Travel: Ste. Anne’s Inn & Spa

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.  

CONTEST GIVEAWAY

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)

  1. Read the blog post above and comment why you believe you deserve to win a spa getaway
  2. Tag a friend on Instagram or Facebook who you want to bring along.
  3. Sign up for our mailing list (if you haven’t done so already).

Contest ends Wednesday, September 30 at 12pm.  Good luck!

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Comments

  1. says

    I got married close to Ste. Anne’s at The Meeting Place in Grafton! This is VERY close to my hometown. I’d love to win because I haven’t had a honeymoon yet even though we’ve almost been married a year! Help a lady out!

    • Rachael says

      That would be so very special! We hope that you get to enjoy a nice getaway like this for your honeymoon. We will be in touch :)

  2. Heather P says

    Hi Rachael! My husband’s family lives near Ste. Anne’s, and so last weekend, we stopped in for a quick walk around the grounds and a stop at the bakery. Oh my goodness it is so beautiful!!! I was completely smitten with the English style gardens, charming cottages, and overall zen feel of the property. I have Celiac’s, so we picked up some of those foccacia buns on the way home. They are delicious! Best gluten-free bread I’ve had yet. I would love to win a spa getaway. My mother-in-law drives by Ste. Anne’s every day, but has never been able to go. I would love to take her there for a girl’s getaway and thank her for the role she played in our recent wedding!

    xo Heather from Toronto

    • Amanda Edwards says

      I would love to take my friend Kerri. She has made so many positive changes to her diet and lifestyle all in the pursuit of living a healthier existence. I am so proud of her and truley inspired. Not only is she dedicated to being healthy but she is always there for her friends and family. She is amazing!

  3. Alli Walker says

    This looks SO beautiful! I would love this spa getaway because my fiancé and I have been SO busy with work, and performances every day and every weekend that we haven’t had a full day off in forever and would appreciate it beyond belief! Also we are gluten free, so to be able to have a relaxing spa day, but also enjoy amazing pastries and goodies would be amazing! We are such good connoisseurs and love trying new things! Xoxo

  4. says

    Simply have to comment on this one!!!!
    Haven’t been there in years and need to go after reading this post – as a fellow gluten-free gal , this really excites me!
    (Already on your list and following you… and just followed St.Anne’s.)
    Awesome contest, friend! :)

  5. clare hacksel says

    As a celiac I find eating well while travelling extremely challenging. Especially when you leave the city. Don’t get me wrong, many places have a gluten free option on the menu but it is rarely the signature dish and even more rare that the hotel or spa has a dedicated kitchen. I love spending a weekend getting out of Toronto and having a chance to run and hike away from the concrete jungle puts me at ease. Between this amazing kitchen and the beautiful grounds I know my partner and I would have the best weekend ever and truly make the most of this opportunity. We deserve to win!

  6. Lindsay Stevenson says

    Wow Rachel, this place sounds amazing!! Would really love to check it out.
    Also, you’re a great writer! Reading this really painted the perfect picture of what a day at Ste. Anne’s Inn & Spa would feel like…magical!:)

    • Rachael says

      Thanks Linds!! I meant every word. It’s a magical place alright. I’ll let you know if you’re the grand winner next week :)

  7. Sarah MacTavish says

    I’ve recently got married and am looking for some relaxation time with my best girlfriend! We’re living in different cities now and need some together time to refresh and renew our lastly friendship. We would appreciate this chance to be together and enjoy this lovely, healthy spa experience.
    Sincerely,
    Sarah MacTavish

  8. Colleen says

    I would absolutely love to enjoy this with my good friend Kim. The last several years have been incredible for us. Ailing relatives. Stress at work stress at home the whole 9 yards. And then earlier this year my mom passed away after a long illness. I had to move into my parents house, deal with their belongings relocate my dad, sell the house. It’s been a bit of a relentless year. But I made through it. I’m here I’m happy, most things are sorted out now. And dad is really happy at his new place. So it’s time for a little me time. And it sounds like Ste Anne’s would be perfect.

    The food sounds delicious especially with the gluten-free bakery. And I can just imagine how luxurious it would be to spend the hours there.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

    • Rachael says

      This is a very touching story. Thank you so much for sharing, you are very strong for persevering through it all. You definitely deserve a nice getaway like this. Please stay tuned for the winner announcement next week!

      • Colleen says

        Thanks Rachel. I was feeling pretty bummed when I wrote that. Sorry.

        I have to admit that Ste Anne’s has been on my bucket list for years! And I think the GF bakery is a cool addition. Mom was celiac and my sister is too. We still eat part GF around here. And I keep up on it just in case I get diagnosed with it too.

        Thanks again! Have a super weekend.

  9. Karen says

    My goodness, that place looks lovely! To think that you could completely relax and not have to worry about what you’re eating.

    As for me, I’d LOVE a spa day because between living through house renos, seeming endless double shifts at work and being a nurse to my ailing elderly pet rabbit, I could really use some time to take care of myself.

  10. Lisa says

    I would love the opportunity to discover Ste. Anne’s with one of my best friends Erin. Erin has been celiac for the past couple years, and earlier this year I was diagnosed gluten intolerant – so we would both definitely take advantage of the GF treats.

    In addition to my newfound GF-status I was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in April. I’m in my mid-20s (27 is still mid, right?) and had zero signs. It came as quite the shock to me, my family and my friends. I’ve since had 3 surgeries, a round of IVF and I am now week 3 into my 6-8 week chemo/radiation plan.

    With all of this going on I’m extremely grateful for many of my friendships – Erin being at the top of that list. She’s a cancer survivor (I like to make the highly inappropriate joke that we need to stop hanging out so I quit catching her ailments) and one of the best humans I know. I would be incredibly grateful to be able to take her to St. Annes to thank her for all of her support these past couple months.

  11. Max says

    Hi Rachel!! Xo this is a wonderful place and an even more wonderful contest you’ve got here :) I’m entering for me and my man Paul. We’ve both been working so hard recently literally building furniture for our new home together. Sanding, staining, building , painting etc. all things that if you know me aren’t words in my day to day vocabulary haha. Would love to be able to have a relaxing moment together after all our hard work. :)

  12. Jenny Cassidy says

    I’d love for my husband and I to go together. We didn’t celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary because we just had a new baby and this year, we could celebrate. Ste.Annes would be the perfect place for a 5&6 year anniversary celebration!

  13. Cassidy says

    I would love to win a day at the spa so that I can spend some time with my younger cousin, whom I love and treasure very much!

  14. denize says

    As a recent new mom of two, this little getaway will recharge my batteries without having to be away from my kiddos for too long. Being at ste Annes is paridise without having to leave and fly away from home!

  15. Laura says

    This looks gorgeous! I’ve been living in Europe for the past three years for work and my job is quite hectic so I don’t get much time to connect with friends. Visits home are always rushed trying to see so many people as possible.

    My best friend is moving to Vancouver at the end of the year and I would love to take her as a send off. We struggle to keep up to date with a 6 hour time zone difference and with a soon to be 9 hour time difference, I would love for us to have a chance to relax and unwind together before parting ways again!

    I’ll have to check this place out regardless! Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Tara says

    I would love a relaxing spa day. We had to rip up our kitchen floor down to the dirt because mice and freezing cold wind was getting in. That was the end of June, I am still making do with a pretend kitchen set up in our sunroom thanks to problems with concrete and suppliers. It would be so nice to just relax and not stress for a day! I’d bring along my sister who just started a new job! thanks.

  17. Alice says

    I would love to take my mom on a getaway to St. Anne’s. SHE deserves it, for being an incredible supporter of those in her life, giving unconditionally, and always putting her family first. Some TLC would be just the thing to give back.

  18. Tenicia says

    Hi! I’ve had the privilege of spending a weekend at Ste. Anne’s a few years back, thanks to my parents, for a bachelorette getaway. It’s the only spa I had ever gone to & I fell in love! I remember how peaceful it was & the whole grounds smelled amazing the entire time.

    I’m 23 & work a lot of crazy hours to support myself. This economy isn’t great, so I basically live pay cheque to pay cheque, so it’s a struggle to have enough money to pamper myself or get away. I also work in construction (all aspects of home renovations) so my muscles are always in knots. I’ve been dreaming of getting a day at the spa, but I can’t afford to get away.

    Also, my roommate is a waitress who works long hours and is on her feet constantly, so I’d love to be able to do a spa day with her to relieve some stress.

    Ste. Anne’s is so fantastic! Even if I don’t win this contest, I know whoever gets it will thoroughly enjoy their day there. *highly recommended*

  19. Erika says

    I would absoutely love to win this and take one of my girlfriends. We are both moms with young babies/kids and were just talking the other day about doing something like this in a couple of month. This would be absolutely perfect to get a break from the kids/work and have total relaxation and pampering (for once!).

  20. says

    Beautiful write up. I was not aware St Anne’s had a glutenfree option so doing a happy dance here.

    I would take my friend Anita Marie Griffin as she works so hard and does so much for everyone else and needs to make time to enjoy the pampering. I know she would be grateful for the quiet reflective time one enjoys at St Anne’s.

    I would enjoy it too as a way to help me shine brighter and to find ways to share the ways we can bring people together even when there are food intolerances. Finding stillness is needed for both of us.

    Have a super day.💕

    Jo-Ann Blondin

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