When I’m tired, exhausted or stressed, I automatically think about a getaway to a spa. (It’s also my first recommendation when a friend or family member tells me they’re stressed out!). I have learned over the years that sometimes we just need a little self-care, and that putting ourselves first with a treatment or two does the trick.
A weekend or overnight spa trip will have you singing a different, happier tune all the way home (or, if you’re like me, reflecting on all the good in my life). However, you may be wary of an overnight spa for a variety of reasons, like cost, time away from kids and family, or leaving work behind.
Let me share my own experience: I recently was a guest of Ste. Anne’s Spa in Cobourg, east of Toronto. Ste. Anne’s has 15 rooms in the Main Inn, plus 10 spa cottages suitable for one to three guests and five group spa cottages that will accomodate four to 12 guests. It is the largest overnight spa in Canada.
I wasn’t in the best mood when I arrived, at the end of a tough week. But I was greeted with such warmth and made to feel so welcome that the positive experience began from the moment I arrived.
Here’s the rundown on everything you need to know to plan your own stay:
- Cost: Two nights away can be a little expensive, but if you split the cost with a friend or two (or five as Ste. Anne’s has accommodations for large groups), it becomes more affordable. And being with good friends is all part of the fun and the shared de-stressing.
- Time: Book a night or two, or simply go for the day—it’s your choice. Maybe you’re concerned about being away from the office, but many of us go on business trips or work overtime so I figure if you give that time to your work, why can’t you give it to yourself? Increasingly husbands and wives are coming together to unwind, which illustrates a great shift in attitude about men in spas.
- What to expect: This is the easy, lovely part. When you arrive at Ste. Anne’s, they are expecting you. You complete a form and they hand you the most comfortable robe ever made (no joke) in your size (from small to 4X). They provide a short tour for first-timers, but otherwise you’re ready to be pampered. Your spa treatments will already have been booked online (there are 40 treatments from which to choose!). They will provide the confirmed schedule upon check-in.
Then you are introduced to your home for the days you’ve booked. You throw down your luggage and put on that glorious robe. Remove your makeup, toss your hair in a bun, make a cup of tea (they provide the most delicious teas as part of your package) and relax. Dinner will already be scheduled, and guess what? This is the best part: You’re already dressed. Yes, you dine in your robes. Best dinner ever. No heels, no makeup, no Spanx! And the food? Incredible.
And there’s no tipping, so leave your wallet in the room. Seriously, it’s you and a robe.
As for treatments, like any spa, you arrive a few minutes prior and relax with tea, cucumber water and their special granola. Your name is called and off you go.
For massage etiquette, you wear undies or not, no bra and you get comfortable in their heated beds. In Canada, there are very strict protocols for draping during massage so only the part of your body that is being worked on is exposed. The rest is covered with a warm sheet or blanket (or both!).
Do you talk during a massage? Up to you. A good technician will quickly get a sense of whether you love to chat or not. My preference is to say hello, let them know that my neck and lower back are a bit stiff, maybe chat about the pressure and which oil scent you prefer and then I close my eyes and relax.
I have never experienced a more trained, sensitive and delightful staff. And the staff have been there forever (many for more than 10 years which speaks volumes about the spa and its best in class corporate culture!). If you prefer a male or female technician, please ask. I prefer a larger room and a fan as I’m often warm and prefer my bed to be cool. Others don’t like scent. But it’s your massage, and they are there to please you! After your treatment, you can visit the outdoor pool or the plunge pools (hot and cold).
You may want to take a walk in their beautiful gardens on 500 acres, take a yoga or mediation class, visit their stables to pet and feed the horses, or browse their boutique. Or simply relax in your room, sip tea, take a shower using their own line of products (lotions, shampoo and conditioner in the rooms).
Ste. Anne’s is not licensed. Bring your own wine (no corkage fees) with you to your meal and they will provide wine glasses and an ice bucket (I wish every restaurant had this option!). And can I mention the food again? It’s outstanding. Delicious and creative. You will overeat. Thank god for the robes.
What else on the go? A outdoor hydrotherapy facility is launching mid-September with a cold plunge with waterfall, hot tubs and lounge recliners in a simulated river experience.
A new wellness and culinary centre at the main inn is also on the books. It will feature a large yoga and wellness studio, a small gym, and a kitchen for culinary classes.
Seriously, it’s worth it just for the robe, but there’s so much more to the experience. You won’t be disappointed.
Enter our giveaway!
We’re giving away a one-night, midweek Group Spa Cottage getaway for 5 people (go big or go home). It would include 4 meals (including a private chef meal), $120 in spa and wellness allowance, accommodation in a group spa cottage and full use of the facilities.
Find our contest rules here.