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Valentine’s Gift Ideas: Grooming Gifts for Him and Her

grooming and body care products for valentine's gift ideas

grooming and body care products for valentine's gift ideas

The Canadian indie bloggers of Style Collective – I’m a member – decided to do a round-up of what we consider to be awesome gift ideas for this Valentine’s Day. I split the gift ideas into 3 parts. I start this coverage with what you can use on your bathroom.

1. Sameera of

“Have your man try something new and shave the old-fashioned way with Natural Grooming by Herban Cowboy Shave Soap ($5.95 CAD) and the Organic Grooming by Herban Cowboy Shave Brush ($7.47 CAD) for a more comfortable, quality shave. You can warm up together in the tub with Aura Cacia aromatherapy ($3.59 CAD), and sip mugs of Cocoa Camino ($8.59 CAD), which offers a yummy-licious array of indulgent cocoa products.”

It sounds like a great date, Sameera. These products are available at

2. Janine from BeautyGeeks

“For him, Gillette Fusion ProGlide and Kiehl’s shave oil together deliver the closest. shave. ever. The Dermalogica buffing cloth is a bracing a.m. body wake-up and exfoliating superstar. For her, the LoveFresh gift box, with delish Pomegranate sugar scrub and body butter, is loaded with natural oils and moisturizers for silky, luscious limbs.”

I would like to try the scrubs. It sounds marvelous.

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor, $14.99 at drugstores; Kiehl’s Close Shavers Shaving Formula 31-0 Shave Oil, $26 at; Dermalogica Ultimate Buffing Cloth, $24 at; LoveFresh Body Goodies Scrubalicious Gift Box, $42 at

3. Claire from ChickAdvisor

“Nothing says sexy time on Valentine’s Day like a shower. We can’t get enough of these cheeky Soap & Glory products. The flirty scents contain delicious notes of citrus, bergamot, mandarin, jasmine and freesia on a mix of musks, sandalwood, vanilla and amber. As for the Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss, the name alone is enough to make us want it.”

I like the vintage packaging.

Soap & Glory Clean, Girls body wash, $9.99 CAD; Scrub ’Em & Leave ’Em body buff, $14.99 CAD; Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss, $9.99 CAD; all at Shoppers Drug Mart.


A W Signature Treatment at Away Spa in Montreal

away spa at w montreal

away spa at w hotel montreal

I started this week in a soothing way. I received an email last month from Alissa Anzarut, who is manager of the travel rewards at Aeroplan. Alissa contacted me to inquire if I would be interested to experience a spa treatment at one of Aeroplan’s partner hotels here in Montreal. After a stressful January, I decided that it would be good for me. Plus, I like the W hotel. We met last Monday morning at the Away Spa of the W Montreal.

I am happy I did. I discovered a new spa treatment: a body wrap that does not involve mud. I usually have a massage, relax in saunas and other bathing rituals at spas. I had many body treatments at Clarins skin spas but never with a body wrap. I know the technique is not new, but it was for me.

You feel right at home when you enter the Away Spa. The decor is what you expect from the W hotels. The small spa feels cozy and relaxing. The dimmed light, the gray walls and the aromatic smell of the place all contribute to the soothing effect. Although they have no saunas and hot springs, I left happy and relaxed.

About my treatment

treatment rooms at the away spa at the w montreal

I opted for one of their signature treatments, the D-Age Body Firming. The 1-hour-and-a-half body treatment starts with a fruity peel that contains pineapple and papaya enzymes. It smelt good. In fact, I enjoyed the scent of everything they put on me. You go for a quick rinse in a nice private bathroom (top right picture).

Then, the best part begins. I felt warm for the entire session. To get you into the mood, a quick breathing session surrounded by a delightful aromatic fluid (red thyme, tangerine, lemon and orange). It is followed by applying a serum on eight articulation spots to extract the toxins. Then, your body gets a boost of Kamani oil, shea butter and jojoba oil. This is the D-age firming cream. They form an enveloping cocoon over you by neatly wrapping the plastic sheet over your body. Plus, they wrap some sort of heated blanket on top. While you are in your warn cocoon, you get a light, relaxing facial and hair massage. This part lasts 15 to 20 minutes. The treatment ends with a little massage as the spa massage therapist applies a wonderful citrus draining oil. Like I said, it was an enjoyable experience.

I do not know if it was the idea to be at the spa of a trendy hotel but their music, which was the typical style for a spa, seems more cool. If you want to know, I was served by Melanie Doiron, who is a massage therapist and an esthetician. Thank you, Melanie and Alissa for a great way to start my day.

+ Away Spa at W Montreal
+ D-Age Body Firming $195 CAD

Disclaimer: I did not pay for my spa treatment; Aeroplan Starwood, the owner of the W hotels, did. According to our editorial policy on samples, I went there without any guarantee of coverage (if, what or when). I decided to talk about it because I tried a spa treatment that was new to me and wanted to share the experience.


Zurbaines Event at Vic Park

zurbaines event at vic park westmount

zurbaines event at vic park westmount

Last Wednesday, I went to a fun event organized by Les Zurbaines in collaboration with Vic Park (also called spa Victoria Park), a zen-like, upscale gym and spa located in Westmount, Quebec. I got the pleasures to chat with my fellow bloggers and journalists in the lifestyle and fashion market.

manicure and makeup :: zurbaines event at vic park

They set up sessions for us to try the spa and salon services. They went for a make-up and a manicure. I love both. As you can see from my picture, the make up was a success. And I learned a few makeup tricks to enhance the features of my face. It was the first time I dare to go for a dark grey nail polish. I know that it has been the crave for a while but I never seem to find the time to get a manicure.

martini at the zurbaines\' vic park event

They served two signature martinis, smoothies and wine. No girl event would be completed without a Cosmopolitan. I did not taste it but I heard that the green tea martini was delicious according to my friend Line Atallah. It contains green tea, ginger, vodka, gin, green olives.

Our goodies bag include products and a 10-day trial at the gym for two. The gym is beautiful. I like the vibes of the place. I will tell you more about the gym once I experienced it.

I had so much fun mingling and participating in the activities that I forgot to take my own pictures, except for a few of the gym. This is what happen when you take the habit of bringing your own photographer at events. I selected pictures from Line Attalah and from Carrie MacPherson of to give you a peak at the night.

+ photo: green tea martini by Line Atallah
+ other photos: Zurbaines


Chickpea and Mango Salad Recipe Followed by a Grilled Red Snapper with a Fresca Salsa

chickpea and mango salad

Both recipes are from the Chef at Spa Eastman, a spa who won several awards. The latest is the Eastern Townships’ Final of the Grands Prix du tourisme québécois in the “Sustainable Tourism” category. Cooking is a part of their spa experience. They grow their own vegetables, berries, fine herbs and edible flowers during the summer. I am glad that the Chef shared with me one of his recipes.

Chickpea and Mango Salad Recipe

I love the way they dish the chickpea and mango salad. Using a coconut shelf as a bowl makes a statement. Remember it for your next beach party.

Soaking: 12 hrs
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes
Serve 8

Main Ingredients:

  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) chickpeas, soaked 12 hours
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
  • half a red onion (150 g / 5 oz) cubed
  • 1 small red bell pepper (150 g / 5 oz), diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) old-fashioned grain mustard (moutarde de meaux)
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, de-pitted and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 22 ml (1 1/2 tablespoon) dried grated coconut or unsweetened flakes


  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, de-pitted and diced
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) apple vinegar
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) water
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
  • A touch of Cayenne pepper
  • A touch of ground turmeric (curcumin)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a casserole, pour cold water and add the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the peas are tender. Drain and refrigerate.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a pan, heat 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of olive oil and sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  3. Mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a blender until smooth.
  4. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas, onion, bell pepper, garlic, dressing, grain mustard, coriander and diced mango. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place in a service bowl (or coconut shell) and sprinkle with mint and coconut.
  6. Serve cold.

Eating Well: More recipes from Spa Eastman

grilled red snapper with fresca salsa

Eating healthy means that we eat less meat. Fish provides an excellent source of nutriments and it delivers less calories on average than meat. A good think to fit nicely in our bathing suit at the beach party. Spa Eastman published tasty and healthy recipes:

+ Grilled Red Snapper Filet, Salsa Fresca
+ Swordfish with ginger and lemon sauce
+ Vegetable Miso Soup

If you wish to spoil your mother for Mother’s Day, you can get 10 % off the package of your choice when you book a package with accommodation. This offer is valid only for overnight stays that occur until May 31st 2009.

+ Images and recipe courtesy of Spa Eastman


Relaxing Day at Balnea Spa. Or Is It?

finnish saunas and cafe at Balnea Spa Bromont-sur-le-lac

Last Friday, I indulged in a Finnish meets modern meets hammam water spa experience. I wanted to try it since Balnea opened a few years ago in the Eastern Township.

Sitting next to Lac Gale with a superb view of the Appalaches, the site is designed around the balneotherapy. I liked my day but Balnea felt short on the drinking water part and in helping me getting the most of the balneotherapy.

How My Day Goes By

Balnea simply provides a small water bottle for the day. Unlike many spas, they do not have a self-served cucumber water station. But you can stop by the café anytime for a complimentary herbal tea.

We booked the Sukhasana package which includes a semi-private yoga (our trio), one hour of massage and the lunch. The lunch is up to $13, which means that you eat a soup and a healthy sandwich without extra. Their salad meal bowls are $12-$13. The food was good.

Even though my knee is not really fit for yoga yet, I went ahead because I wanted to try yoga on one of the several outside platforms overlooking the lake. It was raining heavily one hour earlier. So our yoga class took place inside, on the top veranda room. If they would have told me at the desk, I would have switched to a scrub treatment and a massage instead.

Saunas, Hot Tubs And Sun Bathing

Three Finnish saunas oversee the lake. Cool showers and an icy plunge pool reestablish your body temperature after each sauna session. I tried the dry sauna eucalyptus and a dry sauna with rosemary. The hot Turkish steam room complete the inside water complex.

We also enjoyed a series of hot tubs outside, including the renowned heavy fall cold pool (you have to try it) and a cold pond.

turk bath :: outdoor yoga :: cedar tub at  balnea

Next to the lake, the cedar tub and sun bathing lounge area is pleasing. You can swim on the lake. A small sauna pavilion with a fireplace and the new Fatboy outdoor chairs near the lake can be reserved by a group. Otherwise, it is available for everyone.

Pleasing Spa Treatments

The personnel at the yoga class and the massage took into account my injury. My girl friends enjoyed their massages too. One girl took an express facial treatment and was happy.

The striking site with direct access to nature makes you feel good. The décor of the spa is hip yet relaxing.

We took the quick tour of the facility with a guide. Rooms are well indicated. But I expect more from an upscale spa. Why Balnea do not devise one or two ritual programs around the thermal water experience? You make your own as you go. Unless you are an expert, it becomes more a day at the park than a spa treatment.

Short on Being a Top-Notch Host

On the customer service area, we were well treated but it is not worry free. That is where an upscale spa must deliver. They failed on the small details more than once.

My massage took place at the old Stone House. The sky was dark gray. Plenty of umbrellas were available on the main building. I saw them on my way out and I assumed more umbrellas would be available at the stone house. The girl who showed me the way did not suggest I bring an umbrella with me. It rained heavily as I was ready to go back to the main building. I asked for an umbrella and was told they were none at the stone house. I had to insist, playing on my injury as an excuse, before they called someone from the main building to bring me an umbrella. They finally found one sitting at the stone house. I got my umbrella but the other guests ran, all wet, under the rain to get back to the main building. Plus, they charge you $15 if you want to get a new bathroom – I hope these people did not have to pay. Sorry but you do not pay top dollars for that level of service.

Overall, Balnea provided me with a satisfying experience. They have a lot of things going for them. To become a must go destination, Balnea must improve on customer service. They must learn the art of being a top-notch host. You go to an upscale spa to feel pampered every step of the way and not just for what is in the premises. After this visit, I understand why some of my girl friends were disappointed when they visited last year.

+ Balnea Spa Bromont-sur-le-lac – Web site is only in French