WELLNESS | Four Seasons Spa Toronto

WELLNESS | Four Seasons Spa Toronto

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Four Seasons Spa Toronto

Ever wonder what complete bliss feels like? I did until I finally made my first (and hopefully not last) trip to the Four Seasons Spa Toronto in Yorkville. It was an absolute delight in every way. When I first walked into the grand lobby, I was overwhelmed with the amount of fresh flowers. The vibrant array of orchids, roses, and what appeared to be hydrangeas, were a fragrant treat. The last time I enjoyed the lavish lobby was on my previous trip out east for Holt Renfrew’s All Together at Holt’s Campaign I was invited to be a part of. I posted a Toronto photodiary of the adventure too which mostly revolved around being in my luxurious suite at the Four Seasons in Yorkville. If you’ve seen the property before you can understand why. This time around, I was sampling the spa and it did not disappoint.

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THE MASSAGE

Our morning at the Four Seasons Spa Toronto began with an incredible deep tissue massage. Whenever I’ve heard the term “deep tissue,” I assumed it wasn’t for me. I imagined that meant deep pain but it turns out it means deeply satisfying. That evening I fell asleep without the aid of melatonin, a next to impossible feat for me when I’m traveling; further evidence on the greatness of the massage! It began with the soles of my feet being kneaded with fists – a true blessing for someone who was taking 20,000 steps per day while exploring the city. After that, I swear I just blacked out in sheer bliss. Blended peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary oil helped to release tension throughout the massage. The best part was having my arms and legs stretched out while simultaneously deeply working the muscles.  Post-massage I felt as though I was floating through the halls.

 

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WHAT TO EXPECT

There were more than a few things that stood out for me when we began our relaxation journey at the Four Seasons Spa Toronto. Even taking the elevator up to the 9th floor felt luxurious. When entering the spa, the ambience was incredible with lighting that was uniquely both soft and welcoming. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful – I had no idea how to use the electronic lockers but a woman came to my rescue immediately. Once I realized how easy the lockers were to operate, they were such a treat! There was an extraordinary attention to detail throughout. Not only was it was impressive but also decadent right down to the rolled up facecloths on ice waiting at the door of the steam room! A few other things that I really appreciated (aside from the mind blowing massage which I’ll get into after) were:

1. BEVERAGES

To begin with, there was ample citrus infused water to keep hydrated throughout the day which is recommended to do after a massage. If citrus water isn’t your thing, no worries because there’s a massive selection of tea to be had as well! My favourite was the Lavender Earl Grey. It was the shot of caffeine I needed post morning massage. The shortbread cookies were a perfect side to my delicious tea as well.

2. POOL ACCESS

Access to the palatial swimming pool area (complete with a giant jacuzzi hot tub and indoor/outdoor lounge seating) is arguably one of the best perks of visiting the Four Seasons Spa Toronto. Napping poolside on their luxe lounge chairs is the way I always would like to bliss out after a massage. Plus the lighting in there is stunning – whoever had the foresight to install those skylights is my personal hero.

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3. COZY BATHROBES

As a matter of fact, bathrobes are an every day luxury every one should be indulging in. When it comes to comfort, the Four Seasons Spa Toronto KNOWS what they’re doing. I swear my robe was made of angel wings because it was the softest thing I have ever felt. I enjoyed swanning around the pool deck with my fleecy dream robe.

4. TOILETRIES

Did you forget to bring your shampoo or realize last minute that you might need a little mouthwash after drinking 5 cups of lavender Earl Grey tea? No worries because the Four Seasons Spa Toronto has all the essentials waiting for you. Forget having to haul all your products with you to Yorkville, they are already there!

5. EUCALYPTUS SHOWER

The spacious showers have an invigorating eucalyptus spray which you can spritz on the tiles during a steamy rinse off post steam room. It’s such a nice way to get refreshed after you’ve made your rounds to all the steamy amenities available.

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Overall, this was a truly exceptional experience thanks to the Four Seasons Spa Toronto. Suffice to say, I am very pleased I am able to attest to its greatness by firsthand knowledge. Now I will just have to count the days till I’m back in the city to try out another service and get back to doing what I do best – lounging hard by the poolside.😎
To find out more about their services, check out the Four Seasons Toronto Spa Menu.
Photographs – CC Ruth & Sandy Karpetz

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WELLNESS | 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

WELLNESS | 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

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For the longest time I have been immensely averse to running. The mere mention of the word “jogging” made me cringe. How could people possibly spend their time running? There must be a better way to stay physically active! What is this “runners high” I keep hearing about? It must be a myth. Yes, I have run Bloomsday twice but I don’t recall enjoying any of it. Time has not rose tinted those memories. Then a chain of events quickly unfolded, the stars aligned perfectly, and I found myself in the river valley partaking in this sport of sorts. How could this have happened?

It all started when I switched to an Android phone since being an Apple user since 2008. I was majorly changing up many facets of my life and the switch to the Samsung GS8 was just the beginning. While adjusting to the new-to-me operating system, I discovered the Samsung Health app and it’s guided workouts… that’s when I went for my first run in the Spring of 2017. Yes, an app is what magically convinced me to try running. Now I’m nearly 9 months in and there’s a few things I wish I would have known when I began.

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IT’S HARD

The first few times are the worst. So bad, in fact, that it is enough to get you to quit. Your legs feel like jello, it’s hard to find a pace that feels right, and if you don’t stretch well, you’re in for a world of pain. The best way to keep on track is to find an app that guides you through it. Without the Samsung Health app, I probably wouldn’t have continued to run.

Finding an app that works for you is essential. The thing I love about this one is that you can pick your level of workout and a guide will help you throughout the entire run. From letting you know whether you’re running to slow or too fast depending on the workout to randomly saying encouraging things like “smile if you can” or “you’re one workout closer to your fitness goals.” It sounds incredibly cheesy but when you’re coming up to that 8th km, an encouraging word is greatly appreciated.

In addition to helping with running cadence, the Samsung Health app also logs my progress and gives me milestone awards for best kept pace, longest distance, etc. Having hard evidence and statistics on my achievements makes the process much more tangible for me. Plus it gives you a weekly summary of all your physical activity.  I could probably talk about this app at length because I am so infatuated with it but that could be a whole post on its own. I’ve also heard that Google Fit is pretty good as well.

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STAY HYDRATED

I made the mistake of going for a run without a water bottle. By the time I realized it was a terrible mistake, I was already across the river and nowhere near home. I would suggest two options: 1. Make note of working water fountains on your route or 2. Invest in a lightweight water bottle. The first option is dicey and I can’t say that city fountains are always reliable. I always opt for my tried and true Lululemon Purist Cycling Water Bottle II. My original one I left on a ferry this summer and it was devastating. Fortunately, I have a sweetie pie man friend who wanted to support my new found hobby so much so that he surprised me with this one. I will never lose it again. Bonus tip: the water bottle can double as a weight should you decided to stop along your route to do some toning exercises.

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HAVING THE RIGHT GEAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Not all accessories are created equal and this statement couldn’t be more true than with athletic gear. I have a few favourites that have made a world of a difference to my level of comfort when working out in the wilderness. We’ve already discussed my water bottle preferences and I assure you I’m just as specific about the other accessories I own. Let’s start from the top down:

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6 Essential Accessories For Running

1. Sunglasses are essential all year round in my opinion. Nothing is more bright that sunlight reflected off snow. I found that the Ray-Ban Aviators ($228) were the best sunglasses in terms of being lightweight and not moving all over my face while being active.

2. Bluetooth Earbuds allow you to run without having a cord smacking against your chest. I love the Sudio Sweden Vasa Bla headphones ($99) because of their wireless capabilities. Each pair comes with 5 different earbud sizes allowing for multiple fit options. As a female, I prefer to run with only one earbud in for safety reasons so the handy clip allows me to secure the extra wire down. Bonus: you can also get 15% off any Sudio Sweden order using the promocode “PRETTYSECRETS”

3. Hair ties can make or break your experience. Too tight and you have a headache. Too loose and your hair is flying all over. I prefer the Telephone Cord Hair Ties ($10) which miraculously don’t leave a hideous indent line.

4. A comfortable pair of leggings will change the way you run. The best leggings I have come across are the Lululemon Break Free Crop Nulux 17″ (on sale for $89). They are lightweight and moisture-wicking. Most importantly though, they don’t ride up or fall down. Bonus: they have side pockets for your phone and keys!

5. A supportive pair of shoes can help you run even further. I am obsessed with my Lululemon x APL Techloom Phantom Shoe ($180) it’s like a little foot glove with everything tucked in. They’re lightweight and have hidden laces so you’ll never find yourself tripping on them.

6. An indestructible phone case for your butter fingers when you’re skipping a song on your playlist. The Otterbox Samsung GS8 Symmetry Series Clear Case in Stardust ($39.95) has saved me from destroying yet another screen. I cannot risk having to experience that devastation again!

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IT’S REWARDING

For the first time since I was in elementary school I was actually able to enjoy the seasons changing and experience it in an immersive way. Running in the spring with all the fragrant freshly blossoming trees. In the summer when everything is vibrantly green. In the fall with that unmistakable scent of decaying leaves. And of course the less liked season: winter, when the snow muffles sound and the trees are naked, revealing the surrounding landscape. I felt as though I was truly in tune with the changes happening within and around me. Running can feel meditative at a point too, it’s amazing how clearing of your thoughts it can be. It allows me to exercise while indulging in forest bathing.

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IT GETS EASIER!

This is the part everyone wants to hear. It does get easier! Until this year, I hadn’t run since I was 17. Despite that seemingly enormous hurdle, I was able to get into a groove where I was impressing myself with my stamina. I’m at a point where I have admittedly drunk the kool-aid and enjoy going for runs. The secret to getting good is consistency and forcing yourself to go even when you don’t want to. Each time I have been hesitant and have pushed myself, I am always grateful when the run is complete. Our bodies can do amazing things if we just give them the chance and work with them at a reasonable pace. I may not run Bloomsday again but at least I’m one run closer to being a better runner in general!

photographs – CC Ruth

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WELLNESS | Taghazout Bay Hyatt Place Asenfo Spa

WELLNESS | Taghazout Bay Hyatt Place Asenfo Spa

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In southern Morocco there is a seaside fishing village worth detouring for. 20 km from Agadir sits Taghazout Bay, an up and coming resort town that is quickly being added to travel lists as a must-see while in Morocco; even VOGUE is recommending it! Fortunately, I had the inside scoop since my worldly and adventurous friend Emily was living just mere miles down the coast from this not so hidden gem. We took a ride over, but first we had to stop at the crown jewel of resorts in the area….

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Perched high on a hill overlooking the coast is Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay, an oasis in the sky. The ultramodern design of the hotel invites you in and then slaps you in the face revealing the most magnificent view from their pool. The best part? You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the view or the pool – visit their amazing pool bar or pay an access fee to spend the afternoon sunbathing in one of their several outdoor pools. Or walk through the greenery to a cabana overlooking their golf course and the endless ocean views. I can’t think of a better way to unwind after a day or surfing or post-massage than stretched out on one of their luxurious deck chairs watching the sun slowly move across the sky.

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One of the well known and loved dishes at the pool bar is the grilled squid and tomato tartare with argan oil. Since it’s a local favourite, I had to give it a whirl and I can confirm there’s a reason why it’s so well liked. It is exactly what you want to be eating pool side on a hot day; light but filling. Paired with a mint lemonade followed by some decadent mousse, this lunch was perfection.

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The Hyatt Place also has an exceptional spa, as if that comes as a surprise. The Asenfo Spa, which is Berber for relaxation, is known for their Replenishing Five Flowers facial which I had to try out. Never has my facial skin felt so awakened from a treatment. Their massage techniques along with the fragrant products they used made for a truly dreamy experience.

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Why just stop at a facial when you can also indulge in the signature Asenfo Spa massage? Which is precisely what I did. Every massage in Morocco begins with a wipe down of your feet with a hot face cloth. I never knew how incredible that could feel after I had spent days wandering around the village in less than sensible footwear. Read: flip flops. I had also been at the beach earlier that day and had a bit of residual sand on my legs – which only enhanced the treatment more! Sand is nature’s glitter, it is impossible to get rid of so it’s easier just to embrace it as the natural exfoliant it is.

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Not only was the massage exceptional in itself, the sand added an element of exfoliation to the treatment, an addition I greatly appreciated. The best part about Moroccan massages? Unlike prude western treatments, in Morocco they know the importance of a chest and belly massage – so many vital organs and muscles that need attention are not avoided! I left the spa on a cloud and went straight back to the pool to catch another citrus coloured sunset.

Check out their full treatment list for the Asenfo Spa here.

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Taghazout Bay has it all. A cute surfing and fishing community, a world class spa, and the most spectacular views one could hope for on a Moroccan holiday. This was my first visit, but it certainly won’t be my last. I’m already scheming a way to return to this brilliantly beautiful and inspiring country.

Many thanks to the Taghazout Bay Hyatt Place for having us!

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WELLNESS | Fairmont Willow Stream Spa Vancouver

WELLNESS | Fairmont Willow Stream Spa Vancouver

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Ever dreamed of visiting an oasis on the water…. but being in the middle of the bustling core of downtown Vancouver? I certainly have and with my most recent trip to the coast, I finally found it! the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim is everything you could possible dream of when it comes to relaxation goals. Their deck overlooking the harbour is a place that one can lazily slip into a nap while the ocean sounds roll in like an audio track…. except they’re real! On a hot day, you are even able to enjoy the luxury of a sea breeze atop their stunning patio.

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Outdoor spaces aside, the spa itself is also an oasis of epic proportions. Our treatment room overlooked both the harbour and busy street below. While we were treated to an exceptional couples massage complete with aromatherapy of a lavender oil inhale to begin with, the hustle and buzz from the street below melted away.

There are few things in life as transportive as a massage – a good record, a decadent meal, or even a truly magical book can make that list. This definitely made the cut. Nearing the end, our feet were moisturized, bagged, and put in little booties for the ultimate re-moisturization. Vancouver is a walking city and each day we banked upwards of 20,000 steps, myself hoofing that in sandals. I was in dire need of some attention in that department.

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Post-massage we enjoyed a smoothie shot and a fruit kabob. Both incredibly refreshing and exactly what I needed after having been put into a pleasure coma from a deep massage. My jello body wrapped in a fluffy robe was able to make it to the outdoor patio but not before popping by the library lounge for some mixed nuts and prosecco.

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It is always advisable to drink copious amounts of water after having a massage as it helps your body to flush out the toxins that have been released during the treatment. After one glass of prosecco, to celebrate the wonderful afternoon, it was on to cucumber and lemon infused water. I love hydrating with a naturally infused water – it adds a bit of zip.

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Did I even mention how wonderful the change rooms were? They come complete with lockers with personalized lock codes, every toiletry you could possibly need to get ready, and gorgeous marble showers – one of which even had diffused natural light in it! I took my sweet time getting ready in there if only to soak in all the inspiration for my future bathroom goals.

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It wasn’t much trouble to drift off into an afternoon nap while cocooned in one of the outdoor cabanas. It seemed criminal not to relax fully and embrace the scene at hand. Of course there’s more to do than just sleep the afternoon away, one can also order a lovely lunch right to your private corner… or even take a dip in the hot tub which goes without saying is an absolute must.

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Bathing suit c/o Lululemon – Top – Uncharted Waters | High Waist Bottoms – Endless Horizons |

Obsessed with the flattering cut and quick drying material of this suit! It’s my go-to for all water related activities now.

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If you’re ever in the Vancouver area I highly recommend heading over to the Fairmont Pacific Rim if only to enjoy the architecural splendor of the foyer and eat in their aesthetically pleasing Lobby Lounge. That hotel is next level stunning! And if you have the time, pop by the Willow Stream Spa for a real relaxation treat!

photographs – Jesse Sand / Sandy Karpetz

many thanks to the Willow Stream Spa for hosting us for the day!

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STYLE | Rainy Days with Burton

STYLE | Rainy Days with Burton

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The weather this spring and summer has been such a mixed bag that I never seem to leave home without a rain coat; a freak thunder shower seems to be looming around every corner this days. Getting caught in the rain has never been a negative in my books. The after rain smell while in nature is a scent I would love to bottle; it is intoxicating.

My enthusiasm for rainy days is mostly due to the fact that I am prepared for such occasions; I like the rain, I do not like getting soaked. This season I’ve been alternating between my Burton Sadie Rain Jacket, it’s perfect for hikes and river valley strolls, and my Burton Flare Parka Rain Jacket which is super easy to squish down in your bag and great for layering.

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OUTFIT – Burton Custom Pullover Hoodie in Bleach Wash | Burton Flare Parka Rain Jacket in True Blue

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Of course it rained when I went on a roadtrip to the northernmost badlands, but of course I packed my lil blue parka and layered it on top of a chunky knit sweater, added some rain boots and I was good to go walk all of the paths around the ancient formations. The best part? Mosquitoes cannot penetrate the waterproof material – I was bite free for once!

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Edmonton is known for its vast river valley system but this is truly the first summer I have made a point of enjoying it fully. More often than not I’m up at 6:30 and down in the valley walking or running the trails. The dewy mornings are best accompanied by my Sadie Rain Jacket, just long enough that I can sit down on a bench that’s been fully rained on without being drenched. What a luxury!

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Nothing like a side of sass in a popping coral coat – I certainly don’t blend in in the river valley.

 

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OUTFIT | Burton Sadie Rain Jacket in Coral

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From the mountains to my own backyard, a little rain is not stopping me from my outdoor pursuits, urban commutes to the coffee shop, or even running to my car during a downpour. I’m looking forward to taking these jackets out on the road to the island and camping over the next two months as the summer unfolds.

Photographs – Jesse Sand // Vickie Laliotis

This post was sponsored by BURTON. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

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WELLNESS | Lush Cosmetics Spa London

WELLNESS | Lush Cosmetics Spa London

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First of all, Lush is one of my favourite all natural companies on earth. Their commitment to the environment is admirable but also, I love not having to feel guilty about excess packaging when it comes to my beauty routine. One of the lesser known things about Lush is that they actually have a spa at a few select locations including London. Naturally I had to suss it out while I was in town; it did not disappoint.

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I headed to Oxford Street to their flagship shop in London for an hour of bliss. The treatment I indulged in was The Good Hour and I must say, it was the theme park of massages. I met my masseuse and we picked out a massage bar (I picked hottie because of the black pepper and ginger scents. So good.) Then she threw a Big Blue bath bomb into a pitcher to scent the room and we set sail on a most spectacular journey.

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First of all, it’s nautical themed and they really stay true to it for the whole 70 minutes. It was BLISS. Secondly, they have an in house Lush band who created a specific soundtrack for this treatment. As you can imagine, all the songs are old timey sea shanties and you’re massaged to the beat of the music! Did I mention that you can actually purchase the soundtrack post treatment too?

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The massage was a deep tissue sensory overload complete with a dry ice fog drifting out from beneath the bed. Every little detail had been considered, right down to the bathroom being completely stocked with all my Lush favourites. Another notable detail is the fact that Lush curated the whole decor of the spa from local charity shops. If I wasn’t already in love with them, this officially sealed the deal.

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I cannot say enough good things about the Lush Spa on Oxford Street. The whole experience was a sensory overload and I’m pretty sure I drifted out of there on a bathbomb cloud. They even gave me a new Hottie massage bar to take home! My only complaint – there isn’t a spa in Canada yet! Fingers doubly crossed on that one.

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