Walking on Water 7-21-2005

A Vancouver spa puts its own spin on the concept of hydrotherapy

By: Marty Wentzel

At a waterfront getaway it’s only natural that your clients would want to soak up the healing power of the sea. At the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa, however, the aquatic adventure awaits indoors, not out.

Last year the Kingfisher enhanced its spa by opening the $1 million Pacific Mist Hydropath, billed as a walking tour that immerses clients in the powers of the Northwestern coastline.

“We wanted to create a hydrotherapy circuit with a West Coast flair to it, something that complements our resort’s oceanside setting,” said Kingfisher sales and marketing director Tor Nawrot.

Unique to North America and Canada, the hydropath fits in well with the spa’s focus on natural products that improve a client’s physical and emotional well-being, said Nawrot.

“Rich marine minerals and elements are good for all of us sea creatures,” he said.

On a recent visit to the Vancouver Island resort, I tested the hydropath waters under the guidance of a spa staffer named Carey. Through the cheery, bright design of the spa’s main level, she led me down one flight of stairs and opened a door to another world altogether. The lighting was dim, walls shimmered because of the reflection of the water and ferns dangled off driftwood beams. On sandstone-sculpted rocks clung starfish shapes so real I had to touch them to make sure they weren’t. I felt like I was walking into a secret cave something out of a Northwest-inspired romance novel.

Carey softly explained each step of the hydropath circuit to come, then left me alone to enjoy the first two stages. Following a multi-jetted massage rinse, I sunk into the warm mineral massage pool, where jets worked up and down my back from the lumbar region to the shoulders. Carey reappeared just in time to direct me to the waterfall massage, set in a cave. As I sat on each of four comfortable perches, water streamed from above at different speeds, hitting various muscles and body parts. Next, I entered the steam cave, inhaling aromatic eucalyptus while wrapping the back of my neck with an icy washcloth. To cool down afterward, I took a brief dunk under the glacial waterfall just as Carey reappeared with my next instructions.

During the river walk, I strolled through two lengths of water, one warm and one cool. This therapeutic exercise increases blood circulation, Carey said, with stimulating jets positioned along the way. Just a few steps further led me to the sea mineral soak, a spacious pool with such sensory enhancements as a bubble massage seat and unexpected waterfalls from up high. I let myself linger here, listening to the piped-in lapping of waves, never feeling rushed by other clients.

The last stop on the hydropath journey took me to single-person tidal baths carved out of rock. Before leaving me alone in one of the tubs, Carey handed me a loofah made out of harvested West Coast seaweed, which is amazingly soft and wonderfully aromatic. I used it to apply mud on my body, drawing out toxins and adding vital minerals. After a final shower, I wrapped up in a warm bathrobe and wandered back upstairs to a private, sunlit lounge. Surrounded by flickering candles, trickling water, artful shells and hanging plants, I gazed through walls of windows at the ocean and nearby Gulf Islands, with newfound appreciation for the wonders of water.

Pacific Mist Hydropath
Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa

4330 Island Highway South
Courtenay, BC, Canada V9N 9R9

The Pacific Mist Hydropath costs $55 per person. Clients should wear a bathing suit and allow one hour for the entire experience, followed by a contemplative 10 to 15 minutes in the lounge afterward. Clients booking a Kingfisher Resort package can try the hydropath as part of the deal. The two-night Fall Spa Escape also includes one spa treatment, a three-course dinner and two breakfasts with rates per couple ranging approximately $274-$430 from Oct. 2-Dec. 17. The two-night Golf and Spa Escape augments the Spa Escape with one round of play at nearby Crown Isle Golf Club. Rates that run about $364-$544 per couple are good through Oct. 2.