to Plan Your Perfect
Spa Resort Vacation
Planning a spa resort vacation? I bet you can hardly wait to get away!
But before you hand over your hard-earned dollars, you’ll need to choose among
a number of different resorts in Ontario. How do you pick? What should you know
before you commit?
Things to consider when choosing a resort spa
What’s your goal?
Before you even start looking at listings of resort spas in Ontario,
ask yourself: What is my main goal for this trip?
Above: Briars Resort and Spa, photo by Peter Sibbald - petersibbald.com
It varies from person to
person, and even changes for the same person depending on where they are in
their life at the moment.
You may be:
- seeking relaxation
- looking for beauty or anti-aging treatments;
- having fun with your friends on a great girlfriend
- celebrating a special life event;
- enjoying a romantic travel destination with your
- indulging in fine dining and luxurious
- kick-starting your weight loss or detox program;
- getting some spiritual guidance;
- trying some popular alternative health treatments;
- simply spending some time in nature and enjoying
These are all distinct, although sometimes complementary,
goals, and some resorts are better at some services than others.
Write down some of your goals (perhaps in a journal) and
look them over. Then decide which goals are most important to you now. You’ll use this
list later when you’re looking over the offerings of various resort spas, to
make sure their services match your needs.
The Company you keep
Are you going to this spa on your own? With a friend? A partner?
A group of friends? Your family? Do you want peace and quiet? Or do you want
lots of social interaction? Who do you imagine sharing the resort with
Write down your preferences and when you contact the resorts on your list, ask
them if they can provide an atmosphere that suits you best. Is their resort
- Groups of friends/boisterous parties
- Families with children
In other words, is
it a place to mingle with other singles or a place for couples to canoodle?
A vacation won’t be relaxing if the drive there and back is
stressful. Think about where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and if the
transportation system is workable for you. Consider the:
- Distance from your starting point – is a long
drive going to stress you out?
- Distance to restaurants and attractions
- Surroundings – is it off the beaten track? Too close
to a road? Will you hear traffic from your room?
What kind of
treatments are you seeking? If you’re not that familiar with the many kinds of
treatments – it’s hard to keep up – you might want to do some research first.
The Travel to Wellness web site has a helpful glossary of terms outlining types
of treatments: http://www.traveltowellness.com/spawellnessglossary.
Some other aspects of the treatments to consider and
- Cost – prices can really vary so shop around
especially if you’re on a budget
- Cancellation policy
- Does the spa offer treatments for singles or
couples as well?
- Number of staff, training of staff for treatments
- Timing – can you book ahead and are you guaranteed
those times? Hint: it’s best to book your treatments the day you’re spending
overnight, because if you book it in the morning before you leave. they could
get backed up and it will be too late for you
- What do the treatment rooms look like and how
many there are?
- Scents – If you are allergic to scents, you
could risk an asthma attack. Know what triggers your attacks and ask if they
use scents, both artificial and natural. Not everyone knows that the burning of essential oils -- even though they are “natural” products –-
can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. If they use products like
that, ask if they can either remove them from the treatment room before you enter, or, better
yet, ask if they provide treatments in the individual’s hotel room.
- If at all possible, ask for a tour of the
facility if you’re within easy driving distance. Then you won’t have any
surprises when you go.
- Are you looking for other services like Yoga or
Health Lectures? Many spas offer these as well but inquire before you book.
A comfortable room is very important. When you call your spa
resort, before you book, ask them for details about:
- Cost of the rooms – high season and low season, and
different levels of rooms
- Size of the room (square footage)
- Decor – when was it last updated? Are photos of
the room you are considering available on the web site?
- Number of rooms overall (is this a large resort
or a small cozy place)
- Views from the bedroom
- Amenities in the bedroom – is there a fireplace,
tv, clock alarm, coffee/tea-making facilities, fridge, etc.
- Smoking/non-smoking – some spa resorts are smoke-free,
while others permit smoking on the balconies etc. Ask beforehand, especially if
you don’t want smoke wafting through your window.
The property and activities
Part of the joy of going away is discovering beautiful
new surroundings. What does the spa resort have to offer in terms of:
- Scenery – is it by a lake? A forest? A farm with
horses? How far away from your hotel is the beach/woods/etc.?
- Appearance of the building or buildings? Is it
ultra- modern or a well-maintained heritage building with historic charm?
- What are the property’s amenities (fitness
equipment, sauna, swimming pool, boating, board games, mountain bikes, horse
riding, casino, etc.)? And how much does it cost to use them? Is it all
inclusive or pay-per-use?
- If your travelling companion isn’t doing the
treatments, is there enough to keep them entertained while you’re in the spa?
- Common rooms - Is there a gym? a sitting room? Do they
provide books or dvd’s to borrow? Is there a fireplace in the lounge? etc. What are you looking for?
- Is there any live entertainment? When?
Food is hugely important for spa resort guests. Read the
reviews on tripadvisor.ca and you’ll find a large percentage of the comments are
praising or criticizing the food. To avoid nasty surprises, make sure you ask
about the following matters:
- Is food all inclusive or a la carte?
- What are the operating hours of the dining room?
(some close between meals which can be a problem if you’re out and about at odd
times or you’re a late sleeper). If food is available all day, what kind of
food and drinks are available outside of meal time? Does the resort provide
snacks? What kind?
- Is alcohol available or allowed on the property?
(Some ban it.)
- Does the spa resort cater to special dietary
- Are certain things OFF the menu at the resort? Some
health resorts ban meats, dairy, wheat, etc from the service.
- Is there a dress code for dining? What is it?
Other questions about the company
make and break a business. How long has the spa resort been operating? How long
under the current management? Experience doesn’t guarantee smooth operation,
but it helps.
concerned about the environment, is this resort “Green”? How does it
incorporate green practices into its operations?
Where to get info about the spas
First, of course, there is the resort spa’s own
website and reception staff. What does the company say about its goals? What does it say makes it
different from other spa resorts?
Second, you can check an industry association,
Ontario’s Finest Inns and Spas. They don’t cover all spas in Ontario, but they
do cover many, such as Briars Spa, Spa on the Twenty and Millcroft Spa: http://www.ontariosfinestinns.com
Independent Reviews – Spa Life Magazine reviews
spas in Canada. It’s by paid subscription but you can check out sample issues
online: http://www.spalifemagazine.com. You can also read reviews (for free) and
check out rankings for Ontario spa resorts on www.tripadvisor.ca .
Get it in writing
Even when you book over the phone, have the spa resort
email your confirmation to you so that you have it in writing.
This list may seem like a lot of things to consider, but isn’t it worth it
to ensure that your Ontario spa resort vacation is exactly what you want?
Ontario Travel Secrets > Ontario Resorts > Spa Resorts