Creative vision, inspired ambition and a commitment to perfection are the secret ingredients to opening and running a world-class spa that provides a special getaway so serene clients fall in love every time. After years of planning and conceptualization, La Source spa in Rawdon, Quebec, has achieved that perfect balance of services and ambiance.
Owner Patrice Lalancette discovered the ultimate location to open La Source spa while out mountain biking, and he and Caroline Simard, his girlfriend and business partner, spent two days camping on the spot to make sure it was the perfect fit. It was the spring of 2005, and the co-owners quickly purchased the entire mountain outside Rawdon, Quebec, where today sits the dreamy La Source.
“In 2000, we went to the Polar Bear Club and fell in love,” Lalancette recalls. “For six years, we visited spas in Quebec, across Canada and in Europe, gathering ideas to build a unique place with a wealth of character. It was a lot of work—we spent much time on the little details, for the structure and the service. We worked hard to make it not just a good place, but a perfect place.”
Construction began in 2006, based on a design by architect Alex Blouin, from Blouin Tardif Architecture & Environnement in Montreal. “We liked that he had a very green vision,” recalls Lalancette. “We wanted a really specific signature. The result is eco-contemporary style; a very contemporary design with a lot of relaxing warmth.”
With the focus on green technology, La Source was the first spa in North America to use geothermal energy for the pools. In total, Hydro-Quebec estimated La Source consumes 71.5% less electricity than a comparable building, thanks to the inclusion of geothermal, quality insulation and windows—everything that could be done to make it a green project. With the focus on being part of nature in the design, having a green project was paramount.
“La Source is very beautiful,” boasts Lalancette. “Where other spas are surrounded by nature, at La Source, you’re right in nature.”
Upon arrival at La Source, there are 70 steps to climb to reach the entrance. “We did this, because we want people to focus on the place, on where they are, and forget the rest,” Lalancette explains. “Then, when you enter the building, you enter a massive room that’s all windows. It’s like being in the clouds.”
Throughout the spa nature is prominent. For example, the steam bath was built right into the mountain side, so the walls are the original rock walls after blasting the excavation for the room. Close to the hot tubs, the massive rock cliff can be touched, keeping clients grounded in nature.
The furniture throughout the spa is exquisite, created by Erik Desprez from Montreal. It’s all made from wood recycled from demolished buildings in Old Montreal and Ottawa.
Expanding The Dream
La Source officially opened its doors on February 1, 2007, and construction of Phase 2 began the following September. Phase 2 was completed and the gorgeous metal structure housing the new facilities opened for business by December 2009. It includes a number of elements:
- The new building is 100% noise-proof, to increase the massage experience. This required a lot of attention to ventilation systems, walls, etc.
- Massage capacity increased by 86%, to 11 massage rooms. “We also have two places outdoors for massage—tables right in the middle of the forest,” describes Lalancette. “In fact, it’s not rare to have deer around the massage places, and sightings during treatments.”
- A ‘Black Room’ was built—an idea that originated in Belgium. The room is totally in darkness, with just a little black light and white lines on the floor to guide you. White La Source logos on the chairs let clients know whether they are occupied—if you don’t see the logo, don’t sit down.
- La Palestre was unveiled: a 36 by 20 foot grand room with windows completely around and a terrace. Clients are allowed to talk there. “We work very hard throughout the rest of the site to keep the silence, so this is to accommodate those who want to converse, such as friends who meet at our spa,” explains Lalancette. Fat Boy modular furniture, like mega-cushions for lounging, adds to the very chill atmosphere.
In total, $7 million has been invested in La Source, and options are currently being explored to build some form of hotel or chalets in the next few years. “We don’t do a lot of travelling, but anywhere we do go, we’re seeking ideas,” Lalancette adds. “We want to be the very best that is possible.”
Visitors to La Source can relax in the Nordic Baths and enjoy the hot/cold treatments. As well, a number of massage options are available. “We don’t offer any aesthetic treatments,” Lalancette says. “We prefer to be the best in what we do, than to have a lot of services.”
All La Source massages begin with some hot stones, and the pleasures of heat are featured throughout. A signature La Source massage is to launch this winter, combining a number of techniques to make it absolutely unique and transforming.
The on-site bistro offers healthy, original fare—everything from a sandwich and salad plate to cheese and fois gras—and is complimented by a very good wine selection. Pampering your palette is part of the whole La Source experience.
Visitors who opt for the La Source package, which includes a massage, lunch, the Nordic baths, and use of a robe, receive a take-home gift at the end of the day, so the pampering can continue even when the beauty of La Source has been left behind.
Overall, the focus has been on creating a perfect place to relax, unwind, and breathe. The facilities could house up to 300 people, but a maximum of 150 was chosen, to maintain the quality and tranquility to inspire relaxation in the heart of nature.
For Lalancette and Simard, La Source is a dream come true. And at 34-years-old, they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to plan what’s next for the perfect escape in the woods.