“Wow, that looks delicious”, I said to Maria, my aesthetician at Ste. Anne’s Spa, as she applied the seasonal “Chocolate Spaberry” scrub on me, “I’m almost tempted to eat it!” I laughed. “You can if you want,” she said, without missing a beat. “We make it using only fresh strawberries, natural cane sugar, shea butter and coco essential oils. The ingredients are sourced locally, but you can also buy them at your grocery store.”
A serene, calming view
Ah, yes. If I’m able to consume my body scrub treatment, then I must be at Ste. Anne’s. Located in the hilly terrain of Northumberland County, the award-winning destination spa has long been known for its use of fresh, local ingredients, both in its spa cuisine and in many of its treatments. Aside from being edible, though, my aesthetician is also quick to point out the therapeutic benefits of the scrub and shea butter concoctions. It turns out strawberries are rich in salicylic acid, which exfoliates the skin and unclogs pores. They are also a powerful antioxidant and a good source of Vitamin C, which rids the body of excess oil. The rough texture of the cane sugar and aqua salts encourages circulation. Once this is all rinsed off, the shea butter/coco essential oil mixture is slathered on. The shea butter’s Vitamins A, E and F penetrate the skin and the coconut oil’s antibacterial and antioxidant properties expedite the repair of damaged cells and tissues.
But the use of natural ingredients in its in-house spa treatments is only one of the attractions of this gorgeous getaway. There is also the delicious spa cuisine conceived by longtime Executive Chef Ennew; the majestic view of the countryside; and the general sense of calm that envelopes you as soon as you arrive. This is probably why I have considered Ste. Anne’s as one of my favourite relaxation vacations for almost a decade.
The bakery has gluten-free goodies
I last visited Ste. Anne’s during the summer in 2009. At the time, I tried out the newly launched “Horse-2-Heart” Equine Therapy Program. The property has undergone incremental expansion over the past few years, with the bulk of the latest renovations done this past year. There is now a four-day “Learn to Ride” equine program. In addition, the new “Maison Sante”, a fitness facility housed in a converted barn, has the latest equipment. There is also a large, new cottage, Vista Lago, designed for group retreats, and a second outdoor pool is being built on the property. Ste. Anne’s has also extended its brand at the retail level with its “Skin Nourishment” skincare line (the line also includes hair and body care products and is available for purchase both at the gift shop and online), and has even introduced a new, gluten-free bakery on site.
Beautiful gardens on the property
Hearing about these new developments earlier this spring, I tried to prepare myself for what was sure to be a more crowded atmosphere at the spa when I booked my most recent visit in June. But when I arrived, I was happy to see that these additions are spread across the property’s 400 acres, without the least bit of congestion. The Maison Sante fitness centre is about one kilometre from the main inn (the underwater treadmill situated outside makes it worth the hike). The gluten-free bakery, which carries a wide assortment of breads, cookies, tarts and muffins, along with frozen spa meals-to-go, is also a few kilometres up the trail. Meanwhile, the new botanical skincare line (free of those nasty “Ps”, i.e., PEGs/PPGs, phthalates, petrochemicals, parabens, preservatives and overly-processed ingredients) is sold in low-key packaging and showcased alongside the gift store’s usual selection of homemade teas, candles, and workout wear (products from the Aveda skincare line are still available for sale as well).
The outdoor plunge pools and grotto remain a welcome treat while the eucalyptus steam room is still one of the best ways to clear your head, both literally and figuratively. The hammocks and lounging chairs strewn across the gardens still provide one of the most scenic and serene views overlooking the region. The afternoon tradition of High Tea, complete with crudités, tiny sandwiches, homemade scones, fresh cream and preserves, have also been preserved. And, of course, guests still wander around the property adorned in the Ste. Anne’s Spa uniform of fluffy white robes and slippers, proving that, despite the extensive renovations, the spa’s charming traditions remain delightfully intact.
Lynn was a guest of Ste. Anne’s in June, 2013. Photos were provided courtesy of Ste. Anne’s Spa.