Stillwater Spa, Alberta


THE SPA: Stillwater, A Hyatt Spa

THE LOCATION: The second level of the Hyatt Regency Calgary on Stephen Walk Avenue. Stephen Walk Avenue is a bustling, five blocks that is designated a National Historic District where turn-of-the-century facades house some of the city’s finest shops – there are more than 1,000 outlets – and a haven of eateries and pubs. It’s a city centre hot spot that teems with action day and night.

THE DISTINCTION: The overwhelming feeling of tranquility that engulfs you once up the escalator and through the doors of the Stillwater. You have left a scene of frenetic shoppers and jovial crowds dining or drinking al fresco and, as you collapse in a comfy chair, surrounded by dark wood furnishings, calmness prevails.


THE EXPERIENCE: After a whirlwind of shopping, my girlfriend and I treat ourselves to facials. For the fun of it, we book the Spa Duet for side-by-side facials in a luxurious setting. Then we get serious (well, just for a moment) and decide to pamper ourselves with the Stillwater’s Sonata Facial. Our treatment begins with 15 minutes in the Eucalyptus steam room where you are convinced that nasty toxins are seeping out of your body. Feeling oh so, cleansed, we lie back in comfy reclining chairs to be treated to a European facial with the product line Institute Esthederm. My skin is given a careful inspection by Leah, my esthetician. Sure enough, it is decided that I need a good clean-up and am treated with a deep pore cleanser followed by a Gommage – a treatment utilizing plant based lotions that exfoliates and re-hydrates the skin. During any facial, my favourite treatment is the masque. At the Stillwater Spa, this was especially idyllic, as my neck, arms, head, feet and lower legs were massaged during the mask portion of the facial. It put me into a trance-like state of relaxation, usually only experienced under the hands of a massage therapist.

BEYOND THE SPA: Another feel-good place is The Talisman Centre, a Calgary landmark. As one of North America’s largest athletic facilities, it boasts five gymnasiums, five pools plus hot tubs and whirlpools, two indoor running tracks and close to 40,000 square feet of area devoted to everything from weight training to sports medicine. Visitors to the city are welcome to drop in. I enjoyed yoga then attended a demonstration on healthy eating with chef, Pierre Meloche. The weight room is one of the most impressive I’ve seen. More than 200 of Canada’s top athletes have trained here!

ACCOMMODATION: Beyond the Hyatt which houses about ? rooms, there is no shortage of high-end, sophisticated hotels. I stayed at the Fairmont Palliser. Typical of Fairmont it is spacious and elegant and exudes an old world charm; it is also in the heart of the action. For those who wish to stay out of the busy hubbub, Calgary boasts some lovely, not too far away, B&BS. Another visit, I stayed at Inglewood B&B, in a heritage home, in a charming neighbourhood and beside a river walkway. Easy to do your morning jog or walk beside the Bow River.

WHAT TO EAT: For a luxuriant day, dine at the spa on the likes of Grilled wild salmon with a salad of lambs lettuce, dried figs and maple balsamic dressing.
For one of the city’s finest breakfasts, seek out the Lazy Loaf & Kettle Café & Bakery in Parkdale. Surrounded by hungry locals, chow down on the French toast. To dine with the who’s who, shimmy up to the oyster bar at Catch – yes, this prairie town knows about oysters! Savour Alberta beef or bison at The Ranche, housed in a historic mansion and surrounded by parkland. For neighbourhood Italian, it’s Buon Giorno Ristorante Italiano on 17th, hey, the waiters all look Italian and so do many diners.

COST: When we visited, the 60-minute Sonata Facial was $125 Cdn. For two in the Spa Duet it is $285. Keep in mind that these prices may have changed since our visit so be sure to check with the spa to verify.

WHAT I LIKED BEST: I loved the Spa Duet. My friend and I didn’t chat much, but we shared some of our ‘wow, doesn’t that feel great’ moments and it seemed the perfect fit after a day of shopping and sharing. This was my first experience of having a treatment with a buddy and it worked.

BEYOND THE SPA: You can check out trendy shops and galleries during the day and drink and dine at stylish haunts like, Brava Bistro in the evening. For funky antique shops and fun eateries spend time in Inglewood, or wander the neighbourhoods of Mission and Kensington for unique clothing and shoe shops plus interesting galleries. If you visit during the renowned Calgary Stampede, (held in July) this is when Calgary’s cowboy culture is most evident.

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Judi Lees is a freelance travel writer who lives in British Columbia, Canada.