Story by Bruce Sach
BROMONT, QUEBEC — The really neat thing about the Balnea Spa are the visuals. First, it’s located in a lovely mountainous area in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. It is near Bromont, a downhill ski area that is clearly visible from the main highway linking Montreal and Sherbrooke. But the Balnea Spa is cleverly hidden from the less aesthetic manifestations of civilization and modern life.
Going there is like visiting a relative or friend who made it big and piled all of his money into his house. I mean, this is design, design, design. Or maybe, I was so relaxed, and living in the moment, that I retained so much of what I saw, and not just what I felt.
First, a confession. I experienced the spa just before Easter. Is this why the signature Trinity treatment had such an impact on me?
In traditional Quebec society, the Trinity was of course always associated with the Holy Trinity.
When it comes to the Trinity massage, the Balnea’s treatment is a combination of true pampering by three therapists working in tandem. It is a three-in-one massage (for two), inspired by Hindu myths, starting off with an essential oil foot massage. In my case, the pampering prompted the tune “Killing Me Softly with This Song” to drift into my mind.
The massage evoked pure relaxation. You let yourself go, physically and mentally, so the therapists can pull, coddle and cuddle you — up, down, in, out, around, and, in one final embrace, make you feel as though you’re being lifted off the table while still on your side.
It was ultra-relaxing and you end up holding hands with your significant other who has silently enjoyed the same blissful experience on the massage bed next to you.
In a nice touch, after the massage we were offered a tiny fruit smoothie, rooibos tea and a tumbler of deliciously fresh pineapple. We ordered a local snow cider, La face cachée de la pomme from the Hemmingford winery, and soaked in the pure peace of the place.
So we imbibed in the spa lounge, although the feel is more luxury ski chalet, than spa (there is a huge fireplace and a contemporary bar). A full menu is available, but your prana is bound to be so high, you won’t likely feel any hunger.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the Scandinavian or Finnish spa experience, it’s important to understand that immersing one’s self in cold water (and the colder the better) is an integral part of the experience. The Balnea Spa has a massive outdoor waterfall where cascading water is sure to revive body and spirit. But here, the property has gone a step better. The ice-cold water spills over you into the infinity pool with an outstanding view of the Bromont-sur-lac mountains, including Mount Sutton and Jay Peak in neighbouring Vermont.
By sheer chance, as we made our way to the spa we listened on the radio to an interview with Pierre Thibault, a renowned Quebec architect. He explained that if his building and houses were properly executed, sitting inside, one feels as though one’s outside. This is precisely the feeling we experienced at the Balnea Spa, while we chilled in many of the “relaxation” areas.
Everything has been well thought through and the number of visitors is carefully monitored. Unlike some Nordic spas, everyone at Bromont seemed to respect the code of silence. The place appeared full during our visit, yet there was always room in the areas we selected. Regardless, we never felt crowded and were especially at ease in the relaxation rooms, which led to a kind of visual meditation. Examples included an intimate movie room where we watched silent nature movies (or could listen in with wireless headphones), a large room with one full wall featuring aquariums as well as other rooms with huge cushions or lounge beds. The walls were always covered with colourful, original, local art.
The Moroccan room is a series of corridors for “couples relaxation,” best enjoyed in between hot and cold experiences. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but here, cocooning is at its best. You choose the bunk bed or secret alcove, cushioned window ledge, or imitation Moroccan tearoom of your choice. Then you leave a lit, old-fashioned style lantern on the hook in front of your choice in order to tell others that it’s occupied. It is great fun. I recommend that you let your significant other go in a few minutes before you — it adds to the surprise and enjoyment.
MORE ABOUT BALNEA SPA
Address: 319 Chemin du Lac Gale, Bromont-sur-le-lac (see map below)
Phone: 1-866-734-2110 (toll free)
Massage Prices: Therapy sessions range from 60-90 minutes and cost between $90-$165.
Nearby Accommodation: Hotel St-Martin at www.lestmartinbromont.com