The much-awaited Förena Spa and Cité Thermale finally opened its doors on Friday, inviting customers to start enjoying the expansive thermal experience along with spa treatments right in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville. This spa near Montreal was immediately busy with a waitlist starting almost right after the doors opened. I diligently waited my turn so that I could finally experience the all-new spa and share my thoughts with you.

The project has taken over three years to complete and the attention to detail is evident. 

The naturalism of the decor fits in with the surroundings so that you almost feel as if you are in a real hot spring and not a man-made spa.

Förena is finessing and finishing up with some final touches, but all-in-all, my whole day was relaxing and wonderful. I didn't get a chance to visit the Russian Pavillion, but I'm excited to make the trip back soon to get the full tour. 

For those planning a visit, the Förena team let me know they expected the Russian steam sauna to be open by Friday, February 7, though you can always call to confirm, if the steam room is your dream room.

I didn't love having to join the waitlist to get in, but I was glad to know the space was maintaining a firm limit on capacity to avoid crowding.

I just turned on a podcast and after about an hour it was my turn! It was late afternoon and I was excited to be relaxing in the large outdoor space while the sun was still out.

The changerooms were huge with plenty of showers and even a little pamper zone in the women's. There were some seriously good hairdryers and I watched a couple girls straightening their hair before leaving.

There are three main buildings that represent the three countries that inspired the design of Förena.

Above is the German Pavillion where you can enjoy a large, dry sauna, showers and a relaxing room upstairs with cute and insanely comfortable swing chairs that nearly lulled me into a nap.

Here you can see the main building and the temperate pool which is absolutely huge and the perfect depth so that your shoulders never get cold while you sit. 

The amenities at Förena are top-tier, and something that absolutely stood out was the bracelet technology they are using.

Instead of worrying about a key for your locket (which is just waiting to burn you come sauna visit), guests are given a rubber bracelet that opens and closes your assigned locker.

Above are Förena water bottles, available for purchase.

What doesn't require an extra purchase are the fantastic robes, which every guest receives along with a towel, which I was told I could exchange for a dry one at no charge.

I've been to a lot of places where a robe is an extra charge... so I was pretty excited that I was able to leave my lame old robe from home back in the car.

Above you can see the large patio space that will essentially double the area for guests looking to dine or have a drink at the restaurant. 

Upon leaving I did lament the lack of body lotion... something my skin desperately craves after a day of plunging into hot and cold pools. But bonus points for having shampoo and conditioner, not a combo, which smelled awesome.

There's also one fire pit on site, tucked away near the back, where I saw lots of couples sneaking away for a quiet moment. 

I will say, a quiet moment was a little hard to come by.

Perhaps it was the excitement of the opening day, but the guests out in the pools seemed fully at ease carrying on nearly normal-volume conversations.

Whether I prefer this to a staff member coming around every five minutes shushing guests is hard to say... Plus, I may have been extra sensitive to the noise because I was alone and therefore silent the whole time.

I also didn't notice a single clock anywhere. Which is great for forgetting your worries, but less great if you're trying to keep track of how long you're spending in each temperature zone. 

It was too overcast to catch a sunset, but I can only imagine how stunning it would have been with the wide-open sky above us. Plus, the view of the mountain in the distance would have also created a beautiful natural backdrop if it had begun to snow.

I can also imagine this being an absolutely amazing place to lay out an get a tan in the summer. 

Plus, the cold pools with waterfalls would be so refreshing on those days when Southern Quebec gets extra humid.

I even stepped into the restaurant to have dinner and a drink to round off my day. 

The restaurant is bright and open and, again, I couldn't help imagining the space in the summer with the windows open to the patio. 

I tried the beef borscht and the eggplant caviar, both of which were absolutely delicious, along with the Magnolia cocktail which was so refreshing.

The borscht was a hearty hug in a bowl, with mixed beans and vegetables. The "eggplant caviar," which you can see below, was like the best homemade baba ganoush I've ever had.

The spices mixed with the oil and the pine nuts so perfectly and it all felt like the exact kind of simple, healthy food my body wanted after a day of pampering, without being boring in the slightest.

All of the staff seemed really excited and happy to be working at this cool new space, even with all the opening day chaos.

I had a fantastic time and would head back to Förena with some of my girlfriends in a heartbeat to get some manicures before lounging around for the day.

While some other thermal experiences are smaller in scale and therefore a little more cozy or romantic, Förena brings the grandeur and is photogenic from literally every angle. 

I definitely recommend Förena, particularly if you're looking to stay close to the city while feeling miles away.

To find out more, book a massage or purchase a gift card, head to the Förena website here.

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