Just a short 90 minute drive east of Toronto, sits the quaintest little destination spa that you ever did see. Ste Anne’s Spa, situated on over 400 acres of pristine Ontario farmland, with lush rolling hills and views of Lake Ontario, was exactly what the doctor ordered; a quiet girls weekend in the countryside to rejuvenate our over-stimulated city brains, complete with indulgent eats, rest, relaxation, and naturally, some pampering.
Here’s a recap of our weekend getaway to Ste Anne’s Spa:
We arrived at around 2pm on a wet and foggy day, but we refused to let the weather spoil our mood. After finding a parking spot, we left our overnight bags in the car and walked into a magical little tree-lined pathway, complete with a Xmas-light covered archway opening to the main building – a restored 18th century farmhouse, with every bit of it’s character in tact. It actually looked like a scene you might imagine from Anne of Green Gables, with cobblestone pathways, country flower gardens, and medieval architecture flanked by wooden gazebos (hint: leave your heels at home).
After entering through the main doors, that quintessential spa smell instantly aroused our senses, and we were warmly greeted and given our robes (which we would pretty much live in for the next 24 hours). Then we were given the grand tour and the run down (including our personalized schedules). The main building houses the spa facilities, treatment rooms, locker rooms, a few waiting areas (decked out with big cozy couches reminiscent of grandma’s living room, jigsaw puzzles, and an endless supply of herbal tea), the spa boutique, the dining room, and a handful of guest suites upstairs. The remaining guests stay in ‘spa cottages’ which are spread out across the grounds (and a shuttle driver is available 24/7, so you can forget the car keys and just kick back). Outside there is an olympic size spring-water pool that stays open through the summer months (good incentive for us to return), and miles and miles of walking trails exploring the stunning landscape.
Unlike many spas, Ste Anne’s is all-inclusive, which makes relaxing that much easier. Your stay includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, 1 spa service (up to a certain value) and 1 wellness activity per day (ranging from yoga to nature walks, grooming the horses in the stables, or even a painting class). By the time we got settled in, it was tea time, so we made our way to the dining room, where we were seated and given their extensive tea menu, plus a platter for two, complete with fruit, locally sourced cheeses, mini sandwiches, wraps, sweets and baked treats. Then we headed back to our room to relax for a couple hours and unwind before dinner.
Our room was called the “Eagles Nest” and was located in a spa cottage about a kilometer away, which consisted of a cute country house, divided into 4 separate suites, each with it’s own en-suite bathroom, and a shared kitchen stocked with coffee, tea and fresh apples. The fact that our cottage was secluded and isolated from the main spa made it feel more like a chic Air BnB property than part of a resort. We entered our room to the sound of soothing classical music coming from the alarm clock radio, and faint aromas from an essential oil diffuser. The cottage even had it’s own private outdoor hot-tub. We decided it was time for our first toast, which brings me to an important bit of info; Ste Anne’s does not have a license to sell liquor, but you can bring your own. We brought our bottle of red wine to dinner, and our server was happy to top up our glasses. The menu was thorough, with something for everyone, from shamefully rich delicacies to lighter, greener fare. Just remember, it’s all-included (aka. all-you-can-eat), so for those of you who thought that ‘spas’ and ‘health food’ go hand in hand, this could become a cheat-day disaster (but totally worth it).
At breakfast we could see the incredible dining-room view (which was veiled in darkness at dinner). I ordered the eggs benny (my weakness), and we shared a carafe of freshly brewed java before heading over to yoga (our wellness activity). As seasoned yogis, the class didn’t quite fit the description of ‘intermediate’ (we barely broke a sweat), but it was still a peaceful and detoxifying hour of stretching and breathing in a calm and cozy setting. After yoga, we headed to the change rooms to prepare for our spa treatments, and check out the facilities. The treatment menu is extensive, so it was hard to decide, but Erin opted for a traditional Swedish massage, and I went for the Nourishing Seaweed Body Wrap. Although it was not at all what I expected, probably because I was picturing myself being wrapped up in giant pieces of kelp – like a cucumber roll – it was definitely an enriching and worthwhile experience, complete with intense full-body exfoliation (via dry-brushing), followed by a seaweed mask (made with algae, kelp and rosehip extracts), and finally my entire body was cocooned in hot blankets while I marinated in hydrating, antioxidant goodness.
After our treatments we met back in the locker room where we changed into bathing suits, and headed outside to the Fieldstone Grail with it’s various pools. It was a brisk day, but we took a quick dip in the cold plunge pool nevertheless, tested the waters in the gentle current pool, and then settled into the hot tub (our fave) for a nice long soak. Our only regret was that it could be bigger; there were four of us in there on a Monday, and it felt crowded when a fifth showed up – I can’t really imagine what it would be like on a busy Saturday. Next we went inside to the Eucalyptus steam room (#winning), an amazing way to sweat out toxins, open up pores, and clear your nasal passages. Then we headed back to the change room to get ready for lunch. Once again, we perused the tea list and settled on our final meal before heading home. I had the classic minestrone soup, and the curry chicken bowl with basmati rice (creamy and delish). We took our time and savoured every bite while reflecting on yet another successful ladies’ adventure for the books. And of course, we saved room for dessert (carrot cake), before heading back home feeling renewed and ready to return to our regular chaotic lives.