Masculinity at its most secure

IT'S the end of football season. Surely a battle-scarred lineman or two would like some refinement and repair of his battered feet? Perhaps -- let's be adventurous here -- a pumpkin peel and a contouring body wrap as well. That's the theory at the Absolute Spa in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Canada, which has transformed itself into what may be the first such facility aimed at male customers in a destination hotel.

The spa, housed on the lower level of the historic Art Deco hotel, has ditched the usual soft touches for a sturdier atmosphere. Gone are the floral scents and soothing music. The decor features lots of brushed metal and clubby black leather furniture, and meditative pursuits have been replaced by electronics. The four pedicure chairs face an entertainment wall with five flat-screen monitors so our bruised and contused linemen (it's the official spa of the British Columbia Lions) can watch NHL action or brush up on their PlayStation skills while reflexology artists ease their ills.

The 36-item treatment menu offers options as diverse as a collagen infusion facial and a botanical neck and shoulder release. A more traditional hot towel straight shave and nail-buff is on the list as well. The accompanying line of men's spa products is more bracing than balmy, with ingredients such as eucalyptus, birch bark, butcher broom, sage and arnica.

Though women are welcome (and, in fact, still make up half the clients), the company is unwavering in its approach: An expansion in spring 2006 will bring a pool table to the lounge area, where the guys can show off the results of their ionithermie love handles treatment. Not that any of us actually need that, eh?

Eric Lucas


Absolute Spa, Hotel Vancouver, 900 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, Canada; (604) 648-2909, Prices from $21 (brow shaping) to $188 for a facial/shave/nail buff/shoe shine package to $294 for a massage and facial, hand and foot care package.

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