29 MAY 2018: Some men are still hesitant about visiting a spa. They have the false notion it isn’t manly enough. This ignorant attitude is their loss. In many European and Asian countries you have more men going to the spa then women. Spa treatments can have a multitude of health benefits and they can make you feel and look good. One way the Ritz-Carlton Toronto’s Spa My Blend by Clarins is enticing more men to its spa - add beer to the spa treatment mix.

Many spas, especially in North America, have lagged far behind in addressing male spa clients’ needs and comfort levels. This despite the fact that men represent 40% of the clientele in some spas. Simple things like supplying male-oriented magazines such as Men’s Health, Golf Digest or Score Canada or a Macleans/Time/Forbes in the reception and/or relaxation lounge. You won’t find men thumbing the pages of women’s fashion and health magazines.

Ritz-Carlton’s spa does think about its male clientele. The male flock, whether single or attached, young or old, have the desire to look and feel good.

This spa does have reading material for men. It also provides you with a selection of oils that goes beyond the floral scents. No guy wants to leave the spa after his treatment and smelling like he just rolled around in a field of lavender. Give them the option of wood, citrus and vanilla scented oils.

It also dispenses with over the top treatment descriptions - your massage will not take you to heaven. I’ve had hundreds of massages and yet to get there! Instead you will feel more relaxed and less pain with improved circulation and digestion.

BEER REJUVENATION

Ritz-Carlton and beer may not be the image you immediately think of due to the hotel brand’s upscale luxury image. What would be less a surprise but still a nice touch (and sip) is their Champagne Nail Bar. For those couples getting massages together you can celebrate afterwards with a glass of bubbly and toast your love for each other and blissful state.

Beer though takes priority on my visit. Oats, barley, the right yeast and fermentation can soothe the body (and mind) but in a different way than a skilled therapist’s warm hands. The tasty brew and I are on excellent terms - we’ve had a fruitful relationship over the decades – I even have the rotund beer belly to prove it! Reviewing the extensive spa menu my eyes gravitated to the 150-minute Blokes and Beer treatment. It served up a 60-minute full body massage, a 60-minute Skin Purifier and a 30-minute Sports Manicure – and a beer.

For a future visit I will select one of their massages from around the world like Thai or Lomi Lomi as well as a variety of wraps, body polishes and aesthetic treatments.

LISTEN, KNEAD, STRETCH

A mark of a good therapist is one who listens. My therapist heard me and found the aches, pains and stubborn blockages making refuge in my upper back. Rather than go through the motions with the standard Swedish massage she changed tactics and employed a mix of massage techniques including Thai with body stretching moves. Discovering the blockages was easy – giving them their eviction notices from my back was more of a challenge. The therapist was successful in getting rid of most of them through being persistent and her years of experience.

After the invigorating massage which turned into a deep tissue with a healthy helping of Thai stretching I was ready for a more relaxed treatment – the 60-minute Skin Purifier. In the spa brochure the treatment description starts with, “Fight fatigue and firm up.” Well pick a body part, any body part – they all need firming up. This treatment, though focused around my face and neck is basically a facial but much more including a scalp, face and neck massage.

Some spas add the word “Men” before “Facial” and utilize the same toners, masks and other items in a facial as they do for women. Newsflash – men’s faces and necks are different and should be treated as such. Thankfully, Ritz-Carlton recognizes this as does My Blend and customizes the skin care products it uses for the specific properties of a man’s skin. I never understood why more men don’t get facials considering the effects daily shaving can have on the skin. Fortunately my face is one area that doesn’t need a total refit. Okay there are those double (triple?) chins but at least I don’t have a forest of blackheads infested forest on my face that need to be extracted. Crow’s feet and wrinkles have found other victims thankfully – maybe they feel I have enough to deal with.

My face revitalized and refreshed I then moved on to the final treatment – a 30-minute manicure session. Until recently I did the express manicure version – I bit my nails. Messy but quick. I wouldn’t be doing any nail or hand commercials but it was a no-cost solution. Now occasionally when I go to a spa I will get a nail cut and buff. This time at the spa my manicure came with a cold Mill Street Organic beer. Buff and beer – gotta love it! I could feel the surge of testosterone seep through my veins as I drank my beer while chatting with the aesthetician.

Following the “Blokes and Beer” treatments the relaxation continued. I finished the beer then retreated to the Men’s Relaxation lounge with a Men’s Health magazine and the flat-screen TV playing in the background. Not yet ready for reality, I head to the stunningly beautiful and light-filled co-ed sanctuary and curl up in my robe with a spot of tea. “Chill time” included “hot time” with visits to the steam room, dry sauna, and Jacuzzi.

This is Spa My Blend by Clarins only North American spa and features 16 treatment rooms including two opulent Cloud 9 suites ideal for couples’ treatments, a vitality pool and three relaxation lounges, and service excellence Ritz-Carlton is famous for in treating its guess.

This urban oasis isn’t just about pampering at the spa. You can experience it throughout the hotel with its well-appointed 263 guest rooms and suites and tantalize your taste buds with fine dining at its Italian restaurant TOCA under the creative talents of two-star Michelin chef Oliver Glowig.

Ritz-Carlton Toronto’s spa serves up daily bliss – and beer too!

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Chris Ryall

An industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue with his point of view.

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