I was recently transported to a dreamland I thought only existed in fairytales, yet this place was found an hour and half away from Toronto. What is this place you ask? Ste. Anne’s Inn & Spa, a rustic country retreat set in Haldimand Hills, outside of Grafton, Ontario. With a sprawling landscape of hills, forests, gardens and livestock, I had to pinch myself to see if it was real.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by the loveliest, most caring customer service reps, who did not hesitate to make me feel welcomed and at ease. Everyone is actually in their happy place here, employee and guests alike. A quick tour of the grounds showed me the outdoor pool, hot tub, cold plunge, indoor steam and eucalyptus rooms, walking trails, wellness room, hammocks, loungers, massage chairs, cottage-like accommodations, resting rooms, and restaurant. All open access to their beloved guests!
The first part of my itinerary was a tour of their dedicated gluten-free bakery. That’s right, owner, Jim Corcoran, believes that their baked goods should be accessible to all guests and sought out to create and serve the best gluten-free alternatives he could. That is some forward thinking right there, especially given the rise of the GF movement. Located just off the main grounds in a bungalow is the Ste. Anne’s Bakery.
House-made, fresh out of the oven focaccia, herb & cheddar cheese loaf, almond milk bread, and 5-Seed bread- all gluten-free! To satisfy the sweet tooth there are cookies, macarons, butter tarts, cakes, scones and muffins. Not to mention ready-made meals such as lasagna, shepherd’s pie and empanadas all using locally-sourced ingredients. These goods are sold on-site, sent to the restaurant and are selling wholesale to various locations in Toronto.
After sampling one of nearly everything, I can say with confidence they are producing some of the best GF products around, especially the bread. I don’t tend to consume much bread but in the 24 hours I was here I probably ate half a loaf! That’s saying something.
Post bakery was afternoon tea. Despite having gorged on all the sweets, I still found room the savoury platter, balanced with a peppermint tea for digestive aid. Gluten-free crackers and cheese, petite smoked salmon sandwiches, and crudités; al fresco with a view.
No spa experience is complete without a treatment. I opted for the Signature Facial using Skin Nourishment, Ste. Anne’s natural product line using flowers and herbs grown on-site, free of chemicals and additives. This facial went above and beyond my expectations. The aesthetician was incredible and knew exactly what my skin needed (super hydration!). My skin was visibly healthier and more radiant.
Ste. Anne’s is renowned for their food. Everything is fresh, local and much of it grown on their property; the true meaning of farm-to-table. My dinner that evening started with of an amuse-bouche of chili lemon oyster and a caesar salad with romaine lettuce, garlic-lemon vinaigrette, gluten-free croutons, parmesan and crispy pancetta. The main attraction was the sirloin tip from their grass-fed beef cattle with a red wine demi glace, seasonal veg and lemon-herb basmati rice. Portion sizes are perfect, so I managed to save room for dessert; a maple créme brûlée with apple compote.
Given my peaceful evening, I slept like a baby and woke up early to take advantage of the walking trails. The view from the top lookout was incredible, mother nature doesn’t disappoint out there.
Breakfast was both continental and a la carte. After working up an appetite, I indulged; GF pastries and toast, fresh fruit, frittata, chorizo and potato latkes. Thankfully I had a scheduled yoga class later in the morning to aid in digestion!
The final part of this incredible retreat was lunch, which as I’m writing, I realize I ate a lot while here but given it’s all home-made, whole foods I didn’t feel weighed down! Lunch was light and simple. Soup, salad, and grilled salmon; a sweet potato purée, carrot & watercress salad, and pan-seared salmon to be exact.
I was so sad to leave this spa resort, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to go. This is the perfect escape for girlfriends, couples, mother-daughter duos, or like me, solo. It’s so important to press refresh once in a while and Ste. Anne’s is offering that option (and so much more). Book your escape now and de-stress, decompress and refresh.
Ste. Anne’s and I have teamed up to bring two lucky readers an epic spa experience. The package will be an all-inclusive day spa for two. Inclusions:
- $120 in spa and wellness allowance, per person
- 3-course lunch each
- Afternoon tea
- Full use of the facilities including hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, cold plunge, hiking trails and more
How to Enter (multiple ways for higher chance)
- Read the blog post above and comment why you believe you deserve to win a spa getaway
- Tag a friend on Instagram or Facebook who you want to bring along.
- Sign up for our mailing list (if you haven’t done so already).
Contest ends Wednesday, September 30 at 12pm. Good luck!