A trip to the spa may be considered a needless luxury, but it’s one that many are willing to indulge in–especially in Canada.
In fact, one in four Canadian adults aged 18 years and older is a spa-goer, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission, a government-run marketing organization. The trend is likely driven in part by the fact that Canada’s spas, which rang up sales of more than $1.5 billion in 2007, use the country’s natural resources to enhance their treatments. But there are also stringent regulations on every spa employee, from the aesthetician to–in some cases–the physician, more or less guaranteeing the safest and most effective treatments possible.
Canada’s Top Spas
Best Use of Local Ingredients
The Hills Health Ranch
Cariboo, British Columbia
Set on 20,000 acres of wilderness, this weight-loss ranch offers wellness workshops, nutritional assessments and horseback riding, but its spa treatments–which use herbs and minerals found right on the property–garner the most attention. The Rosehip Deep Repair facial, for example, uses rose hips grown on the premises. Ideal for those who suffer from rosacea or other skin discoloration, the vitamin C and bio-flavonoids from the rose hips help to rebuild and strengthen body tissue, healing fragile capillaries and sun-damaged skin.
Most Unique Treatments
This urban day spa is best known for its LI’YA treatments, which incorporate aboriginal medicines and methods such as rhythmic massage, using mineral salts and powerful essential oils sourced in Australia. There is also a fully operational restaurant on site.
Ste. Anne’s Country Inn and Spa
This destination spa’s reputation rides on two ingredients: mud and maple syrup. The Golden Moor mud, used for its anti-inflammatory and cell-regenerating properties, is extracted from a bog in Casselman, Ontario, and is incorporated into body wraps, baths and facials. The Maple Showers hydrotherapy treatment, designed by a team of Ste. Anne’s therapists, begins with a maple sugar scrub, continues with a full-body massage and ends with a cooling, hydrating maple spritz.
Best Grotto Spa Experience
Grotto Spa at Tigh Na Mara
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The natural mineral pools in the grotto caves are said to have their own healing elements. But those healers are complemented by the spa’s more personalized treatments, including a body massage that uses locally culled seaweed and a sea silk manicure that incorporates glacial water, sea-salt exfoliation and a heated seaweed mineral masque.
Best Medical Spa
One of the first medical spas in Canada, Santé offers three types of services: spa, medical aesthetics and lifestyle programs. The spa has distinguished itself by ensuring that all injections–which include Botox and Restylane–are performed by a doctor. Any other medical treatments, such as a chemical peel or a laser hair removal, are done by a registered nurse.
Willow Stream at Fairmont Banff Springs
Although most guests of the Fairmont Banff Springs spend their days at the golf course or on the ski slopes, the resort’s Willow Stream spa is a destination in and of itself. Signature treatments include a wildflower body polish made with granulated pumice and chamomile and a pure algae rehydrating massage.
Most Unique Surroundings
Spa at the Monastery
St. John’s, New Foundland
Monasteries are a place of calm and, of course, quiet. And now that this 77-year-old monks’ home, set in the heart of St. John’s, has been transformed into a spa, the atmosphere is just as peaceful. The Seaside Serenity package–which includes a body polish, hydrotherapy, massage, manicure, pedicure and facial–is ideal for visitors who want to take a break from the sun on a beach holiday, or locals looking for a day of pampering.
Most Private Spa
If you’ve been avoiding a weekend getaway to the spa because of those dreaded group classes and team-building seminars, Spa Eastman provides an enclave for those seeking privacy alongside respite. The spa’s L’ermitage cabin is in a secluded part of the forest and fits one or two people. You only travel to the main house for signature treatments like the Tje Mineral Miracle, where a self-heating mineral paste is applied to the back and massaged in to loosen muscles.
Best Spa for Men
Riverstone Spa’s gentlemen’s menu is one of the most extensive in Canada. Along with anti-aging and hydrating facials designed specifically for a man’s rougher skin, the spa offers a sports pedicure, which includes a foot soak, nail and cuticle repair, nail shaping, and foot and leg massage.