When Jim Corcoran began operating a bed and breakfast 20 years ago, he probably didn’t expect to be running Canada’s Favorite Spa, as voted by SpaFinder Magazine Readers for 5 consecutive years, from 2006 to 2010. He probably didn’t expect to be running an ultra popular 28-room full-service destination spa and a 25-treatment room day spa. But when his sister and a close family friend began offering massages and facials to B&B guests, they realized there were on to something good. The guests responded in a positive way to the benefits of the treatments – they seemed more relaxed, experienced relief from pain and were just generally in better moods. It wasn’t hard to see the long lasting effects of personal well-being that the retreat offered, and so began the story of what Ste. Anne’s has become today.
My visit to Ste. Anne’s couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. After perhaps two of the busiest, most over-committed, overburdened months I’ve ever experienced, I was suffering from physical pain, headaches, stress, and an overall feeling of weariness. In short, I was feeling nothing like my usual self. In Chinese Medicine terms, my Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) was blocked. I needed a healing oasis and from everything I’d read and heard, I was headed to the right place. After receiving my reminder phone call confirming travel dates and guest names, I was expecting to be nurtured and well-taken care of for a few days. I would quickly come to realize that Ste. Anne’s would not disappoint.
Traveling to Canada from the U.S. by car was easier than you might think. Yes, you need a passport or an enhanced driver license, but the border crossing took just a few minutes in each direction and we were on our way in no time. (Crossing at off-peak times and at the Thousand Islands Bridge helped expedite things too.) We made the drive from Syracuse, NY in just over 3.5 hours, the perfect driving distance for a weekend.
It is my seventh annual fall girlfriend getaway – an event I look forward to all year long. This year, there are just two of us and we have the entire 3 bedroom, 2 bath Innkeepers Spa Cottage all to ourselves. If “cottage” conjures up images of tiny, this old farmhouse is anything but small. We have more than enough room to spread out, hang out and chill out. I’m in the master bedroom with a King bed, sitting area, huge closet, vaulted ceiling and my own private staircase that leads to the kitchen. Deb has a smaller but still large enough room with a queen bed. The third bedroom with twin beds goes unused and we think the weekend would be even more perfect if the rest of our girlfriends were here to join us in this spacious cottage that can sleep up to 6 guests. It is immaculately clean, comfortable and home-like. We don’t want for anything.
At first, we wonder if we’re missing out by not staying in a room at the Main Inn, but then we realize we have the best of both worlds: space, privacy and our own yard and driveway with full access to all of Ste. Anne’s top rated facilities.
Our spa cottage has a full kitchen, not that we expect to do a bit of cooking, but we found it convenient to be able to make morning coffee, store our snacks and cold beverages in the fridge, and have real plates, mugs and flatware to use during our visit. Both tea drinkers, we needn’t worry that the cottage wasn’t stocked with tea. Our tour guide, Richard, gave us a solution to that. “The Inn uses loose tea leaves in many varieties, so we don’t prepare the tea bags in advance. If you want tea in your guest cottage, just tell the dining room staff what kind you what and they’ll make up fresh tea sachets for you to bring back to your cottage.” Really? We tried it. It worked.
After a raw and windy rainy day, the sun appears in time for a dramatic sunset over Lake Ontario. If the old adage “red sky at night, sailor’s delight” has any truth to it, tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day.
On Saturday morning, I wake early after a good night sleep. While I’m anxious to get up and explore the outdoors, I resist the urge to bound out of bed and I take things slow – matching the pace of my surroundings. I can see the sun just below the horizon and can tell it’s going to be a clear and sunny day. The evening newsletter that was left on my pillow at nightly turndown tells me its going to be sunny and 14 degrees Celsius, which I estimate to be in the mid-50’s for those of us that use the Fahrenheit scale. I journal for a while, but decide its time to get active when I view the darkness fading to light through the skylight above my bed. It’s going to be a beautiful day and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.