The Dad Spa

He won’t admit it now- or maybe ever, but once you bring your Dad to the spa and let him enjoy a treatment…he will be secretly hooked.

Back in the caveman days, before I became a Dad, I considered myself to be a rough and tough kinda guy that worked hard on oil rigs and played even harder when I wasn’t. The rest of the time… well thats another story.

The rest of the time I spent hanging out with friends and trying to impress who would eventually become the mother of my children (those were the days…She’s much harder to impress these days), and whatever I was doing, it worked because she signed a life-long binding contract that proves I impressed, or more likely fooled her. Or maybe she fooled me?

Perhaps we’ll never know.

I was a pretty sheltered guy back then. I mean, I had never even spent a day in Banff before I hooked up with her. Most of the mountains I had seen were from the drill floor of the oil rig I was working on at the time. Seems kinda crazy, right? I mean living in Alberta my entire life and had never really experienced Banff among many other places. You don’t have to drive very far in any direction no matter where you live in Alberta to have great experiences, yet here we all are believing we have to get on an airplane for that. Bullshit!

This girl was broadening my horizons!

I had been in the bush on one of my 2 or 5 week hitches, I can’t really remember, but My girlfriend at the time-who my children now call Mom, had organized and booked a nice trip to Banff for a weekend getaway. We were young D.I.N.K.S. (stands for Dual Income No Kids for those not aware). These days we don’t get time to go to the bathroom by ourselves.

As she was telling me about this surprise, I was getting quite excited. She said “We are booked into the Banff Springs Hotel (A place I had never even seen before but heard it was a step or two up from the Riverside Motor Inn) and we are going Dog Sledding, and to the Spa”.

I asked her what I was going to do while she was in the Spa. She said I was coming with her. Pretty sure the conversation after that went something like this:

Me: “I’m not going to the Spa…”

Future Wife: “Yes WE are, you will love it. Please do this for me”

Me: ” I don’t do Spa’s, I do Oil Rigs”.

Future Wife: “God…Don’t be such a LOSER. They have nice pools and we are getting massages”.

Me: “Okay, whatever, but under no circumstances is anyone to ever know I was at the “Spa”.

I finished my hitch at work, and was looking forward to my days off. What the hell happens at a Spa anyway? I’m sure no man alive knows. But whatever- a man will do whatever is required sometimes, especially when you have been away at work in the bush for a month.

Fast Forward to ‘Spa Day’…

So there we were, in the mountains staying in the Banff Springs Hotel in all of its glory. What a place that is! We went down to the Spa for our massages. I was looking forward to it as that was something I would just never have done on my own. We approached the staff at the counter and my lovely bride-to-be checked us in for our appointments.

The lady at the counter said “Okay, we have Laurianne booked for a 1 hour full body message with Ivanka, and we have Justin booked for 30 minute neck and shoulder message with Derek”.

My jaw hit the floor. “Ummm that is NOT going to work. You mean I am supposed to go with Ivanka and she is with Derek, right? “No, Ivanka does the full body massage and Derek does just the neck and shoulders. Is there an issue Sir?”

“Your dam rights there is”!

I said to my soon to be x -fiancé  “this has been a mistake, right?” She said “no- these were the only appointments available for these times, and I really wanted the full body message cause I knew you said you didn’t care”.

“Oh, I care… you have no idea how much I care!” I think you left out some important details!

While this was going on, the receptionist, Derek, and Ivanka are looking on wondering if they would be witnessing a full on domestic dispute. It was getting close…

In an effort to diffuse the situation and not ruin the entire weekend, I said alright, lets do this. Lauri went her way with Ivanka, and I followed Derek to his massage room. He asked me to take my shirt off. Reluctantly, I did, and sat in the massage chair. I gave him my best “I don’t mess around look” while he oiled up his hands.

He began to massage my shoulders and neck and I made sure I didn’t enjoy any of it. I focussed on conversation. “So, Derek, you massage any famous guys, Like Sylvester Stallone or anyone like that? He rattled off a few names I had never heard of, and then I heard him say Woody Harrelson. Okay, I thought, he’s a man’s man.  If famous guys like Woody Harrelson who stars in movies like ‘King Pin’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’ get massages from dudes like Derek here, then hey-I am going to get through this. Nobody will ever know about this anyway. We talked about things like NFL Football, Hockey, and I think I might have brought up Hunting Deer or something like that.

Anyway, that was my first Spa experience. Wierd as hell…But the pools were fantastic.

Over the years, I realized that using the health benefits I had through work was a great thing. Many people don’t utilize what they are entitled to, or even have an idea of what their work benefits cover in my opinion. Through using my benefits and realizing over the years how great massage therapy can be, I discovered another amazing place.

Getting back to finding great places not far away in any direction right here in our beautiful province, there is another place I know that is a resort caliber spa located right in Ponoka, Alberta- the Altitude Laser Spa.

One of my guilty pleasures when I joined the world of being a full time stay at home Dad, was, and still is, finding new ways to get “alone time”. Pay attention fellas! My top 3 ways of finding solace, inner zen, and most importantly ALONE TIME (not to sure if I should expose these) were as follows:

  1. BBQ things that take extra time, or smoking meat. Explain to your wife about the benefits of grilling meat SLOWLY.
  2. Doubling up on lawn fertilizer. This means doubling my time on the ride-on lawnmower with built in cup holder and ear-buds
  3. Booking massage appointments and teeth cleanings at Altitude Laser Spa. Yeah, you read that right.

I had purchased a one year Altitude Laser Spa membership for my wife on Mother’s Day, and during my period of being a full time Dad, I decided to help her to use that membership by using some of the awesome services they provide, and services I felt I so rightly deserved! Hey man, being a full time stay at home parent is hard work- it’s not for the weak, or faint of heart!

They provide many services, and I always went there to get my teeth cleaned by the talented Dental Hygienists (Big shout out to Randi Lynn!) that I have built a relationship with there over the years, and then hey, why not get a massage while you’re there, it only makes sense, right? The moment you walk in the door of that place and greeted by Allie, Ponoka’s customer service person of the year, you are completely blown away. There is an atmosphere in there that makes you feel relaxed and welcome right away. It is the same atmosphere that you feel at world class resort Spa’s.

And the staff that work there, where to start?

These awesome ladies have a smile on their face every single time you’re in that place. It is so obvious that the employees that work there are very happy- and that certainly shows up in their work and interactions with the customers. Clearly they are more than just employees, and there is a sense that they are all one family. The leadership group here obviously “gets it”.

My 4 year old daughter actually gets super excited to get in the dental hygiene chair to get her teeth cleaned, which as a parent is a huge thing because you don’t want your kids to be afraid of getting their teeth worked on. She comes home excited about the whole experience.

I took things a step further the other day from my normal teeth cleaning and massage routine, and decided to do something that not many dudes do, or so I thought- I got me a pedicure. I can’t say I never had one before, because I did once in the Vancouver airport when I was stuck there for a few hours waiting to fly to beautiful Fort Saint John for work.

I remember it like yesterday, cause my wife was about 8 months pregnant at the time with our second child. I was slowly walking around the airport checking out the shops when a lady in one of them talked me into giving it a go. I thought sure what the hell.

As I sat in the chair getting about 39 years worth of dead skin off of my feet, my phone rang. It was my wife. We spoke for a bit, and I didn’t dare tell her that I was enjoying getting a pedicure while she was at home feeling, and I quote “like there is a bowling ball in my va@*na”. But she found out later when she seen my credit card statement… Should have used cash I guess!

Anyway, back to Altitude Laser Spa.

So I relaxed in the “Serenity Lounge” with my refreshment, until I was invited back to what seemed almost like another lounge. Six big white chairs for people to sit on. “Hello ladies”! It was like another social club all on it’s own, except poor Jolene who was assigned the tough task of giving me a pedicure, had to sacrifice the feeling of relaxation and ambience the other ladies were enjoying when she had to get out the big tools.  Armed with a 5″ Makita angle grinder, Faceshield, and gloves, Jolene handled the grinder with the skill of a surgeon, and  powered through my man feet like nobody’s business. Sparks were flying! Thanks Jolene!


After that fantastic experience, I was treated to an unbelievable 1 hour message (big shout out to Kyla) that never disappoints.

The Bottom Line:

The community of Ponoka is very fortunate to have a business such as this one, that truly exceeds customers expectations and a level of service that would be hard to match anywhere. Period. If you have been there before, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven’t been there, then this is something you need to experience for yourself to fully appreciate what the service level and treatments available to you are. Please check out their full line of services and packages at Altitude Laser Spa.

In honour of the upcoming Fathers Day, Altitude Laser Spa would like to give you the chance to make Dad happy and WIN A COUPLES SPA DAY!

Like I said earlier- he won’t admit it, but once you bring in your Dad or husband to the Altitude Laser Spa and let him enjoy a treatment…he will get hooked.

If going to the Spa for Father’s Day is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!

Happy Father’s Day to everyone!


Justin AKA- Mister Mom





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