When you visit a new country, are you the type of traveller who searches out familiar dishes or are you looking to try local delicacies? If you identify more strongly with the latter, you might appreciate these spa treatments featured at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts around the world. These regionally-inspired spa packages reflect the unique cultures that they are embedded in:
The spa at InterContinental Presidente Cozumel Resort & Spa offers treatments that allow guests to experience the mystery and magic of Mayan culture, including the 170-minute Mayan Lovers Ritual. This treatment begins with a traditional Mayan Temazcal, a sweat lodge concept dating back centuries to when Mexico’s Mayan Rivera was wilderness and Mayan civilization was at the peak of its power. Guests embark on a private journey with their loved one while they relax in a generous soaking tub containing aromatic salts and essential oils, finished with a side-by-side massage.
Miami, United States
MySpa at InterContinental Miami introduces travelers to the wonders of citrus grown in the state with the Gentlemen’s Ginger-Lime Scrub. Men are invited to relax after a day of activities in the vitamin D-rich Florida sun, with this citrus treatment designed to calm and awaken all of their senses.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Travelers can pamper themselves with an amazing combination of treatments that take them on a wellness journey at Akua Spa at InterContinental San Juan. The Caribbean Indulge treatment, inspired by the island, starts with a coconut sugar exfoliating scrub paying homage to one of Puerto Rico’s most popular foods, coconut, which is followed by a soothing mango wrap. The treatment ends with a relaxing Swedish massage or organic glow facial.
A treatment at InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort’s Ikal Spa includes the Signature Mayan Honey Exfoliation that allows guests to pamper themselves in a delightful blend of local honey and fresh yogurt. The experience melts tension away and instantly revives dry skin. The locally produced Mayan honey is recognized for its extra sweetness and health benefits.
By Heather West
I remember my first massage vividly. It was almost 20 years ago. I was in the midst of planning a conference and my CEO at the time could see the stress building. She asked if I’d ever had a massage and when she found out I hadn’t, she recommended a trip to her therapist, conveniently located two doors down from our office.
That massage was transformative. Not only did it relieve the tension I was feeling; it turned me into a massage junkie. It became the first of many, many massages. I’m a sucker for the whole scene now. I love the soothing soundtrack, aroma of essential oils, and the sound of trickling water when I walk in. Even before I get my massage, I feel the tension begin to slip away, and I’m like a kid in a candy store waiting for my turn.
I have had a lot of wonderful experiences, a few mediocre ones and one doozy that will be forever etched in my brain. In most cases, I dread the end. I always wish the therapist would lose track of time and I would get away with a few extra minutes. However, on the occasion of my worst massage, I was watching the clock waiting for it to end.
I was at a high-end retreat with my mother and sisters. We’d been looking forward to our get away for some time. We were giddy filling out our information on the clip boards waiting to see who would be greeted and taken into their room first.
I should have known when the gentleman who greeted me arrived with bare feet. In my Zen state of mind, I shrugged it off. That was until I laid face down on the table with his feet directly below me. No amount of essential oil would mask that odour. It’s not very relaxing to hold your breath during a massage, but that’s what I did until he moved out of that position. The smell was still there, but at least it wasn’t directly below me.
Then there was the temperature in the room. When I first walked in, I commented on how cold it was. It was winter. The window was wide open. Even with many layers of blankets, I was freezing. I mentioned it again, but he still didn’t close the window. I started to seize up.
The kicker was his massage technique. I always request a full-body massage. I don’t have any issues, so I don’t have special requirements or need “therapy.” However, he started to twist and contort my body in really physically uncomfortable and unusual ways. I felt like an athlete being prepped for the Olympic trials. I asked him what he was doing, but by this point, I was so flabbergasted, I don’t even recall what he said. Although, I do know that it wasn’t anything along the lines of, “Oh, I’m sorry. Would you like me to stop?” Or, “What technique would you prefer?”
It was the longest 60-minute massage I’ve ever had. It created tension that wasn’t even there when I arrived. Thankfully, that tension melted away when I regaled my mother and sisters with the story over wine and peals of laughter.
Heather West, principal of Fresh Communications, is an executive communication consultant and writer who helps leaders and organizations build trust with effective communications. She can be reached at www.freshcomms.ca, by phone at 416-884-5741, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kelly Townsend
Club D’Elite has several charms. The tropical decor, complete with palm trees and a clear blue sky overhead in the lounge area, immediately instilled a feeling of relaxation and comfort. When my colleague and I visited the spa in November, we felt immediately transported stepping into the warm waiting area on a chilly evening.
The staff members were friendly and accommodating–if a little too eager to check in on us every few minutes–and each room we visited was clean and spotless. The food provided in the buffet area was savoury and a departure from the tapas-style meal offerings that have become quite common among spas. The buffet style meal is inspired by spas in Asia, according to Club D’Elite’s head chef.
The most damning flaw of Club D’Elite is its inability to serve all body types, instead catering to slimmer clientele. I am by no means a thin person, nor am I morbidly obese, but after several failed attempts to find a proper robe size, it was made clear to me they didn’t have proper attire available for women above a size 14. Staff members were apologetic, as I spent the rest of the visit in my street clothes, but it was disheartening to discover that not all spaces are designed for body positivity and inclusivity. Truth be told, I was ready to leave then and there, but stayed on for the sake of giving a full review.
The 45 minute back massage was not a relaxing experience. My colleague and I were informed beforehand that our two massage therapists had very different methods (one specialized in gentle massage, the other in deep tissue massage), essentially making it a coin toss for who would be waking up very sore the next morning (spoiler alert: it was me). The therapist made no attempt to learn if I had any focus areas needing attention and sparsely checked in to see if she was being too rough.
The foot massage, however, fared much better. While still rough at times, the ability to sit and enjoy drinks and a movie with a colleague while getting joint foot rubs was a luxurious experience. The spa is open until 2 AM, giving clients more than enough time to relax in their post-massage lull with drinks and a warm meal.
Club D’Elite is not for everyone, it certainly wasn’t for me, but for the clients it does appeal to, this spa is worth its very reasonable price tag.
Awards program continues to celebrate best of Canadian spa industry
Monday, September 19, 2016 – Spa Inc. magazine, in partnership with the Spa Industry Association of Canada (SIAC), is pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the 2016 Canadian Spa and Wellness Awards. The annual spa awards program celebrates creative and innovative spas, industry partners and educators that make the Canadian spa and wellness industry great.
Last year’s awards were a resounding success, with spas across Canada celebrating their awards through social media. Top New Spa winner iwa Spa included their award title on a billboard in Collingwood. “[This award] really gives us the validation that we’re on the right track,” said iwa Spa founder Michelle Udell.
“Spa Inc. and SIAC are incredibly pleased with the success of this awards program, and thrilled to have the opportunity to once again honour the best of Canada’s spa industry,” says Susan A. Browne, publisher of Spa Inc. magazine. “I wish the best of luck to each nominee for the 2016 awards.”
Nominations for the Canadian Spa and Wellness Awards will close October 4, 2016. The nine award categories are as follows: Top 25 Spas, Top Destination Spa, Top New Spa, Top Day Spa, Top Medi-Spa, Top Sanitas Spa, Consumers Choice, Education and Top Spa Partner. The winners will be announced in early November. Please follow us on Twitter @SpaIncMag for future awards news and follow the hashtag #CdnSpaAwards.
Participate by either nominating or supporting excellence through sponsorship opportunities.
For more information, nomination queries or sponsorship package information, please visit
www.CanadianSpaAwards.ca or contact us at: email@example.com.
About Spa Inc.
Spa Inc. is the only bilingual Spa magazine in Canada reaching spa owners and the clients they serve with the latest trends, products and services. Valued by spa professionals and distributors as a comprehensive resource, our loyal audience frequently turn to Spa Inc. for the latest in the spa and wellness industry across Canada and abroad. To learn
more, please visit www.spainc.ca
About Spa Industry Association of Canada (SIAC)
As Canada’s national spa organization, Spa Industry Association of Canada (SIAC) provides support for the development of the Canadian spa industry and the promotion of Canada as the finest spa destination in the world. Led by a dedicated Board of Directors from across the country, SIAC represents the broad spectrum of the spa experience, from resort and day spas, destination, mineral springs spas to medical spas, schools and suppliers. To learn more about Spa Industry Association of Canada, please see www.spaindustry.ca
Our Summer 2016 issue is all about beauty. In her piece on oncology esthetics, Morag Currin gives estheticians working with clients undergoing cancer treatment advise about using the colour wheel to find the best palette to suit their client. Whether you’re an esthetician or spa therapist helping a client look good, or you’re doing your makeup at home, you can use the colour wheel to enhance your beauty routine.
Here’s how it works:
- Grab a hand mirror and try to identify the dominant colour of the iris of your eye
- Find your iris colour on the colour wheel
- The colour swatch that sits directly opposite your iris colour is your complementary colour. Example: if your dominant iris colour is blue, your complementary colour will be orange.
- Once you’ve identified your complementary colour, have fun with it! By all means, wear orange if your eyes are blue, or try out warm orange-inspired shades like coral and peach.
Tina Davies is the owner and founder of Natural Effects Permanent Makeup in Toronto. I spoke to her about her microblading practice and the special tools she’s designed for it:
What is microblading?
Microblading is the newest hottest trend in permanent makeup. It’s really natural eyebrows that last for a year, a year and a half and then it just goes away. It’s not your grandma’s permanent makeup.
Is it like a tattoo? Do you use a special ink and tools?
Yes, it’s specialized ink just for permanent makeup and specialized tools, so it’s in a class of its own. I manufacture the tools [I use] but I don’t manufacture the inks.
When you are designing your microblading tool, what are you looking for?
For this microblading procedure typically, and what’s been done in the past few years, is you would use some kind of handle that looks like an X-Acto Knife handle. The artist would have to insert a needle into that handle, assemble it basically and then apply it to the skin. The way that I’ve designed my product is that there’s no assembly, it comes fully assembled, and it’s completely safe and disposable. So it’s only a one-time use tool and it has a ruler on the handle that helps with measuring.
Where does the ink you use come from?
There are many companies…that manufacture the inks that are safe and tested for permanent makeup. They have a colour range that is broken into warm and cool colours so that you can find the right colour for, say, a blonde, a brunette, an Asian, a Black person. You would have to use your artistic experience and colour theory to choose the right colours for your clients.
How long have you been doing permanent makeup?
Why do you think it’s such a hot trend right now?
I think it’s because of social media, because people now have access to information and educators have the ability to spread their knowledge. Like for me, I’m an educator, I can teach people, I can train, I can do webinars, I can do blogging, and then spread the word about permanent makeup. When I post pictures, people then have interest, more people come to have it done. There’s just more visibility. Literally estheticians every day are taking courses for [microblading], two-day courses in Toronto or wherever – but two days really isn’t enough. I’m actually against that, but where the money is people will go. People should get proper education.
Are there safety concerns?
Definitely. Blood-borne pathogens is a big part of it – cross-contamination. When people go to a tattoo shop they’re like “Oh my good, is this needle sterile? Is this safe? Are they touching me and touching someone else? What’s going to happen?” So people are very very concerned about cross-contamination. That’s why I made these one-time use disposable [microblading] tools that never existed. Safety is number one in tattooing, regardless. Number two, of course, is skill, the qualifications of the technicians. If you can combine safety and skill, then you’ve got a really good service.
It’s interesting, when I first heard about microblading, I had this image in my head of a cartoonish tattooed-on eyebrow, but when I saw the video on your website, I thought “Oh, actually that looks very natural”.
It’s very popular! I’m literally booked a year in advanced – a year. And that’s me working with clients back to back.
Other than eyebrows, what other procedures do you do?
Eyeliner. I used to do lips but I don’t do that anymore.
So eyebrows are the majority of what you do?
Yes. It’s actually about 70 per cent of most people’s business, because eyebrows are something women cannot live without. If you don’t have lipstick on that’s okay, but if you don’t have eyebrows…
Do you have clients come in who have lost their hair to something like alopecia or chemotherapy?
Yes, all the time! I probably have two or three alopecia clients a week. Chemotherapy is not as prevalent because they are waiting for their hair to grow back.
What is the response you get from your clients?
They love it. I’ve had clients who have been doing this with me for 15 years. They come back all the time because it’s just something for a woman, on her face, it’s so important. You just cannot not have eyebrows and the clients that come are usually people that care. So people love the procedure and they love how natural it looks, that’s the main thing.
Learn more about Tina Davies and her microblading technique at www.tinadavies.com.
By Hermione Wilson
I used to think wearing lipstick required a sacrifice. You could have this bold, beautiful lip colour but in order to have that you had to accept the fact that your lips would feel dry and cracked the whole time, and have to refresh your lipstick every 10 seconds.
And yes, before you ask, I did put on lip balm first, but it didn’t seem to help. Inevitably I would start to feel the moisture leaching out of my lips and have to fight the irresistible urge to lick them. Pretty soon the lovely colour I put on at the beginning of the night was everywhere – my water glass, my napkin, my fingers – except on my lips.
So needless to say, I didn’t really like wearing lipstick except on very rare special occasions. That is, until I discovered SST’s Signature Power Stay Lipstick “Willpower”, a lovely shade of matte red that give me a bold lip without being blindingly glossy. But the best part about this lipstick is that it contains Vitamin E and beeswax, so no dry lips!
I think I’m in love. I never get that horrible desert-dry feeling with the Power Stay Lipstick, even after it sets, and it doesn’t move around once it does, so no more smudges on my water glass! SST’s long-lasting lipstick has empowered me to start wearing lipstick more often, not just on special occasions. I never knew wearing lipstick could be so effortless and fun! I have tasted the sweet sweet fruit of a hydrating matte lipstick and I’m never looking back.
By Kelly Townsend
First, a confession: I’m utterly clueless when it comes to skin care and beauty regimes.
If you’d asked me a week ago, I couldn’t have told you the first thing about what exfoliating your skin does, or what skin toner even is. It hadn’t been much of a problem in my youth, but as I got older it felt like my skin was starting to cry out for attention. Finally, it got to the point where I decided to book my very first facial at Amanda Borys Aesthetics in hopes of soothing my weary skin. By the end of it I officially became a skin care convert.
Within the first few minutes, my esthetician, Amanda Borys, easily identified the problem areas with my skin. It was severely dehydrated, which explained why it was tight and irritated as well as embarrassingly oily at times. When I casually mentioned that my face gets flushed easily, she even went into detail about why it occurred and, for the first time in my life, actually told me how I can reduce it.
Part of what held me back from getting treatment before was simply embarrassment over how little I’d done for my skin. I’ve been to manicure appointments where the attendant would chastise me over my lack of nail care, and I wasn’t exactly looking for an hour of skin-shaming. As I went through the history of products and treatments I’d done, I awkwardly explained how little product ever touches my face. Surprisingly, Amanda reassured me that it’s far better to avoid product than to overuse them without educating yourself first. She told me horror stories about women who had severely damaged their skin just by overusing certain products.
Once we got into the facial itself, I slowly but surely felt myself easing into the process. Amanda was courteous enough to explain to me what she was doing as she was doing it, and never balked at my questions. As the session came to a close, I was so relaxed I ended up pulling my sweater on inside out.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was life-changing, but the experience really opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing out on by neglecting my skin. Once the appointment was over I could actually feel the difference in my face, as if it had been rejuvenated. Since then I have followed the suggestions made by Amanda and that irritated sensation that used to plague me hasn’t returned.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is that taking care of your skin isn’t as complicated as it seems, and there’s no need to feel embarrassed to ask for help. By taking a couple of hours out of my day I was able to identify problems that I never knew could be fixed and discover a quick and simple process to keep my skin from reverting back to its parched and oily state. What I thought could be another awkward spa experience ended up being one of the most relaxing and educational hours I’ve had in a long while.
By Hermione Wilson
When I headed to Ste. Anne’s Spa on a Thursday morning, my mind was preoccupied with the work I was leaving behind at the office. It helped that the drive up was smooth and relatively traffic free. It was clear from the moment I neared Ste. Anne’s that this place was way off the beaten track. I passed spa cottages nestled in trees with names like Birdsong and Farmhouse, sheep pastures, and the little Ste. Anne’s Spa Bakery. It was all very peaceful and very far from the hustle and bustle of the city I had just left behind.
Still, I arrived the spa feeling a little frazzled. I was early, so I sat in my car for a moment, a bit nervous. This was only my second time visiting a spa and I was convinced I was somehow going to do it wrong.
When I got inside I met with a very friendly staff member who gave me a quick tour of the main building. I promptly forgot half the directions she gave me and had to retrace my steps a bit later, but I did remember her saying the building was shaped like a W, which helped. Down in the change room I realized I should have questioned her more closely about how to open the lockers. I fiddled with the key pad for a few frustrating minutes until suddenly, as if summoned by my confusion, my guide appeared behind me to give me more detailed instructions.
Finally free of my bags (and most of my clothes) I headed to the outdoor pool to spend the few hours I had to kill before my first treatment. After a half hour spent doggy paddling and floating back and forth, and then sunning myself poolside, I was starting to feel a lot more zen.
That being said, I was beyond excited for the Eucalyptus Body Wrap I had been booked in for. It was everything I hoped for and more! After picking me up in the waiting room and ushering me into to the steam room for a very moist 10 minutes (I loved every minute of it), my therapist wrapped me up in warm eucalyptus-soaked towels and bundled me in plastic. I felt like I was in a cocoon as she massaged my scalp and rubbed hydrating lotions into my face and feet (Ste. Anne’s new Drench Mineral Mask for my face and their Foot Cream for my feet).
Aside from being snug as a bug in a rug, I loved that, after every treatment, my therapist would leave her hands in place for a moment – on my head or my feet or wherever she happened to be at the time. Although we were basically strangers and hardly spoke, her touch felt very loving and comfortable. I don’t mind telling you that I very nearly drifted off to sleep several times.
With a smile and a recommendation to drink lots of water, my therapist ushered me back to the land of the living. I had just enough time to grab a delicious cranberry biscotti snack before I met with Ste. Anne’s director of sales and marketing Wanda Hoehn for lunch. I ordered not one but two specials off the menu (because, why not?): a cream of broccoli soup with grated cheddar and a red snapper done up with bean sprouts. I topped it off with a rich chocolate spice tea (Rooibos and chocolate, described as “caffeinated chocolate”) which was dessert enough for me.
Can I just say, as a virtual spa virgin, what an unexpected pleasure it is to wander around the spa in nothing but a swim suit and a robe. Sitting in Ste. Anne’s well-appointed main dining room and sipping my spicy tea, I felt like I had slept in on a Sunday morning and then wandered downstairs in my bathrobe to enjoy a meal someone else had prepared. So this is what being a lady of leisure must feel like!
All too soon it was time to tear myself away from this charming country retreat and face the frightful traffic heading back to the city. Still, I carried the bit of peace and quiet I’d gained back with me.
Special thanks to Wanda Hoehn, my lovely therapist Cherlyn, and all the lovely Ste. Anne staff who made my spa day such a success!
For more on Ste. Anne’s Spa, lookout for our Fall 2015 Spalight feature.
By Hermione Wilson
I discovered something about myself during my first ever visit to a spa: I don’t relax very well.
There I was, getting an amazing double massage with my mother at Toronto’s Spa InterContinental and I was worrying about where to put my hands. Should I keep them tucked under the blanket at my sides or let them hang over the sides of the massage bed? And the silence was a bit maddening. I’m not a chatty person, but I found myself wishing my therapist would strike up a conversation to cover the sounds of our stomachs growling in concert with each other. Strange what your ears pick up when all you have to listen to are the faint strains of classical music.
The spa day was a gift from me to my mother, a package for two that included an hour-long massage, spa lunch, and a pedicure. When I presented her with the gift certificate I was crossing my fingers, hoping my mother would take me along as her plus one. Luckily she did, and my sister tagged along as well.
The day fell on the last day of a week long vacation, which should have meant I was in a state of maximum relaxation. Instead, I was wound up about going back to work the following Monday.
But about halfway through my massage I started to enter that longed-for state of zen. My mind emptied of racing thoughts and my breathing became slow and tranquil. I stopped thinking about work and worrying about whether my mother was having a good time next to me or whether I looked funny lying face down on the massage bed. When my therapist finally let me know he was finished and to take my time getting dressed, I didn’t want to move. My mother was snoring by the end of it.
After a wonderfully sumptuous spa lunch of salmon and wild rice in a lovely sun room we basically had to ourselves, my mom and I went for our pedicures. Now, I’ve had a pedicure at the salon before, but this was an entirely different thing. We were ushered into a private room where we received an unhurried foot grooming treatment. The best part was when they applied a mask to our feet and wrapped them in hot towels.
Throughout all the treatments I was captivated by the invigorating scents of the Aveda products Spa InterContinental uses. Rosemary and mint is my new favourite scent combo!
All in all it was a wonderful first time spa experience, especially since I was there with family and we had the spa almost to ourselves. Now that I’ve gotten my spa feet wet, I can’t wait to go again!
Read about my second spa experience at Ste. Anne’s spa here.