by Linda Aksomitis
The lone candle filled the spa room with a glow like a full moon rising. Stripped of worry and the everyday facade of clothing, I felt the smoothness of cool linen around my body. Soft music engulfed me, lifting me to a different plane of existence. As Renald’s hands worked their way down my back, massaging oil into my skin, I became keenly aware of each vertebrae and muscle.
The massage, my first, was just one segment of my visit to Spa Eastman. When my friend, Theresa, asked me if I was interested in an opportunity to try the destination spa, Spa Eastman, listed in the top 100 of the world, just an hour out of Montreal, Quebec, I agreed immediately. Not that I was sure what a destination spa was, but I was sure I’d find out all about Spa Eastman soon enough!
Jocelyna Dubuc, President and Chief Executive Officer, of Spa Eastman took a few minutes to talk to us when we arrived. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the experience was evident as she explained the philosophy of a destination spa. “All of the ingredients,” she said, “are combined to promote the pursuit and maintenance of a healthy and stimulating lifestyle.”
The ingredients of a destination spa vacation include an educational component, healthy diet, restful environment, and a variety of treatments that help guests take charge of their physical and mental well-being. Whether guests go solo, as couples, family groups or with friends, the atmosphere is of pure luxurious relaxation.
After check-in Theresa and I both retired to our rooms. While I’d chosen the most economical package, Theresa was on the opposite end of the scale. My cabin room was cozy and tasteful, while hers in the Spa main building oozed gracious décor. The single bed in my room was soft, while Theresa’s king-size bed covered with a down-filled comforter offered a night of pampered dreams.
But there were advantages to my location! The cottage, just a five-minute walk from the main building, was nestled amidst trees and wildflowers, which just begged to be enjoyed. From my tiny balcony I watched one of my neighbors (there were four individual rooms in the cottage) swing back into careful childhood days, as she glided back and forth on the rope swing under the huge maple tree.
The activity calendar for the day listed several walks around the grounds: a fitness walk, an anti-stress walk, and an evening walk, but rather than join the group, I preferred to enjoy the solitude of my surroundings. I set off at a brisk pace, but soon stopped to explore things, from the weathered rail fence, put together without benefit of wire, staples or nails, to the old barn and the gardens. Lush green trees, plants and wildflowers provided each of the other cabins I encountered on the path with privacy from the world.
My appointment with Rénald was for late afternoon, so I regretfully cut my walk short and headed up past the pond to the main building. Clad in the standard issue beige robes, various spa residents lounged on the chaises, watching the water in the fountain, and the tiny fish swimming below them. The load croak of a bullfrog echoed past us all.
With the quiet charm of a French nobleman, Renald gave me halting English directions on settling myself on the treatment table. But the language of body message has no barriers — soon the Miracle Mineral Dos had worked its magic and every muscle in my body was fully relaxed. After the oil massage came the mineral treatment. Renald covered my back, thighs and legs with cloths then applied a warm mineral layer. With another layer of cloths and a blanket I soon felt its effects, as the warmth permeated all of my pores. The strong smell of menthol filled the room, even opening my nasal passages to the experience.
But that wasn’t the end. As he removed the mineral wraps he continued the massage from my neck right to my toes. Using some reflexology techniques, he worked on my legs and feet. After what felt like ten minutes, but by conventional time was more than an hour, I slipped from the table and into my robe. Back to fluorescent lights and reality, my body somehow melded with my mind, I wandered back out to meet Theresa.
Dinner was next on the agenda in the dining room, and what a meal it was. Spa Eastman’s chef was a treasure, from his training in Belgium to his French restaurant experience, he had the ability to make magic with foods we often think of as less than exciting. Part of the spa program is a tantalizing, very healthy menu, focusing on organic foods grown in their own gardens. However, Spa Eastman staff hasten to assure visitors, “We don’t push people towards a diet — you can eat what you like.”
In addition to a salad bar, the menu’s first course included Leek soup, Waldorf salad, and Ramequin of barley and oyster mushrooms. The entrée choice was salmon filet with red bell pepper sauce or veal roast with mustard and tarragon sauce. Dessert options for those of us, like me, with a sweet tooth, were maple pie or wild berry pie. Edible flowers garnished all of the dishes, so the meals were true French Canadian culinary delights.
The night at Spa Eastman is far from over after the evening meal. Workshops are offered in both French and English as part of the basic spa package. Theresa and I chose the stress control and diminution of physical pain by flowers of Dr. Bach, which was presented by Naturopath, Barbara Dowgiallo. A fascinating topic, made even more interesting by Barbara’s expertise with her Doctorate in Physics, the hour provided enough information to get me hooked on the topic.
The next morning I found the schedule at Spa Eastman was also full — whether guests sign up for treatments or take advantage of on-going classes. Massages range from underwater jet massage to stone massage to lymphatic drainage, while body and aesthetic treatments span a selection from body wrap with hydromassage bath to the decléor silhouette program, which consists of five treatments for five days.
There were, of course, a full range of facials from aromaplasty to an integral facial, as well as pedicures and capillary treatments. The free activities for guests included Aqua-gym or body sculpting, Butts and Abs, Yoga, Swiss Ball, Cardio Mix, and various other activities. Or, guests were free to sleep late, roam the grounds, read and visit with others, according to preference.
Before I knew it, our visit at Spa Eastman was done, and it was time to return to Montreal for our separate flights home. For me, I was thankful I’d taken the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers, while pampering my mind and body.
If you go:
Information and reservations for Spa Eastman are available at:
Copyright October 2004 by Linda Aksomitis. All rights reserved.