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November 25, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: A Getaway to the Hilton Toronto/Markham

As many new parents will tell you, it’s hard to get away for a night out after you’ve had a child, let alone for a weekend getaway. When you factor in the cost, time to travel and the thought of leaving your child while you venture hundreds of kilometers away, a getaway seems quite impossible.

This month, I was treated to a local getaway – just 30 minutes from my home. Honestly! I think this treat would be an excellent gift for moms and dads this holiday season (or anytime, who are we kidding!).

The Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa recently underwent an 11 million dollar reno that took just over a year to complete. The result? An amazing, chic hotel in the GTA that’s easily accessible, affordable and has the same (if not better) amenities that you would find in a downtown hotel.

We started our weekend getaway with a tour of the new facility: when you first walk into the hotel lobby, you are greeted by a dark wood lounge, complete with a beautiful bar and cascading waterfall. The front entrance is just breathtaking, warm, and inviting. Check one when you’re arriving at a hotel.

The entire main hotel building (400+ rooms) has been renovated, the General Manager tells us, with new, streamlined furniture, a minimalist approach to design and sleek marble bathrooms. Each room is a suite in this hotel, and while some are larger than others, each provides separate living and sleeping quarters. There is more than enough space to lounge, entertain, relax and unwind. Highlight for me: brand new lit mirrors in all the bathrooms (perfect for makeup application!).

No getaway is complete without a trip to the spa – and boy did I need to be pampered. Eforea is Hilton’s transformational spa and the first of its kind in Canada. Eforea is known for its hydrotherapy and water features, but also boasts a full-service hair and nail salon, 13 treatment rooms, sauna, steamroom, and complimentary childcare. Eforea has a special Cave for male clientele, complete with magazines, a leather lounger and a shower in the room – great for the guy in your life who loves the spa but also his privacy.

Care is placed on experience at eforea; the spa is comfortable yet not pretentious. It’s also surprisingly large for a day spa out of the city. They pay special attention to natural elements – water, wood, floral – and you immediately feel at home here. The service is bar none – just what was promised – a calm, relaxing, zen experience.

I wanted to take advantage of the hydrotherapy treatments available, so I registered for the Signature Full Body Repair. Donny’s full body treatment took place on the main floor in the Cave, while mine was upstairs in a spa room equipped with a steam capsule. There are so many treatments to choose from at the spa, so take the time to learn about them.

Both treatments started with a eucalyptus salt scrub exfoliation, followed by a full body effleurage. As I mentioned, I had the privilege of having my service in the steam capsule and was able to take advantage of a 20-minute body steam and shower while in this capsule. It’s unlike any other treatment I’ve ever had before, and my skin came out completely renewed. Following the steam and shower, I had a massage and mini facial, with cool, rose crystal stones. I was able to choose the scent and feel for my facial and was in heaven each time my aesthetician sprayed the Neroli (Orange Blossom) mist. Sheer bliss. I could bathe in it it smelled so good!

I left a new woman, I tell you. Despite the fact there are many steps to this body treatment, all the services are contained in one large room. And Donny? He loved his treatment. (Sure he was a little jealous he didn’t get to lay in the steam capsule, but he thoroughly enjoyed his entire treatment and made special mention of the cold stones used in the facial.) This was our first time having an 80 minute treatment (we usually go for 60 minute massages) and that extra 20 minutes is completely worth it. Your entire body goes into a state of calm and you really have the time to release your tension and toxins and enjoy the experience. I would highly recommend this Signature Full Body Repair and eforea.

Already feeling spoiled, after we cleaned up from our spa trip, we ventured downstairs to Essence of Unionville, the hotel's recently renovated restaurant. Continuing the pattern of dark woods and warm earth tones, the restaurant is comfortable and airy, without being too stuffy or fancy. It’s a great spot for couples and families alike and has a well-rounded menu to satisfy many different taste buds. The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and also offers catering and room services.

We started our meal with a shared lamb appetizer that offered a balance of sweet and spicy – a perfect amuse bouche to commence our evening. Donny was in the mood for steak, and I wanted something lighter so I opted for the Pan-Fried Dover Sole with Beurre Noisette atop fingerling potatoes. Donny’s 10z NY Strip was perfectly grilled and came with his choice of peppercorn or traditional jus, broccolini, potatoes and seasonal veg. The food is really good, and the service is even better. Our server went out of his way to make sure we were well-treated, offered his suggestions on the menu and allowed us the time to sit and enjoy our meal.

We were encouraged to have dessert, not only by our server, but by the General Manager earlier in the day who boasted that all the desserts were made in house by the pastry chef. How could we disrespect the Pastry Chef without trying his work? 

The two items that caught our eyes on the menu: the Olive Oil cake and the Apple Blueberry crumble. Both were heavenly; the Olive Oil cake was a simple cake, super moist, and paired with a pistachio cookie and scoop of French vanilla icecream. The Apple Blueberry crumble was to-die-for! It was warm and crumbly, and would not be complete without its own scoop of vanilla icecream and dollop of crème fraîche.

Of course, no kid-free getaway would be complete without a FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP!! It was the first time we slept without a toddler in months and boy did we take advantage of that. All in all, I can’t say enough about our mini-getaway in the 905. If you’re travelling to Toronto, or just need a little pick-me-up, the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa may be just what you need. And if you’re out looking for a gift to get a mom or dad on your list, take your pick from a hotel stay, a spa experience, a dinner out, or all three.

We were gone for less than 12 hours, 30 minutes from home, yet once we stepped into that lobby, we were on a mini-vacation. Treat yourself this holiday season, and take a getaway. You don’t need to go far, or be gone a long time to take time for yourself and your loved one.

Thanks to the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa for reminding us.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed on my blog remain my own.

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