One of the hardest-hit sectors during the global pandemic was the spa and aesthetic services industries. According to an analysis by Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), this industry experienced a 70% decrease in revenues and reported job losses of more than 700,000 since March 2020. For many, this means trying to emulate the experience of a day away with an at-home spa.
Although safety precautions are in place, it doesn’t make the decision to visit a spa any easier. Fears about touch-transmission, having to wear masks, and opening up the bubbles make a day at the spa less than relaxing.
If you are not yet comfortable returning to the spa, here are a few tips to recreate the at-home experience.
Follow the theme from your favourite Canadian spa
Sparkling Hill Resort and Spa, perched in the hills just outside Vernon BC, is the brainchild of Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family.
The bejewelled lineage of the resort shows at every turn. Over one million crystals were incorporated in the design, embedded in the furniture, along with the handrails of the impressive central staircase, throughout the gem-themed steam rooms and saunas in the spa, and the cascading chandelier that dominates the lobby.
How to bring it home: Don’t be afraid to commit to a theme in your bathroom. Often you are working with a relatively small space, making it the perfect room to go all out. Take a page from Sparkling Hill and trade your utilitarian vanity light for a gorgeous fixture. Chandeliers and crystals don’t have to be just for five-star hotel lobbies.
Go for warmth and heat at home
Winnipeg may not be the first city you think of when it comes to luxury spas. A visit to the grounds of the elegant Crescent Drive Golf Course and Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature may have you reconsidering these notions. The resort features heated outdoor pools, a refreshing plunge pool and saunas of varying temperatures. The gentle, relaxing spaces at Thermea are the attraction. Fire pits to sit beside, a quiet log cabin, thick heated hammocks are all excellent places to chill out. As with many of these spas, visitors are encouraged to follow the hydrotherapy cycle of heat-cold-rest.
How to bring it home: All of the tranquil spots at Thermea have a gentle ambient warmth, something you may want to consider in your home spa space. If you have the luxury of doing a renovation, consider in-floor heating and updated hardware, such as a heated towel rack. If re-doing the decor consider adding real or faux candles, for soft, ambient lighting.
Invest in a spa-like shower
Willow Stream Spas are found in Fairmont Hotels worldwide. While each one offers a unique experience, the quality of the spa offerings is uniformly fabulous. At the Willow Stream, Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, a sweeping view of the seaside city is just part of the experience. The West Coast vibe of the place extends to touches like teak and local stone accents, while the spacious Orange Blossom couples’ suite features a deep Japanese-style soaker tub to share with that special someone.
In the elegant change room, you’ll find luxuriant rain showers and high tech hydrotherapy “experiential shower” – enter the code for your desired experience and enjoy 16 misters and showerheads as they do their watery work.
How to bring it home: The sky’s the limit when it comes to at-home options for showers. If you are a person who wants an experience rather than a quick rinse, it may be worth it to invest in a shower with multiple heads and steam options. In fact, this at-home spa addition is likely the most affordable home improvement. According to Consumer Reports, price isn’t always the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a powerful and efficient showerhead. Instead, go over your ideal features and weigh all of your options.
Find the perfect soaker tub
Situated in scenic K-Country in the Rocky Mountains, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is always a fan-favourite for Canadians. Soaking in the various pools, cycling between the saunas, steam room and exfoliation area while the snowy mountains tower above is an experience that you cannot recreate. Visitors report feeling guilty for closing their eyes while bathing in one of the five pools, not wanting to miss the alpine scenery for even a minute.
How to bring it home: While reproducing Kananaskis is a tall order for even the most talented interior designer, a tub you can soak in isn’t out of reach. Of course, the bonus is that you can close your eyes and not miss a thing. Look for deep, high sides, material that you love, and something long enough to straighten your legs.
Make your space feel like a lounge
The Grotto Spa at the Tigh Na Mara Spa Resort in Parksville BC is smaller than some of the sprawling complexes mentioned above, but its coziness is part of the charm. You won’t feel overwhelmed, ensuring you get through every amenity during your visit; soak in the mineral pool, book a spa service and enjoy. Where the spa experience at Tigh Na Mara stands out, though, is its endless tapas offering in the exclusive Treetops Grill. Dine-in your sandals and robe as the hosts bring up to 17 dishes to your table.
Bring it home: An easy way to add to your at-home spa is to splurge on a nice beverage and snack during your evening bath or face mask. After all, most spa-inspired renovations typically focus on the bathroom. But, they don’t have to. Channel the laid-back elegance of the Tigh Na Mara experience, and create a lounge-like experience in your soaker tub.
How to safely return to your favourite sauna
Previously, the distinct pleasure of spending time in Canada’s top spas featured lounging around in plush bathrobes, relaxing in the steam room, and enjoying professional massage services. These days, the experience is much different.
Rather than the typical spa-day spent relaxing in different lounge areas throughout the resort, it’s now limited to outdoor spaces and pre-booked services. Steam rooms are not yet open, and some services are more expensive to off-set the lost income during the start of the pandemic.
The American Centers for Disease Control have detailed guidelines for sanitation of pools and hot tubs. The Allied Beauty Association of Canada has links to local and national health protocols and signage for members to help relay to clients details of the “the new normal.”
Lisa Jaster, owner of The Lost Faucet spa in Courtenay, BC, had to close quickly after launching her new spa. Upon reopening, the booking format changed to private bookings only, rather than the usual drop-ins. Now, small groups must book their session ahead to allow for proper sanitization.
With these changes comes an increase in price to make up for less clientele and fewer services available. But, most people are still eager to support their favourite local spas. If you are looking to return to a spa safely, here’s what to look for.
Review the spa’s internal procedures and precautions
Their website should have a thorough guide of their new standards for guest and employee protocols. Some spas are removing self-serve snack and beverage stations and increasing the time between appointments to allow for a thorough cleaning. Either way, it’s essential to ensure the spa is transparent with their COVID-19 measures.
Research what is safe and what is not
With so much information regarding safe COVID-19 activities, it’s always good to find a reputable source and do your research. For example, if the pools are open, it’s okay to look at whether that is a safe activity. Some experts say that if the pool is well-run and treated using chlorine at acceptable levels, it should be safe. Regardless, you need to determine if that research falls within your comfort zone.
If you’re still unsure, there is no harm in finding other ways to support local spas until you feel safe to join them in person.
Support spas without leaving the safety of your home
At any spa, it’s easy to appreciate the little things. Luckily, those are among the most natural things to emulate at home. Think about bathrobes you can wrap yourself in for comfort, thick towels that feel like a blanket, and delicious smelling high-end toiletries. These are small, affordable ways to add a touch of luxe to your bathroom. To continue to support your favourite spa services, consider purchasing these luxury items directly from their shops or online stores.
While the industry’s efforts are there, bringing the spa home might be the best way to get a luxury spa experience this year. Spritz on some of those lovely spa-style amenities and start planning for how you can bring the spa to you.