A Year of New – #21: Tigh-na-mara’s Grotto Spa

This spring has been quite a busy one, so doing my A Year of New things has sort of fallen by the wayside.  This weekend, though, I was able to resurrect the practice a little bit when my family and I went up to Parksville to stay at the Tigh-na-mara resort for two nights.

I was thrilled when I found out that passes to the Grotto Spa were going to be included in our weekend package, as I’ve been wanting to go to the Grotto ever since I saw a picture of it in a magazine a few years ago and put it on my Year of New list that I created last year.  I was less than thrilled, however, when I saw how much treatments were at the spa, which made me decide just to go and visit the mineral pool (for free) instead of pay an exorbitant amount for a treatment which I could get for (I now assume) the same quality elsewhere.

When I got to the spa on Saturday afternoon, I was initially pleased at my reception there.  The staff were very friendly and welcoming and took the time to show me completely through the spa and answered any questions I had.  I appreciated getting this advance information because I find at some spas I am sort of left wondering how things are ‘done’ and it can get a little uncomfortable.

When it came time to enjoy the mineral pool, however, things got a little lukewarm.  Literally, the pool was cooler than I thought it would be, which didn’t make it that relaxing to sit in it for ten or fifteen minutes (the maximum I was recommended to stay in it at one time).  And, although the fake grotto-like environment was sort of cool, I found myself regretting that I had visited the spa during daylight hours.  I realized that what I hadn’t seen in the magazine picture years ago was that the room is actually quite bathed in light from numerous windows.  I think this takes away from the ambience that I imagine being in a grotto would be like.

I was similarly disappointed in the relaxation lounge that was available to guests of the spa on the third floor.  Relax, in chairs and sofas made out of logs?  This reminded me of our guest suite, which sported wood surfaces from top to bottom, and not the most comfortable of environments.

The best part of the whole experience was standing under the rainshower shower head in the ladies’ locker room, an experience I had yet to have.  I must admit that it was pretty great (but I tried not to think about the huge waste of water that they would result in, going non-stop it seemed for the time I was there). It reminded me of the hospital where I had my daughter Chelsea, which boasted ‘endless hot water’ for labouring moms – a real treat!

All in all, I must honestly say that I will not likely return to Tigh-na-mara or the Grotto Spa, and think that it is overpriced for what is received.  However, it was nice to escape for a weekend from the city to a place on the beach (oh what a beach!) and we appreciated being part of their well-organized Easter egg hunt for children, which was a real hit with our daughter.

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