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By Hermione Wilson
When I headed to Ste. Anne’s Spa on a Thursday morning, my mind was preoccupied with the work I was leaving behind at the office. It helped that the drive up was smooth and relatively traffic free. It was clear from the moment I neared Ste. Anne’s that this place was way off the beaten track. I passed spa cottages nestled in trees with names like Birdsong and Farmhouse, sheep pastures, and the little Ste. Anne’s Spa Bakery. It was all very peaceful and very far from the hustle and bustle of the city I had just left behind.
Still, I arrived the spa feeling a little frazzled. I was early, so I sat in my car for a moment, a bit nervous. This was only my second time visiting a spa and I was convinced I was somehow going to do it wrong.
When I got inside I met with a very friendly staff member who gave me a quick tour of the main building. I promptly forgot half the directions she gave me and had to retrace my steps a bit later, but I did remember her saying the building was shaped like a W, which helped. Down in the change room I realized I should have questioned her more closely about how to open the lockers. I fiddled with the key pad for a few frustrating minutes until suddenly, as if summoned by my confusion, my guide appeared behind me to give me more detailed instructions.
Finally free of my bags (and most of my clothes) I headed to the outdoor pool to spend the few hours I had to kill before my first treatment. After a half hour spent doggy paddling and floating back and forth, and then sunning myself poolside, I was starting to feel a lot more zen.
That being said, I was beyond excited for the Eucalyptus Body Wrap I had been booked in for. It was everything I hoped for and more! After picking me up in the waiting room and ushering me into to the steam room for a very moist 10 minutes (I loved every minute of it), my therapist wrapped me up in warm eucalyptus-soaked towels and bundled me in plastic. I felt like I was in a cocoon as she massaged my scalp and rubbed hydrating lotions into my face and feet (Ste. Anne’s new Drench Mineral Mask for my face and their Foot Cream for my feet).
Aside from being snug as a bug in a rug, I loved that, after every treatment, my therapist would leave her hands in place for a moment – on my head or my feet or wherever she happened to be at the time. Although we were basically strangers and hardly spoke, her touch felt very loving and comfortable. I don’t mind telling you that I very nearly drifted off to sleep several times.
With a smile and a recommendation to drink lots of water, my therapist ushered me back to the land of the living. I had just enough time to grab a delicious cranberry biscotti snack before I met with Ste. Anne’s director of sales and marketing Wanda Hoehn for lunch. I ordered not one but two specials off the menu (because, why not?): a cream of broccoli soup with grated cheddar and a red snapper done up with bean sprouts. I topped it off with a rich chocolate spice tea (Rooibos and chocolate, described as “caffeinated chocolate”) which was dessert enough for me.
Can I just say, as a virtual spa virgin, what an unexpected pleasure it is to wander around the spa in nothing but a swim suit and a robe. Sitting in Ste. Anne’s well-appointed main dining room and sipping my spicy tea, I felt like I had slept in on a Sunday morning and then wandered downstairs in my bathrobe to enjoy a meal someone else had prepared. So this is what being a lady of leisure must feel like!
All too soon it was time to tear myself away from this charming country retreat and face the frightful traffic heading back to the city. Still, I carried the bit of peace and quiet I’d gained back with me.
Special thanks to Wanda Hoehn, my lovely therapist Cherlyn, and all the lovely Ste. Anne staff who made my spa day such a success!
For more on Ste. Anne’s Spa, lookout for our Fall 2015 Spalight feature.