May 2nd, 2013
This laidback California beach community combines boho chic and an artsy vibe. Here’s our must-see, must-do itinerary.
The newly refurbished Heisler Park winds up above the beach offering pretty views and great picnic spots. Fill your beach basket at nearby Whole Foods.
Want to dress like the locals? Ultra-soft T-shirts, drawstring pajama pants, Isabel Marant booties and baskets of gorgeous, Turkish hammam towels abound at Laguna Supply. 210 Beach St., Laguna Beach, CA, 949-497-8850, http://pinterest.com/lagunasupply
The Pacific Edge Hotel has just renovated its five beachfront cabanas, which can be rented daily for up to 10 people each. Massages, bottle service, pedicures, and even photography are on offer. Each one has been designed by a different creative group or store, with one resembling a surf shop with Hoby surfboard pictures, another with a fan made from sailboat sails, and another stocked with kids books and a chalkboard table. Each has a private deck with loungers and direct beach access. Rates vary by season/day. VIP cabana Host, 949-281-5720, www.pacificedgehotel.com
A refined surf-shack that is part of the California chainlet, Umami Burger is the go-to spot to refuel after surf and sand. Check out the plank walls, folding chairs and vintage surf posters, and order the Umami Burger with shiitake mushrooms and a parmesan crisp. Umami Burger, 620 Pacific Highway, 949-342-1210, www.umami.com
February 18th, 2013
Say ta-ta to mediocre massages and bad blowouts.
It’s a new era for hotel spas and the Four Seasons is leading the charge. The Yabu Pushelberg-designed space is certainly stunning, but it’s the attention to detail that floats our boat: Custom made massage tables with memory foam, pressure-sensitive heating and faux fur blankets. If that isn’t enough to wind you down, pollen-free essential oils are pumped through the ventilation system and music is piped-in underwater at the infinity pool.
Facials (from $175) start at 75-minutes so we had plenty of time to snooze while our aesthetician applied a Hungarian moor mud mask. If you really want to feel like a million bucks, book in for a Holistic Gemstone Sapphire treatment incorporating the healing powers of rubies, diamonds and pearls.
Goodbye scrub-and-rub, hello bliss. —Marianne Wisenthal
The Spa at Four Seasons Toronto, 60 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, 416-964-0411, www.fourseasons.com/toronto/spa
September 19th, 2012
The steam room is typically a communal experience enjoyed while avoiding eye contact and hoping you’re not stuck beside Chatty Cathy.
Thankfully our visit to the new Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris was entirely à la une. Set in the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouverite Surinder Bains describes her eastern venture as “Morocco meets Bordeaux.” Sadly not a fez in sight but we were blissfully transported by the Gold Jerusalem marble, flowing fountains, and fresh baklava.
The Hammam & Gommage treatment ($125) is divine: 15 minutes of steamy alone time followed by a detoxifying scrub of Moroccan black soap, olive extract and eucalyptus. Afterwards we floated to the Babylon Suite for the Caudalie Grand Facial ($150). Personalized to our skin, the paraben-free line is made with ingredients gleaned from French grapevines.
Our new autumn mantra? Me, myself and I. —Marianne Wisenthal
Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris, Shangri-La Hotel, 188 University Ave., Toronto, 647-253-5770, www.mirajcaudaliespa.com
June 20th, 2012
Committing to a spa visit means committing to their choice of product lines, too.
Luckily for those of us who prefer to pamper the natural way, the recently opened Rayne Spa takes a clean approach as well. The one-hour Calm Facial made use of the Vancouver-based product line Eminence to soothe my sensitive skin. The best part? The Calm Skin Arnica Masque, which felt cool and refreshing— perfect for summertime redness and inflammation. I left the spa with happy skin and an even happier outlook— the ultimate reward for me-time. —Kat Tancock
Rayne Spa, 257 Danforth Ave., Toronto, 416-405-9465, raynespa.com
June 27th, 2011
The scene: We’re reclined way back in one of the Ten Spot’s signature olive-green spa chairs. A warm towel clings to our bare shoulders; steamy mist shrouds us. Our face tingles with exfoliant while a nail tech scrubs our wiggling feet.
Cut to: One hour later, when we’re forced to emerge from this quickie beauty coma known as The Works. Inspired by a request from a regular, the Ten Spot’s newest offering is a speedy, summer-ized spin on the facial and mani/pedi combo. There’s no cocoon of blankets to sweat under or wait time between services—you pick your polish, get in the chair and close your eyes.
Thanks to the efforts of two aestheticians, you’re done in 60 minutes. Did we mention it includes an upper body massage?
The Works almost feels too indulgent, until you remember the price. At $155, it’s one of the most inexpensive ways to escape entirely and return radiant. —Paige Dzenis
At 10 Spot Queen West, 749 Queen St. W., Toronto and 10 Spot Leslieville, 1402 Queen St. E., Studio D1, Toronto, www.the10spot.com
January 24th, 2011
We’ve been faithful to the same threader for almost a decade (she took our eyebrows from tadpoles to full, arched beauties), but time-pressed city girls always need a back-up plan.
Yvette at Jeanet Spa is equally accomplished and has years of eyebrow shaping experience behind her. She herself has thick, dramatic brows (à la Elizabeth Taylor) and encourages clients to opt for the fuller brow, or at least the shape that is most natural to them.
For now, we’ll flit between the two. Just don’t tell either one.
Jeanet Spa, 140 Yorkville Ave.,Toronto, 416-921-2996, www.jeanetspa.com
June 30th, 2010
If it’s good enough for Jennifer Aniston, it’s good enough for us. Mexico’s pristine and serene San Jose Del Cabo on the Sea of Cortes (think Cabo’s sophisticated sister) had us at “Ola.”
At the Mexican-owned Marquis Los Cabos resort, they’re so serious about relaxation, they’ll bury your BlackBerry for you. While pondering the hotel’s impressive collection of art and sculpture, enjoying spacious private casitas and eavesdropping on the international clientele, you won’t miss it a bit.
The resort’s pool is a good metaphor for the pleasures you’ll have: absolutely infinite. If the soft, sandy beaches, crashing surf and grey whale sightings don’t get you, how about baby sea turtles?
Sunrise yoga on the breezy spa deck will get those limbs limber for beach walks. Follow with an all-organic Holistic Breakfast of egg white omelets and celery smoothies and you’ve now earned those margaritas.
Take a trip onto the charming village of San Jose, where the boutique hotel Casa Natalia tucked off the main square offers sublime cocktails in a romantic courtyard, perfect for a marriage proposal. www.casanatalia.com
The stunning arch of the open-air lobby of Marquis Los Cabos mimics the shape of the Baja Peninsula. Could there be a more memorable setting for a sunset wedding?
To view rates and packages, visit www.marquisloscabos.com
June 21st, 2010
We adore a foot rub after a long night of dancing in heels, but it never occurred to us to start the party with one.
On Thursdays through Saturdays, between 7 p.m. and 11p.m., indulge in a divine, 45-minute foot and leg massage at Che Bella Spa’s new evening offering, The Red Door. Make it part of your getting ready ritual with the gals, pamper a bride-to-be or book one with your significant other.
She's got legs, and she knows how to…sorry about that.
June 7th, 2010
In summer, the frequency of our pedicures goes up almost threefold.
To give wallets a fighting chance, an arsenal of good, reasonably-priced spas is a necessity. Do yourself a favour and add Arona Nail and Spa to your rotation. The Standard Pedicure is just $28 and includes a thorough buff and relaxing massage in a pristine setting.
Arona welcomes walk-ins and has a wide selection of OPI, Essie and China Glaze polishes. But when we realized it was full of regulars (including super-cute moms and daughters on a spa day) we knew it was a keeper.
Arona Nail and Spa, 205 Davenport Rd., Toronto, 416-413-1100, www.aronanailspa.com
December 3rd, 2009
Trade winter’s chills for sunny thrills with our luxe (for less bucks) itinerary.
With up to 1,900 square feet, a new private villa at The Hyatt Grand Champions may be bigger than your apartment—only it's got butler service, an outdoor Jaccuzzi, and mountain views. Two bedroom villa from $409, www.grandchampions.hyatt.com
Explore the romantic grounds of La Quinta, a 1920s health ranch turned hotel (note the casita where Frank Capra wrote You Can’t Take It With You). Sit outside at the authentic Mexican Adobe Grill and sip one of their famous organic margaritas. It’s good for you, really. www.laquintaresort.com
Plan to spend the whole day at the Spa at Desert Springs, with its own outdoor saltwater lap pool and loungers overlooking the golf course and mountains. Listen to classical music and order a light lunch from the spa restaurant between trips to the two steam rooms and spa treatments using local dates and cacti. www.spa.desertspringsresort.com
Grab the girls and attend one of the daily $20 golf clinics at the soothing and scenic Westin Mission Hills. The strapping pros have the patience of Job as you hit dead air or divot their green, but it’s amazing how quickly you can improve with their simple pointers. www.westinmissionhillsgolf.com
Looking for more luxe for less bucks? Check out our recent Palm Springs itinerary.