Over the bulk of winter, the lack of snowstorms in the Outaouais region was a godsend for our contractor. By late February we were nearly halfway through construction, and still on time, thanks mostly to the weather. Three major storms missed the area. Moreover, it was a relatively mild winter, allowing for normal progression in all aspects of structural development of the main building.
The fact that the Bleu Spa is attempting to become LEED certified, the first of its kind in Quebec, has posed a variety of challenges. Whether the constraints involve water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, or simply energy savings, there has been a growing landscape of difficulties surfacing over time. What began as a monthly supervision meeting with our architects has multiplied to a series of visits and phone calls, all involving the LEED project checklist. One example involved replacing a low-emitting adhesive, approved by the LEED program, with a non-approved replacement, simply because of the weather temperature. The former adhesive could only be applied in temperatures above 10° Celsius, while the replacement could be applied in sub-zero weather. As we are on a tight schedule to open for August 2011, the decision to introduce a non-approved adhesive put our LEED certification in jeopardy. Management finally decided that, although the prestige of becoming LEED certified was very important, we needed to do all that we possibly could to open for the fall.
A second major challenge involved the number of relaxation areas available for the winter season. The plans reflected a lack of seating space throughout, during the cold season, which was resolved by a decision to add an indoor, windowed level with a central fireplace directly on the roof of the Hammam (Turkish bath). Although there was a cost factor as a result, our team was inspired by the “wow” factor.
The last of the news is quite positive. The Bleu Spa learned in late February that it had met all of the criteria for the Immigrant Investor Program, an Investment Quebec grant program for small business ventures in the province. We were wined and dined in Montreal by the managing directors of the National Bank, and presented with a check for $250,000.
Larry Greene is the co-developer of Bleu Spa, set to open its doors in August. He is sharing his first-hand experience of constructing and opening a new spa in this column. Tune in each issue to learn about his progress, and what challenges he must overcome.