Of course I'm late. My friend Lesa Hannah has invited me along to The Ten Spot, a hip beauty bar on Queen St. W in downtown Toronto. Owner Kristen Gale has just added a facial bar, a new-to-this-town concept designed to streamline the service for her busy clientele; Lesa's here to check it out on behalf of Fashion Magazine.
I arrive just a few minutes after appointment time -- a no-no in spa world; I should have been there 15 minutes before -- and hope I'll just get to sneak in undetected by Lesa. My facialist, Nikki, leads me upstairs into a charming open room with cocooning dark walls, soft chandelier lighting, and three beds. One of them is occupied by Lesa, whose facial has already begun, and who can't miss my shamefaced entrance. Nuts.
Nikki presents me with a huge metal saucer, upon which I'm to place my belongings so they can be stashed neatly under the bed. I'm not sure what that's about -- I'm still frazzled from being late and disconcerted at this unusual multi-client space. Nikki directs me to a small curtained-off change area just around the corner. Again I'm disconcerted, this time because the lamp-lit cubby is as yet without hooks or even a shelf upon which I can put my clothing, jewelry or the wrap I'm to change into. Do I drape things over the lamp? Sling them over the curtain rod? Put them on the floor? In my tizzy, I accidentally drop my rings on the wooden floor and wince as the clatter echoes throughout the entire top-floor space (I have a penchant for large, heavy rings). Poor Lesa -- surely the ruckus I'm making is disturbing her facial. Agh.
I tip-toe out into the room and manage to slide into the second bed without much more disruption. As Nikki gets to work, I start to relax a little. I wonder whether I can ask questions, whether speaking might be intrusive in the room's relative quiet. Hey, wait! Instead of trickling brooks, breaking waves and trilling birds, I'm listening to music by The Swell Season, Lily Allen, Jason Mraz and Radiohead! Now I can relax. I hear Lesa ask a question of her facialist, and realize that in this non-traditional, casual set-up, questions, a little conversation, hip tunes... it's all good. And eventually I bliss out as Nikki administers a great neck-and-shoulder massage while a soothing mask treats my skin.
Obviously a three-bed set-up is perfect for girls'-day-out group facial appointments. But according to Ali, Ten Spot's event manager, strangers have booked in at the same time and said later that they didn't mind sharing the room with someone they didn't know. "We also book appointments on the half hour so we can bring someone in without a problem while someone else is halfway through her treatment," she says. As to whether other clients feel at ease asking questions with others in the room, Ali says the therapists encourage it. "They're here to educate, so they make everyone feel comfortable enough to ask whatever they need to." It's more about the facial than about feeling zen, she adds.
So far, Ten Spot clients seem to be fans, and the facial bar has been booked near solid since its debut a month ago. The 45-minute treatment is a reasonable $65; including the skin consultation, the whole appointment takes an hour.
That's a bar I could frequent.
Wanna know what Lesa thought? Here's her take.
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