Monday, March 28, 2005

Saskatchewan Mineral Spa Shoot-Out Part 1

Kerri and I decided that a Weekend get away was WAY over due. So we decided to head to Saskatchewan for a weekend at the Mineral Spa. I need to stress that a few years ago, we did stay at Temple Gardens, and really enjoyed ourselves so this time we decided to try the Manitou Springs Hotel and Spa in Manitou Beach (near Watrous). Those were the best directions the hotel could give me!

The Drive from Winnipeg to Watrous is quite fun. Prairie driving may include mostly straight lines without hills, but being that the route to Watrous was along the Yellow Head Trail, so travellers of the trans Canada Highway will have the option of a change in scenery. When you go, have a camera ready. There were a couple spots I wish I stopped to take a shot. First one came about 50 kms into saskatchewan. A small road called Palestine Rd. I guess I thought it was an out of place road name for the area.

About 1/2 hour West of Yorkton we passed by a InukShuk on the side North of the Highway. I told myself, "we want to go to the Spa, we'll stop on the way back for a photo." (never say this just stop!) Missed photo opp #2

Next Missed photo opp was Kandahar Saskatchewan. Again. out of place city this time.

Using my trusty GPS I decided to disobey the directions on the highway and instead followed the GPS' "shortest route". Well 15KMs of wet, sloppy, muddy gravel road was my reward for wanting to be efficient.

We rolled into Manitou beach and found the hotel at (N51 43.244 W105 26.685) on a gravel road of all places. The outside looked weathered and a little worn, but this cuold have been because it was on the beachfront.
The lobby was as plain as a small town motel office, and the staff didn't acknowledge my arrival at first. No big deal we were there for the Mineral Water! and the place was only $88 per night.

There's only one entrance and the parkting was around the side of the building, no big deal... the Water... the Water will be great! The elevator was slower than molasses but alas we arrived at our room. We put the key(not card key. This place is old school) in the door and entered the room.

The television offered 3 channels of poor reception enjoyment, the brass light was old and wouldn't stand straight and finally there was no temperature control in the room. that's okay the Water will make up for it. Besides the place is $20 a night cheaper than the Temple Gardens and the were booked this weekend anyway.

Off to the pool
We grabbed our pool tickets, (one pass per day extra $5.00 per person for unlimited pool access) and headed poolside. Entering the pool was like going to a public pool a pay station and then changerooms to seperate men and women. (I guess this is for non hotel guests?) We came out of the change rooms and noticed two things One, the place was uber crowded and two, the water looked like Red River Water. This is apparently because of the high mineral content. The water has a gravity or 1.06 which makes it similar to the Dead Sea. This water is quite amazing as you become so buoyant you can not sink.

The pool is seperated into three areas; the 35 degree pool, which is the temperature of your average public pool and has the 9 feet deep end; the 37 degree outer pool which is only .9 metres deep and the 39 degree hot pool which is a semi enclosed area of the 37 degree pool. The water's mineral content can not be disputed. I hadn't shaved in 5 days but when my chin went under water I felt the tingling of the minerals in the areas I normally get razor burned. any scratch on my body was also extra sensitive.

The hotel didn't recommend water rations for people using the hot pools and we got thirsty quick. We couldn't leave unless we wanted to pay to re-enter and no water fountain was visible. This was poor planning on the mgmt. side. Also, the water being so rich in color must make it hard to clean. The water is not chloronated (I bet nothing survives in this water anyway) and sweeping the pool for dirt and foreign objects must be tough because you can't see anything. This might explain why I stepped on a band aid and saw a cotton ball floating in the water. definitely an "Ick" factor.

I can definitely see how this place attracts people from around the globe the water was simply amazing, but the hotel needs some TLC and focus toward giving guests some added umpff for their coin. Essentially, why stay at the shoddy hotel when the water comes from the lake and it can be used for free in the summer??

Continued on Part two.

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