On check-in to Yorkville's five-star Hazelton Hotel, my face has more in common with cheap, smudgy newsprint than the glossy complexions touted on spa brochures.
Enter the hotel spa's much-buzzed Valmont Intensive Lift Treatment Facial. Helena Rosenberg, a lead aesthetician here, leads me through to a suite showcasing muted bronze and pewter, sensual textures of green granite and mother-of-pearl. After cleansing and toning, she expertly applies a purifying pack mask with its kaolin clay, pink algae extract and burdock extract to soothe my sooty pores. Then, she literally rolls out the facial's star product, a cool 100-per-cent collagen sheet mask, over forehead, cheeks and chin. As it sets, she treats me to a delicious scalp and hand massage while the mask works its mojo.
Happy results? I'm tossing out my "baggy eye" concealer for at least a month.
Born of the Swiss medical tradition and produced on the shores of Lake Geneva, Valmont's heritage harks back to 1905, a far cry from the profit-driven "skin-care lines" of a multitude of European fashion houses cadging in on the spa trend. Valmont's tensing collagen mask with lifting nano-emulsion reinforces firmness, fighting fine lines with science over hype.
A favoured celebrity "home away from home" during the recent Toronto International Film Festival, the Hazelton Hotel housed the likes of Bono, Madonna, Harvey Weinstein and Leighton Meester. Even Colin Farrell preferred to socialize and spa here instead of at the Park Hyatt, his base while shooting Total Recall in Toronto with Jessica Biel. Like two fluffy robes bumping after a bender, I trade TIFF stories with Mr. Farrell en route to our mid-festival rubdowns.
We also trade intel on the spa's best massage therapist. My vote goes to body-work-Jedi Nael Dababneh, who can reset my ball and arch alignment after a punishing week of "stiletto syndrome" in mere minutes. He is the spa's greatest human asset; he reads my body like an oracle – making my heart race to near cardiac event with fierce, directed pressure, then later slowing it down to near-frightening standstill. Also doesn't hurt that the blond Mr. Dababneh bears an uncanny resemblance to Ryan Phillippe (in his happier, baby-making with Reese Witherspoon era) when the lights are back on.
The spa at The Hazelton Hotel on 118 Yorkville Ave. in Toronto; 416-963-6300; 1-866-473-6301 thehazeltonhotel.com; $245 for 90 minutes.
Special to The Globe and Mail