The Ancient Cedars Spa is a blissful oasis set on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The name itself illustrates the peace one feels when surrounded by these majestic giants which nurture and heal our environment, our earth. Only inside the Ancient Cedars Spa at the world renown Wickaninnish Inn, you are the environment being nurtured.
Not long ago, I was lucky to experience an amazing hot stone massage here. The relaxing ambience of the space, the cleansing steam cave, the ocean patio, the special touches, and the nurturing staff made my experience extra special.
If you are comforted by warmth, especially on a cold rainy day, you will absolutely love this treatment. This is truly a blissful experience right from the moment you enter the spa.
Embracing Mother Nature
If what inspires you to visit Tofino is the wild Pacific West Coast, the Ancient Cedars Spa is a wonderful place to ground yourself.
The intention when designing the spa was to bring elements of nature indoors. The Wickaninnish Inn has certainly achieved this with the woodsy interior design and rocky steam cave that leads to a salal-fringed patio with ocean view.
A calming aroma led me down the stairwell between the main lobby and the Ancient Cedars Spa reception where I was warmly greeted.
First, I was offered infused water or steeped herbal tea. I enjoyed both during my experience. The infused water was deliciously flavoured with mint, lemon, and cucumber however it changes from day to day. Sometimes it includes strawberries or oranges!
I was then led to small tidy change room. It had wooden benches, a couple of stocked showers with shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and a vanity counter with blow dryer and hair products. I was also given a locker, a cozy white bath robe, a towel, and a pair of slippers.
From here you have a few relaxing choices however it is possible to indulge in them all.
I highly recommend experiencing the steam cave. My body relaxed while millions of cleansing water droplets beaded on my skin. A steam cloud enveloped me. It was like being inside a hot spring cave.
The ocean patio coaxed me outside after a while. The clean fresh air cleared the moisture from my lungs as I took in the foliage-framed view. My pours instantly contracted as a cool breeze caressed my face and shoulders. Although I couldn’t see them, I could hear waves crashing on the rocky outcrops nearby. A few deep breaths and then I returned to the cave for another steam session before slowly venturing in for my treatment.
Pre Treatment Communication
Jo, a young practitioner who lives in Ucluelet, gently welcomed me. Her demeanour was calm and pleasant. We instantly connected. She kneeled down beside me in the spa sitting area which is illuminated in warm natural tones.
Jo asked me if I’d ever experienced a hot stone massage. I wasn’t sure since I have had stones incorporated into a treatment before. They were mainly used to warm my feet and hands. I found out that the use of stones would be much more in depth during this treatment. They would be used as instruments to apply my massage. They would also be used as pressure and heat points along my spine and chakras.
She also asked if there were any specific areas that I wanted to work on. I mentioned that because I work at the computer for long hours that my shoulders and neck often become tense.
Jo handed me a smooth black stone. It was flat, pleasantly hot, and fit perfectly inside the palm of my hand. It was basalt, a volcanic stone which retains heat. The stones are heated to between 115 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature can also be adjusted to whatever your preference.
Jo also brought out a sampling of scented oils including a relaxing lavender and an energizing citrus. It was a tough choice, but I chose the Ancient Cedar oil in keeping with the west coast theme. This oil would be used only to infuse the room. The oil used in the massage treatment is unscented.
The Treatment Room
A gentle flame inside an ivory pillar candle illuminated a calming evening sky colour scheme.
The massage table was perfectly adjusted to accommodate and support the contour of a relaxed body.
I disrobed and climbed onto the plush table underneath a sheet and thin blanket. A deep relaxing breath in and a long slow breath out. I knew that I was in for a treat!
Various sized stones were used during my treatment. Jo first had me sit up so she could place small flat stones onto the mattress. I laid back onto on them. The heat permeated into the long muscles along each side of my spine.
Then Jo placed stones along the front of my body including on my abdomen, chest, and a tiny one on my forehead. Tiny stones were also placed between my toes and larger ones at the base of my feet and in my palms.
She massaged and kneaded my muscles with another heated stone using a combination of long and circular strokes. She alternated the stones with her hands at times.
My massage lasted a pleasantly long time and I was elated when I got to turn over and experience the massage on the other side. She paid special attention to my back, shoulders and neck.
It’s clear to me that the Ancient Cedars Spa aspires to pamper its guests to the fullest. While I expected that the massage would be blissful — and it was — the experience prior to the treatment really set the mood.
I’ve been sworn to secrecy about one heavenly pre-treatment experience you’ll receive here. All I can say is that the warm and fuzzies will envelope you even before your main treatment begins!
Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
During my experience, I learned that a hot stone massage is good for relieving muscle tension and spasms, and for increasing blood flow and flexibility. I felt so relaxed and comfortable. My body melted into the massage table.
Cold white marble stones are also used at times to reduce inflammation and to calm engorged blood vessels. They also help to invigorate the body.
Most of my treatment was with heated stones although Jo placed one small cold stone on my forehead near the end of my treatment.
About Ancient Cedars Spa
Practitioners come from all around the world to practice here. They all have at least 1000 hours of training equivalent to that of a registered massage therapist.
Further to a whole slew of treatments including facials, hydrotherapy, full-body exfoliation, esthetics, and massage, you can also purchase skin treatment products, essential oils, and scented candles should you wish to take a little bit of the spa home with you.
Ancient Cedars Spa even offers a small yoga class limited to five participants!