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Claramount Inn & Spa
by Anne Dimon

The Claramount Inn & Spa is Just What The Doctor Ordered

New Ontario spa offers hot and cold water therapies
to kick start a healthier lifestyle

For 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.

Claramount Spa in Ontario

My 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 room.

In 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.

A 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.

The next 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.

Vichy Shower

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.

Another 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."

Ahhh, the medicine goes down so easily.

And, 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 philosophy.

If You Go:
The Claramount Inn & Spa
www.claramountinn.com
1-800-679-7756

For other spas in Ontario go to
www.spasontario.com or call 1-800-990-7702.

Anne Dimon is a travel and spa journalist and
founder/editor of www.traveltowellness.co

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