Spa at the Monastery & Suites

Historic St. John’s monastery provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation

It’s not difficult to be transported to another time and place at the Spa at the Monastery & Suites in the heart of downtown St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Slippered guests pad around the hallowed halls and stairs that were once travelled by Christian Brothers. The heritage monastery is steeped in history and tranquility, providing the perfect way to escape the stresses of everyday, says Michelle Melee, general manager and director of marketing at the Spa at the Monastery and Suites.

“The 1930s monastery leaves guests feeling divine and heavenly. You are instantly transported to a serene setting. Whether you come for an hour or a day, we hope that you leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, like you’ve stepped out of the ‘real world’ for a little while,” she says.

A Leading Spas of Canada Destination Medical Spa, Spa at the Monastery aims to provide the ultimate in service, technology, and client care, via a well-organized team of professionals that puts quality, kindness, and compassion at the top of its repertoire. Melee says the spa engages only professionals who truly care about the client, about each other, and about staying on top of the technology in the industry.

With three full levels in use, the historic Spa at the Monastery is the largest spa in the city. Each floor has its own name and function. The upper Serenity Level has five aesthetic rooms, four massage rooms, two couple duet massage rooms, and two rooms with a hydrotherapy tub and a Vichy shower, along with two separate waiting areas and a women’s change room. The middle Harmony Level is more of a social setting with a large manicure/pedicure room, a smaller pedicure duet room, hair salon and restaurant, as well as the reception and retail boutique and a waiting room for services offered on that floor. The lower Vitality Level houses the three soaking pools and a cardio workout area, complete with both male and female change rooms.

“Along with this, we also have a separate building that is adjoined by an underground tunnel; in this converted school, we have 27 luxurious suites for overnight accommodations and a conference room for corporate meetings, or get-togethers of any sort,” says Melee. Suites feature air-massage tubs, king size beds, fireplaces, Aveda amenities, and high-speed Internet, among other things.

The Spa at the Monastery’s “recipe for success” incorporates guests’ arrival, pre-treatment, treatment, post-treatment and exit. “We welcome every person and treat them like a guest in our home. We strive to make sure our guests’ full experience is satisfying from start to finish,” she adds.

The comprehensive spa menu features aromatic body wraps, refreshing facials, a full array of relaxing and therapeutic massages and body treatments, therapeutic mineral baths and hand and foot care treatments, as well as a full-service hair salon. An integrated staff of physicians, nurses, skin care therapists and other wellness professionals also offer nonsurgical medical aesthetic procedures including Botox, wrinkle correction fillers, microdermabrasion, intense anti-aging facials, chemical peels, Visia Skin Analysis and laser hair removal.

The signature treatment, says Melee, is the spa’s Himalayan Rejuvenation Treatment, a two-hour Aveda service loosely based on Ayurvedic Panchakarma, a series of treatments that detoxify the body, and are usually received between the changing of the major seasons when the body’s immune system is working overtime (summer into fall and winter into spring). “Aveda wanted to respect and use this Ayurvedic wisdom, yet create a nurturing but effective spa treatment, so they crafted a treatment that used the pre- and post-Panchakarma procedures,” she says.

The five-step journey begins with a 30-minute process that involves lymphatic and pressure point facial massage and a scalp massage combined with an inhalation therapy using essential oils. Next, a dry exfoliation is performed with exfoliation gloves followed by a vigorous Ayurvedic-style massage. The fourth phase is a plant perfume steam bath, using a steam canopy over the massage table allowing impurities to be released through perspiration. The final stage is a version of Ayurvedic Shirodhara called Relaxation during which a warm stream of Aveda Tranquillesence is poured onto the forehead for 15 minutes.

“This treatment encourages relaxation of the nervous system,” says Melee. “The five steps lead one into the next to provide the ultimate in relaxation as the body and mind integrate taking the client to a different level of self-awareness.”

Another guest favourite, she says, is the spa’s Couple’s Duet Experience, an hour-long, side-by-side massage in the deluxe fireplace suite followed by an aromatherapy Jacuzzi soak with a fruit smoothie or glass of wine.

“With the continued explosion of affordable spas geared toward middle-income earners, more and more people will now be able to take a trip to a nearby spa to enjoy a professional treatment or wellness program,” says Melee. “Corporations recommend spa treatments to their employees as a preventative aid to stress and other health problems that lead to absenteeism. Businesses will increasingly use spas to build relationships and motivate employees. These are the years that people are mixing business with spa pleasure.”

Spa at the Monastery At A Glance

Number of treatment rooms: 4 aesthetics treatment rooms; 4 massage treatment rooms; 3 massage duet rooms; 2 body treatment rooms (hydrotherapy and a Vichy shower room)
Number of staff: 51 full-time employees
Products/Retail: Aveda, Phytomer, Gewhol, and Spa Ritual
Website: monastery-spa.com

by Bernadette Johnson | Fall 2011