I am a spa girl.
I love everything about it: the pampering, the total relaxation, the indulgent services.
But beyond a good massage that takes you away from reality for an hour in your home town, a spa getaway — whether it’s a day spa or longer — removes you from your whole world for what seems like an eternity.
Such is the case with Ste. Anne’s Spa, which is nestled among sprawling farmlands and boasts the kind of charm that oozes from Jane Eyre novels.
Only about an hour-and-a-half east of downtown Toronto, you’re whisked into the kind of place where being waited on hand and foot just comes with the territory. Every wish is your command.
And you get to eat in bathrobes. Even dinner.
When Ste. Anne’s recently invited my friend and I for an overnight spa experience, we couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. On the precipice of turning 40, we’re both bogged down with the pressures of motherhood and, well, life.
The last time we visited Ste. Anne’s, we were both pregnant with our girls (both now four years old) and we stayed only for the day. Mostly for fear that I wouldn’t be able to re-create my “pillow kingdom” made up of six pillows stacked with precision to keep my pregnant belly happy all night. Trust me — going even just for the day still feels like a vacation.
But overnight? Wow. In only two days, we managed to walk most of the grounds at the spa resort, take in a wellness class, have three treatments apiece, drink three bottles of wine and enjoy four meals. It felt like we’d been gone a week.
First, the grounds. Spectacular. Like something from a dream. And, yes, you’ll probably have to pinch yourself a few times:
After exploring a bit, we started with a yoga nidra class. Stress melted away thanks to guided meditation and laser-focus intention. I’m terrible at silent meditation. It just doesn’t work for me; my mind is too easily distracted, making mental lists when I should be searching for my inner child. So this was perfect. And while I managed to stay awake throughout the 30-minute class, there was definitely some snoring happening nearby.
Then it was off to our luxurious spa services. My friend had a lymphatic drainage treatment that she swears staved off a cold she felt coming on. And I had an essential oil scalp massage. I had this the last time we were at Ste. Anne’s and it has reigned as one of my favourite spa moments of all time. I just wish I hadn’t struck up a conversation with my personable esthetician, because I don’t really remember this one as well.
It was tea time, so we made our way to the dining room. Again, in robes! (There’s something so deeply gratifying about eating in public with no makeup, freshly oiled hair and a terry cloth robe.) This and every other meal we had during our spa getaway was excellent — and we’re both very discerning eaters. Ste. Anne’s uses a lot of local ingredients and the food just tastes so fresh. The best part? Meals are included in your stay, so there’s no need to cart around your wallet. Highlights during our stay included:
- A — the sampler platter during afternoon tea; just the right amount of sweet and savoury
- B — the granola. Holy granoli! I loved this stuff so much I bought the biggest bag available at Ste. Anne’s bakery
- C — almond pancakes that were nutty perfection
- D — a beet salad that was almost too gloriously pretty to eat
- E — we just need to pause for a moment to reflect on this divine scone…thank you
- F — a fabulous list of loose-leaf tea (hint: mix the organic green tea with peppermint tea for a refreshing mid-afternoon boost)
- G — the brownie of brownies, with candied orange baked right into it and served with a dollop of raspberry sherbet
- H — spicy hot chocolate that was the perfect mix of dark cacao and spicy cayenne pepper
- I — this water buffalo burger with crumbled blue cheese was cooked to perfection and melt-in-your-mouth amazing
- J — a tomato and heirloom spinach salad that had a local goat cheese on it, which I also loved so much I bought at the onsite bakery
One important note about dining at Ste. Anne’s: BRING YOUR OWN WINE! There are wine glasses and corkscrews in the room and the servers are only too pleased to pop a cork or two for you during dinner — with no corkage fees. There’s no alcohol on the menu and there isn’t really anything available nearby, so come prepared.
After eating way too much and laughing far too loudly, we dipped into the hot tub and grotto — both outside — to take in the fresh night air.
Then we chattered the night away in our private cottage, Haldimand East. Only half a kilometre from the main grounds, you feel removed in a good way. And you can either drive yourselves to and from the spa or call a driver who’ll be there to take you in any direction in less than five minutes.
This cottage, divided into east and west wings, is a loft-style two floors and features a kitchenette, living room with couch and daybed, full bathroom with soaker tub and a king-sized bed. More than enough space for two people!
After a hearty breakfast, we made our way to two more spa treatments each. My milk and sesame stone wrap brought with it my first hot stone massage, though I’d probably call it more of a rub-down because it was quite light on touch. The stones are lava rocks that have been smoothed over time by water, and they retain heat really well.
If you’re even a little ticklish like me, you might find a hot stone massage not firm enough to keep the giggles away. But the milk and sesame scrub? Gahhhh… so, so good. It left my skin really hydrated and ultra-soft.
I also had an earth stone facial, which was the most beautiful treatment of all. The hot stones really agreed with my face and I was transported into the most relaxed state I’d been in since the yoga nidra class. Ste. Anne’s doesn’t do extractions, so if you’re booking a facial expecting that, it’s not happening. However, I did find that the combination of technique and product (now Ste. Anne’s own line) did a fantastic job of sloughing away dead skin and gave me a really lovely glow.
Before we left, there was only one thing left to do — take pictures of flowers! They’re everywhere:
Whether you want to get away from it all (including your spouse), celebrate with the girls or take your beloved on a romantic weekend to propose, Ste. Anne’s Spa is the perfect backdrop.
After our two-day stay, we were totally rejuvenated and both felt like we’d been gone for a week. And literally the only “gaffe” I could find throughout the entire experience were the lockers. They don’t all work, so it took me four tries to lock up my belongings on day one. But that’s it. That’s the only negative I can muster. It was THAT close to perfection.
And I can’t wait to do it again…