3 min

The Spa: Jamaica and Ottawa

Take a break from winter and indulge in some pampering

The Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel in Negril, Jamaica. Credit:

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are over and the rest of the winter stretches ahead of us, long and grey and almost certainly full of slush and freezing rain — or worse.

If the lack of vitamin D has you at the point where the long-range forecast makes you twitch and you can’t stop looking at other people’s vacation photos on Facebook, it’s time to shut down your laptop and dig out your flip-flops. And if you’re in need of a winter getaway that involves sun, sand and pampering, The Spa Jamaica has what you’re looking for.

Situated on the picturesque cliffs of Negril, Jamaica, The Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel offers a full destination-resort experience, including accommodation, dining and retreats. It also has a Canadian connection. Owned by Ottawa couple Christine and Shane Cohen, it’s a resort-style extension of their two Ottawa locations

After travelling to Jamaica for years, the Cohens decided to expand their business, offering visitors a destination experience. Guests can enjoy a huge range of treatments, from manicures and pedicures performed by the sea to body scrubs and wraps, facials and a range of massages, including Swedish and deep-tissue sports massage, which can be enjoyed in the Oceanside Spa or the privacy of your room.

Many of their body treatments include local ingredients, like the Java Sugar Scrub, which incorporates Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain coffee, and the Lemongrass and Brown Sugar Body Scrub, recommended to help hydrate the skin before long hours of sun exposure. If you do end up spending too long soaking in the rays, The Spa offers a rejuvenating Aloe and Cucumber Body Wrap to soothe and soften skin.

Of course, Jamaica is also known for its poor human-rights record when it comes to the LGBT community, something The Spa staff is very mindful of.

“It was very important to create a warm, welcoming environment for all guests and all travellers from every different walk of life and community,” says Jamie Keeley, The Spa’s communications manager.

All staff members at the Jamaican location receive sensitivity training, ensuring a welcoming and inclusive experience for LGBT guests. And the word has spread — The Spa has gained a reputation within the community, and both tourists and locals now seek it out as a safe space where they’re free to be themselves and enjoy a bit of luxury.

“We have had native Jamaican guests come and stay with us because they have heard of our open environment,” Keeley says. Shuttle service to and from the airport is provided, as are private drivers for day trips and excursions.

Can’t make it to Jamaica?  
If you can’t manage a trip this winter but still need some pampering, The Spa has two Ottawa-area locations where you can go for a tropical pick-me-up without paying international airfare.

The Spa Ottawa, located in Bells Corners, occupies a 115-year-old ex-church that has been restored and renovated to include all the modern amenities. All the standard spa services are offered, and there are registered massage therapists and a full hair team on-site. Makeup artistry, hand and foot care, facials, and body scrubs and wraps are all offered, including a special Coconut and Mango Wrap inspired by The Spa Jamaica. There’s also a full suite of specialty services just for men.

The Spa Day Retreat in Kanata is also located on a historic site, having taken up residence in an 18th-century farmhouse once owned by the Sparks family. It offers all the same services as the Bells Corners location, with the ability to host large groups and corporate parties.

If you’re hoping to spend some quality time with your honey, the Couple’s Retreat package offers a 45-minute couple’s massage followed by facial treatments. If you’re in the mood to really splurge, the Royal Day package includes a body wrap followed by a relaxation massage, a facial treatment, a mani-pedi, makeup and a hairstyling session for a full day of pampering.

Both locations offer the One Love package, which includes a tropical organic body wrap coupled with a 30-minute relaxation massage to recreate the Jamaican experience.