In countless classic movies people would venture to the seaside under “Doctor’s orders” to enjoy the relaxing as well as medicinal benefits of the salt air. Movie screen aside, visitors can escape to the salty cavern found in the historic Spa Windsor Arms in downtown Toronto.
As someone who suffers from poor circulation and migraines, both conditions believed to benefit from Halotheraphy (salt therapy), I have been eager to try the new heath trend. When the folks at the Windsor Arms Hotel invited me to try their fairly new Salt Cave, I didn’t hesitate.
The Windsor Arms Hotel is a step back into an age of old world charm amidst the city’s skyscrapers. Modern shops, crowded sidewalks, and car horns are quickly forgotten as you step through the hotel’s arched entrance. The Spa Windsor Arms is located on the forth floor, an odd direction to go when the plan is to visit a cave.
The spa, like the overall hotel, is small and quaint. I actually felt as though I was visiting a friend’s brownstone not navigating the short and narrow corridors of a hotel. I must admit I was a little apprehensive about my spa experience, that perhaps I didn’t belong in this intimate space but my apprehension quickly dissolved once I passed through the unassuming entrance. I was greeted warmly by Tamar, the spa’s manager. After she checked me in, I was invited to sit in the small lounge. This little side room is a lovely spot to sit on your own or chat with friends before your spa experience. The Windsor Arms Hotel is known for their high tea service, something I hope to experience in the future, but spa guests can enjoy a sampling of that tea experience in the waiting area along with sweet treats or if they rather, fruit infused water.
Heading into the salt caves, I thought it best to warm up with a nice tea and biscotti.
My visit to the Spa Windsor Arms was purely to experience their Salt Cave, one of the very few located right in downtown Toronto. However guests can easily add this 45-minute experience on to other spa treatments. For a small fee you can also enjoy the Spa’s other facilities like their Bromine salts indoor pool or their traditional sauna. I took a peek at the pool and it reminded me of a beautiful large bathtub, like something found in a castle.
To get the most enjoyment from your Salt Cave experience, it is recommended that you wear loose yoga clothing; however, you can request to change into a robe if that would make you more comfortable.
After warming up with my mint tea I was taken up the staircase to the next floor where most of the spa treatment rooms are located. You can’t miss the entrance to the Salt Cave, with it’s weathered looking wood door and faux rock exterior. I was amazed at how well the Spa Windsor Arms transformed the small room into a subterranean escape. Stepping across the salt encrusted floor, I sat in one of the four reclining lounge chairs. Each chair is lined with a blanket for comfort but I grab an additional blanket to snuggle under in the chilled room.
The salt crystal lighting helped to set a relaxing tone and once I was settled, fan starts to whirl, letting the salt air in the room from a pipe on the back wall. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about a big salty wind storm. You don’t see or feel anything except for maybe the room getting slightly cooler (but that could also be from slipping into a relaxing state).
Here’s a peek at the sights and sounds you experience within the Salt Cave:
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect within the Salt Cave. Unlike other spa treatments, it’s believed that the benefits are best achieved over a continued experience, say six or ten visits. It really depends on what your reason is for visiting the Salt Caves. I did notice an ease in breathing during my sit in the cave and less of the tension headache I had walked in with (though sitting in a dimly lit room could have helped too). The waterfall adds a nice ambiance in the room, along with the low lights, but it also helps to dampen the sound of the fan used to release the salt air in the room.
Although the room can hold up to four guests, the Spa Windsor Arms tries to avoid booking a single visitor with a group of two or three knowing that the group will probably be a little talkative in the room. I was fortunate to have the whole room to myself for my 45-minute visit enabling me to relax completely without the chatter of other guests.
I can see how guests can easily drift off during their visit, especially as the spa recommends shutting off all your electronic devices and giving into the serenity of the experience. After my 45-minute experience, which ended sooner than I was expecting, I was offered a glass of water to rehydrate. Beyond breathing easier I was surprised at how nice my skin felt, not something I was expecting. Both my hands and completion felt and looked softer. I can understand why guests make return visits to the Spa Windsor Arms Salt Cave. If I felt so refreshed after one visit, imagine how I would feel after visiting six or more times.
Whether you’re looking to benefit your health or just escape into a moment of bliss, the Salt Caves at the Spa Windsor Arms should certainly be on your list. The spa is small, giving you that intimate experience, and the warm friendly staff gives you that feeling like you’ve been a guest for years. Not many spas can make you feel good on the outside and as well as the inside with that kind of personal touch. I’m already anticipating another reason to plan a return visit.
If you’re curious about the Salt Cave experience the Spa Windsor Arms has an offer for the 2015 holiday season. Spend $150 or more on Spa products and/or services and receive a complimentary 45-minute Healing Salt Cave session.
When’s the last time you treated yourself?