Has the chill of November given you the winter blues?
I know I have ! Thus this past weekend I warmed and pampered by tired body at Bota Bota, a unique boat - turned contemporary spa that is comfortably nestled in the heart of the Old Port of Montreal.
Since the beginning of November I have been layering clothes in an attempt to keep warm from the chilly winter air, but at Bota Bota, I proudly wore my bikini and sat quietly admiring the Montreal panorama in a steaming, open air hot tub. I felt incredibly relaxed and it was great to take a much needed break from the daily rush and stress of the outside world.
The brain child of Sid Lee Architecture, since 2010, the agency has successfully transformed the once retro ferryboat - turned - floating - theater into a bustling contemporary spa on the St. Lawrence. I found the indoors / outdoors vibe at Bota Bota to be quite unique and I loved how the spa offers their guests a multi-sensory experience that is inspired by the aquatic environment, the maritime world, the ship’s rich history and the surrounding Montreal landscape.
The spa facilities are layered over 5 decks complete with a reception area, café, baths, saunas and massage rooms with most of the relaxation services situated on the top two levels. I personally liked how the higer levels are quieter than the main levels, but I did find the stairs to be a bit of a challenge when I just exited the cold baths !
I tried their therapeutic “water circuit", - a self-guided tour of the various hot and cold tubs scattered amongst the upper decks, which involves a series of repetitive cycles of hot and cold treatments.
I started my circuit by relaxing in one of the hot steam rooms and saunas, then plunging myself in cold water to "shock my body" close my pores and boost my immune system. To complete the cycle I headed to one of the relaxation areas to read and relax for around 20 minutes or until I was ready to repeat the entire cycle.
I visited the spa with my mother who preferred to skip the shock of the cold baths and just directly head for the circular relaxation windows below:
I am a stickler for cleanliness and I was happy to learn that the water is filtered constantly. I also observed a cleaning crew mopping floors and wiping benches regularly. Damp towels can be swapped as often as you would like to stay warm and fresh.
The only downside to our visit was that regardless of an identifying numerical tag sewn on the sleeve, my bathrobe kept getting taken by other clients. My advice would be that it is best not to bring any valuables with you during your stay and to leave i-pods, money, wallets and other items in the downstairs lockers. Carrying money becomes obsolete as any food or beverages purchases can be directly billed to your account with your electronic locker chip.
Even though we chose to only do the water circuit, we learned that massages, manicures and facial treatments are also on offer at the spa and are pretty exceptional from what I have heard from the other guests.
Personal highlights include: gazing out at the illuminated Old Port waterfront in the front exterior hot tub, soaking in the essential oils in the steam room, teetering on the verge of a power nap in one of the swinging hammocks, oversize beanbags and circular windows.
Overall my general impression of Bota Bota was resoundingly positive: The spa is a clean, comfortable and relaxing haven for any urban dweller or curious spa lover. If you are anything like me, you'll leave wondering why the rest of "daily life" can't mimic more the time spent relaxing at Bota Bota...
For more information on the water circuit, treatments and packages please visit: