Lisa Cook’s family bought Winterholme (an iconic Queen Anne-style mansion across from Bannerman Park) in 1979.

Cook has lived and worked there for most of her life. As her parents transformed it from apartments into a twelve suite Bed and Breakfast in 1993, she grew up occupying various bedrooms on every floor of the house. Working for the family business since 2000, she added a small spa for guests in 2007. It did well, and she converted more of the guest suites, expanding it to eventually occupy the entire third floor.

She also had an extension added to the back of the historic building for her living quarters. Cook officially took ownership in 2012. To continue the growth of both her business and her quality of life, Cook looked to the slightly-less-than-24hr arm of her business as a model (the spa and event space rental) and away from the round the clock B and B.

Enter Rebecca Gladney, Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and owner/ operator of Thrive Therapeutic Massage in the West End. Gladney’s client list had grown threefold in three years and was the only non-spa winner (bronze) for best-massage in the Overcast’s 2015 best-of poll.

Friends from synchronized swimming, Cook and Gladney began making plans over a pizza one night to actualize Gladney’s need to expand and Cook’s vision of Winterholme as a “full style spa/wellness centre.” The two friendepreneurs have seen each other almost every day since.

As of January (2016), the remaining 8 suites have been converted into treatment rooms for licensed massage therapy, acupuncture, kinesiology, physiotherapy, plus yoga and pilates classes and a small gym for rehabilitation work and personal training.

Gladney is now the Wellness Managing Partner (and one of the two RMTs on staff). She sees no down side in this move as none of the over 300 clients in her database took her up on her offer to refer any who preferred to remain in the west end to another provider.

Gladney says that the ease of communication between the various treatment providers all under one roof “allows [them] to give the best possible care and progress through [a client’s] injury as fast as possible.” And the additional space and “naturally calming and tranquil location” have made it possible to extend her services to include hot stone massage and other relaxation services, such as couples massage, in coordination with the spa aestheticians.

In Northern California, the mothership of wellness centres, they have the embarrassingly unironic saying “If you’re not working on yourself, you’re not working.” Though the coastlines of Eastern Newfoundland and Western California can be slant mirror images in the right light (and weather), and relaxation is a touted ambition in both places (savasana/the cabin), the atmosphere of personal wellness in the North Atlantic vs the Pacific is decidedly divergent.

Winterholme’s practitioners and management are as modern and savvy as you like, but it is still historic St. John’s to the core. The casual antique decor of a long-running B and B remains without update. The locally cherished vector of “Get the work done. Good enough” in this case leads to a philosophy of client care geared towards real and efficient physical progress as opposed to the never ending, always mirror-gazing, self-improving health centres of California.