On this adventure, I was out for a spa day. I was in the midst of switching careers and decided to not only take advantage of what group benefits I had left with my former employer, but also give myself a treat and a mini vacation of sorts. My new group benefit plan would not activate until 3 months into my new employment and vacation days would not unlock until after a year, so here I was deciding to take what I could, and making the best of it. So, if 80% of a pampering spa day would be covered, why not indulge a little? And if looking for one of the most luxurious spas in Vancouver, my recommendation is Willow Stream within the Fairmont Pacific Rim, downtown Vancouver waterfront.
Not only are the facilities well maintained and spacious, but all available amenities are included with any spa appointment; where and you can indulge in them before or after your treatment. I recommend coming in early to enjoy the spa before, rather than after your session. Only because it helps to relax your body, getting it prime for the main feature: your paid for service. Which by the day is not cheap, but worth it for all the extra perks you get.
I find that hitting all the below after reawakens you, whereas I want to leave by massage feeling relaxed. And on the same vein, I am on the fence about showering after as we;;. I don’t mind being oiled up and find that I like the feeling of the lotions and potions hydrating my skin, post massage in fond memory of it. But the scents and the grease can get to others. I would leave after my massage, but did shower clean when I got home to relax further in my own space.
For shared amenities there is a wet steam sauna which is gender specific. Each is located within the men’s or ladies only spa, to avoid confusion. Hot and wet steam engulfs you as you sit on tile, as water drips from the ceiling.
The dry sauna is located outside. A wood cedar box with solar panels and no need to add water to hot stone. You sit on a warm bench breathing in deep the scents of the cedar. You can track your time with a 15-minute hourglass.
There is no plunging cold water pool, so you can cool down either by sitting within one of their outdoor lounge spaces. This includes waterproof furniture, throw pillows, and blankets to keep warm during this time of year (early spring). The fire pit offers additional heat and ambiance outside the hustle and bustle of downtown below. If Vancouver decides to rain, they do have large golf umbrellas you can utilize to keep dry, as well. You can even bring said umbrellas into either pool to use.
The Jacuzzi/hot tub is set at a higher temperature and is recommended that you limit your time within for 15-25 minutes, taking into consideration the other spa guests. For an extra sensation turn on the massaging jets and lean back for a timid pulsation.
The second pool is a mineral bath set at a cooler temperature, but still warming with magnesium and Epson salts, ideal for sore muscles to relax in.
However, if your visit coincides with rainfall and you would rather stay dry and warm, look to either of their indoor lounge spaces. Either a private women’s only lounge that is brightly lit over looking to patio space.
Or the communal men and women lounge that is dark and cozy with love seats and a fireplace.
Both are equipped with a bar of refreshments that includes flavoured water, steeped hot tea, and a selection of snacks like pitted dates, peanut butter protein balls, wasabi rice crackers, trail mix, and fresh fruit.
You are asked to wait in either indoor seating areas 10 minutes prior to your appointment, where your masseuse will come fetch you, when time.
I went for the 90 minute massage in order to give myself the feeling of being relaxed without thinking it ended too soon. In doing so, I was also able to get more time and work on specific pain points, as well as the full whole body massage experience.
When time I was led down the hallway to the treatment room and told that all are named after flowers. I was at the very end in the Lily of the Valley room, single occupancy.
Before I settled in, I was given a rundown of the products my registered massage therapist will be using including the selection of oils, spritzes and creams. I was given the option to have unscented and asked if I wanted a scalp and foot massage.
My session began with me disrobing and placing it on the towel warmer. Then in private, I climbed into the heated bed set at slightly warmer that body temperature. Nestled comfortably under crisp hotel linens and heavy sheets, face down, belly on the bed with a pillow under my feet and two more below each shoulder blade for support. I was then asked to breathe in deep as essential oils were placed under the cushioned head pillow. All the while, being drawn in by the melodic spa music playing in the background.
Here, they massage to your desired strength, a conversation you will have with your massage therapist during intake. I spoke to my planters fasciitis and the pain in my neck from lifting at the gym. And because I was in search of healing, I found myself breathing through firm pressure as she dug elbows and the side of her arm against my back to alleviate knots and knead out kinks. I wanted to tolerate the pain to be able to start the healing, and spoiler: it worked.
45 minutes spent on the front working from the back to legs, and then the arms. Then I was asked to flip on to my back where she began with a head massage and travelled down south once more, with more time and care on a full foot massage.
My only critique is that she didn’t work on the front of my arms and wrists and that during the neck portion of the service, while on my back I found her digging nails into skin. A similar case throughout depending on how she massaged. And less of a critique and more of a disappointment, was that I was so relaxed that I fell asleep and didn’t necessarily feel all the benefits of the service that I wanted to. But I guess that is why this is a repeat business.
And to end you are given a fresh robe and offered a flavoured water outside of what is available for self pour. Between cranberry and coconut, I went for the latter, drinking as we concluded our time with some friendly professional advice.
After, I lingered in the lounge in order to write this review, while it was still fresh, and to allow myself the opportunity to gradually wake up. After all it was still early in the day and I had many errands to run.
For those who decide to shower in full they do have regular stalls with lavender scented shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. As well as the option to spritz a eucalyptus spray on to the tiled walls to add fragrance to your shower as it steams with the hot water.
But for a premium shower, beeline it to their shower experience with 4 different shower heads that includes water sprinkling from above like rain, 2 on either flanks left and right, and as a nozzle at the end of a hose for placement control.
This is a giant space that has a door that leads to a narrow walkway where you can walk along the side of the building and enjoy the scenic city meets water view. The latter being one of the main benefits of booking with this downtown spa.
Once clean you grab one of their many fluffy white towels situated for convenient grabbing, and can either dress in the washroom, by your locker, or in one of their change rooms.
And to help get you on your way they have complimentary toiletries situated across from the toilets like hand cream, mouth wash, and female sanitary products.
There are also 2 vanities equipped with a blow dryer, hair straightener, comb, hair ties, cotton balls and cotton swabs.
You are given all the time you need to get yourself sorted with no rush to leave after your appointment or hurry along with your cleaning regiment.
And best of all, everything you experience within the spa is “new”. Their staff is so on top of housekeeping that each shower stall is dry, each stack of face clothes is pyramided in full, and each towel laid down is fresh. On a slow day it can feel like you have the place to yourself. More so if you book an earlier appointment, like I did, as they do not really get busy until after 2pm.
Willow Stream Spa
1038 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9, Canada