I love spending time with my husband, but it’s also healthy to find time for yourself or with some girl friends. Having been together since high school, my female friends and I decided to leave our guys at home and get away for the weekend. We felt that a spa trip somewhere on the island would fit our needs. After visiting Kingfisher with Dennis, I was curious about Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort in Parksville as it’s only a 25 minute drive from Departure Bay ferry terminal. We picked up a quick sushi dinner from Fujiya and set out to Vancouver Island after work on Friday. Travel tip: Make ferry reservations on the weekend, especially during a holiday to avoid sail waits.
Once we arrived, we settled into our Jedediah Room, which came with a queen sized bed and another queen murphy bed. We had a kitchenette and a small dining table, so it was perfectly cozy for a 2 night stay. After moving some furniture around, we unpacked and chatted the night away while enjoying a lovely artisan cheese and cracker platter. We brought some champagne and wines to kick off the girls trip, which turned out to be a success the first night. I suppose we could have done this at home, but there were minimal distractions at the resort.
After a quick fritatta breakfast in cedars restaurant & lounge (formerly known as Cedar Room Restaurant), we got ready for our spa appointments. The Grotto Spa is about a 5 minute walk from our room, and features 18 treatment rooms, a manicure and pedicure room, and a 2,500 sq ft warm water pool with minerals and trace elements infused to help detoxify the body. Guests who book treatments receive complimentary admission to the mineral pool. For those who are looking for a regular pool, guests can walk into the resort’s pool house complete with whirlpool and sauna for free. The mineral pool is designed to mimic a grotto, where large stones surround the pool with a light waterfall trickling from a display held from the top of a wall. The maximum recommended stay in the mineral pool is 15 minutes; however, you can go into the hot tub or relax in your lounge chair before going back for another round. We all visited the mineral pool before receiving our spa treatments.
Each of us purchased a signature body balance and scheduled our appointments well before our trip. There are 3 different kinds to choose from, and I went with the Signature Pacific Body Balance, which consisted of a Canadian glacial clay and sea salt, followed by a thermal layer body wrap. This was my first body wrap and my esthetician was very friendly as she talked me through each part. While wrapped up like a mummy, Monique applied a hydrating masque on my face. My treatment room had a steam shower to wash off the salt and clay after the wrap, and my skin already felt hydrated and soft like a baby. I received a body lotion application afterwards, which felt like a relaxing Swedish massage. That was 90 minutes of pure bliss.
Following our treatments, we enjoyed complimentary coffee, tea, and fresh fruits in the relaxation lounge as we waited for our table at the Treetop Tapas & Grill. It’s situated on the same floor as the treatment rooms and open to guests in robe-only attire, so we thought it’d be a fun option. The Treetop is tapas style dining, so the portions are much smaller, but after a treatment we didn’t want to eat platefuls anyway. For $8.50 per plate, you can order from over 15 tapas plates, which are all West Coast and spa-inspired. If you’re looking for a deal there is the 5 for $29 option, or the Endless Tapas for $49 per person. The Endless Tapas option allows you to work through the entire menu, where you can ask for more of the items you really enjoyed once you reach the end. We were particulary fond of the Breads and Spreads, 7 Bean Medley salad, Baja Prawns, Duck Confit, Squid Salad, and Health Shot. Tip: If you plan on dining at the Treetop, bring your credit card/cash, otherwise you can charge it to your room. We were caught off guard in our robes, as our wallets were in our lockers.
(Photos provided by Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort)
We indulged in our 5 hour experience at the Grotto Spa, and it was totally what we needed. The change room was a large facility with numerous showers, so we took advantage of that since there was only one shower in our room. It is also equipped with multiple hair dryers and products so there’s no need to bring much with you. At the front counter, the products used during our treatments were displayed for sale. We got a list of the products used on us during our treatments, and a couple of us made purchases to recreate some of that bliss at home.
It was chilly out while we were in Parksville but otherwise it was a rain-free getaway. We checked out of the resort and grabbed some lunch on the way to the ferry terminal. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, and by the end of our trip we were ready to return to our significant others. It was a great first group spa trip, and I can’t wait for the next one. We might just let our men join us next time!
Note: The Cedar Room has been re-branded as cedars restaurant & lounge as of November 23rd, so we just missed their facelift by about a month. They focus on seasonal menu items while providing classic dishes with a contemporary spin. Give them a try next time you’re in the area – I know we will.