Bota Bota Spa on Water

Canadian Sid Lee Architecture were asked to create the architectural designs for Bota Bota, a modern twist on the traditional urban spa. This ambitious project, led by the Émond family, also owners of Balnea spa, located in Bromont-sur-le-Lac is now up and running, following a whirlwind two-year adventure.  

Located at the foot of rue McGill in the Old Port of Montreal, Bota Bota is the new name given to a ferryboat that used to link Sorel and Berthier in the 1950s and has been renovated into a floating Scandinavian spa. Built in 1951 and measuring 170 feet and weighing 600 tonnes, the Arthur Cardin plied the waters between these two cities for 10 years. At Expo ‘67 in Montreal, it enjoyed a second life as a floating art centre thanks to Quebec’s ministère des Affaires culturelles. 

The linkage between the boat and water is the key concept, allowing the spa and the marine world to connect at once. This concept is veritably unique, and its brand image, unlike any other. Using a visual language characterised by pure, simple lines, the spa brings marks of the marine world to its logo, signage and stationery.

In addition to the concept, Sid Lee Architecture created an indoor space conducive to introspection and an outdoor space affording spectacular views of the city, from the upper decks. Visitors forget they’re on a boat as they transition through the five different levels, discovering city views from each bridge.

Viewed from the shore, the boat fits comfortably into the scenic, post-industrial setting. It rises four levels above the waterline, and its black paint and horizontal wood cladding complement the adjacent landscape at the entrance to the Lachine Canal. When the spa glows at night, the design elements are more pronounced, in particular the 678 portholes punched into the walls on the first and second levels. 

The main floor includes a public bistro and lounge with epoxied concrete flooring, a shining, stretched PVC ceiling, custom banquettes, and signature tables in perforated acrylic.

The closer the spaces are to the water, the darker and more intimate they are; the closer they are to nature, the more impressive the views of the horizon. The relation between these two extremes comes thanks to the 678 portholes that dot the boat, allowing daylight to penetrate the treatment rooms. As such, the transition from water to sky, and dark to light, is made possible.


Project: Bota Bota Spa on Water

Location: St. Lawrence River, Montréal, Canada

Architects: Sid Lee Architecture, Montreal, Canada

Technical info: PVC ceiling and flooring

Picture credits: Sid Lee Architecture

Websites: www. sidleearchitecture.com