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New programs at Ste. Anne’s Spa

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Ste. Anne's Spa guest Barbara Dickens of Oshawa enjoys one of the equine programs which includes grooming horses like Tess. A new equine stay, learning to ride, was added this month to those staying five days and four nights.

Ste. Anne's Spa guest Barbara Dickens of Oshawa enjoys one of the equine programs which includes grooming horses like Tess. A new equine stay, learning to ride, was added this month to those staying five days and four nights.


Like unwrapping a luscious dark chocolate or receiving a surprise visit from a friend bearing a unique bottle of wine, a visit to Ste. Anne's Spa is luxurious, while offering something tempting and new.

The treatments are a little bit of heaven, say spa regulars, and after participating in the spa's equine program, newbie Barbara Dickens of Oshawa is intrigued by this month's equine addition: learning to ride.

Dickens visited Ste. Anne's for the first time recently after playing its web-based "lotto" and winning a treatment during her overnight trip. She chose to take part in grooming and mucking out the horses, as a first step to reacquainting herself with these "great beasts," she said. Dickens participated in work in the nearby horse barn on a cold, but sunny winter's day. Following her outdoor work on the horses, something that Dickens said she absolutely "loved," she returned to the spa's castle-like facility for a hot-stone massage.

"It was just wonderful," said the Oshawa woman.

Added to the great treatment and horsing around, Dickens said she had stupendous accommodation with a view of Lake Ontario. The food was also very good, she said.

"It was a dream."

Dickens would like to return to try the newest horse program, which takes the spa's horse experience a step further. It's a five-day, four-night spacation that allows spa goers the chance to learn to ride.

"It's a lovely fit to be able to spend time with horses for a couple of hours and then come back to the spa environment and be taken care of – scrubbed and rubbed from head to toe and topped up with some hardy but healthy cuisine, and a bit of yoga to end your day," says Ste. Anne's Marijo Cuerrier.

She is a horse enthusiast herself and appreciates the stress relief that comes with focusing on horses and letting go of all your cares.

This new equine program, and ever-changing seasonal treatments like the one-hour, warm chocolate Swedish massage by a registered massage therapist, and sweet, maple syrup scrub and linen wrap, are among the delights offered at Ste. Anne's.

But the facilities, too, are experiencing additions at this $10-million a year business near Grafton, says spa owner Jim Corcoran.

Investments are being made to increase the number of spa cottages (to six) available for visitors not staying in the spa castle itself. The decision to provide a different experience for spa cottage guests was sparked by a recent vacation to Jamaica where Corcoran stayed at a Canadian-owned spa retreat in a private thatched-roof cottage and enjoyed treatments on the beach. That was a great feeling and his guests will have more options for outdoor treatments in Ste. Anne's gazebos among its many garden areas when the weather turns warm, Corcoran said. Stays in the spa cottages are also going to be more customized than in the recent past, he added. Features include dinner especially prepared and served to cottage guests by their own chef.

Among other upcoming changes spa goers will see over the next few months is the addition of a second, relaxing lounge area and relocation of the existing octagonal-shaped fitness class room. On the outside of the stone-walled spa there will be another soaking tub with concentrated Epson salts, an outdoor sauna and fireplace, plus a cedar, Japanese soaking tub.

In addition, by the end of April the hot tub, undergoing refurbishing, will be re-opened in the area of the ladies locker room, he said.

All of the fitness equipment currently in the spa will be relocated to Maison Santé, which is very close by. A new pool facility will have endless swimming (against a current) plus an in-water tread mill, great for low-impact activity.

These features are in addition to the highly-popular Eucalyptus sauna, outdoor stone grotto spa, cold plunge pool and in-place swimming pool on the south western end of the facility and the wet sauna in the women's lounge area, plus the Olympic-sized pool on the southern side of the property. There are also numerous treatment rooms where people are pampered beyond belief.

More than 60% of Ste. Anne's guests are return visitors, says Corcoran.

The spa offers day stays and overnights. One couple has been to the spa over 50 times in the past two years alone, Corcoran said.

What started out as a historical private stone home turned bed-and-breakfast has expanded over the years to the point where, for the past seven years, it has been voted Canada's favourite spas by SpaFinder Wellness. Votes are tabulated from all over the world and recognize the highest spa standards naming Ste. Anne's the number one, most-voted-for spa in Canada.

A media release about the award makes note of Chef Christopher Ennew's cuisine at the spa and in the new, gluten-free bakery, plus the spa's own new skin care line, complimenting the Aveda line, available in the spa boutique.

As it relates to cuisine, the spa grows many of its own vegetables and seasoning plants, as well as raising its own pastured-and-grained beef as well as sourcing other locally-grown meats, vegetables and fruits to create special meals for its guests.

A visit to Ste. Anne's Spa is more than a getaway, it's an investment in your health and emotional well being.


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