ONTARIO: SPAS AT THE WINDSOR ARMS, TORONTO
The Spa: The Spa at The Windsor Arms Hotel in downtown Toronto.
The Environment: The spa is an intimate two-level space located on the second floor of the Windsor Arms. The hotel itself is situated just a block from the ritzy shops and restaurants of Bloor Street and just a short walk to the renowned and equally-ritzy Yorkville for more upscale shops and restaurants.
The Distinction: This intimate spa offers the most elegant swimming environment of any spa facility in the city. The beautiful indoor pool area has its own romantic fireplace and you can have lunch served here.
The Experience: With uniformed doorman at-the-ready, the renowned Windsor Arms (one of the city's original gem hotels) is known for its sophisticated and upscale appeal and the spa does not disappoint. It's intimate - just seven treatment rooms - but the ambience is elegant and relaxing, and the service is warm and personable.
I'm booked for an Acupuncture Facial. To the best of my knowledge, this is one of the few spas in the city to offer this treatment. Aesthetician and acupuncturist Lekha Dial begins with inserting a very slim needle into my earlobe to calm the mind. Just a slight pinprick is felt. More of these ultra slim needles are placed in the feet, ankles, forehead and the major meridians of the face. The placement of these needles is said to help increase blood flow and the production of collagen. The philosophy behind this particular facial is all abut improving yourself from the inside out, much like the driving philosophy behind the spa itself. All very holistic.
Feeling and looking (I'm certain) very much like a human pin coushion, I use the next 30 minutes to relax in a darkened treatment room, cozy under blankets and listening to soft music. Lekha removes the needles (which again doesn't hurt) and performs reiki (an energy treatment) to restore and balance energy. The treatment concludes with a deep moisturizing mask.
Because of the use of needles, the Acupuncture Facial is not one of the most relaxing treatments on the spa menu, it's really another option on the growing list of anti-aging treatments now being offered at spas everywhere.
From here I’m handed over to Sergio Kotchoubei, a European M.D. with 20 years of experience in general and alternative medicine. I’ve never been too crazy about hot stone massages. Always felt they were a bit gimmicky but that was before Dr. Kotchoubei got his hands and hot stones on me. It was so incredibly relaxing that I fell asleep on the treatment table, and that’s a rarity. He explains that the benefit of the stones is in the heat and the added manipulation of muscles. Heat and movement improves circulation, helps in the elimination of toxins, and leads to greater relaxation. It certainly worked for me.
Accommodations: The historic, 4-star Windsor Arms houses 26 upscale suites. Within walking distance, visitors will also find the Four Seasons and the Park Hyatt.
Where to Eat: Fresh fruit and teas are provided in the spa but if you're looking for something a bit more substantial there's Afternoon Tea served in a lovely room just off the lobby, or for dinner there's the elegant
Courtyard Café. The Courtyard Cafe isn one of the city's favoured spots for romantic dining.
The Extras: There's a gym and the optional services of a personal trainer, plus steam room and sauna. There's also a salon. Just off the lobby there's a executive-style barbershop complete with comfy, high-end leather chairs and its own bar.
The Cost: At the time of our visit the 90-minute Hot Stone massage was $150 Cdn. First time Acupuncture treatments are $90.00 for 60 minutes and subsequent treatments are $80 for 40 minutes. Please be sure to check with the spa to confirm prices prior to your visit.
Beyond the Spa: The area is best known for shopping and dining. heated and non-chlorinated pool. And if you rather relax poolside, then stretch out in front of the toasty fireplace. Spa lunches can also be served here. The fitness room, sauna, and steam room round out the spas facilities.
What I liked best: The heated and non-clorinated pool is a gem. I also found the staff and the therapists welcoming, warm and personable.
Words to the Wise: Spa therapists say the acupuncture treatment can benefit an assortment of conditions from deep facial lines, puffiness, dark circles, to acne. However, it does take up to six treatments for a most noticeable difference.
For more information: www.windsorarmshotel.com