After visiting six spas in Canada on this trip and combining these experiences with what I learned from visiting a few other spas in Canada in the past, here are the things that surprised me the most about the Canadian spa scene:
1. I didn’t realize that therapists in Canada go through much more extensive training than therapists in the U.S. (My massage therapist at Ste. Anne’s went to school for three years.) I checked out some of the massage schools and found that 2200 hours of education was about average, compared to 600 hours in the U.S. In general, the treatments I experienced throughout Canada have been noticiably more professional.
2. I was surprised at how many boutique spas there were in Canada and even more so, that most were all-inclusive. More often than not, overnight accommodations, all meals (including tea), and a spa treatment were included in the nightly room rate.
3. Detox was big, weight loss not so much.
4. The Canadian spa industry is much more developed than I thought, perhaps due in part to the fact that they haven’t done much marketing or PR outside of Canada.
(added as a result of the comment posted)
5. Elmcrest College of Applied Health Sciences & Spa Management has a one year spa management program that has been around for many years. What’s special about their program is that all the students get practice in all spa positions because they actually work at a day spa, which the school runs. Another well kept secret that hopefully won’t stay a secret much longer.
Attended the Leading Spas of Canada conference in Toronto. Since I don’t know Canada well, I enjoyed learning about not only the spa scene but also the country itself and its tourism market. Some tidbits that caught my attention:
The Canadian Tourism Commission recently performed a “Brand Canada” study including a survey of the top characteristics associated with Canada. They were:
They also found that while Canada is considered one of the top places in the world to live, it ranks twelfth on the list of countries people most want to visit. The problem? Many people think of Canada as “vanilla.” Not sexy. Not fun. So the Commission is launching a campaign to undo that misperception. An updated look for their logo, a new tag line (“Canada, Keep Exploring”), and a cutting-edge look with a color palette containing hues you would find in the country’s natural settings.
This should be a positive development for the spa industry. Genuine and friendly people, nature, and safety are great for spa vacations. And Canada has some other advantages in their spa industry that I was not aware of. More on those tomorrow…
- Genuine and friendly people
The view at Grail Springs is the first thing that captured our attention. They are right on a lake which, when we visited, glistened in the sun although covered with ice and snow. They have made good use of that view from their great room, the dining room and from many of the bedrooms.
Stacey and I met with Madeline, the owner, who was kind enough to stay longer than planned because we did get a tad delayed in our drive. I love love love meeting the owners of spas because then I can understand the core philosophy and meeting Madeline was no exception. She is a very attractive woman with a great senses of style which was obvious from the outfit she wore. A real country look yet with the most contemporary bubbled hemline. I wasn’t surprised when she told us later that she was a designer.
She had just returned from New York where, among other things, she had done an interview for MSNBC on “The Secret”. (That’s the book so many people are talking about since Oprah had the Australian author on her TV show.) It’s become a controversial book with people lined up in support and in opposition. Madeline is “pro” as she leads “The Secret” retreats at Grail Springs.
What I learned about Grail Springs is how focused they are on detox. The food, the treatments, the reading materials – detox is a real foundation. They have the new infrared hot house dome which can cover various body parts for a really focused infrared therapy. They also have the detox foot baths which I am beginning to see at more spas. And they have colonic therapy.
More about that later.