Walking out from Chester station in the heart of the Danforth lies Ici Paris Spa. You walk in and instantly feel the warmth and relaxation radiating in the space. Just sitting in the spacious, mirrored environment you feel welcomed and you can understand why this spa won Best Beauty Spa for 2017 in Toronto. As other clients enter, they are greeted by name and attended to immediately. Gordana, the spa director, comes out to greet us with her chic bob, black turtleneck, and bright fuchsia lip, and tells us how proud she is of this business.
Ici Paris Spa has been on the Danforth for 41 years; it is a staple for the community. The fact that it has remained within the ever-changing neighbourhood says a lot about the quality of work and customer service they offer. Gordana herself lived on Browning Street and that’s how she first discovered this gem. First as a client, and then as an employee, she bought the company in 1992 when the opportunity presented itself.
Leaving the Danforth area is something she’s never really considered. “People ask why don’t you open up another store, or move somewhere more central; this is actually our home and we treat it that way.” They have clients from all over Toronto, but they consider themselves a local spa. Having been on the Danforth for so long, they feel the support the neighbourhood has given them and are faithful to the area.
When asked about her favourite thing about the spa, without missing a beat Gordana says her estheticians. “I personally think without them, it would not be the same spa, we’ve been working together for so long. They are the ones I can truly rely on. I know they are true professional people and are passionate about their work, same as I am.” As the backbone of Ici Paris, they are very involved in client consultation and satisfaction. Their business is so personal; in dealing with the health of the skin, Gordana can’t just do the treatment and walk away. It’s clear from the moment you walk in that the staff goes above and beyond what’s expected – and this is why they are so successful. She’s proud of the team that’s stayed together for so long and work so well together.
The diversity of the staff is an important feature of the spa, as their clients are just as diverse as the staff. They consider themselves a mini United Nations. They have 17 staff from around the globe, 9 different nationalities, and several different languages. There is a beauty to this diversity, not only in nationality but in age. They constantly learn from each other. From the staff who recently graduated from school in Canada, to those who are moving from Europe, everyone brings something new to the table. “Because we are coming from different parts of the world and for the majority of us, this is the only family we have here, we tend to be close.” It’s a collaboration process, with staff constantly bringing new and fresh ideas to the spa.
The experience of the staff is also exceptional, with over 35 to 40 years. Read any of the reviews online, and you will see they have amazing customer service. Gordana believes that in dealing with the skin, experience is essential. They obviously know what they’re doing – and well. She wants people to feel like they belong at the spa; not only her wonderful staff, but also the clients.
Best Beauty Spa of 2017
We asked about the award for Best Beauty Spa and what it was like to win, to which Gordana laughs and shakes her head in humble surprise. “I thought, oh this is so amazing, that clients actually recognized you as a top spa. I’m glad that it was here in the Danforth as well. It’s good to have recognition.” The whole process began when a client asked why they had never been in the competition for Best Beauty Spa in Toronto, so Gordana researched what the competition was and asked herself the very same question. She says that clients don’t always write about them (always good to say when you’ve had a good experience!), however clients started responding and became very active in support of this competition.
There is a reason why they are the top spa in Toronto. They are known for a holistic philosophy; a belief where to treat the skin, the largest organ in the body, you have to treat it inside and out. “Skin is influenced by other systems and other organs. By finding balance and in general working inside you can treat a lot from the outside as well.” During the facial, the staff will go over this in detail, including how to support the skin with food supplements. Ici Paris feels obligated not just to clean the skin, but to give clients a routine to follow-up with for long-lasting results.
Gordana emphasizes the importance of staying fresh and on trend. “When it comes to treatment you have to follow what’s in, by that I mean the most advanced types of treatment that are available in the world.” To be successful they believe that incorporating new services will only improve their business. They are constantly upgrading, having monthly presentations, and attending as many courses as possible to have the most up to date knowledge and care for the clients. For the last three years, they’ve done extensive renovations area by area, such as new facial rooms, a new store front, and now the mani-pedi area.
You can tell by just spending a few minutes in this spa that the clients are treated like family. “People feel like they belong here, not just the estheticians or clients. They are treated as part of the family and as friends. We have several generations of clients coming to Ici Paris, from grandmas to kids, feeling like they are at home more or less. Just by being here at Ici Paris, feeling so close to this neighbourhood, and getting all the support from the neighbourhood, means a lot to us.”