The mineral pool is designed as a natural stone grotto that gives Tigh-Na-Mara’s Grotto Spa its name. — Photo courtesy Grotto Spa

After 15 years, Grotto Spa has it all figured out

Tigh-Na-Mara’s award-winning grotto facility celebrates its 15th anniversary this year

Some people have it all figured out.

You’ve seen them; they have a confident, relaxed glow about them. These are people, I surmise, that practise self-care. They invest in themselves. They go to the spa.

“Shouldn’t everyone do this for themselves, don’t we owe it to ourselves?” my Mom asks as she joins me in the Relaxation Lounge following her treatment at the Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara. I nod as I sip my extraordinarily good Sauvignon Blanc. My mom is beaming after her Signature Deluxe Facial, and I am resting comfortably next to the fire after my Signature Relaxation Massage.

The Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year. The Spa has received a pile of accolades over the years, most recently it was named #1 Spa in Western Canada (2017) by Spas of America, an international spa and wellness travel website. It was also proclaimed the #1 Spa in Canada (2016) and #1 Ocean Spa Experience in North America the same year, both by Spas of America.

“Can I get you a cold drink?” my Mom’s esthetician asks following her treatment. “Infused water with strawberry, or with lime?” My mom settles on the strawberry and sinks into the soft seat beside me.

“But really,” my mom insists. “Sometimes you just get so busy you forget to take time for yourself… everyone needs this once in awhile.”

I glance over at the other patrons relaxing in their plush robes, surrounded by rustic wood furniture and modern, nature-themed art. As they munch on the fresh fruit and sip their herbal tea, they are smiling, glowing even. Three ladies get up and embrace. “Thank you so much,” one says to the others. Yes, I think. They’ve got this figured out.

I want to text my girlfriends right then and there. ‘This is what we’re doing for our next ladies night!’ I’m thinking as I reach for my phone. And then I remember, I don’t have my phone. No one has their phone. You aren’t allowed phones here. Nor clothes nor shoes or any distractions. For a brief moment I feel that wave of panic about being phoneless. Who might have contacted me? What if there’s an emergency!?

“Your table is ready,” a pleasant lady offers. Suddenly, my phone anxiety has passed, and we follow her into the Tree Top Tapas and Grill.

The blissful afternoon started in the Grotto Mineral Pool. We entered under a stone archway into a delightful space designed to feel like a natural stone grotto. The warm water has thermal minerals extracted from the legendary Sarvar Springs in Hungary. A plaque on the wall reveals that medical tests have led the Hungarian Ministry of Health to designate the waters of the Spring as “medicinal.” It is said to aid in reducing inflammation, muscle and joint pain, while detoxifying and nourishing the body. As we stepped out of the Mineral Pool and onto the cool stone, I dashed under a cool-splash waterfall before relaxing in the hot tub. The mood is quiet and serene, and sets the tone for what’s to come. All sixty-minute treatments at Tigh-Na-Mara include access to the Mineral Pool.

Our treatment providers meet us in the Relaxation Lounge and my Mom and I part ways. All the staff speak in low tones and seem to possess a soft kindness. Both of us are soon ensconced in warm blankets in our respective treatment rooms, surrounded by the sweet scent of essential oils. My masseuse, Alyssa, encourages me to take deep breaths of the eucalyptus oil I chose for my treatment, my new favourite scent, and periodically she spritzes my face with glacial revitalizing mist. Warm towels are applied to my face, back, and under my neck throughout my massage. The music changes from sounds of nature to classical melodies, and instead of thinking of the million things that I need to get done next week, the only thing consuming my thoughts is that I’m pretty sure Alyssa is massaging my leg to the rhythm of a classical piano verse.

In the Tree Top Tapas and Grill, our server reveals that we will be trying each and every tapa on the menu, and once we finish them all, we can request seconds.

As plate after plate appears, perfectly arranged and looking like art, our server recites every rich and savoury ingredient. We lose track of just how much we’ve consumed until my Mom pipes up, “I think I’m full…” I lower my head and agree, we’re done here.

We toddle downstairs to unrobe, and return to to the front in our civilian clothes.

As we’ve indulged in the “15th Anniversary Crystal Spa Escape”, we receive a parting gift of Eminence Organic Cinnamon Kiss Lip Plumper. My mom gets a list of all the Eminence Skin products that were used on her during her facial, each one catered to all her skin wants and needs. She is beyond impressed with the whole experience and says they should rename it the “Sheer Bliss Package.”

On our way out the door, I exchange glances with the other blissed-out patrons, their hair also looking wild from their scalp massages, and their bodies emanating essential oils. I give them a knowing nod. Yes, I too have it all figured out.

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