Every Sunday during the summer, there is a gourmet food competition at Balnea Spa in Bromont. Ten of Quebec’s best chefs create dishes for Balnea, a thermal reserve and spa in the Eastern Townships. We were lucky enough to try Chef Jean-François Vachon of Restaurant Thursday’s dish of choice that was inspired by the spa. More on that below, but let’s first chat about Diva #1’s first spa experience!
Balnea’s thermal experience includes the three step cycle of hot – cold – rest. We loved the hot cycle which is a 15-20 minute dip, and then a cold submersion (head and all) for 15-20 seconds which we weren’t fond of. Our favourite was the 15-20 minutes of rest which is the last cycle. We love resting! Especially in the sun, especially after a dip in the hot pools.
The thermal experience is 60$ from Monday to Friday, 70$ on Saturday and Sunday and for 40$ after 5 pm. If you combine your thermal experience with a treatment like a massage you also pay a reduced rate for the thermal experience. Click HERE for more details, packages and their rates. This spa is anything but typical, with hiking trails surrounding the property, a yoga studio, a pop-up blow dry trailer in the summer – expect the unexpected at Balnea Spa.
We aren’t generally very zen, we like to talk, laugh loudly and gesture obnoxiously – we’re ethnic. When the Divas were invited to Balnea Spa, it was Diva #1’s first spa experience, so she was hesitant. We aren’t good at following rules, so the hot – cold – rest cycle felt constraining and we aren’t quiet people. After being shushed a handful of times, being told that we shouldn’t use our phones and instantly regretting leaving our books in the locker … we were ready to go home.
But we aren’t quitters! So we left the main area that was full of zen people on reclining chairs, zen people swimming through waterfalls, zen people in the hot and cold tubs, and zen people in the interior rooms full of pillows and aquariums, perfect for those who didn’t want to be in the hot sun. The sauna overwhelmed us and staying quiet gave us anxiety, we just aren’t like those zen people, but then the Beach Club opened at noon, all was righted in the world.
We went down a beautiful little path to the beach club – to the Divas, beach club implies house music that’s mixed by renowned DJs blaring from speakers that shake the very floor that you dance on in an alcohol filled haze. But we aren’t dumb girls (well that depends who you ask), so we knew that beach club at Balnea Spa would be different. The vertical dock led to a horizontal dock filled with more reclining chairs overlooking the lake.
It was magical! We loved basking in the sun, on the lake, in a cloud of our fluffy Balnea Spa bath robes. We still regretted leaving our books in the locker but we absolutely adored this part of our visit. Even better? They provided you with what can only be described as thick mattresses to float on the lake, tan and be zen. And we actually embraced the zen! These beautiful beds in the lake were so thick and sturdy that you couldn’t capsize. It was perfect, you didn’t need to focus on balancing and you could enjoy the day. They even had little docks in the distance so that you can float over and move onto the docks that were islands on the lake.
Just look at the picture! Doesn’t it look heavenly? We spent hours floating around and loving summer right outside of Montreal in the Eastern Townships. At first we left our floating bed docked to the pier but soon we had unattached ourselves (albeit accidentally at first) and we drifted off. It’s easy to paddle back with your hands and bring the floating bed back to the dock. Even Diva #2 who was hesitant at first because she feared that Diva #1 would capsize the floating mattress soon gave in because it was just so damn lovely.
Our lovely day at the spa came with a lunch as part of the Été des Chefs Sunday summer lunch. This week the lunch was prepared by Chef Jean-François Vachon of Restaurant Thursday’s which you could order on its own or with a glass of wine. We clearly opted for wine with our lunch, and the lounge music added to our relaxation! This little popup kitchen is separate from Balnea’s Lumami restaurant and is only available until Labour Day weekend. Chef Jean-François Vachon’s lobster salad was very fresh, with a hint of curry in the dollops of creamy salad dressing underneath the fresh vegetables. The compressed watermelon added the perfect amount of sweetness to the cucumbers, carrots and greens.
We loved the little pop-up kitchen that was near the beach club, no need to return inside to Balnea’s Lumami restaurant for a fancier sit down meal. We ate in our bathing suits on their little terrace and returned to the thermal facilities right after. We just couldn’t get enough of that floating mattress in the lake – how very zen of the Divas! We were lucky to be at Balnea Spa on a hot summer day, but had it been cooler, we had the option of lounging by the fire pit, or spending time in the hot tubs near the beach club. There were varied waters and resting areas everywhere on Balnea’s large site, both inside and outside.
In the end, although we were louder than Balnea Spa wanted us to be, we were more zen than we thought we could be. At first we thought that this just wasn’t for us, tranquility isn’t our thing, we like to move around and generally we lead fast city girl lives. But we love laying by the beach, and Balnea Spa certainly offers the perfect location to relax and be zen, with varied facilities to suit everyone. With a fun pop-up kitchen all summer long, and great atmosphere whether you want to enjoy the full hot – cold thermal experience, or just stay hot like us, there’s truly something for everyone, even the cantankerous Divas 😉
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