REVITALIZING YOUR BODY AND SOUL
Spa Experiences with a Unique Twist
Looking for a spa experience with a unique twist? Whistler has options to revive both body and soul.
A massage can be many things — relaxing, therapeutic, restorative — but when the masseuse at the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa jumps up to join me as I lie prone on the treatment table, I’ll admit to wondering what on earth I’ve let myself in for. The spa, situated inside the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa, provides a range of treatments based on traditional East Asian practice. They also claim to be the only authentic Javanese spa in North America; therefore, the method comes as something of a surprise.
Make no mistake: This is a vigorous massage. Deep thumb pressure is combined with firm strokes of the palms, simultaneously working out knots and encouraging better circulation. Kneeling on the table beside you allows the therapist to apply more pressure; if you generally ask for a firm hand, you may want to scale that back, at least to begin with. Also, expect to be massaged in places your more regular Western treatments would not venture: The expectation is to remove your underwear (although you are free to maintain modesty if you prefer).
Consider this an active treatment — you won’t fall asleep — and be prepared for a workout of your lymphatic system. I found the results impressively invigorating, and felt a lightness — physical and mental — that was still noticeable 24 hours later.
The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge offers a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the Village, with its comfortable relaxation room, rooftop hot tubs and eucalyptus steam room. It is also the only spa in B.C. to offer ilā skincare products. The ilā range is all organic and handmade in England, its formulas created to nourish not just from without, but also to energize and enhance from within. The organic materials, which are believed to restore balance, are sourced from around the world.
In contrast to the deeply penetrative Javanese method, the ilā Kundalini massage adopts a restorative approach, using primeval massage techniques and intuitive chakra healing. Here, the touch is light, with gentle strokes intended to ground the body and offer a completely relaxing 75 minutes. It begins with an exfoliating foot scrub, followed by a light massage using essential oils, before heated, salt-filled poultices are placed along your back. These warming pouches are set on specific spots — the back chakras, believed to be centres of energy — and left for a while, as you are encouraged to breathe deeply and simply be.
Don’t expect a physically therapeutic experience. This is a more meditative massage, and one that continues to reduce tension and support relaxation long after the treatment is over. Schedule it when you have time to give yourself the gift of time and can make the most of The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge’s facilities.
Visiting the Scandinave Spa is a Whistler experience not to be missed. Situated just north of Whistler Village, this outdoor/indoor hydrotherapy spa is nestled in the woods, with alpine views at every turn. Visitors are encouraged to spend the day cycling through the various hot/cold/relaxation options. Raise your blood temperature in the steam room or sauna, then stand under a bracing Nordic shower, or plunge into a cold pool, before lazing in a hammock, cozying up around a fire pit, or heading into one of the solariums. Next cycle, pick another route: heat, rinse, relax and repeat. There is a small café to keep you replenished, and a range of individual massage treatments can be booked in advance. Come alone, or visit with a partner or friends; just be aware that this is a mini-retreat and silence is expected and encouraged.
Want to get your game face on? The Spa at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences has recently brought in the HydraFacial MD — a customizable treatment designed to accurately treat whatever skincare issues you feel need addressing. It offers even exfoliation while at the same time replenishing the skin with antioxidants and other nutrients, both brightening the complexion and providing the strength to fend off whatever the weather has in store. If you have a special occasion in mind, try to schedule your facial a day or two beforehand for maximum benefit, and consider adding the spa’s signature treatment — a lavish exfoliation of Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar, followed by a warm clay and algae body wrap, Moroccan oil scalp treatment, and full body massage.
In Whistler for a long weekend or even a week? Head to Vida Spa at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for a three- or fiveday Ayurveda Cleanse, and put your whole self back in balance. Beginning with a consultation to identify your dosha (body type) — vatta, pitta or kapha — the program involves 90-minute daily treatments including a full body oiling, detoxifying in a cedar steam cabinet configured to your dosha, and a dry herbal exfoliation. If that’s too much of a commitment, a half day is enough to take an Ayurvedic Journey, with one full 90-minute cycle of oil/steam/exfoliation as well as a head-and-scalp massage and 60 minutes of reflexology. My dosha feels more balanced already.