Experience New Heights in Whistler. at the Spa

By Jane Lang   Tourism Whistler

"Think Whistler, think snow" is the mantra for many winter enthusiasts; however, some of us have more hedonistic thoughts when we head to the worldly resort in the mountains: "think Whistler, think spa'. If you yearn for pampering, Whistler has an admirable offering of feel-good treatments in a dozen spas sprinkled throughout its classy village. Here is a preview of the Whistler spa scene.

Vida Wellness Spa, Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Tucked away from the busy Whistler scene [of friendly visitors and locals that stroll the village or gather in the pubs,] my body is being slathered with lotion that has a deliciously lemon fragrance. After sipping apple tea in the elegant lounge of Vida Wellness Spa, I was escorted down the wave-shaped hall into a dimly lit treatment room and the pleasure began.

My treatment of choice is a body wrap that begins with an exfoliation procedure-the lemon grass mixture contains, among other things, ginger and sugar. The latter is unusual as salt is most often used in a body scrub to rid you of dead or damaged skin. The Turbinado sugar treatment used here is both soothing and effective. Along with the other non-toxic ingredients, it revitalizes skin and prepares it for the next step. Feeling like I'm covered with fine sand, I head to the showers and rid myself of the sweet mixture.

Next, is the ginger body wrap. I'm slathered with a mixture that as well as ginger essential oil, contains 23 other healthy components. It's applied all over my body (private parts are covered with a towel) and then I'm wrapped, first in plastic and then warm covers. Shiatsu pressure points in my head are massaged and I drift on into a semi-comatose state. The room is darkened and I relax for 20 minutes. Interestingly, even though I am tightly wrapped (how tight is your preference), my sensation is one of floating. Too dreamy!

Smelling vaguely like a lemon meringue pie, I'm unwrapped and I slither off the treatment table into the shower. Then follows a massage to my baby-soft skin; I feel as supple as a prize athlete-an athlete with dewy skin, that is. This spa event is made all the more blissful if you are staying at the Chateau as you don a robe and float upstairs. Relaxed is an understatement. This experience leaves little wonder why Vida, which practices a 5,000-year-old Indian holistic health philosophy, is ranked in the top ten of Travel & Leisure Magazine's "Best Hotel Spas for Value" category. One can't put a dollar value on feeling this good.

Nibbana Healing Spa
For a small person, Kristin Nuttall has amazing strength. Using her body weight, she is stretching me into pretzel-like positions and massaging muscles that I didn't know existed. This Thai massage, to me, combines massage with yoga stretches. It's also unusual in that you wear clothes-wrap around Thai trousers and a loose top. The practitioner starts with your feet and works up your body. I'm constantly surprised by the depth of this massage. Kristin trained in Thailand and it shows. What I particularly liked was that areas of my body were stretched and prodded for the first time ever-for example, the top of my foot, behind my knees, and under my arms.
"A good practitioner will adjust to the needs of their client," says Kristin who adjusts well. If I wince slightly, she lets up.

Nibanna is a take-off on the Burmese word "Nirvanna" which means heaven. And there is something heavenly about this small spa with eight treatment rooms in a horseshoe shape. Everything is intimate and welcoming. The Buddha in each room is a hint that Nibanna practices a holistic approach to health that incorporates the mind, body and spirit. In a tranquil setting with candle light and a starry "sky" (chunks of glass on a dark ceiling give this effect) you can experience meditation, yoga and Reiki under the direction of therapist who wears a traditional Indian Punjabis. It all works as I departed feeling like I had visited another country, a very peaceful one.

Nibanna was opened January, 2001 by two energetic and enthusiastic young women, [Diana Sillery, who has studied sports medicine as well as marketing and Rhiannon Rees, who has degrees in homeopathy and marketing.] As well as meticulously planning the treatments, they did the grass roots work like laying the "floating wooden floors" and painting. It's all paying off as they have a local following and service eleven Whistler properties with spa treatments.

Esperanza day spa
Oh boy, if there is anything as comforting as having your poor feet pampered, I don't know it. Esperanza is a tiny, two room spa that utilizes the popular, all-natural Aveda products and offers treatments that include everything from a hot stone massage to a pedicure. "We call it 'pedicare' and it's our most popular service. It's really a facial for your feet," says owner, Ximena Bermudez, a lovely woman originally from Columbia.

It's a surprise that you lie down for this pedicure. Your feet are treated to a masque, then are massaged (along with the lower legs) and wrapped. Then, the piece de resistance, as your tootsies are set in warm paraffin wax which seals the moisture in and, clients say, eases arthritic and joint pain. This blissful procedure is followed by the usual snipping of nails and removing dead skin before the application of nail polish. It's truly a holiday for your feet. No surprise that the word is out on this comfort measure. After a day in ski boots, what could be better? (About 15% of Esperanza's pedicure clients are men.)

Esperanza opened in 1998 and is located on the second level of the Market Pavilion in Whistler North.

I am already dreaming of my next spa trip to Whistler, perhaps a day at the full service Avello Spa & Health Club, or Blue Highways Shiatsu & Massage sounds intriguing too...

Whistler spas-one more reason why Whistler consistently wins plaudits from visitors and publications worldwide.

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