Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Day in the life of a St. Anne Spa Goer: Part 3

To end my memorable day at St. Anne’s, a Swedish massage seemed the most appropriate. It was also medically necessary as I was suffering from a stiff neck for the past couple of days. My massage therapist, Frank, had just the right touch to ease my aches and pains away. He used a technique called Sui Kodo (in shiatsu known as ‘way of wisdom’). This technique included muscle point releases and easing muscle stretches. This was one of the best therapeutic massages I’ve received from a spa in a long time. I left that treatment table a new woman. The memory of my stiff neck almost extinguished.

Sadly, I left Frank and headed down to the shower room to get ready to leave. St. Anne’s is a full service spa, so one only needs to bring a change of clothes. They have all the amenities, such as hair dryers, soap, lotions, etc. that you need (unlike some other high end spas that I’ve been disappointed at).

Only thing left to do now was to wait for my driver to take me back to the station. As I looked out at the entrance, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad at leaving – but I must say, I did have my thorough fill of St. Anne’s which should last me till the next visit.

Looking out, I saw the sun setting with its rays peeking through the branches of the trees onto the glistening snow. There really are not enough words to describe that state of sublime tranquility, peace and restfulness that I felt at that moment. I came to St. Anne’s a tense, busy mom, and was leaving a refreshed and invigorated new mom ready to embrace my little one and experience a whole new set of adventures as we were to enter the second half of her first year!

So, as I’ve said earlier, I highly recommend that everyone try St. Anne’s at least once in their life. The ambiance alone is worth the trip. You will not want to miss this exceptional oasis in Ontario.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Day in the Life of a St.Anne's Spa Goer: Part 2

The second half of my day started with a scrumptious 3 course meal for lunch. I was seated in their main dining room with a relaxing view of the estate. The beautiful snow covered hills with the lake Ontario waters hiding behind were my table mates. St. Anne’s is lucky to have Christopher Ennew C.C.C. head their kitchen staff team. Chef Christopher has been awarded the Individual Gold Medal in the ExoGast ’98 in Luxembourg and was a Regional World Champion with the Ontario Team.

To start off, I helped myself to the salad bar and enjoyed a lovely salad with cranberries and nuts which was dressed with a delicious champagne vinaigrette. Next was a delectable chef soup of the day – Creamy Spinach soup. I could not help but finish every last drop of the wonderful soup. My main course was a savoury steak and button mushroom rotini pasta. There were other delectable dishes on the menu which included vegetarian options.

Dessert included a choice of key lime pie, fruit salad or chocolate mouse cake. I am a chocoholic and had to go for the third option. It was so light and refreshing with a hint of sweetness from the mouse. To accompany my dessert I enjoyed a White Tea infused with vanilla and grapefruit. This soothing and tasty tea was supplied by Harney & Sons – Master Tea Blenders. They have an extensive selection of the finest tea leaves from various estates throughout Asia and India. You could pick up a box of your favourite tea in the St. Anne’s boutique on your way home to take a little bit of your spa day back with you.

As I said before, I am a new mom with a 5 month old at home. This was my first time away from my little one for so long. I am still nursing and was worried about where to pump at the spa, but the friendly staff at St. Anne’s were very accommodating. St. Anne’s has set aside a small room just for instances as nursing or other matters requiring some privacy. So, if you are a nursing mother do not be afraid to head on down to St. Anne’s for the day.

After lunch and my little nursing pit stop, I headed out for my fitness class. When I originally booked my day I requested a Ball Exercise class. On my orientation I was shown the fitness class. What I was not told though, was that classes can vary daily and you need to check the board near the class or with the staff for any changes to the schedule. I showed up at my 2:45 Active class and found no one there. When I went to the front desk I found out that it was changed to a Nature Walk. I was scared I missed out on the walk, but luckily the guide had not left yet because no one had shown up for the walk. This was the only mishap that occurred all day, and it still worked out in the end.

Arlene was my nature walk guide of the day. St. Anne’s did supply snow shoes if we wanted to walk in the hiking trails, but I was unprepared for a walk and did not have the proper outdoor gear. So, we opted for a walk around the grounds, which was still nice to have. Arlene, a yoga and meditation specialist took me out for a 30-60 minute walk which included an overview of the 550 plus acre lot. I was in awe over the immense area of the land. What amazed me even more was the growth potential. St. Anne’s currently occupies only a fraction of the land. They do have plans for expansion, such as a spa village and potential real estate fractional ownership opportunities. I thoroughly enjoyed my hike around the bountiful grounds and look forward to seeing the estate grow in the future.

After my hike, I wanted to take full advantage of the water therapies. I headed out to the outdoor grotto which includes a lap pool, hot tub and cold plunge pool. I met another new mother who convinced me to jump into the 65 F cold plunge pool. The frigid temperature followed by the 104 F hot tub not only give you a tingling feeling all over your body but is actually good for you. It is said to help with the circulation in your body. I prescribe contrast baths to patients to help with circulation problems like swelling, but have never done a full body contrast bath. It felt really invigorating and I would recommend it to others. After a few small laps in the 85 F lap pool, I was off to the eucalyptus steam room for total relaxation. I just love the aroma of eucalyptus. It is so soothing to the senses.

After my water therapies I was off to the dining area for Tea Time. This is not just a simple tea and crackers kind of tea time. St. Anne’s offers you nothing but the best in teas from Harney and Sons, from white tea to black tea to decaffeinated herbal teas, they had it all. I chose the ‘Wedding Tea’ which is a mutan white tea blended with pink rosebuds, vanilla, and lemon for ‘long lasting happiness’. It’s making your mouth water already, isn’t it? Instead of just crackers, St. Anne’s carries delicious cranberry scones with mixed fruit jam, cucumber sandwiches, a beautiful array of fruit, and delectable cookies and tarts.

After that scrumptious tea time, I couldn’t help but take a little snooze in the warm sun room where I waited for my last service. I saved the best for last – a Swedish massage. I didn’t really think I would fall asleep, but the soft sofas were so inviting and comforting and the warm sun beating down on me just nestled me right to sleep.

As I said earlier, I saved the best for last....You can read about my wonderful treatment and end thoughts to the unforgettable day at St. Anne’s in my next and final post of this series.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Day in the Life of a St.Anne's Spa Goer: Part 1

St. Anne’s Country Inn and Spa is rated one of the world’s top all inclusive resorts according to It is a destination spa that started out as a simple farm house from the 1850’s which was later taken over and restored by the Corcoran family in 1981. Since then many changes have taken place to the over 550 acre lot, including many new spa amenities such as Canada’s only full-immersion mud baths. The beautiful grounds also include an outdoor hydrotherapy grotto, exercise rooms, full day spa facilities and can house a 100 occupancy level (60 over-night and 40 day spa guests).

My wonderful adventure all started with one winning phone call. I was a lucky winner of St. Anne’s monthly Spa Lotto. They sent me an e-mail advertising the chance to win 1 of 25 spa lotto prizes. I won a free Caribbean Foot Rejuvenation session. To be included in the draw, you just need to get on their mailing lists.

To make the trip to Grafton, where St. Anne’s is located, I decided to add the Carpe Diem Day Spa to my package, which includes a lovely 3 course lunch, $100 spa allowance, choice of 1 fitness class and Afternoon tea and complete use of all facilities. The cost of this package goes for $185, though they often have many seasonal specials. This package is currently on sale for only $149, but you better hurry as there is limited availability to this deal.
I took advantage of this full day of relaxation over the Easter Sunday holiday. I hadn’t realized that it was a holiday weekend when I originally booked it, but it worked out ever better for me as the spa was not as crowded. St. Anne’s is open all year round. The only day they are closed is for Christmas Day.

The day started with a relaxing ride aboard the Via Rail train. St. Anne’s helped with the booking. For an extra $60 dollars, I upgraded to the Stress Express Day Spa Package which includes round trip transportation from Union Station. This was my first time on Via Rail and I quite enjoyed it. The lakeside views with the morning sum beaming off the Ontario waters set the tranquil mood of the day. Last time I visited St. Anne’s I drove, which defeats the relaxation you get when you have to stay alert and concentrate on the hour and a half drive home to Toronto. I recommend upgrading to the Stress Express package to any booking. With the price of gas these days, driving doesn’t really save you that much and it is definitely worth the splurge to take the train!

I was warmly welcomed by my friendly host, Gary, who promptly picked me up at the station in Cobourg to St. Anne’s. We drove through quaint downtown Cobourg with a population of around 18,000. The drive to the spa is only around 10 minutes or so. I thank Gary for the mini tour through the town. I learned quite a lot in the short drive and would love to come back to Cobourg in the summer with my family.

The drive into the estate of St. Anne’s includes winding rounds with lovely views of the many rolling hills that cover the over 570 acres land. The Main Inn looks like an old castle, with its beautiful granite stonework. After my initial check in I was given a brief orientation to the spa. There is a beautiful sun room where guests are asked to wait for their treatments. This beautiful room is surrounded with windows which let the natural sunlight in and includes several comfortable and homey couches where you can freely indulge in a cat nap. I know I did.

Next, I was shown the gift shop area where you can buy any of the Aveda products you enjoyed in your treatments or perhaps some beautiful clothing or swimsuits, if you’ve forgotten yours. The lovely outdoor hydrotherapy area, which includes a hot tub, cold plunge pool and warm lap pool was shown to me next. One cannot help but take in the aromatic scent of the Eucalyptus steam room as you pass through on your way past the fitness room where the classes are held. Then it was off to the dining room which overlooks the large estate.

After my tour I headed straight to the women’s change room to unload my stuff and get suited to hit the treadmill in the workout room which was recently moved to the main inn. St. Anne’s does offer a larger fitness centre with an indoor pool. This area is held about 1 km north of the site and St. Anne’s staff will porter you there if you wanted. I only had about 45 min till my first treatment, so I opted for the closer on site gym. There are 2 workout areas. One is in the basement area and consists of some free weights and bench. I chose the upstairs gym which is equipped with a treadmill, elliptical, stair climber and recumbent bike. My 20 minute run included a lookout of the main reception hall. I could not have picked a better day – sunny blue skies without a cloud in them.

After my run, I headed to the change room to freshen up before my Caribbean Foot Rejuvenation treatment. I was greeted by my friendly aesthetician, Mary. My experience started with a soothing foot soak with Aveda’s Caribbean Bath Soak, followed with a Caribbean Body Scrub to exfoliate my feet and calves. Then I was asked to lie down to have a hydrating mask applied to my feet and legs which were then wrapped in heated towels. While my feet were wrapped, I received a relaxing neck, shoulder and scalp massage. I was able to choose between 3 aromatic scents: Ylang Ylang, Rose or Vanilla. I chose Vanilla for its sweet smelling aroma.

I felt quite pampered and completely relaxed after this treatment. The scalp massage was so soothing and comforting. My aesthetician was professional and friendly. She did not short change me of the 30 minute treatment (since I have been in the past at previous establishments). My skin never felt so smooth. I wanted to know more about the products, so Mary accompanied me to the St. Anne’s boutique. The rich Caribbean Therapy Body Cream sold for $41, while the Body Scrub, which is infused with rich oils like avocado, was priced at $50. The Bath Soak could be taken home for only $38. I would recommend the Caribbean Foot Rejuvenation to anyone needing some TLC for their wearied feet. The cost of this treatment is normally $65 for a half hour session.

Jealous yet? Just wait till you read about the second half of my day in my next post. You won't want to miss it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Holistic World Expo Comes To Toronto

Want to know all you need to know about anti-aging, holistic services, health, how to de-stress, avoiding illness and everything you need to achieve optimal health? Then the Holistic World Expo is for you!

The Expo features international leaders, speakers, and hundreds of exhibitors ranging from organic health, Aromatherapy, anti-aging and lots more. New to the expo this year is the special "Spa Pavilion", as well as "Natural Organic Baby / Kids section" and the "Healthy Moms Section". I'm looking highly forward to checking out those featured exhibits.

The Expo will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre - North Building, Hall C. Show times are : Friday March 14th 5pm – 9pm Saturday March 15th 10am – 8pm Sunday March 16th 11am – 7pm . The best part is that the admission to the expo is only $10 per person per day (Admits one to Exhibits, & 3 speaker/demo stages, access to workshops in conference rooms and movies *does not include keynote workshop*) That's a deal!

So, I encourage everyone who is interested in improving your well being or who are just a little curious to learn more about holistic health to check out the Holistic World Expo! See you there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cool Winter Treats for the Winter Wearied

Winter getting you down? Sick of getting stuck in snowbanks and trudging through the snow and slush? Sounds like you deserve a winter treat.

Luckily for us all, this is the time of year when most spas are offering many deals to entice spa goers to seek refuge from the storm with them. Here are some of the deals you and your loved ones can take advantage of:

Elmwood Spa:

1. Bring along a male companion and you both could receive 20% of your spa services ( a la carte services only). This deal only applies to visits between Monday and Thursdays and will only last for the months of March and April.

2. Mom + Teen Retreat: You both can enjoy a 75 min lava shell massage, water therapies, teen facial for your teen and Beaute Neuve Facial for mom. This $535 package (valued at $570) also includes lunch for two in their beautiful Terrace restaurant.

Camden Spa:

This spa, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, was voted winner of the 2007 Canadian Spa Beautifully Best Spa Facial Award!

Camden Spa is offering a March Break Special for both your face and body. Your service starts off with a 30 minute exfoliation treatment followed with their award-winning 60 minute Camden Spa Facial. Both treatments for just $120.

Ste. Anne's Spa:

This beautiful destination spa, located in Grafton, Ontario, was rated one of the top 100 spas in the world and #1 in Canada. I have been here once before and ABSOLUTELY fell in love with it. I highly recommend this spa for those who need a short getaway from the city. Ste. Anne's is only about 1 -1.5 hour east of Toronto.

They have many winter specials, some day trips and some overnight deals. The one special I recommend is perfect for first timers to Ste. Anne's. It's a great way to be introduced to this amazing spa and the best bang for your buck. Their Pure Bliss Day Spa includes a gourmet lunch, afternoon tea, $100 spa allowance, 1 group wellness class (these can range from yoga, tai chi to therapy ball exercise classes), and complete use of their facilities. They have beautiful grounds which include miles of hiking paths, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an outdoor grotto and hot and cold plunge pools. One of my favorites is their euclyptus steam rooms.

This package normally costs $185, but their seasonal promotion only costs $165. Only hitch, is you have to go between Sunday to Thursday to take advantage.

Budget Tip: If you use your $100 spa allowance towards a massage with an RMT you can get a receipt for any EHB benefits claim for reimbursment.

I'll be heading out to Ste. Anne's next month and can't wait to share my experience with you.

So, don't let the winter blues get the best of you. Treat yourself to these winter deals to helpyou get through the rest of this cold Canadian winter. And remember, only 4 more weeks till the official start to Spring!!!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beat The Winter Blahs with a Caribbean Escape

I recently visited Civello Spa on Queen Street to get out of the cold and into a Caribbean dream. I spoiled myself to their signature Caribbean Therapy Body Treatment. It was such a sweet experience.

As with all services, I started my retreat with a cup of their delicious Aveda Tea. My treatment then began when I was asked to lie on their famous heated water pillows. It almost felt like I was drifting away on Caribbean waves. Then, I was given the choice of 3 scented oils which are typically found in the Caribbean. I had my choice of Tangerine, Vanilla and Jasmine. I found the Vanilla scent sweet and pleasing and chose to use it with my treatment.

My experience started with a full body exfoliation with scrub gloves, which I get to take with me to continue at home. Then a Caribbean mask was applied to my back and feet. The self heating mask is composed of various ingredients such as green and red algae, ginger, lime juice, sea salt and of course seaweed. This smoothing mask greatly detoxifies the body. I almost drifted off to sleep while waiting for the mask to settle. I felt like I was floating away on the Caribbean waters with the warm sun heating up my back. Heated towels gently wiped away the mask.

To hydrate and smooth the skin, Caribbean Therapy Body Creme was massaged into my arms, legs, feet, back and stomach. You can purchase a bottle to take home for $41. To end of the treatment, I enjoyed an extremely relaxing scalp and face massage with their Caribbean Therapy Flower Water. I have never experienced a scalp massage like this before. The flower water is applied all over the scalp (note: Give yourself some extra time to wait for your hair to dry after the treatment if heading outdoors in the cold to go home). Then, my therapist twisted and gently pulled strands of my hair. It is the most relaxing feeling to have this done and I highly recommend it to everyone.

I felt so relaxed, rejuvenated and nurtured after this treatment. The massage you receive is not a deep tissue massage so do not be expecting to have your sore muscles relieved. It is meant to relax instead of invigorate. The only complaint I had was with the duration of my treatment. The treatment is advertised at $120 for 75 minutes on their website. When I called to book my treatment, the telephone representative said it was actually a 90 minute service. But, I was only in the treatment room for 60 minutes, so I felt a little jipped. My disapppointment was overshadowed with the sweet experience of my Caribbean treatment. With all the winter storms we've been having lately, this Caribbean escape is just what I needed.

Overall, I would recommend the Caribbean Body Treatment to anyone needing to get out of the cold and feel rejuvenated and ready to break free from this winter's blistery blahs!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Great Therapeutic Find in the Heart of Toronto

To end off the 2007 year, I decided to treat myself to a great and affordable massage. The signs of parenthood were starting to take their toil on my neck, back and achy legs. So, not only did I need a relaxing break, but I needed a real deep treatment to help relieve my aches and pains. I have heard nothing but praises from many of my girlfriends for the Nouvelle Maria spa located inside the enchanted Le Royal Meridien King Edward hotel.

I was originally introduced to this spa by one of my girlfriends. She had a slight annoyance with the sometimes not so quiet atmosphere at some of the local spas. The Nouvelle Maria spa is a quaint and seemingly hidden spa, which makes it ideal for those who just want to find some peace and quiet amidst the hussle and bussle of downtown life. The Nouvelle Maria spa is located at 37 King street, just a couple minute walk east of Yonge street which makes it easily accessible by TTC.

I have to admit, that the spa does not offer as many ammenities, such as whirlpools and swimming pools as some other downtown establishments. As well, the facilities do look like they could use a bit of a touch up. But, they make up for it with their friendly service, legitimately therapeautic massages and extremely affordable price. During my recent visit to the spa, I treated myself to a 80 minute massage due to my many sore areas. The cost of my 80 minute massage was only $110 ($116 after taxes). Some spas can charge up to 90 for a 50 minute massage, hence, this is a great deal. I do find many of the rates quite reasonable. You can check out for more details.

What I really like about this particular spa is the quality of their massage therapists. I have had a couple massages in the past and found the therapists highly skilled in deep massage and pressure point release. Some spas offer only light, or as some say, 'fluffy' massages,meant mainly for relaxation. I was really pleased with how relieved and relaxed I felt after my treatments at Nouvelle Maria. My mother commented that she had one of her best massages at this location as well. Another girlfriend said that she liked the 'chiropractic' like feel of her treatment and highly recommended this spa to others.

As for ammenities, the Nouvelle Maria Spa offers dry saunas in the change rooms and a relaxing common lounge where one can sit and read while sipping their lovely hot or cold lemon water. As I said earlier, what Nouvelle lacks in ammenities they well make up for in their affordable prices and excellent massage services.

I highly recommend this spa if you're looking for a great therapeutic touch at an affordable price amidst the business of city living.