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Toronto Spa Guide

The word spa is rooted in the latin phrase “salus per aquam” or, health from water.

Spa also happens to be the name of a town in what is now Belgium where hot mineral springs were discovered by the ancient Romans and used by soldiers to treat aching muscles and wounds inflicted during battle. The oldest known spa was found in Merano, Italy and is thought to date back more than 5,000 years. These days, you don’t need an excuse to pamper yourself. Travelling for business or pleasure takes a toll on the body and is reason enough to partake in the benefits of a spa. Sample treatments and techniques from around the globe, as well as modern-day therapies and things that just feel great. Remember to always try and arrive 30 minutes before your treatment is about to start. And, if you’re worried about how and how much to tip, just ask when you’re making your appointment. Now relax…and enjoy.ARSENIC SPA
867 Queen St. W., 416-681-0577
Tucked inside Iodine & Arsenic, a funky shop offering all natural beauty products created by owner Julie Lopes, Arsenic bills itself as the anti-spa. Eschewing conventional spa décor you won’t find any bamboo or Buddhas here. With only one esthetician and one treatment room, clients get hands-on, one-on-one service.

The one hour PMS treatment uses a mix of essential oils to alleviate nagging symptoms. Herbs like marjoram and sage are infused in massage oil, and their scent fills the room. Lymphatic drainage (in which pressure is applied over the lymph glands to stimulate detoxification) forms part of a relaxing massage. During the treatment warm towels are placed on the feet and back and thighs are covered in seaweed infused gel to stimulate circulation.

Arsenic also offers a kind of doggy-bag couples’ massage in which one person gets massaged while the other observes and learns how to provide the same. And while other spas may make you pay for the deluxe versions of the classic mani and pedi, Arsenic doesn’t skimp on massage and aromatherapy elements in their mani-pedi package. At $68, it’s a great deal. This month, their Warm Up manicure comes with a steamy hot chocolate.

128 1/2 Cumberland St., 416-9444-8055
With seven different kinds of massage on offer including reflexology, Shiatsu, Tuina Bodyworks and Thai massage, being limber has never been so easy. Ranging from 10 minutes to more than an hour, it’s possible to take a quick one to go or relax, close your eyes and truly escape. Some of the facial treatments include the deep pore cleansing Le Grand Classique, the Alpha-Vital Resurfacing facial using alpha hydroxy acids and the Les Soins Masculin, a men’s facial that includes a soft peel, steaming and massage. Other man-only treatments include manicures, pedicures and waxing. For the body, there is a 90 minute Cellulite Treatment as well as Body Firming and Bust Firming treatments to help tone and even out skin texture, and give a younger, firmer appearance. Clinic Ineed offers group discounts for three or more people.

60 Bloor St. W., 416-922-2823;
Hudson’s Bay Centre,
20 Bloor St. E., 416-928-6845
With two locations both in the heart of downtown, heading in for a little pampering is an easy concept to get used to. You’ll find an extensive list of services for men including the four-hour Executive package (haircut, facial, one hour massage, manicure and spa pedicure). The Bloor St. E. location accommodates couples with their Aphrodite Package (manicure, pedicure, one-hour massage and facial for two).

Manicures are popular – Concepts is known for having many loyal, repeat clients. The 90 minute-long Deep Cleansing Facial which includes a finishing mask tailored to the client’s needs. Another unique offering is Anma: a Shiatsu-style massage that’s done through stretching and touching on pressure points to release the muscles.

164 Davenport Rd., 416-966-4636
This men’s only barber shop and spa offers the classic hot lather shave with hot towel treatment. Their manly-man packages include the 90 minute Smooth Operator (haircut, shave and manicure), the 2 1/2 hour City Slicker (haircut, facial, manicure/pedicure), the three hour Renaissance Man (Facial, manicure/pedicure 60 minute massage) and the four-hour Cosmopolitan (haircut, shave, facial, manicure/pedicure, 60 minute massage.) In addition to waxing, Cru also offers Shiatsu, therapeutic and Thai massages as well as quickie haircut and nail services.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel, 100 Front St. W., 416-350-7500
Body treatments are the specialty here and owner Elizabeth Milan actively researches and creates treatments for specific ailments. Their most popular treatment is the Chocolate Body Indulgence, a 90-minute treat that includes exfoliation with dark chocolate and sugar, a chocolate body wrap and scalp. For couples there are four tempting choices. “Love is in the Air” includes a massage and buff and shine manicure for him and a Balinese Beauty Ritual for her (floral foot bath, body polish, scalp massage, yogurt body wrap, floral bath). The Balinese Beauty Ritual also includes a vagina smoke, a cleansing and apparently stimulating experience where you sit above a pot of smoking herbs.

All spa services are open to men but the Turnaround Experience (facial, hand and nail treatment, scalp massage) and the Sports Body Experience (dry brush exfoliation, body wrap with healing mud, scalp massage, relaxing mineral bath) address men’s specific needs.

18 Elm St., 416-977-6751
The Elmwood Spa is the only spa in Canada that offers Li’Tya (pronounced Le-dee-ah), a treatment philosophy and product line inspired by the traditions and culture of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples. Li’Tya philosophy begins from the time a client walks into the spa as the feet are cleansed and dried herbs are lit, the smoke of which is inhaled to facilitate the process of cleansing.

Lit’Tya The Dreaming is a whole body treatment that includes a pressure point foot massage and pedicure, body wrap, head massage, body massage (using a rhythmic spiralling massage technique), facial and hand treatment. The Elmwood’s other signature treatment is the Li’Tya Binhumarri exfoliating body treatment which uses a mix of Australian mineral salts and essential oils and is followed by a massage.

The Elmwood also offers a range of massages, from Reiki, to hot stone and couples massages.

110 Bloor St. W., 416-929-6114
Located in the back of their glittering Bloor Street boutique, the Guerlain institute is as pretty as the packages their makeup, skin care and perfumes come in. The main specialty of the institute are facials using Guerlain products. All Guerlain aestheticians are trained by Guerlain. The institute is unique in the sense that you do not call and ask for a specific facial, but get a consult and the esthetician analyses your skin’s needs and customizes the facial for you. Most facials last 90 minutes, 20 of which are taken up by massage. For the body, Guerlain offers the Body Dream as well as the Imperial Body Treatment which includes manual body sculpting; both are 90 minutes long.

140 Yorkville Ave., 2nd floor, 416-921-2996
The atmosphere at Jeanet feels like a party with your best girlfriends, but the services aren’t just for girls. To suit male tastes, the popular Fitness Facial and Sports Massages both use lightly scented products.

One of the most popular services at the spa is the Hydrating Facial. Suited to a variety of skin types, it includes skin analysis, cleansing, toning, extraction, massaging of décolleté and a face mask.

When it’s cold outside, go for a Hot Stone Massage. Great for those who’ve been on their feet sightseeing all day is Jeanet’s new Pressotherapy treatment. Giant inflatable booties that are filled with air like a blood pressure pump are placed on the feet to aid in circulation.

25 Bellair St., 416-921-1680
This upscale hand and foot spa is frequented by visiting celebrities. Abandoning old school prep where hands are soaked in warm water—a process whereby the nail absorbs water, leading to the nail expanding and polish chipping earlier—they pioneered the dry manicure. If you’re looking to add a little sugar to your primping, the Choco-Lux manicure or pedicure incorporates richly scented extract of cacao and chocolate creams and sugar in its exfoliation, nourishing mask and massage.

The Hydra-Lux full mani or pedi is topped off with a warm paraffin wax treatment on hands or feet. Lux also offers 30 min. or 60 min. reflexology foot treatments. All services are offered to men and women at the same price.

21 Old Mill Rd., 416-232-3700
The understated elegance of the Old Mill Inn, in the picturesque setting of Humber Valley, makes the perfect setting for a relaxing retreat. There are no rush services here. Rather, it’s where people come to spend the afternoon, day or even weekend. All spa services are available for men and women. However, the Gentlemen’s Hot Towel Facial and the 60 minute Spa Date For Him are specifically tailored for men.

The Old Mill specializes in couples’ spa services and have special rooms to accommodate twosomes. Couples offerings include the Deluxe Spa Date for Two (traditional English Facials and 60 minute Swedish massages followed by Lavender or Rosemary Mint pedicures) and the Paradise Escape (fireside massages by two massage therapists in the privacy of your own room at the Inn, including soak in a tub filled with lavender bath salt and breakfast the next morning).

200 Victoria St., 5th Floor, 416-367-1888
Centered around the healing power of water, the spa takes a “connoisseur” approach by pairing specialty waters with each experience, similar to how a restaurant would pair wine with food. For example, Lorina Lemonadé, bubbly water from France is paired with “Share the Experience Massage” treatment for lovers. However, if you don’t like the recommended pairing, Aqua sommeliers can recommend one of their 50 waters.

On site find an aqua sanctuary with heated whirlpool draped in organza, a dry cedar sauna, and co-ed steam room. Pantages offers an extensive list of services for men including the Oxygentatin Detox Facial, Mark Anthony Refreshing Foot Fizz, a Perrier Citrus Soak and Refine Back Treatment.

Park Hyatt Hotel, 4 Avenue Rd., 416-926-2389
With services as luxurious as the tranquil and warm atmosphere, it’s an added bonus that the purchase of any treatment gives you the use of the spa for the entire day. Work out in the gym, sip tea in the salon, or loaf in a private hammock watching a DVD.

Designed to counteract city living, the Urban Element Facial uses Dermalogica products that are specific to skin type. After cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing, the face is massaged with cooling flat stones. The yummy Mandarin Honey Body Glow begins with a warm mandarin juice and honey mixture applied to the body. Exfoliating French sea salts are then rinsed off by warm cascading water that falls from above, and ends with application of mandarin infused body cream.

For a double yum, the massage suite for two, equipped with whirlpool and fireplace, lets you and someone you love get massaged side-by-side. A decadent take on the couples massage, the Do Cho massage puts two therapists to work on your stressed bod. And for a truly unique experience, try Stillwater’s Aqua Therapy: a therapist moves you through a warm pool of water, heated two degrees warmer than regular body temperature, stretching your body using shiatsu pressure point techniques.

154 Cumberland St., 416-924-0531
This intimate spa uses only organic products. Their extensive range of essential oils have been collected from all over the world including Australia and South America and are hand-blended to meet specific client needs. All services at the spa are for both men and women and they’ll customize packages for couples. The closest thing to a quickie service the spa offers is the 15 minute Sitting Shiatsu done in a special chair. The popular Chinese Tui Na Massage is based on traditional massage and can be combined with essential oils upon request.

One of Summerhill’s more unusual offerings is Cupping. This follows the Chinese tradition of putting a medically heated bulb on your skin for anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes. Cupping is used to treat a variety of ailments like clearing colon blockages, activating or clearing veins or releasing toxins.

Intercontinental Hotel, 225 Front St. W., 416-413-9100
Aromatherapy plays an important role at the Victoria Spa. The 70 minute Victoria Facial uses oils like lavender and cypress, milfoil flower, calendula, sage, thyme and citrus in the cleansing, exfoliating and hydrating of the face. The Head To Toe Reviver begins with a body exfoliation (using a mix of salt, jasmine and citrus essential oils), followed by a deep cleansing botanical facial while you relax under a warm blanket.

For a quick fix, the 15 minute Aromatic Beauty Express Facial consists of a quick cleanse, tone and moisturizing, while the 35 minute Quick Fix Mini Spa Facial offers deep pore cleansing with citrus essential oils and an exfoliating organic peel. Finally the skin is treated to a hydrating vegetal mask. The Victoria Spa is also equipped with private rooms where couples can lay side by side as they receive a 55 or 85 minute Swedish massage.

2901 Bayview Ave., 416-224-1101
With 14 different kinds of facials, this is the place to go to if you’re looking to put your best face forward. Most notable is the Hydro-Lift Facial in which probes that carry a low galvanic current penetrate the skin in the hopes of minimizing deep-set lines. The fairly aggressive Micro-Dermabrasion facial involves moving a small machine, not unlike a mini vacuum cleaner, over the face, processing fine crystals over the skin. It’s only offered by the spa during winter months.

Below the neck, there are a variety of body treatments including Muscle Toning where electrical pads are placed on the body to work hard to get to muscles. Also on offer are Botox, Collagen injections and Restylane treatments. All services are open to men and women.

Windsor Arms Hotel, St. Thomas St., 416-971-9666
With its clubby, dark wood über-man interior, this classic styling will appeal to gentlemen of any age. The Hot Lather Shave is done old-school-style using a straight razor. A facial massage can be added on. Upstairs the unisex full-service spa offers a wealth of services for men from facials to massages.

18 St. Thomas St., 416-971-9666
Located in the historic Windsor Arms Hotel, all services use Darphin products, which combine essential oils and plant extracts in its formulations.

The spa’s deluxe Haute Couture Facial includes lymphatic drainage and a deep tissue massage; the Shirondhara is a deeply relaxing Ayurvedic treatment that involves pouring a steady stream of warm oil on your forehead, and the Abhyanga Ayurvedic Massage is a whole body massage that uses essential oils geared to body type, mental and emotional need.

In addition to Vichy Showers, Reiki massage and hot stone treatments, the spa also offers an Aromatherapy Bath which sees 17 botanical extracts diffused into a whirlpool tub.—Where Staff

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