Spa getaways on a budget near Vancouver

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      There are few things more luxurious than a spa weekend. Checking into a hotel whisks you away from it all, and treatments at the hotel’s spa squeeze out every last bit of stress like toothpaste from a flattened tube.

      But when money is tight, it can be hard to squeeze the cash out of your wallet too. Sure, you can stay home and have a DIY spa day instead: a nice bath, a drugstore face mask, et cetera. But the key ingredient—a change of scenery—is missing. As you soak in the tub, you’re all too aware of who’ll be cleaning it the next day.

      That’s why I propose a happy medium: the DIY spa getaway. For the price of a couple of hours at a spa, you can check into a hotel and pamper yourself through the evening before flopping into bed.

      First, book one of the following: a room with an extra-special bathroom (with a soaker tub, for example) or an ordinary room in a hotel that has extra-special facilities (e.g., hot springs baths). Call ahead and ask if robes are provided. If not, bring your own, plus an MP3 player with soft music, magazines, herbal teas, and products for pampering. Even better, buy locally made soaps and scrubs once you arrive at your destination.

      To get you started, here are four good places to go. Quoted rates were found online for the first Saturday night in March.

      Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa (Victoria)
      This new, all-suite hotel is centrally located in downtown Victoria near peaceful Beacon Hill Park. Book a one-bedroom luxury suite (as opposed to a one-bedroom deluxe suite), which boasts an oversize bathroom. With a heated tile floor, a shower, and a stand-alone soaker tub, this bathroom is pure bliss. Suites feature an electric fireplace, so once you pluck yourself out of the tub, you can relax with a glass of wine in the living room. A full kitchen means you never have to face the outside world until you check out; bringing your own food saves money too. One-bedroom luxury suite, $179.

      Mountainside Lodge (Whistler)
      A loft suite, which sleeps two to four people at this condo-style hotel, comes with plush robes and your own personal sauna adjacent to the queen loft bedroom. A full kitchen and a gas fireplace make it another good place to hole up and sweat out your worries. Doubles $269, minimum stay may apply.

      Semiahmoo Resort (Blaine, Washington)
      Just 10 minutes from the Peace Arch border crossing, this resort is a quick drive from the Lower Mainland, yet it feels a world away. Located on a scenic spit of land, it’s a great base for quiet, contemplative beach walks. While the guest room bathrooms are just average, the leisure facilities are spa-worthy. In addition to an expansive hot tub, there’s a large outdoor pool that’s warm enough to enjoy in winter. (The resort also caters to families, however, so the pool area is not necessarily tranquil.) Alternate cool dips with hot rests in the luxurious saunas and steam rooms, located in the change rooms. Doubles, $154.

      Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa (Harrison Hot Springs)
      Room types vary widely at this resort, which caters to couples and families. The least expensive rooms, in the older main hotel, are basic (don’t expect a fancy bathroom), but checking in gets you access to the oh-so-lovely hot springs pools. There are a variety of kid-oriented mineral pools, but for a more serene atmosphere, sink into the thousand-square-foot adult pool. Don’t forget to bring flip-flops for the room-to-pool walk, which many guests do in their robes. Doubles, $179.