It’s early Saturday morning and, as the mist begins to clear and the crisp fall air quickens our senses, there’s no better place to spend a day than on Bota Bota, Montreal’s floating spa.
Unique in its sense of place and history, the site of the Bota Bota spa-sur-l’eau began its life as a local ferryboat named the Arthur Cardin. It later became a showboat that operated for a number of years before being purchased by the Emond family in 2008 and anchored to the city of Montreal’s Old Port, with the goal of turning into a local spa. Jean Pelland of Sid Lee Architecture was hired to transform the 25,000 square feet and 678 portholes into a one-of-a kind floating spa and restaurant.
When it opened, Bota Bota topped the charts for its ingenuity, ambiance and incredible city views. With a layout that consists of five decks, 21 treatment rooms, saunas and a eucalyptus steam bath, as well as outdoor whirlpools/showers and patio gardens, it’s a must-visit bucket-list destination for locals and tourists alike.
Before my massage, I’m greeted on the Sunshine Deck for a 15-minute steam bath. I’m told that this first step of the Nordic water circuit will raise my body temperature, dilate my pores and flush out toxins.
Next, it’s a courageous dip (head included!) into a cold bath. Now my heart is pumping and my circulation invigorated. The final step, and my favourite, involves stretching out in the relaxation area, closing my eyes and letting myself get swept away by the gentle rocking of the river. Yes, I’m floating!
For the ultimate thermal experience, it’s suggested that I repeat this hot, cold and relaxation sequence three or four times. I manage it only twice before it’s time to pack myself up and get ready for what turns out to be a fabulous massage. I’m totally chilled. All that’s left is to enjoy a healthy lunch in Bota Bota’s spa restaurant, run by Michelin Star Chef Eric Gonzalez, and bike back to the hotel.