Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada (just north of the U.S. border and approximately a 4.5-hour drive from Boston) is a perfect couple’s weekend escape from Boston. There are lakes, mountainous forests, wine routes and food tasting festivals, cute little towns with gems of the French cuisine hidden in unassuming country houses, and… the SPAS! Yes, we love relaxing in a spa together and have included them into our couple’s weekend escapes to the region at different seasons!
The idea behind the thermal (sometimes called Nordic) bath/spa visit is a cycle of heat-cold-relaxation experiences (and many repeats!). In our travels, we have visited both city and country spas and although a city spa is still a wonderful experience, it is so much more relaxing when a spa is incorporated into beautiful outdoors.
The three spas we have visited in Eastern Townships region – Spa Nordic Station, Spa Eastman and Spa Balnea – all incorporate nature into their thermal cycles. We enjoyed our time in all three, but I am giving them a very subjective scoring below each report to give our experiences (and personal preferences) a little perspective.
Note that children under 16 are typically not allowed into these spas but be sure to check spa’s websites for specific age requirements.
Spa Nordic Station, Magog
We have visited Spa Nordic Station in Magog during a couple’s escape on a weekend in late spring. It is the most affordable and rustic of the three, so would probably be the best one to start your spa hopping with. All you need is a couple of child-free hours during your afternoon in Magog (and a swim suit!).
The locker room is indoors, but to reach the other areas of the spa, you have to get outside. I personally prefer to get a little of the heat into me before getting outside in the middle of the winter, but during the rest of the year, and especially in the heat of the summer, such spa set up is perfect! There is steam room and sauna, hot and cold tubs, access to a river and several indoors and outdoors relaxation areas.
There is no restaurant on property, but there is no lack of natural beauty.
Day fee: CAN $45; $30 after 5pm.
OUR SCORE: water/relaxation facilities – 4 out 5 (outside-only access to baths and saunas, access to river, no restaurant); relaxation ambiance – 4 of 5 (it is just a bit more rustic in some places to my taste) for a total score of 8/10.
SPA EASTMAN, EASTMAN
Spa Eastman is similar to Spa Nordic Station and Spa Balnea in its thermal relaxation cycle but it is MORE than that. It is a full-service destination spa retreat that offers an on-site lodging, meal plan in their gourmet health-conscious restaurant, and a daily selection of wellness classes (focusing on physical and mental well-being). You can still buy a day pass (which includes access to spa facilities and classes), with or without a meal option.
Staying in spa Eastman overnight is not cheap (price includes three meals a day; this is a link to an affiliate hotel booking side which does not cost you any extra to book), but if you can do it – you could achieve a deeper level of mental relaxation than during just a day visit. And If you stay for several days, they will help you create an individual plan to work on your personal goals (mental or physical).
We opted for a day plus night option – with lodging, classes (like morning meditative Nordic walk and afternoon water aerobics), and a meal plan (all gourmet and local, but might might be “too healthy” for some appetites). When we visited, an evening well-being seminar was held in French which somewhat limited our evening options (there is no television in the room and for a good measure).
Spa Eastman is the only one of the three spas with the swimming pools (indoor and outdoor; they offer daily water aerobics classes) and a gym.
Day access to baths: $74 (weekend); evening (weekend) $64. For mid-week packages, check here.
OUR SCORE: water/relaxation facilitIes – 5 out 5 (hiking trails, lake, outdoor/indoor pool, daily selection of classes, on-site restaurant and lodging); ambiance – 4.5 out of 5 (just a matter of personal preference) for a total score of 9.5.
SPA BALNEA, BROMONT
Spa Balnea is our favorite day spa in North America! We love everything about it, starting with a design of the building and a “modern cozy” ambiance they manage to keep throughout.
We have experienced it in the midst of winter and in early fall, and although we prefer the warmer weather to fully experience all it has to offer, winter visit was well worth it as well.
Set adjacent to the natural reserve, Balnea offers the most variety of the three spas in heat/cold and relaxation options- indoors and outdoors. There is a media room to relax to different sounds, and a Moroccan room to nap in an alcove, and a naturephone to forget about it all in the middle of the forest. There is an award winning health-conscious restaurant, as well as a café on the property – both with inspiring lake and mountains views.
In the warmer months, the experience is enhanced by the entire area by the lake called the “Beach” (closed in the winter). It is adjacent to the lake and has sauna, water and lounge beds, wooden hot tub barrels, fire pit terrace and other big and small “relaxation inducing” details that set Spa Balnea aside. Here is our youtube video of the “beach” experience at Balnea.
The presence of lake and hiking trails in the forest help make your summer and fall day options endless. (there are also yoga classes offered at additional price)
We have stayed in the spa for about 5 hours during our recent visit in early fall and wowed to come back for an entire twelve-hour day next time.
Note that the “beach” is located down several sets of stairs and might be challenging for people with mobility issues.
Day fee: CAN $70; $40 morning or evening experience (check website for special packages).
OUR SCORE: water/relaxation facilities – 5 out 5 (hiking trails, lake, beach, selection of hot treatments and relaxation areas); ambiance – 5 of 5 for a total score of 10.
All three spas offer massage and spa treatment options at additional prices. Check out their websites for full listing of services.
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