Can you believe that I have actually never been to a spa? Unfortunately, it's true. I have never been very good about making time for myself and a spa visit has just never been a priority for me. I recently had the opportunity though to visit Elmwood Spa in downtown Toronto last month with Cheryl from Kids on a Plane and I now I know what I have been missing all these years!
Elmwood Spa is a popular day spa conveniently located in the heart of downtown Toronto in an attractive 5 story brick heritage building. I wasn't aware until visiting the spa that the late 19th century building was designed by the same architects who designed Old City Hall, St. Paul's Anglican Church and Casa Loma but once it had been pointed out to me then the similarities between this building and those other Toronto landmarks were quite apparent. Elmwood Spa first opened in 1982 as the only day spa in Toronto and one of only 50 in North America. In recent years, the facility has undergone extensive renovation and today the spa is spread across four floors and provides services to both men and women. Spa facilities include 34 treatment rooms, two restaurants, a juice bar and water therapies including a swimming pool, whirlpool and steam room.
We were greeted upon arrival at the spa and quickly filled out health information using the spa's tablet system which was very modern and efficient. Once we had finished checking in we were escorted to the Women's Change Room to change into a robe and slippers for our treatments. The Change Room facilities are very clean and modern with an inviting whirlpool hot tub in the centre of the room. Once we had changed a staff member escorted us to one of the other floors for our scheduled treatments. Elmwood Spa has a wide range of treatments available including facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and body treatments.
It is suggested that guests plan to spend an hour prior to treatment enjoying the spa's Water Therapies (including whirlpool, steam room, swimming pool and poolside lounge) but I was short on time the day of my visit and had to skip that option. Water Therapies are designed to enhance the client's experience by allowing them time to slow down, relax, and set aside the outside world before starting the day's treatment. The next time that I visit the spa I intend to plan my day's schedule better so that I can take advantage of this option.
The spa service that I had chosen was a LI'TYA Kodo Body Massage which is a rhythmic 60 minute massage inspired by Australian Aboriginal techniques. As this was my first spa treatment, I was more than a little nervous but my massage therapist put me completely at ease. She thoroughly explained about the massage experience and the products that would be used and assured me that I could ask any questions or let her know if anything was bothering me.
I was given a choice of three aromatic oils and asked to pick the one that I was most drawn to. Each of the oils have different properties and will either harmonize, rejuvenate or detoxify the body. I selected the detoxifying aromatic oil which I found quite interesting. It made me wonder afterward if you are drawn to choose the oil based on what your body needs most at the time. Based on the crazy schedule that my family had been living during the weeks leading up to the massage I can see why I probably needed detoxification.
All of my apprehension disappeared as soon as the massage had started. The treatment rooms provide a very soothing environment with dimmed lights, soft music and a cozy fireplace. It was an incredibly relaxing experience and I could have easily fallen asleep on the table - in fact, I'm not sure that I wasn't in some state of semi-consciousness throughout most of the massage.
Lunch at the Terrace Restaurant
After my massage I met up with Cheryl again to have lunch in the Terrace Restaurant on the spa's fourth floor. As a spa newbie, I was quite surprised to discover that we were dining in our spa robes but it was surprisingly comfortable even in a room full of other diners. The restaurant serves a three course luncheon with several choices for each course. I started with the Parmesan Custard as an appetizer, followed by the Pan Seared Salmon over couscous and baby vegetables for my main dish and the Sour Cream Gelato for dessert. We enjoyed our delicious and healthy lunch in the restaurant's lovely setting and I would love to go back during warmer weather as guests are able to dine outside on the terrace when the temperature is pleasant.
I had no idea what to expect or whether I would even enjoy the spa experience prior to my visit to Elmwood Spa but left feeling refreshed and convinced that I need to occasionally make time in a busy schedule for me. I'm sure that there will be more spa visits in my future!
What You Need To Know
- The Elmwood Spa is located at 18 Elm Street close to Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.
- There is metered parking on the street with a 2 hour limit. There are also several paid parking lots nearby and the Chelsea hotel offers a discounted rate to Elmwood Spa guests with a valid parking stamp, however, parking is based on availability. The spa is also just a short walk from the Dundas subway station.
- There are two restaurants at the spa: Terrace Restaurant (licensed 4th floor restaurant serving a luncheon of fresh spa cuisine with traditional Canadian influences) and Bangkok Garden (serving authentic Thai cuisine at lunch and dinner - located on main floor). Reservations are recommended for both restaurants.
- Booking 2-3 weeks in advance is recommended for the best choice of appointment dates and times. Reservations can be made by calling 416-977-6751 or toll free 1-877-284-6348. A valid major credit card number is required at the time of booking to confirm the reservation.
- Elmwood Spa welcomes youth 17 years of age and over, and teens 13 to 16 years of age when accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- 48-hours notice is required to cancel or reschedule. You will be charged 50% of each service price if you change your appointment without the minimum notice.
- It is requested that you check-in at least 30 minutes prior to first service in order to allow sufficient time to complete required health form.
- Guests are requested to turn off cell phones. Cell phones and cameras are not permitted in the Water Therapies area.
Although my visit to the Elmwood Spa was complimentary, all opinions expressed are my own.
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