FOLLOW WILLY COSMO AS HE EXPLORES THE HEALING WATERS OF THE WORLD
UPDATE: Bonneville Closed and was sold. It's last day open to the public was December 18th, 2016
JOE: So, it was our 1st Anniversary (thank you) on July 3rd and we decided we'd go and check out Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa as a part of our celebrations. Amazingly, neither Rachel nor I had ever been to this place before. Why that is amazing is because it is actually the closest hot springs to us here in Portland. The forecast was looking good for the day and we decided to go for a hike with Rachel's parents along with Joy and Willy Cosmo, for a nice family outing. We packed a lunch and then the plan was to all go to Bonneville for an hour or two to soak and see what this place was all about. Rachel booked her and I a one hour soak and wrap which we have done a number of times at Carson Hot Springs (owned by the same folks who own Bonneville) and had enjoyed that very much. Carson Hot Springs is quite a unique place in that it is part of an old historic hotel and grounds that looks kinda like a ghost town. It is a kinda strange and interesting place to check out and as mentioned above, we have enjoyed going for a soak and wrap there together on several occasions. Well, we decided to go to Falls Creek for the hike, our goal was to do the hike all the way into Falls Creek Falls but we ended up stopping and having lunch a little over half way through the hike next to the creek. At that point we decided we'd better just turn back so we could make sure to get to Bonneville for our scheduled soak and wraps. We'll have to see those sweet falls another time.
On the way from the hike to Bonneville we realized that we had not thought out the booking of our soak and wraps as well as we could have. We booked them for the same time and that would mean we'd need to leave Willy Cosmo with the grandparents who also would be in charge of Joy as well (we realized we should have probably staggered them so one of the two of us could be with Willy C). That could have worked out alright, leaving our little guy with the grandparents but ultimately, Rachel decided not to do the soak and wrap and let me still give it a whirl (very kind of her!). The reasoning behind that also had to do with the fact that Rachel is nursing Willy Cosmo and the soak and wrap is a very detoxing process. On the 30 minute ride from Falls Creek to Bonneville she popped on line and in her investigations she learned that it was not recommended to detox like that while breastfeeding. So, that brought us to our arrival at Bonneville which right from the get-go was a little strange and had us kinda wondering what this place was going to be all about. To be sure, the people who built this place spent a great deal of money and the infrastructure of the building and grounds is quite grand. It still had an odd feel to it though that both Rachel and I had independently of each other, we didn't know what to think of it all. I had about 20 minutes before my scheduled soak and wrap and so we all got our bathing suits on and then checked out the waters. The big main pool area with the sauna has a lap pool, a kiddie soak pool, and a jacuzzi pool in it and outside there is a decent sized jacuzzi jet pool as well. That is where we met up first. Well, actually, I got out there before the rest of the fam did and got into the lap pool and did one length of the pool swimming the whole way under water. It is something I have done in basically every pool I have ever been in (to date I have been able to successfully hold my breath under water and swim the length of every pool, too). Then I got out and went out to the outside area and got into the jacuzzi tub where Rachel and Willy Cosmo were and then Joy got in there as well. There were a handful of others in there and then Rachel's mom joined us in there briefly as well.
We were only in the jacuzzi tub outside for a few minutes and then got out and were standing near the entry and a woman who was working there said to Rachel "No children can be in the outside tub". Rachel said she hadn't been informed of that at the front desk while checking in and hadn't seen the sign and the woman made an off-hand remark to Rachel saying "Oh I just thought everyone could read the signs that were posted there." (strangely, kids can be in the outside tub if they are staying overnight but day time guests do not get that option). So, we went in to the covered area where the lap pool, sauna, and other tubs were. It smelled of chlorine which was a very unwelcome smell at a hot springs and we were all a bit turned off by that. Shortly after this I headed into the spa area where the individual tubs are for the men and women along with the area for the wraps. I had an attendant show me to the tub that was to be mine, and he left and I had about 30 minutes to soak in my semi private tub that also had a carafe of water with a glass and 7 green grapes in a little dish (I guess that is a part of the spa treatment?). You can purchase essential oils and/or salts to add to your tub but I just wanted to experience the water au natural. While we did notice a chlorine smell in the lap pool and maybe the other tubs in the main soaking area, this water is plumbed right from the source so it was straight up hot-hot mineral water and that was what I was looking for. There is a cold plunge in the room as well and so I did my customary hydro therapy session where I go back and forth from the hot to cold no less than three times. That felt incredible and I highly recommend you give that a try. Then the attendant came back into the room and lead me to the wrap room, it's approximately 16 massage table beds with linens on them in its own area of the spa. The idea is you get under a sheet and get wrapped up for 25-30 minutes to sweat out the the evil spirits and what have you. It's actually a pretty amazing experience. There's some soft, quite music playing off in the background, they offer a cold towel to cover your eyes with (do accept that when they offer it!) and they also lay a nice n' hot towel under your back for added heat to get the sweat moving. There is an aroma of eucalyptus and perhaps one or more other essential oils my nostrils noticed which was nice. After being wrapped up and getting all that sweat out, you rinse off and spend the next little bit getting your senses back about you. It's surprising - even after several times doing this - how woozy I feel after one of these sessions. On that note, make sure you drink a whole lot of water! This is a good recommendation for your life in general but for this particular activity, please do remember to drink a bunch of water, it is super important. Dehydration is no joke.
In all, Bonneville is a nice enough place. I enjoyed the soak and wrap very much and the facilities and grounds were clean and well kept. Esthetically, it wasn't the kind of place that Rachel or I are looking for in a hot springs resort and energetically it just didn't feel quite right to us. Willy Cosmo only sorta enjoyed himself, he wasn't too stoked on the chlorine in those healing waters and while the staff at the check in counter was friendly and accommodating, there were some other staff that weren't quite as nice. So, you know, if you are looking for a soak and a wrap and you are in the Portland area, this is the closest place to find that has hot spring waters. You can also stay the night and they have a restaurant as well though we did not eat there or sleep there so we can't speak to what those experiences are like. In all, I don't think we'll be going back there very often and we'd prefer to drive another 30 minutes east to the simpler and more basic facilities of Carson Hot Springs if we are going to do a soak and wrap.
They do have the local mineral waters feeding their drinking fountains which is a nice touch. And to wrap this up (no pun intended), I do want to acknowledge that our visit was odd from the get-go and maybe the place is deserving of another visit to get a better impression of it. I wouldn't not recommend anyone go here, we just didn't have that nice of an experience overall as we'd hoped to (that's expectations for ya...). The soak and wrap are legit and the spa services I'm sure are great. I have heard good things from a couple people about this place so I know it really depends on who you are and what your circumstances are when you visit. They clearly have put a lot of money into this place and it's worth checking out yourself to see if it's the kind of place you like. It was just kinda meh for us, though.
RACH: willy cosmo does not recommend bonneville hot springs. neither does his mother. and don't get me started on carson, which has the same owners and management. carson will have its own entry... WC really doesn't want to spend too much time on these places, but i will say that the soak and wrap only at the old carson bathhouse is a real treat (just don't even think about staying overnight), and even though they just raised the price again, the water itself is worth $25. but more on carson later...
Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa
1252 East Cascade Drive
North Bonneville, WA 98639
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