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The Elkhorn Resort Spa and Conference Centre in rural Manitoba takes full advantage of its natural setting and its spa is no exception. Located in Onanole, Manitoba, near Riding Mountain National Park, the Solstice Spa embraces its rural surroundings in its decor and ambiance. “From the moment you enter the spa, it’s got warm neutral colours, browns and creams,” says Stephanie Picard, Elkhorn Resort’s operations manager. “You feel like you’re still in a resort, you’re still in a classy spa, but you are close to nature.” The panoramic windows of the Equinox Mineral Pool looks out onto Elkhorn’s $2.5 million ranch and it’s not unusual to see horses galloping past as you soak in the pool. Along with the mineral pool, which is kept at body temperature so that it’s safe for guests who are pregnant or have blood pressure issues, Solstice Spa features a mineral hot tub, a Vichy room, and Swiss showers in the men and women’s change rooms. There is a dining area that offers a healthy lunch menu and refreshments, in the form of muffins, herbal teas and fresh citrus water, are served in the spa all day long. With 12 treatment rooms, each named after a month of the year, and the space to accommodate 45 guests at a time, Picard says Solstice Spa is known as the calmest area of the resort, a place where guests and employees alike gravitate to its peaceful atmosphere. “People know it’s tranquil down here,” says Picard.
The spa is also known for its massages and body treatments. Among the most popular are the Prairie Mud Wrap Vichy, which features prairie mud from Saskatchewan, and the Clear Lake Cleanse, a 90 minute treatment that includes a body wrap, exfoliation and full body massage. The spa’s most popular facial is the 75 minute Borealis Flame Facial, which pairs exfoliation with paprika and other fresh herbs to simulates the feel of the sun on your face.
“We are now carrying Eminence Skincare and that has gone over really well with our guests,” says Picard. “All of our facial treatments have really amped up this year.” She says the thing she hears most about the treatments are that the smells are invigorating. “It’s real product, it’s real fruit,” Picard says of the product lines they carry. Solstice Spa takes great care to use certified organic products like Eminence and Sea Flora in their treatments. “About three years ago we readjusted a lot of our product lines, and made sure we stepped away from anything clinical and chemical based,” says Picard.
Onanole’s population swells to almost 5 times its size with an influx of tourists in the summer and shrinks again in winter. Still, the Elkhorn Resort and Solstice Spa manage to stay open year round. The spa often welcomes international guests due to the resort’s timeshare affiliation with their outdoor cabins. Picard says they are looking for more ways to drawn in local guests in the off season as well. “We’re going to be introducing a few new programs for locals and residents,” says Picard. Reward and points programs will bring in guests from the nearby cities of Dawson, Brandon, Yorkton, Regina, and Winnipeg. When the spa opened in 2003, there was a lot of excitement in the local community and the province. “In the middle of nowhere there’s this four-star resort, with 64 chalets onsite, hotel of 57 guest rooms, a state-of-the-art horse ranch,” says Picard.
The first spa director, Breanna Hall, did a lot of leg work to encourage business year round, especially in the slow winter season, and made an effort to bring treatments and techniques to the spa that hadn’t been seen before. Eleven years later, Solstice Spa is quality assured through Leading Spas of Canada and continues to build on its strong reputation.
“We have a good reputation,” Picard says proudly. “Clients enjoy our treatments, they enjoy the feel of the spa, the experience of the spa, and it goes hand in hand with our resort as well.”