Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort debuts new pools
Bigfork Eagle | February 17, 2021 8:27 AM
A couple slinks into the crystalline waters at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort with a pair of lemon-yellow drinks, steam slowly rising around them. In the next pool over, a cohort of 20-somethings chats energetically, and off in a corner a man swims idly in and out of a trio of waterfalls.
The serene scene featuring seven naturally curved pools accented with natural rock sourced from the adjacent hillside was two years in the making. On Feb. 2, Quinn’s unveiled its new pools to the public, replacing their boxy predecessors that had served the resort 11 miles south of Plains on Highway 135 for the past 18 years.
The new pools are set on elevated terrain that provides a view to the canyon and range in temperature from the hottest at 106 degrees to the cold plunge at approximately 55 degrees. Near the pool deck is a flattened expanse that will support live music during the summer months and bordering the pools are a pair of new buildings. One structure houses brand new changing rooms that feature walk-in showers and a spacious dressing area equipped with benches and 100 storage lockers. The resort is still putting the finishing touches on these facilities; Project and Infrastructure Manager Damian Albright anticipates they’ll be open to the public by the end of February.
The second building will serve as the new entrance to the pool area with day-use check in, a shop along with towel laundry facilities and handicap-accessible restrooms. A tiki bar with two service windows will also be added so guests won’t have to trek all the way to the main tavern to refresh their drinks. The resort hopes to complete this building by the end of summer.
Late resort owner Andre J. Melief had a vision to update the pools and they are, undoubtedly, the star of the show.
“We wanted something a little more natural looking instead of a square, boxy pool,” Albright said of the new swimming holes, which were designed by Great Northwest Pools. But function, in addition to form, was considered in the expansion.
“We wanted individual bodies of water so if there was an incident in one of them or somebody spills something we don't have to close the whole system down and kick everybody out -- we can just close that small pool,” he noted.
THE NEWLY opened swimming areas are an improvement technologically as much as they are aesthetically.
“The water comes in through a geothermal well. We pump it in at about 118 degrees. Then we mix it with cold water to get our desired pool temps,” Albright explained.
But before the water returns to the ground, the resort utilizes a system that harvests heat from the water and uses that to warm a variety of components, ranging from the pool decks themselves to the changing room showers. It’s a move that improves the efficiency of the resort, making operations more eco-friendly and cost-effective.
“It used to go back into the ground at 105 degrees and now it goes back in at 40 degrees,” Albright said.
There are also innovations visible on the exterior surface — namely the new plaster and Pebble Tec pool linings. Not only are they attractive, the new material won’t need to be replaced every three to four years like the paint coating on the old pools. It’s built to look good, but also to last.
And word is already spreading about the resort’s new look. Quinn’s has been operating at 50% capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Albright said the resort went from being booked up on the weekends to staying at their occupancy cap all week long.
“Word’s gotten out about this — you can't get a reservation on the weekend until like June,” he added. “I think we’re maybe even close to or even breaking records from previous years.”
With weekend lodging already reserved for the foreseeable future, one can’t help but wonder about opportunities for day-use soaking. For now, hopeful swimmers will have to wait — the resort has yet to release an opening date for walk-in traffic and has advised prospective guests to keep an eye on their website for the latest updates.
In the meantime, the pools remain reserved for lodging guests only and the lucky reservation holders are soaking in the new and improved atmosphere.
Jan Nelson, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, hadn’t been to Quinn’s in a long time and found herself “really impressed” with the array of upgrades.
“The pools are nice, the different temperatures. It’s clean and aesthetically what they did is amazing. We’ll be back,” Nelson said, noting they were planning to book two subsequent stays before leaving the resort the following day.
Cathy and Tom Jenkins, of Libby, were similarly enthused with the new surroundings.
“We are meeting five of our six daughters here for a family get-together. We have not been together since last September and we decided it was time,” Cathy Jenkins said. “These are just beautiful. The other pools were nice … but this is beautiful.”