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 mustvisit 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. botabota.ca Hop on a bike Getting to Bota Bota, Spa-sur-L’eau by bicycle is the healthy way to go. You can even take advantage of this opportunity to explore the bike path along the Lachine Canal and end your day in the relaxing baths! Once you arrive at the corner of McGill and Rue de la Commune, cross over to the riverside and enter the promenade of the Old Port of Montreal. Fifty metres to the left of La Maison des Eclusiers you will see a wooden footbridge, which leads you to the Bota Bota garden. Bicycle racks are located on the other side of the footbridge, underneath the railroad bridge. Around town Visit Bota Bota when you’re in town for Montréal en Lumière (February 22 to March 4). This annual event is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. This year’s crowdpleasing line-up includes gastronomy, music, theatre and art in the city’s downtown Quartier des Spectacles. On March 3rd, visitors can also enjoy Montreal’s version of Nuit Blanche with free activities for all ages, including a Ferris wheel, zip line and curling. Food is always a festival focus, with elite chefs converging from around the world. montrealenlumiere.com/en
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