Story by Jody Robbins
BANFF, ALBERTA — After conquering the great outdoors, it’s best to step away from the touristy trails and surrender to a soothing sanctuary. Radiating old-world charm, the Willow Stream Spa, nestled within the historic Fairmont Banff Springs, offers a new take on traditional treatments for winter warriors.
Receiving awards and accolades on a regular basis, it boasts dramatic Rocky Mountain views of the Bow River parkway along with treatments to revive flagging energy.
Modelled after the grand spas of Europe, light cascades through the glass-domed ceiling, high above the majestic Kur mineral bath. Guests take to the waters in a centuries-old practice for 15 minutes, before dipping into three plunge pools of varying temperatures. Just don’t start off with Bow Falls, unless you enjoy shocking your system (it’s seemingly as chilling as those winter rapids).
Dry out in the eucalyptus inhalation room before warming up in the cedar-infused sauna. Thoughtful details, such as iced face clothes and cucumber water, make it easier to take the heat.
Contrasting the bold natural environment outside with a tranquil oasis inside, the spa offers a good mix of social spaces from the co-ed resting lounge to private nooks, ripe for reading and reflection.
Guests have access to the fitness centre, indoor lap pool and the grand, outdoor heated pool (with bar service). For finishing touches after your treatment, salon services include hair and make-up as well as manicure and pedicures.
Ahhh, There’s the Rub
Banff boasts an adrenaline junkie’s heaven, but care must be taken to avoid injury. Improve your stamina with the popular Après-Ski Performance Massage. By using a variety of massage and stretching techniques, sore muscles are kneaded and flexibility increased, during this rejuvenating rub-down. 60 minutes, $199
In keeping with the rhythm of nature, seasonal services are offered — and this winter it’s all about the feet. Feet First tenderizes tired tootsies and elevates them to new heights. After a soothing soak, feet are scrubbed, then enclosed in hot booties while legs, neck and shoulders are pampered with massage. Happy feet, indeed. 60 minutes, $189
But spa-ing needn’t be a solitary activity. Steal your sweetie away for a Rockies Healing Retreat for Two, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The two-hour deluxe treatment includes an invigorating mineral body scrub, glacial mud body mask and languorous soak in an oh-so-deep Japanese tub. Topping it all off with side-by-side massages, you may be ready for a nap before, well, you know … $749
Alpine air alone can only rejuvenate one so much. To truly take the city stress off, set yourself up here for the day, or better yet, book yourself in for the night.
FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS
Location: 405 Spray Avenue, Banff, Alberta
Rates: In early March, the starting room rate for a weekend is $399 per night, but check the online reservations page for your preferred date or call the hotel directly (403-762-2211) to book.
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NOTE: Photos courtesy of Willow Stream Spa at the Banff Springs Hotel.