The Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, built just in time for the Winter Olympics in 2010, is located by the Vancouver waterfront. The hotel is sparkling and sophisticated, while the Willow Stream spa, which takes up the whole fifth floor, is spacious and sociable. From the moment you arrive, with the sound of water rippling down textured stone walls and aromatic scents beckoning you closer, you sense soothing in the air.
Surrounded by views of the city, ocean, harbour and snow-capped mountains, the spa has an open, airy feel. The changing rooms are minimalist and spotless, with electronic lockers, beige tiled floor and banks of white towels. Two showers in grey marble house Willow Stream products.
The spa is divided into three spaces, each with their own lounge: women, men and co-ed. This means you can choose to relax with friends or partners in different zones.
The spa facilities in the female-only space are limited: an experience shower and large but soon-to-be-refurbed tiled steam room, but there is a roomy lounge with a homely feel that makes you feel you've just popped into a good friend's library: books on the shelves and a variety of teas (Tranquillite? Energie?) on offer. Snuggle down on the soft sofa with a magazine, in front of the warming fire, where flickering logs give a soft glow.
You can order from a spa menu while you relax in the lounge, perhaps choosing a quinoa salad, a Bento box with scallop and lobster, sashimi of albacore or a raw bar platter -- perhaps with a spa smoothie. (You could also wander downstairs to eat at Oru after your spa time, the hotel's light and relaxed restaurant. This serves dishes which will make you happy and complement your treatment, whether you're after organic, low-fat, vegan, or macrobiotic foods, are following the Mediteranean diet, or are simply hungry.)
There are nine treatment areas in the Willow Stream spa, each in neutral tomes, including a couples' room with Japanese Zen tub, a mani and pedi space, and a huge fitness centre. However, where the spa really comes into its own is on its outdoor terrace: a rarity for the city of Vancouver. This large area has covered cabana beds and fire-pits, as well as two Jacuzzis along with an infra-red sauna, enveloped in city and sky views.
Although Willow Stream is a spa brand that is at home in Fairmont hotels all across the world, each individual Willow Stream spa offers locally-inspired treatments, with a focus on the pure and natural. The spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim is no exception, featuring authentically Canadian ingredients. While the treatment menu includes a variety of wraps, facials, massages, and beauty therapies, you can hone in on the soothing 60-minute Pacific Rim Body Buffer, which includes a Bio-Maple compound to penetrate, soothe and condition your skin. The Great Canadian Facial bathes your skin in British Columbian glacial water, involves a hydrating mask of Saskatchewan clay, and ends with a maple-infused facial massage.
Anyone who likes to mix up their spa experience: you can retreat to be alone in a meditation pod on the terrace, chat over tea in the lounge and discuss treatment experiences in the Jacuzzi.
Visiting when the weather allows you to make the most of the hot tubs in the sky.
29th November 2013
Warm floors when you put your bare feet upon them; heated treatment beds; soft towels; attention to detail, so that your treatment room looks and smells beautiful when you arrive in it.
Cold floors when you put your bare feet upon them; therapists who use your treatment time to write up a list of product "recommendations" that they hope you will purchase.
Behind the scenes