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Parent Getaways: Martinis and Manicure Weekend Cure in Toronto

There aren’t many minor problems of daily life that a martini and a manicure won’t cure. So last April, after a particularly stressful winter, I suggested to two of my geographically closest sisters (I have five of them) that we embark on the time-tested cure of laughter, togetherness and spa treatments at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Arriving by train, automobile and streetcar, we would bunk in for their newest and most inventive sister-type package—their Martinis and Manicures weekend, a most marvellous combination.

Because the Elizabeth Milan Hotel Spa is on location on the lower level, and because the hotel is famous for its Birdbath Martini (voted “Number 1” in the city for three consecutive years by Toronto Life Magazine), this combo made perfect sense to the Royal York’s public relations director Nancie Hall, who dreamed up this urban fling. “I;ve always loved my own gal pal weekends,” said Hall. “And I thought, what would people really love to do? This gives everyone an excuse for a night away.”

Our date was set. On an April morning of torrential downpours, my sisters and I met under the girlish portrait of Queen Elizabeth in the elegant hotel lobby and our quick two-day escape from work and family began. After checking out our very comfortable room and sussing out the contents in the mini-bar, we arrived for our early afternoon manicure appointment at the hotel spa. The Elizabeth Milan Hotel Spa offered a full service hair salon (in case we were deluged by the weather outside) and an extensive array of treatments from a therapeutic Swedish massage to a Black Mud Body Wrap. We could have opted for the pedicure upgrade but who was going to see our feet sticking out of pyjamas bottoms that evening? So after a welcome coffee, we sat side by side to have our nails covered with a fairly wicked purplish polish, number 994, with a sparkling sheen. Look out world!

The Spa has itself just undergone a half million dollar rejuvenation and we asked for a tour of the 5,000 square-foot premises. Some of the rooms were busy with massages, such as the large space that used to serve as the Vault of the former Bank of Montreal. Hmm... a transformation from saving our finances to saving our health. We peeked in at the Ocean Room with its mesmerizing colour therapy patterns, mood lighting and rain shower and admired the new etched glass doors and the Roman-type wreaths hanging on occupied rooms. Owner Elizabeth Milan has been traveling the globe searching for inventive spa treatments—Thailand, Las Vegas, Czechoslovakia and Vancouver Island—for her customers (including Jennifer Lopez, Mark Wallberg and Fergie, when she’s in town) but we would have to return to take advantange of the Moor Mud Bath or the Rose Petal Plunge.

After an afternoon of gabbing, it was time for our pre-dinner martini in the Lobby Bar but which drink to choose? There were 16 varieties including The Gotham with vodka, blackberry and black sambucca or the Green Goddess made with gin and green chartreuse. We ordered a Crantini, a concoction of vodka, cointreau and cranberry juice (good for female plumbing) and sat back to plan our evening. A healthy Japanese dinner at the Benihana of Tokyo restaurant in the hotel followed by a sleepover party in the room with wacky videos and a nightcap of wine and grapes (good for cholesterol). After sleeping in, we ordered up breakfast and “planned” our futures, which definitely included more spa visits.

Just in time for pre-Christmas shopping, Royal York’s Martinis and Manicures package offers guests a perfect way to treat themselves while treating others. Valid from Nov. 1 to Dec. 30, the package includes one night’s accommodation, a manicure from the Elizabeth Milan Hotel Spa and a martini from a choice of six restaurants and lounges in the hotel, including the Library Bar, home of the famous Birdbath Martini. Shoppers with tired feet can upgrade to a pampering pedicure or any one of the spa’s signature treatments. Next time, a Sea Salt Bath or an Aromatherapy Facial. And yes, although the package was set up with women in mind, men are welcome to take advantange of this city pick-me-up. The package costs $129 per person based on double occupancy. Reservations should be made at least 48 hours in advance. Call 1-877-441-1414.





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