Last weekend, Donny and I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, ON. We were celebrating his 35th Birthday, an early Valentine’s getaway and we simply needed a few hours to ourselves. We were only away from home for a grand total of 30 hours and I have to tell you, it was just what we needed.
I’ve been to a spa before. Many times. But I’ve never gone away to a spa. And now I can tell the difference. Of course, day spas provide a wonderful chance to pamper yourself and have a treatment close to home. They’re usually affordable, quick escapes that you can squeeze in on the way home from work or on the weekend.
Our Ste. Anne’s experience actually started before we stepped foot through the doors. We were encouraged to book our services in advance and given a very detailed itinerary of our stay, prior to arrival. If you know me, I LOVVVVVVE this. An organized, relaxing getaway. I highly recommend you do the same. Ste. Anne’s books up very quickly, especially on the weekends. That said, their spa menu is extensive and I’m sure you will find a treatment or two that is just right. (Note: You don’t have to stay overnight at Ste. Anne’s; there are day services available, too. The spa is about 1.5 hours east of Toronto.)
Robes: Following a mini tour upon arrival Sunday, we were each given a white robe – our spa uniform, if you will. We were told off the bat that we could stay in our robes as little or as much as we wanted. Even have dinner in our robes. Raised eyebrows. Have dinner in our robes?! If we wanted, we could, we were told.
Accommodations: When booking your stay, you have the choice and option to stay in the Main Inn or Country Cottages. Some of the cottages do require a short drive to the main facility. Donny and I stayed in the Blue Room in the Main Inn which was simply adorable. Cornflower blue wallpaper, bedspread and adornments. A beautiful old fireplace and two arm chairs. It was a perfect, quaint little room. You should know it doesn’t have a TV. You’ll survive – it’s only a night. You can use the spa facilities well into the evening, and hey, maybe just sit and talk? Ste. Anne’s is also going through an extensive reno with new rooms being built as we speak. You won’t be bothered by construction noise, but look for new accommodation options soon.
And after you’ve checked in, there’s nothing to do but relax. The Eucalyptus Steam Room was hot, refreshing and peaceful. We embraced the Quiet Room and spent over an hour in complete silence (!), the only sound coming from our massage chairs. We melted in the outdoor hot tub while snowflakes fell on our heads. Out of a magazine.
So, where do you sign up? I haven’t even gotten to the services yet.
Services: Donny and I each signed up for a facial and a body treatment during our stay; I opted for Shiatsu and he, a Thai Massage. Both Body Treatments are quite vigorous and stimulating. Shiatsu targets pressure points in your body that hold stress and tightness while Thai Massage combines elements of shiatsu, yoga and traditional massage. Our treatments were conducted separately and were each an hour long. If you are someone who appreciates a heavy duty massage, give Shiatsu a try. Admittedly, Donny was exhausted after his massage – it’s a full body experience. Our facial treatments are also worth noting – I had the most divine Firming Mud Facial and Donny, the Men’s Express Facial. Both are tailored and customized and you leave with a detailed list of all the products used on your face.
For more tips or advice on the treatments and for a full list of services, you can check the Ste. Anne’s website.
Dining: And I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the food. In fact, Ste. Anne’s is known for their dining – they offer full, hot breakfast, lunch, dinner and Afternoon Tea daily. All meals are made on the premises, bread is baked fresh at The Bakery and all the beef used in the dishes comes from Ste. Anne’s own farm. Can’t get much more local than that.
In the Ste. Anne’s Dining Room, you can put the spa dining stigma to rest. You’re not getting stale cucumber sandwiches here. Afternoon Tea serves up a three-tier assortment of sweet, savoury and bite-size delights along with 10 or more loose leaf tea options (available at every meal). Dinner options are heartier, with red meat, poultry, fish and pasta selections every day. Breakfast offers lighter fares or protein packed options, and lunch calls for everything from soup, salad, sandwiches and stews. There are gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options listed right on each menu as well. The details, the details.
One thing to note: Ste. Anne’s does not have a liquor licence, but you’re welcome to bring your own. The server will gladly open your bottle and then you do the rest. We brought the remainder up to our room and had a few sips by the fire.
And if you’re a bit wary of the whole dining in your robe thing? Well, we did it. At least for tea and dinner. A bit odd feeling at first, sure, but like the experience of Ste. Anne’s, it’s a reminder to embrace and let it all out there.
Speaking of embracing, there’s an unspoken (although on the website) rule about Spa Hair and No Make Up. No need to worry about either when you’re at the spa. And why would you? After your cleansing facial, the last thing you want to do is put on make up. Yuck. And Spa Hair, don’t care. Good mantra, if I do say so myself.
Lastly, Ste. Anne’s is big on wellness. Between yoga, pilates or stretching classes, you can also visit the gym, swim (lap or plunge pools year-round and full pool in the summer), hike, walk, snowshoe or visit the horses. Our winter getaway was complete with a relaxing stretch class and a walk through the snow covered fields. It was as though we were in another world.
And that was it. 30 hours. But the perfect chance to disconnect, reconnect and revitalize. Now that we’ve been, we’ll tell everyone about our experience, and we’ll visit again. And again. It’s a great spot for sisters, girlfriends, friends, spouses. Best of all, it’s a place where you get taken care of, you get the chance to unwind and relax, and the opportunity to enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet in the beautiful, picturesque countryside.
Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, a Birthday or just any ol’ day to celebrate you, take the time and visit Ste. Anne’s.
You deserve it.