Spring is finally here, but like so many others, you need a boost to get you back to your glowing self after months of snow and grey skies. We say you’re do for a much-needed weekend getaway!
Ste. Anne’s Spa is a Canadian landmark, with a history dating back to 1830. The main building was erected with large, square stones to resemble English cottages. It was initially built as a Georgian-style house; then transformed with additions to accommodate a family, live-in staff, and visitors. Its grandiose and lavish look earned itself the well-suited nickname “the Grafton Castle.” The Tuscan-like landscape and European architecture will make you forget that you’re so close to the sky-scraper-filled city of Toronto.
The name Ste. Anne refers to a Canadian patron saint. When purchased by the current owners, the Corcoran family, they believed its name, along with the pinkish quartz in the structure, gave the castle a healing essence. It was almost inevitable that over the years, Ste. Anne’s would become a spa retreat for locals and internationals alike who need a sanctuary to recover and reboot.
Although the castle-like architecture can give off a pretentious impression, its antique and homey décor and caring staff will immediately have you feeling like you’re a
welcomed friend and not just simply a guest. Imagine Downton Abbey in robes and without the 19th century’s strict etiquette.
“It goes back to the owner’s philosophy that this is his home, and he’s welcoming you in,” says Wanda Hoehn, director of sales and marketing of Ste. Anne’s. “He doesn’t want it to feel sterile and cold with lots of chrome.”
Ste. Anne’s has a warm and rustic ambiance with wooden furnishings and detailed fabrics; each room is uniquely named and decorated, including original antiques picked by the owner’s mother. You have the option to stay in the main inn, the castle wing, or the two-story cottages that are walking distance to the main building and facilities, including hot tubs, eucalyptus steam room, pools, gardens, and walking trails. In the coming months, expect new treatment rooms, dining space, kitchen, and a hydrotherapy facility expansion similar to a Nordic spa.
Although Ste. Anne’s can fit 110 overnight guests, plus daytime visitors, Hoehn says they try and keep the numbers down, limiting the amount of people they host on a daily basis to ensure their guests enjoy a pristine and serene environment. Booking one to two months in advanced is best, especially if you’ve got your eye on a specific room or have already gotten attached to one over time.
This adults-only (pets are allowed in some areas and cottages) spa is set up like an all-inclusive so you don’t have to carry your wallet during your stay. Each day or overnight package includes meals, and an allowance of $120 to be used for spa treatments or wellness classes.
Although yoga is the most sought-after class, consider experiencing something new, like meditation, snowshoeing, or helping the staff care for the stable horses during a morning muck. Soon enough, Ste. Anne’s will have culinary classes for food enthusiasts and kitchen first timers as well.
If you’re more the cucumber-on-the-eyes type and are looking for nothing more than a tranquil mind and body experience, Ste. Anne’s has a variety of massages, facials, heat and hydrotherapy treatments, and seasonal sessions like the Maple Showers that includes a vitamin-and-mineral-rich maple scrub.
“All the treatments here are more holistic in nature, so they’re not meant to provide cosmetic changes,” says Hoehn. “It’s really about relaxation and healing; no cosmetics like hairdressing or waxing.” With help from their herb and produce garden, Ste. Anne’s created their own natural skin care line, Skin Nourishment, that is 100 per cent botanical-ingredient based.
Making their own products seems to be a trend for Ste. Anne’s. When they weren’t
satisfied with commercial gluten-free products, they decided to take it upon themselves to make space for an in-house bakery that is open to the public. Aside from their baked goods and skin care line, their dining menu is also made up of produce from their gardens, as well as fish and meats from local suppliers. “We want what we serve to be as fresh as possible; to be very farm-to-table,” says Hoehn. “We even have our own bees on site for honey.”
When it comes to relaxing getaways, it’s worth looking closer to home every now and again, rather than heading straight to a beach. No matter your reasons for splurging on your physical and mental wellbeing, there’s a sense of patriotism when surrounding yourself with Canada’s rich history and lovely landscape at Ste. Anne’s Spa.
By Stephanie La Leggia