Spa: A heavenly retreat

In the friendly city of St. John’s, Nfld., the elegant Spa at the Monastery, a tranquil retreat once home to Irish Christian Brothers, has risen quickly to become one of Canada’s premier day spas since opening in 2001. In spring 2004, with the addition of 19 luxury suites in a neighbouring building renovated and connected to the spa by semi-underground tunnels, it has became the province’s first destination spa.

Inside, Eric Strickland, an easy-going young man who went from fishing with his father to marketing at the spa (“a big lifestyle change,” he says) leads a tour of a place he obviously believes in. “I love working here,” he says. “It’s just so relaxing.” Owner Paul Madden, from Maddox Cove and with a background in construction, believes the St. John’s location has played a role in the spa’s appeal (“It’s just a great city in general,” he says). So has the staff’s friendliness.

“You can have a facial and manicure anywhere, and certainly we sell experiences,” Madden says. “But you can come and sit here and read a book in your slippers. You don’t need to get in and out in a hurry – unless you want to.”

Built in 1931, e monastery sat vacant for a few years before Madden acquired it in 2000. In converting to a spa, he worked with the heritage building, keeping the wide corridors, sweeping staircases and even researching the front entrance to have a door built that was in character.

Multiple traditions enter treatments
In its 10,500 square feet, the spa combines traditional Chinese and ancient Indian Ayurvedic treatments with European and Western skin and body care. It also offers a hair salon, café, fireside lounge and nooks for people wanting time alone. A body scrub room, hydrotherapy tub, whirlpool, fireplace and double side-by-side massage tables are a few of the tempting options. There are also yoga, Pilates and tai chi classes. A $30 day pass offers use of a whirlpool, plunge and soaking pools, steam room and fitness equipment.

Madden pauses when asked about a signature treatment, his mind running through the long list of choices. The “Passage to India,” he says, of the treatment offering two-and-a-half hours of pure bliss. Two massage therapists work in tandem, using hot oils and a steam tent. Sounds heavenly.

For more information:
The Spa at the Monastery: 1-877-NFLD-Spa; 709-754-5800
www.monastery-spa.com; e-mail [email protected]