Vida Spas can be found on the Pacific Northwest coast. The chain operates in five locations, three in Vancouver, B.C., one in the high-scale ski resort of Whistler, B.C., and the fifth in Seattle, Washington, aka the “Emerald City”. Its motto is the restoration of energy and well-being, and it claims many of their treatments are based on Ayurveda, an ancient form of Indian medicine.
I visited one of their Vancouver spas, located in the five-star hotel, Westin Bayshore, next to Vancouver’s crown jewel, Stanley Park, right on Coal Harbour overlooking the water. The spa itself is very small, just 5,000 square feet, and much to my dismay, there is not one window looking out to the spectacular view outside. The change room is cramped, with not a lot of space to maneuver. Luckily, I was alone that morning, so I didn’t have to bump shoulders with anyone.
The lounge is not much better, a narrow, dark space with the decor of a cheap lounge, plastic water cups, and individualized plastic cups filled with nuts, in case you’re hungry. Again, no windows, a missed opportunity in my view, given its amazing location on the harbour. There’s nothing that inspires well-being more than looking out to the water and forest, gentle rain, and misty vistas. But, I digress…
The spa itself has 11 treatment rooms and 2 couples suites, a pedicure bar, manicure station and infrared saunas in the changing rooms. Nothing remarkable, but restful and quiet, if you want to slip away from the world for a couple of hours.
I decided to try out its speciality – a one-hour long Ayurvedic massage. With a 5,000 year-old history of natural healing, I was curious to try out its purported virtues.
When I arrived, I was given a lengthy form to fill out to figure out my “dosha”. According to Ayurveda, the balance of three fundamental energies, “Vata” (Wind), “Pitta” (Fire), and “Kapha” (Earth), is the key to good health. These primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Questions ranged from whether I thought I was “creative and imaginative” to whether I like to “keep busy”, or whether I was “methodical”.
I diligently filled out my forms as best as I could, and handed them to one of the attendants. Just minutes later my massage therapist emerged with his conclusion. Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to these things, but always determined to keep an open mind. According to my MT that day, my “dosha” was predominantly Vata and Kapha, and beyond that I couldn’t understand much more. He proceeded to fumble through an unconvincing, yet earnest, explanation of what this all meant.
This apparently dictated the kind of oils he would use in his massage, a combination of eucalyptus, fennel, ginger and rosemary. All fine, but I also wanted to make sure he knew I had some trouble spots that needed work. He obliged and essentially fixed my neck and shoulders with a deep tissue massage.
The use of hot oil was pleasant on my aching back, but it gradually got to a point where it was kind of gross, as he continued to pour this stuff everywhere. Towards the end he dumped a pile of oil on my hair. I was expecting the whole unctuous affair would end in a nice scalp massage, but alas it was never meant to be and I was left hanging.
I didn’t like the oil. It caused my skin to break out shortly after the treatment. So for people with sensitive skin, I wouldn’t recommend this massage which involves the use of copious amounts of hot, perfumed oil.
Booking was easy and straight-forward. I requested an appointment online using their form which included selecting a service, location, date and time. I received an email within 24 hours asking me to confirm my booking and some follow-up questions, like whether I need a registered massage therapist for insurance purposes.
The woman at the front desk was pleasant enough. She gave me a quick tour of the facility, gave me my forms to fill out in the private lounge, and pretty much left me on my own. I was an easy client and didn’t have many questions. So the experience with staff was unmemorable, but I suppose that’s telling in itself.
I had a decent deep tissue massage that was excessively oily and aromatic. I still don’t really know what Ayurvedic healing is, nor what my “dosha” means, other than I walked away with very greasy hair. Frankly, it was all pretty unremarkable in terms of service, but, in fairness, my massage therapist helped relieve tension in my back.
- 11 treatment rooms
- 2 couples suites
- Infrared ceiling panels in select treatment rooms
- Pedicure bar for 3
- Manicure station for 2 – 3
- Coed relaxation lounge with double-sided fireplace
- Infrared sauna in change rooms
$$$$ – Pricey
Westin Bayshore, Vancouver
1601 Bayshore Dr.
V6G 2V4 Canada
There are four other Vida Spa locations in addition to the Westin Bayshore:
- Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver, B.C., Canada
- Sutton Place Hotel in Vancouver, B.C., Canada
- Fairmont Chateau Whistler in Whistler, B.C., Canada
- Pan Pacific Hotel in Seattle, Washington, USA
HOURS OF OPERATION
Sunday 10 am to 9pm
Monday 10am to 8 pm
Tuesday – Saturday 9 am to 8 pm
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Contact Vida Spa in the Westin Bayshore at (604) 682-3377 or request an appointment online.