Nourish your mind, body and spirit with a holistic escape to Ste. Anne’s Spa.
Peaceful and scenic, healthy and rejuvenating: All of these words define an experience at Ste. Anne’s Spa. Located in Grafton, Ontario, about an hour and a half north of Toronto, this privately owned spa and wellness resort provides luxury for the senses, nourishment for the body and therapeutic relaxation for the soul. From the finely crafted gluten-free cuisine and historic accommodations to the knowledgeable and welcoming staff and oh-so-perfect spa treatments, an overnight getaway to Ste. Anne’s is the answer when you’re at the brink of your stress or simply need to kick your anti-aging self-care into gear.
Serene and Rich in History
Privately owned by Jim Corcoran, Ste. Anne’s Spa initially began as a bed and breakfast by his father in the 80s—although the house dates back to 1860. “The family that owned the house before us, the Blaffers, owned it from the 1940s to the 1970s,” explains Marijo Cuerrier, creative lead at Ste. Anne’s and Jim’s sister, who lived in the home between the ages of 14 and 17. “Then the house was abandoned for 15 years. When my father found it in 1981, it was boarded up and vandalized. He purchased and renovated it for about two years and we lived here while this was happening. It operated as a bed and breakfast until 1985; then Jim asked my dad if he could take over to make it more successful.”
This eventually grew into offering massages to clients, and when the owners noticed how much more relaxed guests were, they began offering spa packages, expanding the facilities and serving lunch and dinner. The accommodations are mostly in the main inn, which still maintains elements from the original farmhouse, such as the original pine flooring and deep floor moulding, giving the spa an authentic appeal. Each room has a complete bath and real wood fireplace, providing guests with extra warmth and comfort. For larger groups or guests who want a more intimate getaway, spa cottages that are within walking distance of the main house are also available.
Enjoying the Spa
With 23 treatment rooms and the capacity to do up to 20 to 30 treatments at the same time in the summer, Ste. Anne’s is larger than most spas. During the summer, treatments are done outdoors under gazebos and can be done year round in guests’ rooms and cottages. With more than 35 treatments to choose from, guests are given a wide range of classic treatments that incorporate either the Ste. Anne’s Skin Nourishment or Aveda products.
Whether it’s a facial, body wrap or lymphatic drainage treatment, nothing will disappoint you. I selected the Detoxify Spa Bundle, as well as the Express Facial, and felt completely spoiled. Since I was stressed and exhausted, the detox treatments (which included Extremity Reflexology, Eucalyptus Body Wrap and Integrated Lymphatic Drainage session) helped me to release toxins, shut my mind off and rejuvenate. Before each treatment, a practitioner explained what I would experience and made sure to check if I had any allergies or medical conditions that needed to be considered. Finally, most of the treatment rooms had heated beds—with the excellent calibre of treatments, combined with the relaxing atmosphere of the rooms—I actually fell asleep during two treatments. Individual treatments range from $65 to $230. One can either enjoy the spa treatments and facilities in a day-spa package that includes lunch, tea, a $100 spa allowance and a wellness class or stay overnight at the inn, starting at $530.
In Between Treatments
When you aren’t indulging in a treatment, there’s plenty to do. Three lounges throughout the farmhouse, stocked with reading materials, couches, comfy blankets, unlimited coffee and tea and light organic snacks—including the infamous homemade granola—provide a space for you to unwind. You can also experience healing hydrotherapy, whether it’s in the hot tub or cold plunge pool, the outdoor pool in the summer or the sensuously aromatic Eucalyptus Steam Room—a signature feature of Ste. Anne’s Spa.
Since Ste. Anne’s emphasizes a complete holistic experience for the mind, body and spirit, they also offer wellness classes. Each class has a maximum of 12 people, lasts between 30 minutes and one hour and costs $10 per class. Activities include yoga, meditation, a walk in the Northumberland Hills, snowshoeing in the winter and, for the more rustic at heart, classes at Ste. Anne’s Farm (which include grooming horses or helping the stable maker with morning chores). When I asked Cuerrier about how wellness was introduced to the Ste. Anne’s tradition, she explained: “It became a natural thing to get out, enjoy and experience the fresh air, the space, the pure spring water and all of the things that come with the property. When you step beyond the walls of Ste. Anne’s, its dead quiet.” This serene silence helped rebalance me.
Indulge Without the Guilt
In addition to the soothing smell of eucalyptus and real wood fireplaces, Ste. Anne’s Spa is well known for its farm fresh and aromatic cuisine. “We have massive gardens in the summer, so most of the fruits and veggies come from there,” explains Cuerrier. “All the meats and cheeses come from the area and our gluten-free concept infiltrates the entire place.” The demand for gluten-free became so big that it led to the creation of a separate bakery guests can visit for take-home goodies. The baked goods range from delicious gluten-free breads to countless desserts. My personal favourite was the apple tarte Tatin. No dessert is too sweet, and the portions for all meals are generous enough that you can indulge without feeling bloated afterwards. All packages include lunch and tea, as well as dinner if you’re staying overnight.
Choose from the two bundles, experienced by our editor and her mother on their spa escape, or explore the other eight packages available to you at steannes.com. These bundles are grouped together based on a specific set of needs and are offered at a discounted rate. So, if you are pregnant, celebrating an occasion or looking for a romantic retreat, there’s a package already designed for you!
Detoxify Spa Bundle, $252
Designed for a person who is feeling fatigued, these treatments remove body impurities and help bring clarity to the mind. I chose this package as I was exhausted after the holidays, long work hours and a big move. Services include the Eucalyptus Body Wrap, Extremity Reflexology and Integrated Lymphatic Drainage.
Anti-Aging Spa Bundle, $356
For women who want to age gracefully and pamper themselves from head to toe, this package includes a Green Science Facial, Hand Therapy Treatment and Caribbean Therapy.
Ste. Anne’s Skinnourishment
Ste. Anne’s has extended its healing experience beyond visits to the inn through its synthetic-free and botanical skin-care line. Developed with the expertise of a Canadian herbalist and the staff at Ste. Anne’s, most ingredients used in the formulas are grown locally on the property in the traditional organic fashion. 90 per cent of the spa treatments integrate the Skin Nourishment line, so you can begin your experience with the skin care on site and then take your favourites home with you. The herbal notes used in the skin-care line echo the unique olfactory experience that defines the spa, which is most commonly recalled by guests through the Eucalyptus Steam Room. Each product houses at least 20 botanicals and essential oils, helping guests relax with just a brief sniff. Purchase products at the spa boutique at Ste. Anne’s or online at skinnourishment.ca.