Regrets-Ritz Carlton Spa in Toronto, Ontario

I usually abide by the adage “You get what you pay for.”  Sometimes all the bells and whistles can’t make up for simply average service.  If that doesn’t set the tone for the rest of this post, I don’t know what will.

I was very VERY excited when my new job landed me directly across the street from the Ritz Carlton, as I had always wanted to try the spa (I mean it’s the Ritz, come on who wouldn’t want to go?).  So I booked an after work manicure to give it a test run.  I often do this when trying “new” spas as I can usually gauge the level of service, get a look around and not have to spend an entire day in a place I could potentially hate.

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The spa visually speaking IS impressive.  It’s located on the 5th floor of the hotel.  It’s a Clarins spa (which had me wary at first, I don’t really go to “brand” spas).  The locker room is spacious but be prepared-if you are in the spa during a peak time, you will be using one of the smaller lockers.  Not a deal breaker, but needed to mention. There’s a great lounge with individual chaise type lounges and another room that has individual beds that are adjustable-yes I said beds.  Upon entering the spa, I was offered water-however when I went to the lounge, the tea is self serve.

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The nail bar is named “Jackie Gideon Champagne nail bar” and is laid out well-in a circle.  The manicure tables and seating are quite comfortable.  I am unsure whether the champagne is what goes into the nail bath or pedicure bowl but I certainly wasn’t offered any champagne (frown face).

My nail technician was polite and friendly with an excellent ability to make small talk.  She was encouraging, questioning but not overbearing.  My nails were definitely a challenge and she came to win-I left with neat short shellac-ed nails.  I left the spa wondering whether I should’ve booked more treatments.

What does one do when they are left wondering?  Why book another treatment of course.  This is what I signed up for (taken from the spa menu):

The Brightening Performer
Overcome dullness by helping to correct dark spots, sun damage
and uneven skin tone. With exclusive sea lily extract and highly
stable vitamin C, this whitening treatment will restore and
brighten the complexion for youthful looking skin.

And here I sit after my facial wondering what went wrong.

I had some trouble in the locker room today, as many of the lockers were full.  There were also 2 young, obnoxious women in the locker room spread out all over the seating and chatting on their cell phones (ummm hello trying to relax here) so that everyone knew what they were doing that afternoon.  Blech.  Spa etiquette anyone?

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I made my way into my spa robe and slippers, and wandered down to the lounge.  I sat for about 5 minutes before my therapist entered the room and called my name. I followed her to another room, which was beautiful.  The music was perfect both in volume and ‘theme.’  The table was warm as well.  She asked me a few questions and then got started-she told me my skin was combination but very oily in the T-zone (um yeah it’s summer and I had to go outside to get to the spa, so yes my face would be a tad shiny).  I told her that I was interested in a brightening facial but that I was also concerned with aging, and that my skin was congested and I needed extractions.  She cleansed, exfoliated, and toned.  I knew extractions were coming…..or at least I thought they were.  I was waiting as she pulled the light over to take another look and then she said “Oh you don’t really need any extractions.”  I was a bit surprised but allowed her to apply a mask.  She gave me a very brief hand massage (less than 5 minutes), then rinsed the mask and applied sunscreen.  She filled out a product card, which she said she would leave at the front.

Hmmm. All right. And that’s all it was.  ALL RIGHT.

Upon leaving, The Ritz presented me with my “overview” (a.k.a. receipt) which was wrong. They also ‘conveniently’ add an 18% gratuitiy that you can look over while they add that ‘you can change the amount.’  Ummm, hi awkward.

I expect more from the Ritz to be completely honest. At the very least, I expect to look and feel relaxed. My skin didn’t look bright-except if you mean bright red.  I didn’t get the extractions that I asked for and by the time I got home, I noticed 3 new whiteheads.  My pores are still clogged, so I’ll be grabbing a Biore strip tonight to fix that.

Long story short, it wasn’t worth it.  A lot of hype and average service.  Not whats expected of a 5 star hotel.

Now I’ll abide by my “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”-and book another facial at my favorite spa that NEVER EVER LETS ME DOWN.  In fact I can name 2 spas within walking distance of the Ritz that are not only a better value, the service is above and beyond (let me know if you’d like me to email the information).

If you have money to burn and want an average facial, head over to the Ritz. While I do NOT recommend this spa for facials, I do like the nail service I received (although I suspect it fell short of what it could’ve been).  I never thought I would be writing this post but I guess my expectations were just too high.




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  • Mama Dukes

    Wow! Guess she needs a new light, eh? Sorry the experience was not good. 🙁

  • Maria

    Meredith, great blog review….I had heard so much good things about this Spa, mainly esthetically pleasing….but didn’t hear much about the services.

    I’d love to know which spas you thoroughly enjoy and I often come up to Toronto with my sister for a girls retreat away….

    Excellent job on your review and thank you so much for sharing.

    Maria Mancuso

  • donna

    I do find often that the money you pay at these high end places are more for the ambience rather than the service itself. Just like really expensive restaurants. I was never over the moon with the food and found that the, “hole in the wall” places had much better tasting food without all the bells and whistles. I’ve learned with age of course, that I don’t care how pretty the package is as long as the content blows me away, so to speak. And I would have changed the tip for no other reason than not getting the service I specifically asked for. But that’s me. I used to feel very intimidated by that sort of thing long ago. Not anymore. My husband works hard for his money and don’t mind tipping generously if deserved, but not for lousy service. That’s my soap box, sorry, I’ll get off of it now. hehe xoxox

  • Stacy sad that such a beautiful environment had a sub par facial…facials are not cheap…I think you just saved some Canadians a lot of money…and nice that you offered to name some spas that are worth visiting and getting the great treatments you would expect.

  • Debbie

    Wow! I would have expected the best experience going to a Ritz salon. It sounds like this person needs to have some reeducation in how to treat a client well. And a better light!
    I hope you have a relaxing time at your appointment with your regular estetician.

  • Cherry

    It doesn’t seem like it’s only that lady providing poor service either. I guess Ritz should stick with what they do best … maintaining a pleasant hotel room.

  • Zoe

    How disappointing! I’m glad your first experience was good but that sounds like quite a waste of money the second time, and I can’t believe about the “change the tip” policy. Eek! Awkward. Well I’m glad you have another space that you know and love already 🙂 I’ve never had a facial at a spa but maybe someday!

  • jill

    ekkk. that sounds horrible. I guess it is all about the appearance and not the substance their. Not good to hear at all. Thanks for the great post.