A journey outside the comfort zone at a psychedelic-assisted therapy retreat.
A spa getaway outside the city
Nothing wreaks havoc on your skin quite like living in the city. From the stresses of the everyday hustle and bustle in the streets to the airborne pollution effects, Toronto residents pay a tall price to live near the bright lights of the “6ix.” It’s for that reason that Millcroft Spa, Centre for Well Being, located in Caledon, ON, is a luxurious getaway for clients looking for a quick escape.
“One of the main reasons people come to the spa is to destress and unwind,” says Heather MacKay, Spa Operations Manager at Millcroft Spa, one of several spas owned by Ontario’s Vintage Hotels. “As soon as you drive onto our property, we have over 100 acres of beautiful property set up in the countryside that’s not far away from the city.”
A little more than an hour out of the city, the majority of the clients visiting the spa come for the day. According to MacKay, 65 to 70 per cent of visitors are day guests, while the remaining 30 to 35 per cent stay overnight, many of whom tend to be couples. “As a hotel spa we’re very service-oriented, so we have very specific criteria for the way guests are handled from the very beginning of the experience,” says MacKay. “You’re not just going for a facial. We have protocols, starting from an opening ritual, down to the treatments… to the finishing therapist educating the client on the next steps.”
Guests who spend $100 or more have access to all spa amenities, including the recently introduced hot springs, the spa’s outdoor contrast hydrotherapy project, which finished construction in December 2015. The hot springs contain two hot baths, a cold plunge pool, an outdoor temperate pool and new pool decks, all open year-round. There is still plenty of relaxation for guests to enjoy inside as well. “We have a woodland lounge with a big stone fireplace that overlooks the upper deck of the hot springs,” says MacKay.
The spa also includes a dining option in the cafe with a menu that changes every three months based on seasonal trends to maintain variety for guests. The menu includes a selection of shared plates, salads, wraps, and daily soups. “We try to source as many local ingredients as possible, all very high-quality,” says MacKay.
Spa treatments: a labour of love
Millcroft Spa treatments are created with the desire to reflect the latest in “ever-changing trends” in the spa industry. MacKay, who started out as an esthetician and worked her way up to spa and hotel management, has 20 years of experience in the spa industry. “I have a real passion for the industry. I create a lot of the treatments that we implement and provide at Vintage Hotels,” she says. “My passion for skincare and wellness fuels that desire to come up with unique treatment ideas that are very experience-oriented.”
Some of the spa’s current signature treatments include the Head to Toe Reviver, a full-body exfoliation using Pink Himalayan Detoxifying Salt Scrub – which MacKay identifies as one of the top spa trends for 2016 – blended with Moringa Oil, followed by a scalp and body massage. Millcroft Spa also incorporates the contrast hydrotherapy trend into a number of treatments. The Swiss Shower Treatment Kurs combines Swiss shower jet sprays with high-velocity sprays of alternating temperatures with a Blitz Gus hose. The Fire and Ice Deluxe Manicure and Pedicure includes a cooling marine foot and leg exfoliation and a warming Eco Fin Herbal melt, designed to improve circulation, simulate the senses and ease tension. “I want to use the latest trends; I want to try them out, to see how they work and I want to know why and how they work,” says MacKay. “[Guests] can count on us to be the experts that go out and find out what’s good and what really works and have that available to them so they don’t have to think about it.”
The changing views of beauty
Millcroft’s main skincare and cosmetic products come from BABOR, which uses 2009 Nobel Prize-winning research to reinvent the way guests look at skincare and anti-aging methods, and perfectly aligns with MacKay’s vision of providing the best and latest in spa trends. The latest spa treatment using BABOR products is the Reversive Facial, which MacKay says is unique in the industry. It’s an anti-aging treatment that appeals directly to clients in their 30s and 40s and acts as a preventive measure to the aging process. “At that age range, those little tails at the end of our DNA strand [called telomeres] snap, so this technology helps to prevent the shortening of those telomeres so that it slows down the aging process,” says MacKay. “It’s key that it’s treated in that age range.” MacKay notes how opinions and approaches to skincare and preventive measures have changed in the last decade. The ease of access to skincare treatments has significantly reduced the number of facelifts performed on average, she says. She has also observed that an increasing number of men are concerned with skincare. “We have men [at the spa] every single day,” she says. “I would say that 30 per cent of the population at the spa is men.” While women are still the majority of their clients, MacKay says only five years ago the ratio was approximately 10 per cent men to 90 per cent women.
This shift in perspectives on skin treatment and health is a positive sign of where the industry is headed, and Millcroft Spa is prepared to follow the trends for the sake of keeping clients informed and healthy.
“There are so many resources at our fingertips, non-invasive things we can do that do make a difference, that enhance beauty,” says MacKay.
Millcroft Spa Facts
Size: 8,000 square-feet; outdoors additional 4,000 square-feet
Number of spa accommodations: 52
Number of treatment rooms: 21
Number of staff: 40
Retail: BABOR, Aveda, Luzern, Comfort Zone, Spa Ritual, Laliscious