As I approach the giant, rotating door that will transport me from cold and cloudy downtown Toronto into the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, one of the city’s most luxurious hotels hot off hosting some of the biggest names in entertainment for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, I’m immediately given a warm welcome by the smiling doorman.
Once inside the spacious, fragrant – thanks to the huge bouquets of vibrant flowers on display – lobby of the property, I start making my way down the blue and gold carpet that stretches from the street entrance to the lobby entrance of DEQ, an outdoor terrace and lounge perfect for cozying up with someone special over a cheese platter and bottle of wine away from prying eyes. As I walk the carpet, I try to take in every detail of the sprawling lobby: the exquisite Canadian art on display, the bronze maple leafs embedded in the marble floor and the grand crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
A stick of wispy cotton candy is thrust into my hand by a woman working a pop-up cotton candy stand to my left. Sweet treats, just because.
I almost expect the paparazzi to pop up from behind the comfy lobby loungers and snap my photo. It’s hard not to feel like a star at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto and I’m not even out of the lobby yet.
My boyfriend and I are being hosted by the Ritz-Carlton, Toronto’s only Five Diamond hotel on Wellington St. West, for the second time since the property opened in 2011. This time it’s his birthday - if there is ever a time a person deserves to be treated like a star, it’s on their birthday - and we’re headed right to the fifth floor of the hotel: the spa.
Since the last time we visited the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, this gorgeous 23,000 sq. foot spa has been branded as a Spa My Blend by Clarins facility, named as Travel & Leisure’s best hotel spa for 2013 and has welcomed the luxe products of Clarins to the Ritz. It’s a partnership that extends the star treatment the Ritz-Carlton Toronto offers in every part of the property to each of the 16 private treatment rooms of the spa.
My boyfriend was wished a happy birthday when we checked in at the spa – the clever receptionist noticed it was his birthday on his record from our last visit – and we were whisked away, first on individual, guided tours of the male and female locker rooms, then to The Sanctuary, a unisex relaxation room with a high, glass ceiling that lets in natural light where guests can lounge in chaises, cuddle up with a soft blanket and recharge on blueberry-pineapple infused water and almonds and apricots before or between appointments. Be sure to arrive early for the pleasure of lounging in this room.
I knew my boyfriend had enjoyed the guy-focused Blokes and Beer treatment during our last visit (two years later and this truck driver was still raving about his beer-infused massage, facial and hops-and-sea salt manicure), but this time we would spend some quality time together at the spa with the Couple’s Retreat package.
This 180 minute spa experience starts with a couple’s massage in the aptly named Cloud 9 couples treatment room, where the lights are dimmed and soothing instrumentals softly provide the soundtrack to this hour of bliss. We were given a complimentary aromatherapy upgrade and were able to choose our own oils for the massage (I went with a nuttier oil while my boyfriend chose something that had a hint of floral). This was followed by side-by-side Clarins Skin Therapy facials and a classic pedicure for each of us.
My facial therapist Islande listened to my concerns about those impossible-to-get-rid-of blackheads, told me how to take care of my combination skin and suggested the best Clarins products for exfoliation, oil control and cleansing. I was amazed at how much softer my skin was after the treatment and how a lot of those problem blackheads were scrubbed away with the right product. The birthday boy almost fell asleep during his soothing facial. He obviously enjoyed being pampered with Clarins Men products and especially liked the exfoliating cleanser, a great product to use before shaving.
Through every step, guests are involved in their treatment and are asked what their areas of concern are. Do you want your massage table heated? What massage oil appeals most to you? What are your skin’s problem zones? Do you have any concerns you’d like tended to during your facial? It’s all so reflective of the “My Blend” aspect of the spa; it’s your choice and your treatment. Only products that work together to renew and repair your own skin are used. You really are the star here and Clarin’s personalized skincare products emphasize that.
Four hours later, after peeling ourselves off one of the chaise lounges in The Sanctuary, it was time for us to head back to the real world. On our way out of the Spa My Blend by Clarins we were given a swag bag – star treatment, through and through – with samples of Clarins and Clarins Men products, plus a note from each of our therapists thanking us for visiting that day.
We may not be one of the stars who stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto during TIFF, but our time at the hotel’s Spa My Blend by Clarins definitely left us feeling like celebrities.
To book your appointment at Spa My Blend by Clarins at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, visit ritzcarlton.com/toronto.