It’s not every day that you get to work with people you genuinely call friends. I’m so fortunate that at my day job in PR, I really do consider my workmates friends. And when it comes to my #FamilyTravelCA team (comprised of Lena, Candace, Steph, Sheri and our newest addition, Jaime), that’s also the case.
So when Ste. Anne’s Spa graciously offered to host our annual planning retreat — where we assemble to discuss all of the wonderful things we want to share with our awesome readers in the coming year — it felt more like a weekend away with girlfriends than work.
Don’t get me wrong…we worked. There were laptops and lined paper everywhere. But we worked in a renovated farmhouse following a gorgeous meal prepared by the executive chef, Jeffrey, whom we affectionately referred to as Cheffrey most of the night. We worked between spa treatments. We worked during all of the meals we shared. We may have even talked shop in the hot tub.
And since I am sworn to secrecy for now about some of the exciting things we’ll be doing in 2016, instead I’d like to tell you more about how you can re-create this incredible girlfriend getaway at Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, Ont.
STEP 1: Gather your favourite women.
You need to find between four and six awesome girlfriends who want to escape life for what feels like eternity but really works out to about 24 hours. I feel fairly confident that you’ll need to beat them away with a stick once you announce what you’re planning.
STEP 2: Book the farmhouse at Ste. Anne’s.
For larger groups travelling together, there are a few overnight options at Ste. Anne’s Spa. Having just stayed at the stunning farmhouse, I couldn’t possibly recommend anything else. It’s rustic perfection. While maintaining that charming farmhouse feel, it has modern conveniences (free WiFi, air conditioning, fireplaces that require the flip of a switch, a full kitchen stocked with wine glasses) set amidst a beautiful restoration.
Reclaimed barnwood flooring, intricately tiled showers, clawfoot bathtubs, beautiful bedding. The farmhouse doesn’t miss a beat, and it makes the perfect backdrop for all your girlie-girl antics. (You’re never too old for truth or dare.)
STEP 3: Hire a private chef.
Yes! You can actually hire the spa’s executive chef to cook for your group at the farmhouse. It can be as interactive as you like; whether you choose to talk amongst yourselves over a bottle of bubbly in the livingroom while the tantalizing smells waft in from the kitchen or join Cheffrey and find out more about what he’s cooking and how he’s cooking it — do it your way.
We enjoyed a beautiful meal that started with an apple bruschetta, which was topped with a sliver of yummy prosciutto.
Then we moved into a delicate butternut squash soup that was more creamy than squashy and garnished with herbs grown at Ste. Anne’s.
Our main was the most perfectly done beef tenderloin you can imagine, sitting on a wild mushroom risotto alongside bacon-sautéed Brussels sprouts.
Finally, dessert was warmed molten chocolate cake with a coconut crème fraiche that I wanted to connect to an IV line.
STEP 4: Do a wellness class.
I love the yoga nidra guided meditation class at Ste. Anne’s, but there’s also “regular” yoga, stretch and even the option to turn out the horses in the evening. Each class is designed to soothe and heal — not make you sweat. So if you’re not a yogi or haven’t donned a pair of sneakers in a few years, don’t worry. Not even a little.
STEP 5: Schedule at least two spa treatments.
Are massages fantastic? Yes, of course. (Don’t be ridiculous…that was rhetorical.) But I feel that a place like Ste. Anne’s is somewhere you go for more than just a massage. Try something you’ve never experienced before — you really can’t go wrong here. After three visits to this glorious haven, my two favourite treatments are the essential oil scalp rejuvenation and the contouring mud stone wrap.
The former I’ve had twice and there’s really nothing like it. Remember when your partner rubbed your head with vanilla-scented oil until you were nearly in REM sleep? No? Me neither. So I’ll gladly pay for it at Ste. Anne’s. The mud wrap is basically a full-body hot stone massage topped off with a moor mud rubdown (which is a really dark brown mud from Quebec that’s also got some grit to it, which is super-good for exfoliation), after which you’re wrapped in a hot blanket from neck to toe. It’s heavenly.
Oh, and in between treatments there are two other things you simply must do: first, visit the gift shop and request a complimentary face mask using Ste. Anne’s new Skin Nourishment line and using the 15 minutes it needs to set, head over to the room with the massage chairs and slip into utter relaxation.
That’s it. Five steps to one of the best weekends you’ll share with your besties. And…GO!
Win that getaway!
From now until Dec. 13, 2015, you have the chance to win an epic getaway to Ste. Anne’s Spa for two, which includes:
- Overnight accommodation for 2 people Monday – Thursday in a standard spa cottage
- Breakfast for two
- A 3-course lunch for two
- Afternoon tea for two
- A 4-course dinner for two
- $240 in spa allowance to share
- Full use of the facilities at Canada’s top spa
The fine print: Prize includes a one-night midweek stay for two in a standard spa cottage. Transportation not included. The contest is open to Canadians, excluding Quebec, and will run from Nov. 24, 2015, through Dec. 13, 2015, at midnight EST. Prize has no cash value and winner understands that MommyGearest et al cannot be held legally responsible for prize fulfilment or issues arising from the prize. The winner will be chosen from all eligible entries using random.org, will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to claim his or her prize before a new winner will be randomly selected. GOOD LUCK!