Beer and spas? Writer Lynn Burshtein visits Ontario’s Grand Wellness Centre for a first hand look:
The revelry commonly associated with drinking beer on holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, while fun, is anathema to a wellness lifestyle. Health enthusiasts who normally embrace a disciplined regimen will chalk up this type of overindulgence as a “cheat day.” Once over, they return to their regular wellness-based program, however low their heads may be hanging (literally and metaphorically).
Enter Grand Wellness Centre, a wellness retreat destination located beside the Grand River in Brantford, Ontario, about an hour’s drive from Toronto. This day spa has found a way to incorporate beer and other alcoholic beverages into its menu of services – no walk of shame necessary.
In business since 2004, and now located in a thoughtfully-restored and rustic former textile factory, Grand Wellness offers a variety of traditional treatments (Swedish and deep tissue massage therapies, reflexology as well as aesthetic services), alternative therapies (reiki, sound and vibrational therapies) and beer-based treatments that are a standout. Aside from the soaking tubs filled with barley and beer, the spa’s signature Healing Ale-ments Salt Scrub, is a mineral salt scrub that combines hops, barley and honey to create a hydrating and energizing treatment for the skin.
There is also an infrared sauna and a separate salt cave room, which includes zero-gravity chairs and a starry-sky ceiling fixture. The benefits of salt caves date back to an 1843 study when Polish physician Feliks Boczkowski noticed that salt miners did not suffer respiratory or lung conditions like other miners would. Well, I’m no scientist, but after sitting in the room for about 45 minutes, I felt that I’dneverbreathed in such clean air.
Grand Central is not quite a party atmosphere akin to your local pub on St. Patty’s, but the service is friendly and guests soaking in the beautiful cedar tubs filled with sudsy, beer-based bubbles can’t help but smile at the idea of drinking their bathwater – a thought that momentarily races through their minds. But there is no need to feel deprived. Along with lemon water and other amenities in the treatment room, a pint of Ramblin’ Road, a local craft brew, is perched atop the tub for guests’ enjoyment. And, for those who want to forsake the consumption of alcohol, Zuber, a brand of European mineral water, is also available.
The spa also has a lovingly-restored yoga studio that offers a variety of classes, including Pilates, flow, restorative and the aptly-named “Yin and Tonic”, a yoga and massage session. Here you can learn how to bend, as opposed to going on a bender. And on Fridays, instead of visiting the local pub, locals convene at Grand Wellness to partake in its restorative yoga and wine evenings.
All of this makes for a celebratory experience that is somewhat gentler on the system.
While there is no restaurant on-site at Grand Wellness Centre, guests can choose to dine at the nearby Fume RestoBar or The Healthy Rabbit. Visitors who want to spend more time in the area can stay at the historic Arlington Hotel in the artsy town of Paris, Ontario, about 20 minutes away.
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A frequent contributor to Travel to Wellness, Lynn was a guest of Grand Wellness Centre in March 2019. Photos provided by Grand Wellness. You can find Lynn on Instagram at @lynnb_travels.