Jai Ganesha! – My Ayurveda Rituals Spa Experience
by Vanessa Morrell
I was deeply grateful for my husband’s 2023 Valentine’s Day gift to me: a certificate for a “hot oil” Indian head massage and facial from the Ayurveda Rituals Studio Spa Boutique just east of quaint Bewdley, Ontario (at the southwest tip of Rice Lake). These days we prefer to treat one another to experiences instead of “things,” and this experience was one of my favourites!
I’d met the spa owner Andrea Olivera a few years prior at the smaller previous location of her spa on Bathurst Street in Toronto. It was obvious from the moment we parked the car and approached the house — set in rolling farmland — that Andrea has expanded her vision and offering. The scent of rose petal incense rose to greet us at the door. Upon entry we were greeted with a ritual washing of our hands with rose water — the start of a luxurious and ceremonial experience.
We proceeded to the beautiful kitchen with its long 10-seat dining table where specialty teas, water, chocolate and fruit beckoned. The whole house is decorated with a play on white walls, flowers and guilded furniture. An Indian prince or princess would feel very much at home.
My hubby had arranged an overnight stay, and we’d arrived a bit early as I had a Zoom meeting to attend online. While I sat at my laptop in our appointed room, Andrea lavished plates of goodies upon me, including falafel with pita bread, cheeses, pickled mango, and grapes.
When I completed my Zoom call I descended the stairs and sat in front of a roaring fire in the living room, which is decorated with art and various Indian deities, each adorned with crystals and flower petals. I saw the beloved Hanuman (the monkey god) and I have to imagine a god of pampering was present somewhere! My husband, meanwhile, was exploring the large property and gardens Andrea and her partner have cultivated. Later he showed me the stream that meanders through a lovely woods and pathways that lead to benches and statuary where one can sit in quiet contemplation. I especially enjoyed sitting in front of Buddha, Ganesha and Mother Mary. The lands struck us both as an ideal space for a little getaway or a wedding.
We enjoyed dinner on the property, feeling gratitude for the fresh healthy ingredients and the interesting conversation with Andrea about her extensive travels and experiences reading people’s fortunes. She also expertly explained the purpose of murtis (statues) in Hindu spiritual practice, and how each deity represents an aspect of the supreme Brahma or God. We then enjoyed a deep sleep in our very comfortable bed.
In the morning we awoke to more delicious food that included an assortment of eggs, yogurt and other items, some of which we garnished with rose petal powder — something I’d never eaten before.
After breakfast Andrea led me to the private treatment room where I slipped out of my clothes and into a cozy cocoon of a heated blanket and a soft cotton cover. I began face down and enjoyed the feeling of the warm oil decanted in slow drips onto my hair and head — a feeling enjoyed also by India’s various maharajas.