The perfect setting for a DIY luxury retreat
When you want to retreat from the everyday with only a couple days to spare, there’s no need to look further than the cosmopolitan city next door. Downtown Toronto offers world class accommodations, cuisine and spas that rival destinations across the globe. With little time to organize and even less time to get away, I wanted an all-in-one luxury experience that required minimal planning and offered maximum pampering. The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, I decided, was the perfect setting for my personal mini retreat.
Located in the tony neighbourhood of Yorkville, the hotel lobby is steeped in swank and elegance with impeccable white glove service that you’d expect from Canada’s first hotel to earn both the AAA five diamond and Forbes Travel Guide five-star ratings.
I leave my car with the valet and check in, graciously accepting the invitation to be escorted to my room by the concierge. A panoramic view of the city via floor-to-ceiling windows welcomes me as I step into the room on the 17thfloor; the contemporary design is composed of a cream palette accented by wood and metallic finishes to create a stylishly tranquil atmosphere.
Every aspect of the room denotes calm assurance that my needs will be taken care of. I particularly appreciate the touch screen device to message the concierge, instead of a phone (although that is also available, for the old schoolers). When I realize I’d left my cell phone in my car, I type the touch screen for assistance. Within seconds, a reply pops up and less than 15 minutes later, my phone is delivered to the door. A small detail, yes, but in this age of speedy response and aversion to phone calls, seamless communication is a significant perk.
My personal retreat commences with an afternoon at the hotel spa. I start with the Elemental Massage. An exquisite experience that leaves me intoxicated with bliss. With time to spare before my next treatment, I indulge in a little detox time in the sauna, followed by a dip in the whirlpool before lounging with an herbal tea.
To truly unwind, the Four Seasons Spa should be savoured slowly. Spending a languorous afternoon or, better yet, day is recommended. A wide variety of treatments are offered; when booking, space them well enough apart, to indulge in all the amenities and precious alone time. Herbal teas, infused waters and vegan snacks are available with ample lounge areas for reading, relaxing or even a snooze.
Next up is my Sub-Zero Vitality facial which promises to revitalize and tighten aging skin using select extracts and Vitamin C infusions. As a woman in her mid-forties, any efforts to slow the onset of wrinkles is welcome. Relaxing music, gentle massages and tingling skin make for a luxurious hour that passes far too quickly. I make a vow to investigate my skin in the morning for evidence that the facial worked.
When dinner time arrives, I’m motivated to maintain my euphoria of wellness with a health-conscious meal. Upscale, of course. A two-minute walk from the hotel is Planta Restaurant. Boasting a modern and spacious atmosphere, it’s not your typical vegan restaurant. The menu makes easy work of selecting a dish that checks all the boxes: healthy, earth-conscious and elevated cuisine. I order cauliflower tots made with truffle almond parmesan to start, followed by Saag Paneer – a curried mélange of tofu, spinach poppadoms, mango chutney and rice. I polish both plates. Who knew pampering could build up such an appetite?
The next morning, I carefully examine my skin for proof of yesterday’s facial. I’m impressed. My pores are barely visible, even in the room’s magnification mirror, and my skin looks radiant. Waking up to glowing skin is a great way to start the day. That, and a solid workout.
The hotel is known for its high calibre gym facilities, so I throw on my shorts, tank and runners to test it for myself. The expansive fitness area boasts four separate rooms including its largest area that houses an extensive selection of weight machines. I bypass those and head to the line of treadmills overlooking Toronto from this eighth floor view, grabbing a glass of complimentary coconut water before I begin. They think of everything here.
No stay at the Four Seasons Toronto is complete with a meal at the Café Boulud, Chef Daniel Boulud’s French brasserie. The restaurant serves a menu rooted in French tradition, highlighting both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by the chef’s family meals in Lyon. Boulud’s culinary accolades include numerous James Beard Foundation awards.
Its famed rotisserie chicken is succulent, as expected, accompanied by a light salad and side of perfectly seasoned roasted brussels sprouts. The restaurant is handsomely designed without any of the stuffiness that can sometimes pervade upscale eateries with impeccable service.