British Columbia’s Winning Ways
Jogging along the seawall in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, you’ll view mountains and marinas, cruise ships and freighters, sailboats, ferries, and seaplanes. A sense of adventure is in the air. Plans for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are underway, promising world-class sports venues in the city as well as enhanced transportation links to Whistler Mountain; and more day spas than ever. Go now to enjoy the best of British Columbia.
Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia’s Absolute Spa Group caters to weary travelers downtown and at Vancouver International Airport. Lisogar-Cocchia rejuvenated her father’s Century Plaza Hotel on Burrard Street, across from Wall Centre’s new entertainment complex. Recently expanded, Absolute Spa at the Century offers spacious, light-filled treatment rooms where I experienced an amazing ayurvedic Pizichil—a treatment in which two therapists dip pieces of linen in warm oils which are massaged over the body. Nice touches include a relaxation room where light lunch is included with spa services, and an indoor swimming pool. At the airport, get a fast treatment or swim and workout before or after your flight. The international terminal’s elegant Fairmont Hotel has a full-service Absolute Spa, minutes from airline desks. For more information contact Absolute Spa, (604) 321-4847 or visit www.absolutespa.com; Century Plaza Hotel, (604) 697-5302; Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, (604) 443-1816.
Vancouver’s award-winning boutique hotel, The Wedgewood, opened the smallest spa in British Columbia. With just two treatment rooms, The Wedgewood is the only Vancouver spa to offer Epicuren skincare. Joanna Tsaparas, the hotel’s co-owner, recommends the Ultimate Cinnamon Enzyme Facial and the Chai Soy Anti-Stress Back Treatment. For more information call (604) 608-5342 or visit www.wedgewoodhotel.com
Vida Wellness Spas in Vancouver at the Sheraton and Whistler at the Fairmont, teamed with Canadian chemist B. Kamins to indulge your sweet tooth: Maple Sugar Body Scrub contains natural sugars of Canadian maple trees. At the downtown Sheraton Wall Centre, Vida’s eleven treatment rooms adjoin a fitness center and pool. Featuring an expansive relaxation lounge, the 4,000-square-foot Vida Vancouver is popular with corporate groups and bridal parties. Nice touches include a cedar steam cabinet for the ayurvedic Swedana steam treatment and Dermalogica facials. For more information call (604) 682-8432 or visit www.vidawellness.com
Yaletown harbors an inner-city residential/marina complex. In a former warehouse, Skoah takes skincare to a new dimension—affordable. Drawing young men and women, Skoah’s no-nonsense look lets you focus on the essentials. “Personal training for your skin is not a guilty pleasure or indulgence,” says founder/owner Chris Scott, who researched the market for two years before creating his own line of products for facials, blended with plant extracts from British Columbia. For more information call (604) 642-0200 or visit www.skoah.com
For something completely different, visit Miraj, Canada’s first hammam spa. Inspired by visiting a Turkish steam hammam in Paris, Surinder Bains Kasour brought Middle Eastern mystique to Vancouver’s bustling Granville Street. The prophet Mohammed endorsed bathing in 600 C.E., says Kasour as she escorts guests to the mosaic-tiled hammam—a low-mist massage chamber with marble slabs where your body is exfoliated with olive oil-based black soap from Morocco. A full-body gommage followed by a massage and facial costs $99. Miraj has separate days for men and women. For more information call (604) 733-5151 or visit www.mirajhammam.com
Escape to a wilderness resort at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Scheduled flights to Tofino are met by a speedboat for transfer to Clayoquot Wilderness Resorts where mountains and sea meet in a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Clayoquot (pronounced “KLAH-kwaht”) consists of two ecologically sensitive camps and the Healing Grounds Spa. Anchored offshore, the sixteen-room hotel barge has an atrium-style restaurant, library with media center, fitness room, and hot tub. The Healing Grounds Spa is nestled among ancient cedars by a nearby waterfall. Timbered treatment rooms have rough-hewn beam ceilings, handmade cedar woodwork, and heated slate floors. Wet rooms with Vichy and Swiss showers enhance salt glows, mud and herbal wraps. The signature Glacial Clay facial with British Columbia oceanic clay is followed by a sea kelp cleansing mousse. After a hot rocks massage, relax in the steamy rainforest sauna, then cool off in a lake-water shower that spills over a slate wall like a tsunami wave. New this season: a cedar deck among the pines for yoga and massage alfresco.
The Outpost at Bedwell River is Clayoquot Resorts’ safari-style camp, reached by boat and horse-drawn wagon, or chartered seaplane. Set on an estuary where bald eagles and heron nest, eighteen prospector tents are furnished with antiques. General Manager John Caton and his wife Adele located a company in the Northwest Territories that created authentic replicas of Gold Rush era tents in white canvas. The tents are furnished with Oriental rugs and handmade willow-twig beds topped by down duvets. They have no running water; but communal showers with an old-fashioned basin and mirror for washing up are located on wooden boardwalks. Chilly mornings challenge city slickers to use remote-controlled propane stoves, while campfires warm the sauna and dining areas, mingling wood smoke and coffee aroma.
Chef Timothy May produces health-conscious meals with a combination of Canadian and European flair. Open May 1 to Oct. 30, three-night packages from $2,075 U.S., include Vancouver-Tofino flights, airport shuttle, and water taxi. For more information call (888) 333-5405 or www.wildretreat.comFounding director of the International Spa Association, Bernard Burt is a travel columnist for a variety of publications. Tracking trends worldwide, his column appears in HL&S, professional journals, and at www.SpaGoer.com. Author of Fodor’s Healthy Escapes, Burt’s latest book for the Globe Pequot Press is 100 Best Spas of the World with Pamela Price.