With Vancouver taking its place as a world-class, and increasingly high-rise, city on the shores of the Pacific, we decided it was time to shine our spa spotlight on the top spas for when you're visiting.
The classic Rosewood Hotel Georgia is perfectly placed for some downtown Vancouver fun. The lobby is warm wood, crystal chandeliers and a flickering fire. On the fourth floor, the stylish Sense, a Rosewood spa, reached from a dedicated elevator from the lobby, or direct from your room, offers an elegant environment in which to relax and unwind at your leisure.
Take your time. If you are visiting the spa for a treatment, you also have access to the fitness centre and pool, on the same floor, which we thoroughly recommend. The dinky but divine lap-pool has salt water that is soft to swim in. The gradually changing lights -- in geometric panels on the floor of the pool, and mirrored in panels in the ceiling above, graduate from lilac, to blue, to green -- and make a swim an altogether more sensory experience than usual. There are loungers round the pool, too, so you can stake a claim to some sociability here, as well. The fitness centre is also nicely done, with plenty of towels, water and daylight views over the streets below, as well as cardio and resistance equipment... Read more
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... Read more
In traditional Chinese philosophy, "chi" is the universal life force. According to legend, Shangri-La is an earthly paradise, where everyone is young and happy. CHI spa at the Shangri-La, Vancouver offers a haven to restore your own life forces, enjoy some happiness and, if not actually achieve eternal youth, at least experience some anti-ageing therapies.
The downtown hotel, an engineering miracle of glass and light -- with fresh flowers at every turn -- hides a spa secret of luxury and serenity which can be yours as soon as you press the button for the fifth floor. On arrival, the water wall welcomes you. The reception area where you fill in your consultation form has carpeted floors, stone walls in neutral colours, soft sofas with orange throws, and an Eastern feel to the hand-carved artwork and furnishings... Read more
This beautiful spa in a Heritage building in downtown Vancouver is all marble and whiteness. Drinking caramel rooibos tea -- a flavour combination which we were initially unsure about but which turned out to be deliciously warming -- we admired both the dainty white china teacup and the original carvings at the top of the high columns. Breathe is a basement spa located down a grand marble staircase, but has a light and elegant aesthetic with a friendly and helpful atmosphere. Independently owned and operated, Breathe Spa is worth a visit for that reason alone. There are just five spacious treatment rooms, each with its own chandelier... Read more
It's always lovely to have your feet paid attention to, so we were pleased to end our spa tour of Vancouver with a little loving for our tootsies. Absolute Spa is a Canadian phenomenon. Starting in the Century Plaza Hotel -- which is why we wanted to sample this flagship location -- there are now ten locations across the city where you can find an Absolute Spa.
The Century Plaza spa is reached through a glass wall in the hotel lobby, and is large, covering three floors of relaxation and recovery. There are nine treatment rooms, plus four suites for couples. The reception and some treatment rooms are on the ground floor. On the lower floor is a pool, with a small steam room in both the men's and women's rather basic-looking locker areas. There are complementary herbal teas on offer in the dimly lit relaxation lounge, and light meals and snacks available in the somewhat Spartan café. On the upper floor are more treatment rooms and a huge manicure and pedicure area, which has plate-glass windows overlooking the street... Read more
25th 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