length of time passed since purchase) that has made Nordstrom famous for customer service. Ottawa is about to discover why Nordstrom is one of the most prized department stores in the United States. It is not just because of on point merchandising, but their conscious commitment to their customers' shopping experience which will make them a welcomed competitor in the city.

Nordstrom's arrival could not have come at a better time, as Ottawa Tourism recently introduced their Girlfriends Getaway package last December that showcases the capital city's historical, cultural, culinary and natural highlights, with options to fit all budgets. What better way to accent signature spa treatments at Nordik Spa-Nature or the chocolate tour at C'est Bon Epicurean Adventures offered in this new package than with some shopping?