The Claramount Inn & Spa is Just What The Doctor Ordered
Ontario spa offers hot and cold water therapies
to kick start a healthier lifestyle
those stressed-out souls exhibiting symptoms
of knotted muscles, frazzled minds and sagging
spirits, the Claramount in Picton, Ontario is
just what the doctor ordered. Make that three
doctors: owners Dr. Nora Connell, her husband
Dr. Chris Rogers and Dr. Kneipp, whose century-old
philosophy for health is the driving force behind
one of Ontario's most charming wellness facilities.
husband and I arrived just in time for Saturday
dinner. The dining room of this newly-restored
early 20th century mansion is just as comfortably
elegant and welcoming as the rest of the seven-room
inn. Dr. Connell who worked with an architect
and interior designer to capture the original
style and ambience of the former home, calls
the décor "colonial revival"
and tells us the house, dating back to 1906,
was once considered one of the "castles
of Prince Edward County." Some guest rooms
still exude a subtle touch of royalty created
by fine furnishings, four poster beds, luxurious
linens, private balconies overlooking Picton
Bay, and in-room soaker tubs for "taking
the waters" in the privacy of your own
addition to accommodation, our one-night package
includes two Kneipp water therapy treatments,
breakfast and a five-course dinner for two.
It's healthy cuisine, of course, but healthy
doesn't have to mean lack of imagination and
flavor. Executive Chef Luis Desousa, who also
oversees food preparation at sister property
The Waring House, packs a culinary punch with
innovative offerings such as roasted butternut
squash and peach bisque, pumpkin and tiger shrimp
ravioli spiced up with sambal olek (a chili
paste), and venison prepared with fig and raspberry
Madeira glaze. There are even yummy desserts.
Now, I've never subscribed to the concept of "to die for" desserts, but if I did,
then Chef Luis' Coconut Cream Caramel with Frangelico
and Caramel Sauce would be it. Dr. Connell has
a wonderful philosophy on the occasional indulging
in decadent desserts and dubiously healthy dishes
such as Eggs Benedict. "Denying yourself
something you want causes stress," she
says, "and that can be worse for you than
the thing you're denying yourself." Cutting
back is the better way to control the temptation.
You gotta like her way of thinking.
general practitioner for the last 30 years,
Dr. Connell says "it has been scientifically
proven that stress leads to health problems."
She says there's also a lot of scientific evidence
to support the preventative aspects of heath
care, and she sees a place for spas in the promotion
of good health. "Anything that relieves
stress is good for your immune system," she says.
morning, my journey to wellness begins with
a Vichy shower massage designed to relax the
body while warming it up and making it more
predisposed to the benefit of treatments that
follow. Treatments like the Swedish massage
with lavender oil for relaxing or citrus oil
for renewing energy. Or, what about Wet Socks?
No mistake. It's one of the spa selections mixed
in with wraps, facials and body polishes. Wet
Socks sounds anything but appealing but one
has to keep in mind that this spa is not about
pampering (don't even use the word around Dr.
Connolly or spa director Arleen Wilkinson),
but about health of body, mind and soul. Wilkinson
had explained to me that Dr. Keipp's philosophy
is "the use of water in all its forms for
therapeutic benefit." Never one to get
"cold feet" when it comes to novel
spa treatments, I dived in with alacrity only
to discover that these cotton socks are not
only wet but have been soaking in ice water.
My legs dangled over the side of the therapy
table as the therapist wrings out the socks,
slips them over my feet, rolling the icy cotton
up to the knees. Dry, heavy wool socks are then
slipped over the ice-water socks and my body
is left to do its thing - react to the cold,
warm itself up and, with the help of a light
massage, induce better circulation. Then, something
happens that is a first for this spa aficionado.
Lying there on the therapy table, wrapped in
a warm blanket and wearing a pair of icy cotton "boots," I drift into a sound sleep.
It's one of the side benefits, I'm told. This
"wrap and rest" is part of every Kneipp
therapy, explains Wilkinson. "These moments
of quiet reflection help us achieve a more balanced
life," she says.
Kneipp treatment is the foot bath. I enjoyed
it as the appetizer to a pedicure. Hot water,
tea tree oil, peppermint and black pepper provide
the soak, marbles on the bottom of the bowl
offer the feet a small taste of reflexology,
and yellow Calendula flowers floating on the
water's surface, offer the teeniest whiff of,
dare we whisper, "pampering."
the medicine goes down so easily.
what about those esthetic treatments - facials,
manicures and pedicures - on the wellness menu?
According to Dr. Connolly, "if you feel
you look good, then you feel good." Mental
health is also important in a well-rounded wellness
Dimon is a travel and spa journalist and