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Montreal's W Away Spa

W Montreal's Away Spa - Romancing the Senses

by Anne Dimon

Charcoal and lipstick red. It’s not the color combo one might expect to find in a hotel lobby. Then again, the "lobby" of the W Montreal doesn’t even look like a lobby. With subtle mood lighting, a collection of sofas arranged in conversational groupings, comfy cushions in black and white faux fur, cubed-shaped coffee tables in shiny red plexi-glass, and one three-petal chaise-a-deux covered in soft red terry, it’s more like a sleek nightclub (which it is, too.) Distinguished by color, texture and design, the W Montreal speaks to the senses.

W Montreal Spa
W Montreal's Color-Focused Lobby

Located in the Quartier International District within walking distance of both downtown and Old Montreal, the W could also be considered a rendezvous of opposites. For if the exterior - the somber and stoic façade of the former Banque du Canada - is the Yin, then certainly the warm, welcoming, contemporary interior of W, is the Yang.

Inside the front doors, lights are dimmed to create mood, aromas change with season (mint, lemon or fresh grass for spring, for instance), signature music is played throughout the hotel and welcoming amenities change with time of the year. When I visited in May it was a fruit smoothie. In winter, guests may be welcomed with cinnamon tea and cookies. Music acts as a transition: louder in the public areas, subdued in elevators, then quiet in corridors as the buffer to a different type of music in guest rooms.

Color therapy, too, plays a role. Red, a hue associated with energy, is used in the "living room" (other hotel call it a "lobby") and other public areas. Calming greens and blues are used in the elevators, corridors and in the guestrooms.

W’s zen-influenced Away spa, continues the experience for the senses. Spa director, Jade Chabat, worked six years on private yachts and that personalized, five-star mentality is what she brings to Away. You’ll see it in the little touches: cashmere blankets and fresh orchids on treatment beds, the most comfortable face cradle this face has ever encountered, and exotic teas served in stylish glass cups presented on silver trays (note to spas in other five-star hotels: ditch the disposable cups).

The intimate size of the spa – there are just five treatment rooms - allows Chabat and her team to offer clients a very personalized service. The spa’s signature product line is Comfort Zone from Italy. "I wanted a line of products compatible with the concept of W," explains Chabat, "something exclusive, and in keeping with the holistic philosophy of the spa."

W Montreal's Away Spa
W Montreal's Away Spa

I booked the Shiatsu Lushly Ritual (a hand and arm treatment perfect for anyone who spends the day on a computer - $30 for 30 minutes) and the Indian Aramasoul ($145 for 75 minutes) body treatment by Comfort Zone, and both were totally relaxing and enjoyable. The spa offers a full menu of services plus packages priced from $175 for the 90-minute Wonder to $435 four-and-a-hour Wow. Special services include a private workout with a personal trainer, a private yoga session or a massage for your favourite four-legged friend.

As with most Ws, the Montreal property offers guests a sense of place. The San Diego W, for instance, has a sandy beach lounge on a roof-top terrace. Here, visit the Plateau Bar and you’ll find assorted leaves pressed in acrylic atop a bar and illuminated in red to represent the Canadian Fall. Enter the elevators and you’ve a sense of being in a forest. Fur throws on guestroom beds harken back to the time of the cours-de-bois and in the Wonderbar where a bar designed to simulate a block of ice represents Quebec winters. In keeping with features that reflect the seasons, my visit found the "ambassadors" (also known as "doormen") in their spring uniforms - lavender T-shirts and jean jackets.

Another aspect of W is the signature service Whatever Whenever.

W Montreal's Away Spa
W Montreal's Away Spa soothes

"One recent guest checked in at midnight wanting Poutine but the kitchen couldn’t whip it up that quickly," says Sabine Kadyss, spokesperson for W Montreal, "so one of the 'talent' (W lingo for staff) jumped in a cab went to the best Poutine place in town and brought back an order still hot." Of course, there’s a cost-of-convenience attached to this 24-hour, concierge service, and everything must be legal and moral.

Sitting in Wonderbar, where the bar represents Quebec winters and sipping on a glass of chilled Champagne, I’m thinking you’ve got to say "merci" to any hotel that can take the five-star standard to an experiential level. C’est bon!

If You Go:
Room rates start the W Montreal at $219 per night.
For more information visit:

Anne Dimon is a spa and wellness travel writer and founder/editor of

To sign up for her free, monthly Travel to Wellness newsletter. Please click here.

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