A Perfect Ontario Getaway: Ste. Anne’s Spa

Established in the 1800’s Ste. Anne’s holds an immense amount of history from being used as farmland, a school, a summer home and a castle.

Today, it is a beautiful inn and spa perfect for a solo retreat, family getaway or romantic couples day or weekend. Located on Grafton, the drive to Ste. Anne’s is beautiful if you go at the right time of year.

In the summer you can enjoy the vast outdoor pool, beautiful walking trails and plunge pools. No matter how many people at the spa, its grounds are so large, you always feel like you’re one of the only people there. On my most recent trip in July I had the pool to myself for the several hours that I was out there and enjoyed a breathtaking view while swimming and tanning poolside enjoying a mimosa. Ste. Anne’s does not provide alcohol but you can bring your own alcohol to enjoy.

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A typical day at Ste. Anne’s goes something like this. Arrive early to enjoy the whole day where you are warmly greeted by reception and given a tour of the facilities. No matter how many times I visit I always take the tour as it’s so large it’s good to get reoriented. We started the day on one of the walking trails and wandered around the grounds taking in the warm sun and fresh air. We made our way back and found a swinging bench that overlooks the landscape, made a mimosa and relaxed.

We had time for a quick dip in the pool before lunch. We ate lunch inside the dining room as we thought it may be a bit too warm to sit out on the patio. We started with the chili which was hearty and delicious. For the main we both had the chicken club sandwich but after the filling chili we could barely eat any. They boxed up our leftovers and saved them for us to pick up at the end of the day. After lunch we went back out to the pool and swam and tanned for a while. Then we made our way up to the plunge pools. We cycled between the plunge pools and the eucalyptus steam room. It was heavenly and relaxing! Before we knew it was time for afternoon tea which consisted of different kinds of sliders, baguettes and pinwheels, crackers and various cheese, fruits and veggies, scones and a variety of sweets. Our favorite was the blue cheese pear tart which is a phyllo tart with caramelized pear, cream, walnut and a sprinkling of blue cheese.

After tea we had our couple’s massage, which was fantastic. Being gluttons and deeply immersed in relaxation, we ended the day in the quiet room which is full of massage chairs where we sat and enjoyed being massaged for an hour, because we hadn’t already been massaged enough! The change rooms are massive and have everything you need from shampoo, soaps, hair dryers and fresh towels. I ended the day with a piping hot shower, blow dried my hair and drove top-down all the way home. Depending what way you drive home, you may pass one of several farms full of sheep. It’s worth pulling over and seeing them, they’re very cute!

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A single day at Ste. Anne’s makes you feel like you were away for a weekend. The staff cater to your every whim, the food is amazing, the scenery is breathtaking and the amenities are unparalleled as far as Ontario spas go. I’ve been in both fall and summer and due to the pool would recommend the summer however, the fall with the changing leaves is also remarkable.

 

 

 

Weekend Getaway to Montreal

A quick 45 minute flight and we had landed in Montreal, the perfect weekend getaway from Toronto. In the airport, the line for a taxi was outrageously long. Pro tip – there’s a booth in the airport for an app you can download which is essentially like Uber for a taxi company. When you download it you get $10 off your first ride and don’t have to wait in the massive taxi line. We opted for public transit as there was no line at all at the ticket machine. We took a bus to the subway and the subway 3 stops to our hotel. Their subway is fast! I never take public transit in Toronto and it was actually a painless experience in Montreal. After 4pm on Fridays you can get a 3 day bus and subway pass for $13.00, worth it even if you only end up using it the single time to get to your hotel.

We stayed at the Best Western Ville-Marie downtown https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-details.67012.html?iata=00171880&ssob=BLBWI0004G&cid=BLBWI0004G:google:gmb:67012. The Best Western’s I’ve stayed in in the past left much to be desired but this one was actually beautiful. A large marble entrance, extremely friendly concierge and very spacious room. We paid $147/night which isn’t bad for a weekend and a centrally located downtown location.

There’s quite a lot of construction on the roads downtown right now so it was faster and easier to walk everywhere then try and get an Uber and nothing was far from our hotel.

We had the most amazing brunch at Café Napoleon on sunny Saturday morning in the Plateau http://www.cafenapoleon.com/en/. It was about a 30 minute walk through Montreal to get there and every turn got more beautiful than the last. Each building has its own character and charm. I had the special which was egg whites, bacon, crispy breakfast potatoes, toast, a pile of fresh fruit, a crepe filled with Nutella and bananas and bottomless coffee for $11.95! Every bite was delicious and it was more food than I could ever eat. They’ve got a great patio out front where we sat.

After brunch we strolled around the Plateau and went into some churches along the way. We ended up on Ste. Catherine Street where we shopped for a few hours. The deals were great and the busking musicians were better! Buskers in Montreal have to audition for prime locations like on Ste. Catherine and they are phenomenal!

We had dinner later that night at Atma back in the Plateau https://www.restaurantatma.ca/.  You must make a reservation here and you also must go! It’s an Indian restaurant with a unique and authentic atmosphere. Seating on the top floor is on the ground on cushions and then the main and 2nd floor are regular seating. We were served by the owner who regaled us with stories about growing up in London, England and how he grew to love cooking his native Indian food. We asked what he would recommend and he told us he would make us a special lamb dish, his favorite that is not on the menu. I love when servers or chefs offer this, it gives the service that extra level of greatness and makes you feel valued as a customer.  We started with Chicken 13, a slightly spicy breaded chicken, onion bahji’s, samosas and naan bread. I would skip the samosas, they are almost deconstructed and weren’t the best thing we tasted, leave room for the other dishes! The onion bhaji’s were so good, I probably had one too many! For the main we had rice, butter chicken, shrimp madras and the special off-menu lamb dish. Every dish was unbelievable! Some spicier then others, but the yogurt dip evened out the heat for those who couldn’t handle the spice. We enjoyed an Indian beer with the meal and left stuffed! We walked back to the hotel to let our food go down and were immersed in the vibrant beat of Montreal’s nightlife scene. If we weren’t so full, would have stopped for a drink along the way!

From culture to sightseeing, shopping and fabulous food Montreal offered the perfect weekend getaway!

* To anyone traveling in or out of Toronto Pearson airport right now, expect to wait! Our flight home was delayed 7 times over the course of 2 hours and went from a 6pm to almost 10pm flight. When we landed in Pearson there were loads of people still waiting for delayed flights, sleeping on the floor and seats.

* The airport is currently undergoing runway and taxiway construction that has been ongoing since March 28th and is set to be finished May 16th.