Book yourself in for a couple of precious hours. Opt for a weekend getaway. Or go all out with a "wellness vacation." The best spas offer an oasis that gives mind and body an opportunity to connect. Yet, as in so much of life, there are good spas and not-so-good spas.
Now 5-Star Spas, a national umbrella association committed to ensuring superior service and top notch surroundings, is a sure way to tell them apart. Members have been assessed by two independent inspectors and have met over 80 stringent, quality standards. Accreditation means they are committed to providing clients with an incomparable experience.
Here are the initial 10 that have received 5-Star endorsement.
1. Fayezspa, London, Ont.
This award-winner is a retreat for skin, body, hair and wellness, staffed by 45 of London's very best aestheticians, therapists and stylists. "We're committed to exceeding clients' expectations," says owner Fayez Tamba. It's worth the drive -- from anywhere -- to enjoy the ultimate full-day retreat.
2 Claramount Inn & Spa, Picton, Ont.
A beautifully appointed country inn with a wellness-focused spa menu developed by owner and family physician Dr. Norah Rogers. Along with traditional spa services, she endorses the Dr. Kneipp philosophy of hot and cold water treatments. Go for the Serenity Sampler or the signature Lomi Lomi massage.
3 Elizabeth Milan Spa, Toronto
Elizabeth Milan has been on the leading edge of spa treatments for more than 32 years, travelling the world in search of exemplary products and practices, bringing the best back to her Fairmont Royal York hotel location. She recently completed a course in skin and body treatments for cancer patients. Another highlight: The Balinese Body Treatment.
4 Health Winds Spa, Toronto
For health-conscious men and women, this serene, sophisticated, mid-town retreat has long been the choice for wellness and relaxation. Physicians recommend the spa's cancer recovery therapies, health assessments and nutritional counselling. A new offering: Hydrotherapy massage.
5 Spa Eastman, Eastman, Que.
For 35 years Spa Eastman, located on 132 beautiful hectares in the Eastern Townships, has combined a complete menu of spa treatments with a comprehensive program of relaxation techniques, fitness, healthy gourmet food and superb accommodation. Check in for a few days or a week to do both body and spirit an unforgettable favour.
6 The Spa at the Old Mill, Toronto
Set in a patch of urban woods within a Tudor-style heritage property, clients discover a sanctuary in the heart of the city -- the epitome of elegant surroundings, superb therapists and exceptional service. Go for the signature treatment Collagen Plus Oxygen Infusion and its guaranteed results.
7 Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ont.
Awards galore have been heaped on this divine Relais and Chateau country inn. Their seamless service will only get better when construction of their new, expanded spa is completed. Opt for the signature service -- a two-hour Bliss Energizing Treatment or a Thai massage.
8 The Spa at Hockley Valley Resort, Orangeville, Ont.
Tucked away upstairs in a contemporary, sport-centric inn, the spa's elegant, feminine decor is a delightful surprise, offering instant relaxation. Traditional spa services are delivered with care and attention. Go for a facial or the Aromaflex and Foot Reflexology.
9 Silvery Blue Butterfly, Oakville, Ont.
With a full spa menu and an appealing gift shop, this 1,115-square-metre extravaganza manages to be both spacious and personal, accommodating individuals, couples or a group equally well. Go with the love or your life for a couples massage or a gaggle of girlfriends for a mani/pedi outing.
10 Scape, Mount Pleasant, Ont.
In the charming village near Brantford, dramatic black and white decor adorning a unique eight-sided house provides the sophisticated backdrop for a full range of treatments delivered with generous helpings of TLC. My favourite? The Thai Stem Massage.
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For more information, visit 5StarSpas.ca.