Full disclosure: This isn’t a place to take your kids. We get that. But holy moly, is it the perfect spot for a special anniversary, a birthday getaway or even a babymoon, which is why we’re putting it on your radar. Seriously, start looking at your calendar now—book the babysitters, get the days off, and map your drive to Grafton. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.
I’ll start by telling you what Ste. Anne’s Spa did not have. There were no kids. No household chores. No daily list of responsibilities. No meals to prepare. No phone calls, emails and social media. (You can obviously Insta if you want, and, okay, you might want to FaceTime the kiddos before bed, but I highly recommend unplugging as much as possible.) And wait, here’s more. There are no real clothes (hello, comfiest robe ever), and I didn’t even look at my makeup bag.
Indeed, this is the vision for Ste. Anne’s. Wanda Hoehn, director of sales and marketing, said, “We want our guests to feel like they have been welcomed into a family member’s home. We want them to feel cared for and relaxed, like their outside stresses are nowhere in sight. We achieve this, I think, mostly through our incredible team. They’re nurturing and genuinely care about each and every guest, and about helping them to have the best experience possible. We are a laid-back, unpretentious country spa where you can go to let your hair down and just ‘be’ for a while. The breathtaking views, gorgeous English-style gardens, soothing spa treatments and delicious country cuisine certainly contribute to the recipe for relaxation here, too!”
Ste. Anne’s Spa is about 97 km east of Toronto. Drive or take the train to Cobourg, where a shuttle will pick you up.
I suggest arriving early on check-in day, even though you won’t get your room until 4 p.m. Take the extra time to enjoy the surroundings. The spa sits on 400 acres nestled in the Northhumberland Hills, so come with a couple of hours to spare in order soak up the area (consider it a relaxation head start).
When you arrive, you will drive into an old stone estate (yep, you can absolutely learn about the building’s history and sip herbal tea, a la Downtown Abbey). Check in at the front desk and enjoy a quick escorted tour of the spa.
It’s a lovely feeling to get to your room, take off your own clothes, remove your makeup, make a pot of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine. Oh, and I already told you about the robe—it’s basically your uniform while you’re here, so get comfy. If you’re looking for some outdoor relaxation, you can also explore the Tranquility Garden.
Worth noting: Ste. Anne’s is an all-inclusive destination, so you don’t tip. However, if you are particularly pleased with a staff member, please let the front desk know. Everyone likes a pat on the back.
IT ALL BEGINS
You might enjoy the pool in the summer, but there’s so much more: you’ll also be able to enjoy the spa waters, taking a steam, reading a book, a swing in a hammock and even visiting the local stables. (They have equine programs if you are interested in horses.) Take a wellness class like yoga or meditation, work out at the fitness club, explore or take a guided walk one of the paths, stroll down the street to the local bakery, visit the lovely boutique in the main inn, or just hibernate in your room.
For the true spa experience, they have every type of spa experience, from spa bundles to seasonal treatments like the Mocha Fusion Spa Treatment. I had a 60-minute Swedish massage and a reflexology treatment. I was so relaxed, I nodded off twice during both treatments. Apparently snoring is encouraged!
Do yourself a favour and book your spa services well in advance of your stay to avoid disappointment. You will be provided with a schedule for dining and your treatments when you arrive.
Pictured: Quiet Room with multiple massage chairs to enjoy
Pictured: Yoga class
Pictured: Outdoor Pool – background is Ste. Anne’s Spa
Your reason for being at the spa will determine what type of room is best for you.
I usually enjoy the Main Inn because I never have to venture outside. I stayed at the Maison Sante Nook, which is lovely. It’s a short 15-minute walk north of the main inn. It has a separate living room, outdoor deck and yard. It is also connected to the fitness facility (which we didn’t use because we were drinking wine on the deck.)
Pictured: Casa Del Sol Spa Cottage
Pictured: Rosewalk Annex Spa Cottage
Pictured: The Doll’s House – 15 metres to the main building
WHAT’S NEW FOR RETURNING GUESTS:
In late summer 2018, Ste. Anne’s will be launching CBD oil spa treatments and five new treatment rooms. For next year, the plans are for an expanded hydrotherapy facility and eventually a cooking school. Their certified gluten-free bakery also just launched new vegan ice cream and popsicles.
LET’S TALK FOOD
The food is actually extraordinary. You will eat four full meals a day, so leave that punishing diet at home. If you want to enjoy your go-to wine, bring your own bottle because Ste. Anne’s isn’t licensed. There is no corkage fee.
I was glad to be wearing a loose robe because this was my few days to indulge. I enjoyed every morsel as I ate my way through my stay.
If you want to eat lean, you can, but my guess is that you won’t.
Chef Jim Corcoran, along with his two co-chefs, Melody Lake and Benjamin Lewis, has implemented a new approach to food: “Our philosophy is to balance guest satisfaction with a focus on seasonality and quality. We want to ensure a healthier approach to the foods we serve. Of course, we work with guests who have special dietary or medical concerns.”
“We showcase the local bounty from our own gardens and our neighbouring gardens, grass-fed beef raised on the property and our certified gluten-free bakery which has just launched new vegan ice creams and popsicles. Our chefs are each challenged to offer their own contribution to our daily and weekly food features.”
Choose where you prefer to sit. For instance, since my last visit, there is a new dining room with vaulted ceilings and a patio, so eating outside is an option.
Pictured: Outdoor Patio
Pictured: Menu items
THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE
You are surrounded by breathtaking views, including gorgeous gardens that seem miles away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s the world in slow motion.
You are attended by a caring, thoughtful staff as you take advantage of the soothing spa treatments and the delicious country cuisine which are a major part of the overall experience.
You’ll leave, probably reluctantly, to go back to your own world. But there is a difference. You are leaving behind the stress with which you may have arrived. You are calmer. More relaxed. And as a result, better equipped to the chaos of kids and life. But you might want to book your next visit sooner rather than later.
Visit Ste. Anne’s Spa