It’s a warm spring day in Vancouver, the cherry blossoms are in bloom and on the downtown streets below, the weekday lunch hour crowd mingles with tourists sightseeing at Canada Place. I am just a few floors above it all, on the deck of the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver.

There is an outdoor whirlpool and infrared sauna (bring your swimsuit), or you can relax on a sunbed or meditation pod with an organic herbal tea or fruit and herb infused water. Since I would be having a facial treatment, I have arrived about 45 minutes early to take advantage of the Experience Shower (with 12 surrounding water jets and steam) and marbled steam room before my appointment begins. Getting all sweaty afterward would be counterproductive to the effects of the facial.

Fairmont Pacific Rim, Willow Stream Spa, Spas of America

Promptly, my esthetician, Allison, arrives to take me to the treatment room where I will have the spa’s signature VIP O2 Facial. The room is bright and airy with windows looking over the city, but shaded with translucent drapes to keep the room cool and private too. Allison wraps me in a warm cocoon of sheets, and we begin the analysis of my skin. Sensors on the skin measure characteristics such as elasticity, pigment and lipidity, and help determine which Biologique Recherche products will be used for the treatment.

Then, the process begins. It’s a very cool and refreshing treatment – no steaming, hot towels, machines or extractions – just precise movements designed to gently exfoliate, massage and cleanse the skin. It also includes a lymphatic massage of the face and neck, as well as the shoulders and arms, with a Fairmont signature scent of sage, cedar and bergamot that evokes the feeling of being in the forest. Each Willow Stream spa has a unique blend that is inspired by the local area.

Fairmont Pacific Rim, Willow Stream Spa, Spas of America

I emerge an hour later with super-soft, glowing skin. And the bonus is that I don’t have to rush off afterwards – guests can access the spa facilities and deck anytime until 10 p.m. on the day of treatment. You can order a spa “bento box” and local wines to enjoy en robe, or, like me, take some time to meditate and unwind in the sunshine and sea breezes.

Eventually, it’s time to leave this lovely place and show off my lovely new face. Past the waterfalls of the reception area and down the stairs through the elegant woodsy lobby of the hotel, I feel perfectly ready to rejoin the rest of the world.

Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver

Christine Rowlands is a writer and editor who loves the natural therapy of bicycling and walking in the woods near Vancouver, BC. She edits for alive magazine and writes for Tourism New Westminster, YellowPages.com and subTerrain magazine. Email