Inside Willowbrook Spa at The Lake House on Canandaigua

The opening of The Lake House on Canandaigua (NY) in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York during the summer of 2020 generated a lot of buzz because of the increase in regional travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors from the nearby surrounding areas were eager to visit a new resort that was within driving distance from their homes and provided that same luxury experience they would otherwise seek while jet-setting to a faraway destination. Additionally, this new resort provided guests with the opportunity to get away and reconnect with nature, which is something else many people sought out during the pandemic. With the resort’s soft opening of Willowbrook Spa in May 2021 and grand opening in September 2021, guests from near (and far) had another reason to visit.

Designed by San Francisco-based TLEE Spas and inspired by California’s wine country, Willowbrook Spa offers guests a peaceful retreat designed to pamper and encourage relaxation. According to Victoria Lindsey, director of spa and wellness at Willowbrook Spa, to stay in line with the residential feel of the hotel, the spa features custom and mid-century modern art and decor throughout the spa. The light and airy palette and textures are all taken directly from the tonality of the landscape. “Native plants and herbs are cut and brought in from the gardens to bring scent and greenery seamlessly inside the spa,” she says. 

Willowbrook Spa
The retail boutique features products and devices to help guests continue the spa experience at home.  (Chris Churchill)

The 6,000-square-foot spa boasts six multifunctional treatment rooms, as well as a nail salon with manicure and pedicure stations. The Sun Room is a lounge environment that features an abundance of natural light, fresh airflow, and beautiful views of the spa garden. Outside the spa are two private sauna barrels with outdoor showers and resting areas that form a self-contained al fresco contrast bathing circuit. “The sauna barrels face Skenoh Island with its rich indigenous history, which shares an amazing narrative for our guests to be a part of,” says Lindsey. What’s more, “The sunken garden overlooking the brook is full of local flora and herbs inspired by the essential oils in our treatment products,” she adds.

The menu of services at Willowbrook Spa includes a range of facials, massage and body treatments, and nailcare services. Many of the treatments are inspired by the spa’s scenography and location on Canandaigua Lake, such as The Lake House Massage Method (starting at $185, 75 minutes), which is a customized bodywork session that includes infused herbal oil blends; Skenoh Drench ($225, 75 minutes), which is a restorative back facial and scalp mask; The Lake Effect (starting at $120, 60 minutes), which helps repair stressed and parched skin after a day on the lake or outdoors; and Deep Sleep (starting at $250, 90 minutes), which helps to calm the mind and body with slow rhythmic touch and a scalp massage paired with a sleep-inducing tea and tincture. 

The spa’s retail boutique features products and devices that are linked to certain treatments and other wellness items to help guests continue the spa experience at home. “We worked very hard to create a seamless flow of treatment products in our boutique so our guests can create an authentic at-home experience,” says Lindsey. “The products reflect the ethos of our treatment menu and protocols.”

Willowbrook Spa
The decor in and out of the treatment rooms is light and airy. (Willowbrook Spa )

While a spa cafe menu is in the plans for the future, current guests can enjoy a selection of small bite-sized snacks, such as dehydrated pineapple, mango, and kiwi; cranberry protein balls; chocolate-covered blueberries; fruit-infused water; and hot tea in the spa’s lounge. In addition, the spa offers an Afternoon Tea Apothecary Class on Sundays where guests learn about the benefits of essential oils while flower tea blooms in the kettle. “There are finger sandwiches and charcuterie boards to enjoy over tea,” says Lindsey. “After the guests enjoy tea and light bites, we make custom-blended scrubs for their home. We also have a Whiskey + Woodburning activity on Thursdays where guests enjoy a flight of custom and exclusive whiskeys while creating art on wood planks with a soldering iron.”

The spa’s menu and offerings, comfortable atmosphere, and beautiful outdoor surroundings have attracted guests from the local area as well as from all over the country. Lindsey hopes to continue to draw guests from near and far as word gets out and more people discover what the resort and spa have to offer. “We originally thought we would target fellow Upstate New Yorkers, but we have been pleasantly surprised by the amazing marketing and awards we have received, bringing us guests from New York City, Canada, California, and the Southeast,” she says. “We hope to be a new luxury spa for the Finger Lakes and captivate travelers from all over the world.” 

Owner: The Sands Family
Spa Director: Victoria Lindsey
Opened: September 2021 
Client Base: 85% female; 15% male  
Space: 6,000 square feet 
Product Lines & Equipment: Amethyst BioMat, Biosmetics, Born Bathing, Cirepil, Comphy, Dr. Dennis Gross, Eco-Fin, Fellow Barber, Foreo, HigherDose, Innersense, Knesko, Living Earth Crafts, Londontown, Luzern, Madison Collection, Mansfield Robes, Naturopathica, Oka-B, Saltability, Sferra, SpaSoft, Sun Potion, Tara Spa Therapy, Ytsara
Architect: SWBR Architects (Rochester, NY)
Interior Designer: Cate Mills Studio (Brooklyn, NY)

Spa Consultant: TLEE Spas (San Francisco)