Updated April 2021
A Canadian winter can be long, cold, and exhausting, especially around the holidays. While I know it’s part of our Canadian identity to withstand the cold, sometimes a relaxing getaway to a place of comfort can really refresh the spirit. When sourcing out amazing weekend getaways in Ontario, I knew luxurious Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton Ontario was the place for me. Ste. Anne’s is a destination spa located just an hour’s drive from Toronto and provides a taste of luxury served with a side of comfort and a sprinkling of relaxation to its guests.
Surrounded by the rolling hills of the countryside, Ste. Anne’s Spa makes its home on the footprint of an historical farm house. With a history dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, the property of Ste. Anne’s has transformed, maintaining the cottage and country atmosphere, from a family farm house to the gorgeous spa complex it is today.
Ste. Anne’s Spa: One of the Best Weekend Getaways in Ontario
We arrived at Ste. Anne’s Spa at 9:00 am and were greeted with a welcoming atmosphere, reusable bags filled with cozy bathrobes and given a quick tour of the facilities. After enjoying a walk around the impressive grounds, with sweeping views of Lake Ontario, we headed to our respective change rooms to prepare for our getaway day. Otherwise known as…bathrobes and slippers. I brought my dad on this Christmas getaway in Ontario, because dads just don’t get enough pampering. Beautiful destination spas like this are a great reason to travel to Canada, and travelling to St. Annes in Canada for health and wellness is a great option.
Each change room had lockers to store your belongings, rain showers, their own hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas as well as a copious amount of towels. Everything you could want, was available here…the women’s even had a row of mirrors and tables for hair and make up.
Our itinerary started out with one of Ste. Anne’s Spa’s wellness classes. We chose yoga. We made our way to one of Ste. Anne’s cozy lounges where we waited for our yoga teacher to greet us. These lounge areas are full of pillowy sofas, tea, coffee and blankets with a crackling fire to keep the robe warriors warm. It is safe to say that I reached a level of ‘namaste’ well before the yoga class even began!
The Yoga Class
Our instructor collected us and walked us into the yoga studio which was preset for our enjoyment. Calming music played in the background while we hung up our robes and found a space on the floor. The teacher was fabulous. She delivered us a befitting yoga class which was largely focused on hip stretching. Keeping away from the efforts of balancing postures, this wellness yoga classed accessed the idea of stretching as part of one’s relaxation process.
Once our yoga class concluded, we headed into one of the beautifully appointed lounges. Dad grabbed a coffee and I grabbed a tea. Off to one of those deep comfy couches where we sat in front of a window that looked out onto the lake while we waited for our lunch reservation.
The Lunch Experience
We checked into the restaurant for lunch at 12:00 noon, still in our robes. I loved the fact that for the entire getaway, we would wear white plush robes. The size of the restaurant was shocking, so much larger than expected. Unsurprising, most tables were full of smiling, satisfied guests. This is representative of the tone of the Ste. Anne’s Spa experience. While everything around you is luxury, the tone is comfortable and home-like, smiles and laughter are not frowned upon here. This is one of the reasons Ste. Anne’s Spa remains one of the best weekend getaways in Ontario.
We were seated at our table and greeted by our amiable waitress. She explained the menu to us; the day spa inclusive package came with a three course lunch repast, an appetizer, entree, dessert and of course, tea.
I ordered the ‘Mediterranean Platter’ for my appetizer which included olives, hummus, lentils, red pepper dip and tzatziki sauce served with Lavash. Each of the dips were savoury and delicious, so much so that I had to get extra Lavash to enjoy it just a little more. Dad ordered the ‘beef tataki salad’ which was seared rare beef on top of smashed cucumber, pickled ginger, sprouts, radishes and a green pea medley. Both appetizers came out artistically plated with fresh ingredients and a creative flare. Our palates were impressed and we were wearing bath robes. Could this weekend trip in Ontario get any better?
Apparently it could because our filling entrees came out next. I ordered the ‘shaved beef on ciabatta’ as my entree. This gigantic sandwich came with caramelized onions, tiny pickle relish and smoked Gouda served with warm jus and a caesar salad. The meal was large and filling, delicious and a little messy…but a full stomach is part of the enjoyable experience of dining at St. Anne’s. The beef was well cooked and the au jus dip was savoury which went perfectly with the strong pickled relish flavour of the sandwich.
Dad ordered the ‘pan seared trout’ which was trout with a mint sour apple tzatziki served on a quinoa and kale salad. His meal was perfectly proportioned, with unique flavours mixed together to create an overall pleasant experience. Undeniably fine dining, this offering provided a nutritious, healthy yet exceedingly tasty meal.
It should be noted that many of the items on the Ste. Anne’s Menu are vegetarian and/or gluten free, as is their bakery. Dietary attention is another reason this is one of the best spa resorts ontario has to offer.
Would you believe that after all that food there is still dessert?! The dessert menu was incredible. I ordered the butter tart with a side of coconut icing. The butter tart had the perfect consistency of gooey goodness on the inside of a flaky pastry. It was sweet with an undertone of Canadian maple and paired perfectly with my coconut ice cream.
Dad ordered the ‘creme brûlée’. This dessert did not disappoint. The rich custard filling beneath the perfectly hardened caramelized sugar was delectable. It matched well with the misty cloud white pear tea that accompanied his dessert and certainly satisfied his sweet tooth.
With our stomachs full from the delicious three course lunch, we waddled out of the restaurant satisfied and ready to enjoy the spa facilities. The three course lunch alone makes one this location one of the tastiest and greatest spa packages Toronto area has.
The Facilities at Ste. Anne’s Spa
After lunch we changed into our bathing suits and headed outside to enjoy one of Ste. Anne’s Spa’s most instagrammable locales…the Grotto. The grotto as seen on instagram is often a motive for attendees when considering winter getaways in Ontario.
The Grotto consists of 3 pools, all surrounded by stones (hence the grotto title), of differing temperatures. The coldest pool sits at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the next is 85 degrees and the warmest is at 104 degrees.
The Grotto is the location to try out contrast therapy. Contrast therapy happens when you sit in a warm pool or sauna causing the heat to bring the blood and its nutrients to the surface. This is what soothes pain and eases sore muscles. Then when you shock your body in a cold plunge, the blood vessels constrict in an effort to move the warm nutrient and oxygen filled blood into the body’s core and back to the deeper tissues.
We enjoyed our experience cold plunging as it not only boosted our immune systems, but provided laughter and fun to everyone around. Minor freak outs from the cold are undeniable, and we definitely dedicated more time to the hot tub than the cold tub. However, a boosted immune system is a great bi-product during Canadian cold season and another reason one might choose Ste. Annes Spa for their winter vacations in Ontario.
The Eucalyptus Shower/Steam Room
Located just next to the Grotto is a large eucalyptus steam room. After a few plunges in the cold pool, we headed inside and took a seat in the steamy, circular room. Eucalyptus is powerful in treating respiratory issues and so heading into the steam room not only smells great, but clears your airways effectively. One of the benefits of eucalyptus is that it is also antibacterial and so the room remains clean and deodorized as a bi-product of the essential oil. We spent some time breathing in the Eucalyptus steam until we decided to shower, clean off the sweat and step into the quiet room.
The Quiet Room
This was the highlight of Dad’s trip, a room that I was not allowed to speak in. Now I know what he looks for in his winter getaways in Ontario…silence. A room where silence is mandatory, and massage chairs line the windows. Throughout the day, whenever one needs a moment of meditation and relaxation, one can grab a chair in this room, turn on the heat and the massage function, cover oneself in a blanket and just lay back. Take the time to simply look out the window and watch the world go by. Tea and water are available here, as are puzzles to work on, and couches to rest upon. While historically I am not the greatest at staying quiet, the vibe of this room had me at rest.
The Treatments at Ste. Anne’s Spa
The Aroma Stone Massage
As you may know, I have Raynaud’s Disease and so of course anything that is going to bring a little extra warmth into my life is ideal. I chose the aroma stone massage for this reason. While Ste. Anne’s offers many different treatments from facials to athletic massages, my goal for this Christmas getaway in Ontario was to come back feeling relaxed and rejuvenated for the holidays. My masseuse, Shannon, was fabulous. When I arrived in the treatment room she allowed me to smell a few essential oils blindly and pick my favourite. I ended up mixing lavender and vanilla.
Once I was situated on my massage table, my super relaxing 75 minute hot stone experience began. Not only was everything smelling fabulous but I slowly drifted away in a state of utter relaxation as the hot stones warmed me to the soul. She massaged the back of my legs, my back and shoulders, my arms, the front of my legs, my face, my neck and even my scalp. For 75 minutes I could not have been more relaxed. As soon as I left the room I was on the Ste. Anne’s Site checking to see what other amazing treatments were available at this winter resort in Ontario.
Meanwhile Dad was enjoying a CBD oil massage (this is a winter resort in Ontario Canada afterall)
The Canna-Massage from Dads Perspective (CBD oils)
This was an all around pleasant and relaxing experience. My masseuse, Kaitlin, picked me up in the lounge area and guided me to our room. Once lying face down on the massage table the oh so relaxing massage began. So relaxing that when she started working on my upper body I drifted into a rejuvenating nap. After I rotated over to my back we engaged in a informative discussion on a variety of things including the new use of CBD as a massage oil. To be fair the aroma was pleasant as was the massage….I recommend that one tries it. Overall the hour long treatment was well worth the “lack of effort” as I was destressed and feeling a bit peckish when finished. Good thing afternoon tea was next on our agenda.
Upon the conclusion of our treatments, we headed back to the restaurant where we enjoyed afternoon tea as part of our day package at Ste. Anne’s Spa. I love afternoon tea and this selection was one of the best I have ever experienced.
We were each given a pot of tea (three cups) of our choice from Ste. Anne’s menu of specially made tea mixes. Along with our tea came a three tiered tray of savoury snacks, fruit and cheeses, and delectable sweets. The portions of the snacks were beyond generous, and when put together with lunch, filled me for the day and night. The savoury snacks were tasty, and the cheese and crostini were so amazing we even had them bring us a few extra. I was also treated to an extra macaroon upon mentioning how much I personally enjoyed them. With a seat by the window and a view of the grounds, robes still on, and relaxed from our treatments, tea at Ste. Anne’s Spa rendered the ideal experience. The food at Ste. Anne’s Spa is grounds for it being one of the best weekend getaways in Ontario.
#DadsWhoSpa-The Spa from Dad’s perspective
Predominantly populated by women, men should not be intimidated by the “spa experience”.
Both men and women suffer similar stresses of the body and mind yet only women seem to embrace the relaxation of a spa. Wellness is a focus of our time and there is no better method to jump start that personal journey than a day or two at a quality spa like Ste. Anne’s in Grafton Ontario. Not only are the treatments benefiting but the environment that is “spa” gently encourages you recognize the need for personal time and relaxation. Move away from the trials and tribulations of day to day living and pamper yourself, recharge those batteries and refocus your energies. The disproportionate spa population of women to men should not be. Men, regardless of age, should take advantage of the benefits that spa life can provide without embarrassment. There is no stigma attached to men going to spas so I encourage men to take advantage of this experience. Those that look askance at men who attend spas obviously have never been to one.
The Overall Experience
When considering something unique to do for a Christmas getaway in Ontario, a visit to Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton Ontario should be on the list. Whether you have time to visit for just one day, or choose to enjoy an overnight experience in one of their many cottages or rooms, you wont be disappointed in your experience. The Spa itself screams all things luxury. From the decor to the facilities, everything at Ste. Anne’s Spa is well taken care of and maintained to a high standard.
The staff at Ste. Anne’s are pleasant, and this means an enhanced and more positive experience for guests. While the Spa is very luxurious, the tone and atmosphere of Ste. Anne’s is one that emphasizes comfort. It is a destination that makes you feel as if you are in a family cottage or country home. This comfort enhances the experience. There is no reason to feel self conscious in wandering about in your robe so you are able to really sink in to the experience and enjoy every minute.
Ste. Anne’s Spa is the perfect winter resort in Ontario. Once you enter the facility, you are able to genuinely immerse yourself in the spa experience. A trip to Ste. Anne’s is the perfect way to warm up to the winter and one of the most relaxing spa resorts in Ontario.