These days, it seems that whenever you ask someone how things are going, the standard answer is “busy.” Information gathered by the Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being at Guelph University in 2001 stated that 58 per cent of Canadians felt “overloaded” with work, their personal lives, and issues relating to health. Also, The Conference Board of Canada found that workers experiencing high levels of stress miss over a week of work a year—twice the amount of their chilled out colleagues.
A.J. Robertson, an instructor with Mount Royal University’s Centre for Complementary Health Education and the school’s new Spa Therapy program, (due to start this fall), says that it’s vital to take some “you” time—time dedicated to forgetting about work deadlines, responsibilities at home and other daily stress producers in your life. “In a day and age where stress is not only one of the leading factors contributing to disease but also reported by a growing number of the population, stress management is incredibly important in overall health and well-being,” she says.
Robertson, who’s studied energy-based and therapeutic treatments like Reiki, reflexology, meditation and Tai Chi since the mid-1990s, says that while making smart nutritional choices and exercise can help with stress management, a trip to the spa can also do wonders. “Therapeutic treatments are an excellent method of achieving [a relaxed] state and [can] assist our bodies in the process of relaxation, detoxification, and wellness.”
We’ve combed the city for some of the best spa treatments around to help you unwind, revive and feel nourished.
By Laura Pellerine, Allison Onyett, and Dan Leahul
Health benefits: “Relaxation is an integral part in assisting the body’s defense against disease,” Robertson says. “Therapeutic treatments target stress reduction, thereby positively effecting metabolic, circulatory, lymphatic, and immunologic processes.”
Key words to look for: Therapeutic, gentle, relaxing, non-invasive, tranquil, peaceful.
How to keep it going: Robertson recommends creating a mini spa session at home using the same products from your treatment (many spas sell the products they use), or by taking a class that promotes relaxation like Feng Shui or yoga.
Treatments around town
Tranquility Body Wrap: RnR Wellness
Start by taking a dip in their whirlpool, the soothing, warm waters will help to relax your muscles and mind. Once you’ve toweled off, the treatment begins with a Himalayan Salt Glow scrub, a full-body massage and a hydrating application of their Tranquility body lotion, made from pure essential oils like jojoba, vanilla and amaranth. While you’re snuggled into your wrap, you can choose between a scalp or foot massage. 90 min, $169
The Anti-Stress Treatment: Getaway Spa for Men
Serving an exclusively male clientele, the spa is quiet, comfortable and thoroughly masculine. This signature treatment starts with a full-body scrub with sea salt and essential oils, followed by a mini-facial and deep scalp massage, using intensely fragranced peppermint, spearmint, and tea tree oils. A full-body massage with the spa’s hot towel treatment is next—steamed towels are laid gently over the body and scalp, proffering deep relaxation as stress just melts away. Afterwards, guests are treated to a shampoo and condition, as well as a facial grooming session. 120 min, $300
Thai Ritual Massage: Swizzlesticks
You’re forced to relax at the beginning of this treatment by slipping into a chromo-colour, hydrotherapy session (each colour offers different benefits). Next, your muscles get further warmed up through a series of assisted stretches. Then warm, aromatic, hand-tied bundles of raw cotton (called Luk Pra Kob) filled with natural herbs and essential oils such as ginger, lemongrass, sweet flag and acacia, get deeply massaged throughout your entire body. Consider booking towards the end of the day—you’ll be so relaxed you may not want to return to your normal routine. 90 min, $169
Health benefits: Treatments with a focus on increasing circulation could help enhance blood flow, move waste away from muscles and internal organs, and lower blood pressure.
Key words to look for: Energizing, invigorating, rejuvenating, refreshing, renew, restore, detoxifying.
How to keep it going: Lisa Gossen, owner of Inner Balance suggests using a diffuser with essential oils like peppermint, lemon or rosemary, known to invigorate and energize. Drinking peppermint tea is also refreshening.
Treatments around town
Lemongrass Sea Salt Scrub: Santé Spa
A good remedy to fight Calgary’s dry air—while it’s a great add-on to a massage, it’s also wonderful on its own. First, you’ll be vigorously exfoliated from a blend of sea salts, organic lemongrass oil and butters until your skin is smooth and supple. This is then washed off in a Vichy shower before an energizing lemongrass body lotion gets lavished on to further refresh and hydrate. 30 min, $85
Chocolate Bliss Mud Wrap: Riverside Spa
This full-body treatment uses a natural, Chocolate Bliss product line made locally in Bragg Creek. It starts with a sea salt exfoliation before an oxidizing chocolate mud mask is applied. Then while wrapped, you’re treated to a chocolate mud mask facial and scalp massage. Afterwards, seven controlled showerheads remove the mask, and the treatment ends with a back massage and moisturizer application—the chocolate’s caffeine stimulates the circulatory system to firm and tone the skin, while also leaving you with a little energy buzz. 60 min, $140
Facial Renewal Massage: Inner Balance
While this non-invasive treatment for your face is relaxing (you may even fall asleep!), the gentle fingertip massaging motions increase circulation in your face and relieve built-up muscle tension and connective tissue restrictions. Afterwards you’ll notice a softening of fine lines, less under-eye puffiness, and an even skin tone. This rejuvenated, healthy glow should linger for a few days. 60 min, $80
Health benefits: “The skin is the largest organ of the body and plays an important role in absorption and detoxification,” says Robertson. “Maintaining its state of balance and health is a fundamental part of overall well-being.”
Key words to look for: Natural, organic, moisturizing, hydrating, cleansing, conditioning, soothing.
How to keep it going: Gossen suggests a salt scrub at home followed by a self-massage with shea butter or pure oils like jojoba, coconut, grapeseed or almond oil. High in nutrients, they don’t contain petroleum products or artificial chemicals or scents.
Treatments around town
Nourish Nooner: Stillwater Spa
This express pedicure is quick but is more than enough time to give your skin a little TLC. Best of all, included in the treatment is a healthy lunch that can be boxed up with offerings like mixed organic greens, grilled steelhead trout with lemon confit, and fruit. The treatment begins with a soothing aromatic footbath as the nails are clipped and filed, followed by an exfoliating sea salt scrub and leg massage. Lastly, the feet are lotioned and nails polished to a brilliant sheen. You can also choose to do the express manicure instead. 30 min, $63
Matcha Tea Facial: The Spa Ritual
At this Asian-inspired spa (voted one of the Top 50 in Canada), this treatment starts off with a back and foot massage. Next, the face is cleaned with a foam cleanser, bamboo exfoliant, and renewal tonic mist. The face and scalp are then massaged with essential oils, and a mask of medic aloe vera and Japanese matcha tea rejuvenates and increases cell turnover. A rose hydrosol spray is followed by a cool under-eye nourishing gel, while your feet and hands are treated to a soothing massage. Lastly, a final application of a vitamin C moisturizer leaves skin smooth and glowing. 90 min, $195
Juno Pedicure: Spa Europa
This “facial for the feet” begins with a soothing, hydro-therapeutic foot treatment and an exfoliation up to the knee. Next, a facial mask is applied to your feet and lower legs, and your hands get a paraffin treatment. Afterwards, your feet are massaged with hot stones, given a warm paraffin bath, and are then wrapped in algae. It ends with your choice of polish. 90 min, $89