A visit to the ‘World’s Best Hotel Spa’
Story by Julia Pelish
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO — Each day at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto is always eventful for Lana Storchak. Some days at Toronto’s only five-diamond hotel are more memorable than others, though, as the hotel’s spa operations manager found out earlier this month. Storchak and the staff of seven aestheticians were among the spa employees called into a meeting where they received astounding news. The Ritz spa, called Spa My Blend by Clarins, had been named the World’s Best Hotel Spa by Travel + Leisure magazine, a distinction that came as an absolute surprise. “When we found out we were amazed, it meant so much to everyone here,” Storchak says. “We had no idea it was coming at all.”
The Travel + Leisure ranking, announced on Tuesday, was based on screened reader surveys. Travel industry professionals were not allowed to participate in the vote. Spas were graded on ambience, treatments, service, facilities and value. Storchak believes it is the personal service at Spa My Blend by Clarins that set it apart. “The staff here all work together to make sure our guests feel comfortable the minute they walk through the door,” she says.
The Ritz spa also offers coveted exclusivity. Its line of customized skin-care products — called My Blend by Clarins and used for a variety of facial treatments — is available at only two locations in the world, the other being the Le Royal Monceau – Raffles in Paris. Accolades such as the Travel + Leisure award can mean big business. Storchak says people who have heard the news are booking appointments. Like culinary travellers, ardent spa-goers will seek out the best of the best.
Even though I had been to the Ritz spa previously, knowing it was now considered the No. 1 hotel spa in the world sweetened my excitement for my visit this week. Going to the Ritz, no matter where, has always had a glitzy ring to it and upon entering the hotel lobby in Toronto you immediately feel dazzled. I love the contemporary Canadian-inspired décor with the beautiful chandeliers, but even more than that I love the openness and hospitality that greet every visitor. Luxury hotels have become quite adept at exuding down-to-earth warmth and the Ritz does it better than any other because the staff truly are genuine.
The spa is on the fifth floor, where a pleasant fragrance and warm smile welcomes you. I am escorted on a tour to familiarize me with the amenities available in the 23,000-square-foot spa facility, Toronto’s largest. There is a fitness centre (where one-on-one personal training is available), a yoga studio by Yogagurl, a salt-water lap pool, sauna, and the green tea-infused vitality pool. You can have a manicure and/or pedicure at the Champagne Nail Bar and then head over to the Jackie Gideon Beauty Bar, where the talented staff will polish you off with finishing touches. There are separate lounge areas for men and women, as well as the lofty coed Urban Sanctuary, illuminated with soft natural light flowing in through the glass ceiling. Infused water, fresh fruit and tea are available for guests to help themselves to as they settle in and await their treatment.
Going to the No. 1 Spa in the World
My appointment was for the signature treatment, a 90-minute My Blend Regenerating Facial Therapy ($270). Elizabeth Banach, my aesthetician, explained that the My Blend skin-care treatment line and technique is based on the anti-aging Cell Synergy Complexes, created to regenerate and protect your skin. The session began with a consultation to establish my skin’s profile. One of the My Blend four essential formulas was then combined with one or more of the eight highly concentrated boosters of peptide complexes (depending on your particular skin’s diagnosis needs) to create my personal blend. The hour-long facial that followed utilized that customized formula. The facial treatment includes exfoliation, a rejuvenating mask, and a wonderful scalp, neck, hand, and foot massage. After the final application of serums and moisturizers, I emerged as sleepy-eyed, relaxed, and glowing as a new born.
You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the Spa My Blend by Clarins experience. Simply book an appointment, or better yet, transform your 60-minute treatment into a day-spa vacay, since complimentary use of all facilities is included. If your stomach starts to grumble, lunch, and snacks from the spa menu can be ordered and served in the lounge.
Regular spa visits are not within my weekly budget at the moment so I panicked realizing that my dewy appearance might actually be short-lived. Banach reassured me. “Good home maintenance using quality products, such as the Clarins line, is more important than the number of facials you have,” she says. “When you take care of yourself you project confidence. Even a little bit of indulgence can go a long way.”
More About Spa My Blend by Clarins at Ritz-Carlton Toronto
Location: 181 Wellington Street West, Toronto, fifth floor (see map below)
Appointments: Telephone 1-416-572-8000 or book online
Website: Spa My Blend by Clarins Ritz Carlton
Hours of Operation: Monday-Thursday: 11 am-7 pm; Friday: 10 am-9 pm; Saturday: 9 am-9 pm; Sunday: 9 am-7 pm
Spa Treatment Price Range: Start at $30 and rise to $750 for a 5.5-hour Rejuvenation Experience. See the full price list here.