Serenity Now

Something every girl needs once in a while is a good spa day.

That, and for Ryan Gosling to pluck us out of obscurity with one well-timed Dirty Dancing lift and carry us off into the sunset….but one thing at a time, ladies.

Last weekend, my sister was in town to visit me, and because we needed to detox from all the red wine we drank deserve it, we hit up Toronto’s Elmwood Spa for a full afternoon of pampering.

The spa is described as an “urban oasis”, and it didn’t fail to deliver… only it was in an older historic property with dark wood and antique furniture.. so it kind of felt more  like some rich dude’s study than a spa.

Whatever it was, I liked it… and as we stepped into the lobby filled with power women simultaneously setting their phones to “silent”, I immediately felt the stress of the city slipping away, and was taken to a place of pure zen – one that smelled like leather, Teddy Roosevelt, and wistfulness  (Nick Miller– you put it better than I ever could).

I had given my sister carte blanche to book our spa treatments, because, as a formerly starving student,  my spa experience was limited to standing outside  and staring at people through  the window while dragging  my hands down the glass.. Michael Myers style.

Hay Jamie Lee Curtis... how's that massage goin'?

So I had no idea what to expect when they handed us our day’s “Itinerary”:

What? The Couples Massage was more economical!

“Water therapy”  eh? This could get interesting.

While taking the antique elevator to the changeroom, I perused the names of the various rooms throughout the spa: “Midnight Tower“… “Jasmine Awakening” the “Mint Whisper Room“… I pondered at length about what went on in the Mint Whisper Room… and how long, I wondered, had Jasmine been asleep for??

Before I got the chance to come to any conclusions, we were handed fluffy white bathrobes and lead into the incredibly modern change rooms. Shit was like Ikea on crack- particularly the lockers, which, instead of being  mundanely rectangular, were fashioned in a shape that is technically referred to as “that tetris block you can never fit anywhere”.  Although cool looking, they posed a bit of a logistical problem for the many shopping bags my sister and I had to store.  I wanted to take a picture, but since that probably would have been considered “creepy”, instead I did a little drawing for you guys:

 Eventually, despite being  spatially challenged slow learners,  we put our bathing suits on and headed for our “water therapy”… which, as  it turns out,  is not throwing back Vodka Waters while watching Waterworld  in the bathtub (how can a shirtless Kevin Costner not be therapeutic?) but rather lounging in a hot tub with other stressed out urbanites. Yawn.

Next, we moved on to the “Swedish Massage” portion. I’m not really sure what was so “Swedish” about it,  given that my masseuse was Chinese, and my sister’s was a no-nonsense Russian lady… but what do I know.

After my massage, my non-swedish masseuse met me in the hallway where she handed me a printout of  a body with all of my “tension points” identified on it:

I’ve always thought it was cool the way health professionals can tell things about you just by feeling you up… it’s almost like a really creepy form of fortune-telling.

“You very very tight here… ” she said, pointing to my calves. ” maybe you run a lot??” Yes! I thought.. I DO run a lot!

“and this….” she said, pointing to the telltale X’s just above my posterior and looking at me disapprovingly, “I not sure what you do to cause this..”


After my dignity was called into question, we made our way to the “lavender” room where we drank some organic starfruit/unicorn placenta infused green tea and waited for our facials. I had never gotten a facial before, and was slightly about the “extraction phase”, where they use the jaws of life to  yank blackheads out of your face, but also excited about the part where they put cucumbers over your eyes.  Don’t ask me why, but I’ve always wanted to experience this. It just seems so luxurious and Pretty Woman-esque.

I waited patiently through what seemed like countless exfoliants until I finally felt something cool and cylindrical come to rest on my eyes.

“Is that the cucumbers??” I asked excitedly.

“haha no.” she laughed. “It’s just some makeup pads with toner on them. Imagine if we actually used cucumbers how many we’d have to cut up each day??”

“oh… haha yeah…” I laughed, dejectedly. I hadn’t even considered that the daily preparation of cutting up cucumbers could serve as a potential gating item to my fantasy.

Sigh. Foiled again.

Anyway, it’s now been a week.. and while the Zen has faded and my body and face have returned to their usual state of stress-induced pallidity and tension, I am still left  to wonder:

What DOES  go on inside the Mint Whisper Room?

Question of the Day: Have you been to the spa lately?


33 thoughts on “Serenity Now

Add yours

  1. That sums up every spa experience I’ve ever had so well. I always feel like I’m supposed to be way more relaxed than I actually am, tiptoeing around with a clearly visible cartoon question mark over my head. As long as it worked for the red wine detox I’d say you’re good to go. And by go, I mean back to whatever activity is causing those X’s in your posterior! Lol! Thanks for the post, enjoyable as always!! Sarah


  2. I still don’t know what goes on in that Mint Whisper Room, but I’m pretty sure the woman in our steam bath with the God-awful, hacking, I’ve – been – a – smoker – for – 20 – years-cough would be banned!!

    Do you think a spa day would help me get through this God-forsaken detox cleanse I’m doing?? Maybe some “water therapy” would help my less-than-zero patience these days.

    I seem to be mentioning God a lot in this reply…maybe HE can help me!!

    Good post, Bree. I MISS THE ELMWOOD SPA!!!!! …and you 🙂


  3. I haven’t ever been to one. They would probably think I was a bit gay if I did. Then I would steal the dressing gown thing and the towels in revenge.

    I have had a proper massage before but personally I think they are a bit overrated to be honest.


    1. I spent a fair bit of time plotting how I could steal the bathrobe actually.. they are very luxurious. I think if I was able to wear a big plushy white robe around (anywhere, even outside), then I’d know I really made it.


  4. Glad to see I’m not the only one that isn’t getting the spa experiences I expected. I spend so much time feeling awkward and wondering if I should help the masseuse by lifting or turning the appropriate body part that I don’t relax much.


  5. Lately? No. Ever? No. I am obsessed with back knots though. I would love a picture telling me where I am most tense. I have barely any butt so I don’t see there being any tenseness there. I think I’d have more fun at a chiropractor hearing my bones crack.


    1. today when I was at the gym I used a foam roller- have you ever tried one of those? You basically just roll your sore muscles over it and it works the knots out. it hurt like a bitch but I am now OBSESSED with it… its like pressing your tongue on a canker sore… but better.


      1. I used one of those on Easter on my back. My sister’s boyfriend forgot it when she kicked him out. Never before has my back felt so nice. I need to venture out and get me one of those.


  6. A bottle of red wine seems much better to me. It’s cheaper, and one can sit around at home, wearing the most comfortable thing one owns, and one does not have to partake of the communal hot tub.


  7. Much like the rest of the men commenting, I’ve never had a spa experience either. I’ve paid for a few in the form of gifts, only to have the recipient tell me that it wasn’t that great, and that I give better massages, etc. So i end up parting with a couple of hundred bucks AND giving a massage. How relaxing is that?!


  8. The ‘exfoliation’ part! haha. That made me cry the first time! I asked the person ‘scraping’ my face to please just stop for a moment….and then I cried. embarrassing!


    1. ugh its awful!! It’s all relaxing and great and then BAM she’s attacking your face with a barrage of burning ointments and sharp implements.. not what I signed on for haha


      1. The attendant just told me, ” Ms, please repeat after me…for the sake of beauty…for the sake of beauty…” Hahahaha. =) How’s your skin now? =)


  9. Just a shout- out to all the guys’ posts. Whilst participating in the co-Ed water therapy room, a good half of the humans there were guys.

    You’re depriving yourself- go to the spa!!

    I’d also like to add an addendum ( do you add an addendum, or is that redundant ) to my earlier post. Any negativity was the cleanse talking. I now am ready for sleep and won’t have to think about how miserable I am on this detox for a solid 7 hours… bliss.
    Anyway- I thoroughly enjoyed our spa afternoon and found it extremely relaxing.
    Shortly after reading this blog, I booked myself a massage for Friday. Yay.
    Guys- get your butts (knotted or smooooth) to a spa. Chances are, you’ll be hooked.


    1. Thank you for the addendum and the message to all my male readers – guys, listen to this one- she knows her shit! She can also help you if you need any good wine recommendations.. you know, once she’s done that “god-forsaken” cleanse


  10. Been to the spa? Actually this past Sunday I visited a ‘man-spa’ . It started with a palm massage, then brief refreshments, I chose the tallest glass of white wine. I then hopped on the table and had my back side explored and tight areas tended to, ‘telltale xx’ free! I interrupted once to shoot a quick Frangelico. As the room started to warm I rolled over (no hidious laughs this time!) I was complimented on my calves, thighs and glutes being immediatley recognized as a runner. I asked for one more quick Tanqueay and Tonic as I was getting pretty warm, o’ natural and all. Then as they, did I mention “they” worked their way up towards my chest I heard a 2 year old scream, waking up form her nap. And so did I. I had put off mowing the grass longer than I shuold have. Now where was that T & T?


  11. Had the pleasure of a very decadent spa experience in Mexico recently – loved every second of it. I had the chocolate wrap – never had my cravings for chocolate gotten so huge as when I was wrapped head to toe!!!! Thankfully, my wonderful massage therapist had a piece of dark chocolate for me after we were done! Would go there again for sure!
    For a massage, I usually go to a sports massage therapist – think my spa treatment choices will focus on things other than a straight up massage – he has been with me for years and does good things to achy muscles!!!!


  12. “I had given my sister carte blanche to book our spa treatments, because, as a formerly starving student, my spa experience was limited to standing outside and staring at people through the window while dragging my hands down the glass.. Michael Myers style.”


  13. My last spa visit was at the Intercontinental in TO in September the morning of my wedding on Centre Island…I actually liked it. Had a great massage. Makes getting married MUCH less stressful.

    I live in NY now (originally from Toronto) and it’s just as stressful here, so I have a great massage therapist named Tony who saves my ass. (Your butt is tight from too much sitting, like everyone in s sedentary job.)


  14. Great post! I can relate to pretty much everything you’ve said because I actually work at a spa! I am one of those therapists & believe me, I try everything to get my clients to relax! okay.. maybe not Working as a therapist is the same as any job, you have your good people & then the not-so-good people. My favorite treatment to give would have to be the facial. Something about it just makes me feel like superwoman! Where I work we include a hand & arm massage while we hot towel your face and then while you’re masking we do a scalp massage. I laughed so hard when you talked about the cucumbers because your therapists answer is damn close to what I tell people who ask! Hey if I didn’t take schooling for it I’d think you would get cucumbers on your eyes too! Oh and for future reference, when you’re relaxing on the bed, you don’t need to help move. Only if we tell you to turn over or move is when you need to. We have been trained to lift & move you so that we don’t hurt you or ourselves. 😉 Great post & if you ever need any more “spa advice” just throw me a comment because I’d be glad to help!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: