Chi, Canada’s top Asian-inspired Spa

Can one ever have too much spa?

In running, you can “hit the wall” which means you cannot find the energy to take one more step. Can you “hit the wall” as a spa-goer?  Will your body ever tell you it just needs a break?

It may sound strange to those of you who seldom visit spas, but if you’re a spa journalist – the answer is yes. You CAN experience the spa equivalent of “hitting the wall.”

When on the road, I rarely visit more than one spa a day but five spas over five days is not unusual especially when I’m on a specific spa tour such as my Serendipitous Spa Tour 2010, when I visited 15 spas in 39 days.

Yes.  As those who work in a chocolate factory or cupcake shop already know, you can get too much of a good thing. 

I was recently in B.C. on a mini press trip that included visiting five spas. It was day four of the trip and I was so looking forward to a treatment at Chi, The Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Vancouver – and the first Shangri-La hotel in North America.

With its authentic Asian feel and holistic approach to the spa experience, Chi absolutely tops the category of best Asian-inspired spas in Canada. (Read more about Canada’s Best Spas.)

As many of you know, the word “chi,” in traditional Chinese philosophy is the term for “the universal life force governing well-being and personal vitality.”   Unfortunately, I had to pass on enjoying a treatment – on that particular day I just “hit the wall.”   I did, however, put the allotted time with the therapist to good use by taking a tour and finding out what makes this spa special. 

First of all, it’s an intimate spa – just six treatment rooms located on the fifth floor of the hotel and no designated Wet Area.  But all the rooms are oversized and inclusive of electric fireplaces, private toilet facilities, marble soaker tubs, steam showers and vanities.

In the spacious couples’ suite there’s a separate area for Thai massage and double soaker tub, another area for the treatment beds and double steam/shower, a small tea lounge and a tiny patio overlooking the city. Wooden trays with Tibetan chimes, eye pillows and scented candles are set neatly on treatment beds.  At about 800 square feet, the spa suite is the size of a small apartment. And, beautifully furnished with Chinese and Tibetan pieces.    

Beyond the various Asian influences you might find at other Asian-inspired spas –  design and décor and the ritual of exchanging street shoes for spa sandals, for instance –  it’s the  commitment to the holistic approach and attention to detail that takes the Chi spa experience to the next level.   


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