Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 28, 2021
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The Spa Around the Corner

You don't have to go far to enjoy some luxurious treatment. Find these retreats in a town near you

Doctor heal thyself -- it's time someone else took care of you for a change. Whether you have a weekend, a day or even just a few hours to spare, there's a host of spas just waiting to cater to your every whim. Some specialize in glitz and glam (including eyelash perms -- yes, it's true!) and some in mind-body-spirit quests, but many simply want to help you look good on the outside so you'll feel good on the inside. Put the treat in retreat at these cross-country destinations.

Babied in BC
Vancouver: Decorated with fountains and mosaics, a day at the exclusive Versailles Spa (1838 W. First Ave.; tel: 888-668-1619/604-732-7865) starts with a eucalyptus steam bath, followed by mineral oil and sea salt body renewal treatments and a massage. Then it's on to a facial, paraffin pedicure and manicure and, finally, a make-up application. $420, including lunch. Next door, the more low-key Bloom Essentials (#3-1854 W. First Ave.; tel: 604-736-8960) will create your own personalized aromatherapy mix and keep your specs on file so you can sink into the same scents next time around. Options include a $90 aromatic bodywork session and the $70 Mommy Love massage to relieve tension in mothers-to-be.

Vancouver Island: Situated between the Pacific Ocean and an old-growth forest near Tofino, Ancient Cedars Spa at the Wickaninnish Inn (tel: 800-333-4604) offers treatments that combine elements of earth and water. Sacred Sea Thalassotherapy ($175) is a full-body exfoliation using marine elements, while the Hot Stone Massage ($165) uses smooth, heated rocks to relieve tension all over the body. A two-night package, including spa and accommodations, starts at around $700.

Further afield: East meets west at the five-star Echo Valley Ranch (tel: 800-253-8831) in Clinton, an hour's flight from Vancouver. The new Baan Thai spa, unveiled this September, offers a host of ancient Asian spa treatments in a pavilion designed by the architect to the Thai royal family. The luxuries of a steam bath full of herb essences, body wraps and Oriental massages are a counterpoint to this rugged setting in the heart of Cariboo Country. The Baan Thai Spa Experience package starts at $1110 for the three-night minimum.

Assuaged in Alberta
Calgary: Founded by two female family physicians, Santé Spa (508 24th Avenue S.W.; tel: 403-228-2772) prides itself on professionalism and privacy in elegant surroundings. The four-hour Santé Special ($230) includes an "aromatherapy salt glo" to gently exfoliate the skin and a choice of body wrap -- oil, algae or moor mud. Your afternoon of self-indulgence finishes with a luxurious manicure and pedicure.

Edmonton: Eveline Charles Salons & Spa (West Edmonton Mall; tel: 888-624-2626/780-424-5666) has a mouth-watering array of treatments. Tropical Rain Forest ($135) begins with a body scrub of coconut milk and vanilla beans, a gentle Vichy shower to relax you, followed by deep conditioning with Mango Body Butter. Cleopatra's Secret ($190) includes a milk bath with floating rose petals and a full body massage.

Further afield: An affordable option that makes the most of Banff's incredible natural setting is the Pleiades Day Spa (101 Mountain Avenue; tel: 800-767-1611/403-760-2500) at the Upper Hot Springs. Run by Parks Canada, it costs only $7.50 to plunge tired muscles into the steamy pools of hot sulfur springs. Spa specials start at $70 for aromatherapy wraps, re-energizing massages, body treatments and all-natural facials.

Serene in Saskatchewan
Near Regina: The Temple Gardens Mineral Spa (24 Fairford Street East; tel: 800-718-7727) in Moose Jaw is an oasis on the prairies. Head-to-toe pampering awaits in half-day ($135) and full-day packages ($170), featuring your choice of reflexology or hot oil manicure, aromatic massage or facial, a gravity-free relaxation float tank and moisturizing body wrap. Overnight escapes are $290 and up.

Near Saskatoon: Just over an hour from Saskatoon, a trip to Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa (in Watrous, overlooking Lake Manitou; tel: 800-667-7672/306-946-2233) will be a rejuvenating journey. Rooms start at about $80, including a pass to the mineral spa where you can soothe yourself in rich spring water with three temperature choices. Esthetic and therapeutic services range from Fango-mud back facials ($40) to Swedish massage (1/2 hour for $20).

Manitoba Mellow
Winnipeg: Tucked away in a renovated Winnipeg home, the cozy and funky Tonic Spa & Hair (598 Corydon Ave; tel: 204-488-8188) is a new one-stop shop for pampering. The full-day Drenched in Tonic package ($292) gets you a spa sauna, facial, pedicure and an upscale manicure. It finishes with a scalp treatment and a wash and blow dry that will go straight to your head!

Ontario Oases
Toronto: The Elmwood Spa's Retreat package provides the classic urban luxury experience (18 Elm Street; tel: 877-284-6348/416-977-6751). It begins with a swim or a dip in the whirlpool, followed by a one-hour professional massage, an aromatherapy sauna cabinet with your choice of essential oils, a luxury manicure and pedicure, a deep-cleansing facial and a healthy lunch. $220 for six hours.

The highly praised but low-key Body Clinic Wellness Centre (17 Yorkville Avenue, Suite #1; tel: 416-324-8999) offers a host of " la carte services. Their Made in Japan massage uses acupressure to soothe knotted muscles, their cutting-edge hot stone therapy uses rocks from an Arizona riverbed and their organic body scrubs use everything from sea kelp to cornmeal. Massages are $75 for 60 minutes; add a lavender foot soak for $20.


A short drive from the city centre, the Old Mill Inn (21 Old Mill Road; tel: 416-236-2641) opened its spa on October 1, 2001 in newly constructed Tudor-style facilities. A Spa Date For Two ($360) can be shared with a loved one or friend. Enjoy side-by-side hour-long Swedish massages and the spa's signature English facials. The Deluxe Date ($570) also features lavender manicures and rosemary mint pedicures. End with herbal tea for two in front of a roaring fireplace.

Further afield: One of the intriguing specialties at the White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa (253 Taylor Road; tel: 800-263-5766 / 905-688-2550) in Niagara-on-the-Lake is vinotherapy. This new Nectar of Niagara treatment uses wine- and grape-based products that have been developed with the help of a local Ontario vineyard, such as a grape pulp exfoliation and a warm wine and honey wrap. Overnight packages start at $726 (including room, meals and spa services for two), full-day treatments are $310 and up.

Ottawa: A day at the historic Carmichael Inn & Spa (46 Cartier Street; tel: 877-416-2417/613-236-4667) in downtown Ottawa starts with a welcoming continental breakfast followed by a choice of any three spa treatments. On the list: a variety of massages, including Head & Shoulders, designed to relieve tension in the neck, head and upper body, plus a soothing compress for the face. Then try a mud or seaweed wrap, followed by an herbal bath from a selection of flavours like juniper spruce or chamomile marigold. $235.

Quiet in Quebec
Montreal: With views onto Mount Royal, Aqua Cité (666 Sherbrooke W., 16th floor; tel: 514-845-8455) is a sister spa to Spa Eastman in the Eastern Townships. It offers several health and beauty day packages ($235). The Stress-Reducing Program calms the nervous system with algae wrapping, warm rain massage, face care, pressotherapy for your legs, and mineral packs for your feet. The Vitalizing Program refreshes with body peeling using minerals from the Dead Sea, hydromassage with underwater jets and moisturizing body milk.

Located in the fashionable Cours Mont-Royal, Spa Diva (1455 Peel; tel: 514-985-9859) is a premiere destination for pampering. The half-day Gentle Awakening package ($179) includes topnotch manicure, pedicure, 30-minute massage and seaweed bath. The ultra-luxurious full-day program ranges from detoxifying body treatments to Vichy rain massage -- eight hours of sheer bliss for $499.

Further afield: The Spa Givenchy Les Trois Tilleuls (290 Richelieu Street, St-Marc-sur-Richelieu; tel: 514-856-7787) makes use of the remains of the Champlain Sea, pumping quality saltwater from a depth of 35 metres into a swimming pool and therapeutic baths. A full-day stay begins with a body scrub, herbal wrap and relaxation massage. After lunch, the work continues: facial, full foot care, shampoo and brushing. Exclusive Givenchy Swisscare products are used in treatments and they send you home with a Givenchy gift. $552 for women, $532 for men. Upscale accommodations onsite.

A European-style spa in the heart of the countryside, Euro-Spa (455 de l'Eglise, St-Ignace-de-Stanbridge; tel: 800-416-0666/450-248-0666) focuses on the healing powers of water. A half-day package gets you five hours of access to fitness facilities including the pools, hot tubs and baths, 30-minute facial, 30-minute massage, Cleopatra milk bath and the lunch buffet ($118). Overnight packages start at $219.

Naturally New Brunswick
St. John: The Bay of Fundy Serenity package at the Inn on the Cove (1371 Sand Cove Road; tel: 877-257-8080/506-672-7799) comes in three-and-a-half to seven-hour formats ($115 to $295). Among the treats on tap: a rejuvenating hydro massage with chlorine-free spring water, premium hand and foot care, massages and mud wraps. Finish up with a meal in the charming seaside dining room.

Further afield: Nestled in the woods just 15 minutes from Fredericton, On the Pond Lodge (in Mactaquac, off route 615; tel: 506-363-3420) is a rustic retreat with state-of-the-art amenities. The Bluejay package, available in half- and full-day programs ($145/$290), features massage (sports, Swedish or aromatherapy), whirlpool bath, custom Yon Ka facial, pedicure and manicure. Prices include lunch in the elegant lodge.

Soothing Nova Scotia
Halifax: Sleekly decorated, Remedy Facial Bar and Spa (1701 Barrington Street: tel: 902-425-7586) will teach you to do your own facials. This trendy shop also offers spa packages such as the Ultimate Escape ($250), consisting of a 60-minute aromatherapy massage, four-layer facial (including cool seaweed and mineral-rich thermal masks), spa manicure and spa pedicure.

Further afield: For a more luxurious experience, cross the bridge to the 25-year-old Interlude Spa Retreat (58 Ochterlony Street; tel: 902-469-2700) in Dartmouth. Get a Taste of Heaven for $170: swim, steam and sauna, aromatherapy or Swedish massage, spa facial and hair styling. Peek in on their very popular Pilates exercise classes while you're there.

Cascades (1405 Bedford Highway, Bedford; tel: 877-538-5333/902-832-3115) is a sanctuary of serenity filled with hot tubs, steam baths and a fireplace lounge overlooking the Bedford river basin. A His-Her Duet includes side-by-side massage and spa cuisine lunch ($184). Or try the Executive Renewal: unwind with a massage using de-stressing aromatherapy oils, then opt for a full facial or mineral-replenishing bath, hand and foot treatments plus lunch in the library. Four hours for $241.50.

Nurtured in Newfoundland
St. John's: A refurbished heritage monastery is the tranquil backdrop for deluxe spa services. The Spa at the Monastery (63 Patrick Street; tel: 709-754-5800) has a roaring fireplace lounge, hot and cold soaking pools and the latest in fitness and cardio equipment. The Passage to India day package ($225), draws on 5000-year-old Ayurvedic principles, including a steam tent and two massage therapists working in tandem. Be sure to try the organic Newfoundland seaweed scrub.

Peaceful PEI
Charlottetown: A day spa in the Delta Prince Edward Hotel on the waterfront, Radiant Reflection (18 Queen Street; tel: 902-628-1100) offers the Gift of Beauty ($185). The package consists of a deep-cleansing facial, 45-minute massage and a manicure. Then soak and soothe your feet with a spa pedicure. After lunch, hair styling and makeup adds the final touch.

Tranquil in the Territories
Near Yellowknife: Nurture yourself on the shores of Great Slave Lake, at the Sah-Naji-Kwe Wilderness Spa (in Rae; tel: 867-371-3144 ) where you can go straight to the source for pristine deposits of marine glacial clay. Heat up in a wood-burning sauna, enjoy outdoor activities such as woodland walks and canoeing and dine on steamed Great Slave Lake whitefish or northern delicacies like buffalo, moose and caribou. Open June 10 to August 31, $150 per night including clay baths (massage and reflexology extra).


This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.