Anne's Spa: A Dirty Weekend in Ontario
by Heidi Staseson
glorious mud. Lying in a deep tub, submerged
in ooey goodness from head to foot, I
try to splash about but I can't. No part
of me is touching the bottom -- I'm definitely
floating -- yet simultaneously I'm as
heavy as can be; I can't flit and flutter.
But I can lift one hand out from the mucky
muck and gaze at the brown goop oozing
gently between my fingertips, all the
while basking in the warmth that envelops
my entire being.
what spa'ing over a weekend at Ste.
Anne's is all about: becoming
submerged in nurturance and warmth. The
Golden Moor Mud Bath is just one magnificent
part of the whole journey -- albeit my
favorite -- and, just as many spa guests
travel far and wide to experience Ste.
Anne's talked-about treatments, the mud
itself has covered a lot of rich ground.
Its earthy properties span the country:
the mud is brought in from Casselman,
Ontario, and the clay from Saskatchewan.
The blend is so rich in minerals that
Katie, the professional who bathed me,
so to speak, describes it as "the
most detoxifying treatment that we offer
here. It's great for people with arthritis
or any joint pain."
you get in the tub, it's the hottest on
the bottom. There are heated coils underneath
the tub and water [flowing] out the sides
which is 120 degrees. So you can't actually
stand in the tub; rather, you're suspended
in it," she explains.
this is more fun than being a kid in the
rubber ball room at Ikea -- and probably
more hygienic too. This is the cleanest
mud I've ever bathed in. The intense heat
emanating from the water jetting through
is so hot it "kills any bacteria
that may be at the bottom or on the sides."
And Katie says that in between client
treatments, staff pour water of 180 degrees
on top of the mud that, when it seeps
through the mud, virtually zaps away anything
nasty on the top. She adds that the mud
is also replenished nightly. "It
comes in big barrels and we fill it every
day, so it's constantly being changed."
I'm done my 12-minute mudfest (if you're
in there any longer your body will overheat),
I rinse off as fast as I can in the shower
nearby, forgetting my tape recorder is
on the ledge beside me and has now had
its own treatment -- but I'm too relaxed
Now it's time for the hydra massage in
the room next door. I lie on a table,
flat out with my front facing down and
my backside directly under an amazing
Vichy shower. As the warm water gently
rains over my torso, Katie applies a grape
seed massage oil and works her magic on
my skin for another 10 minutes. I'm getting
misty-eyed over the sheer memory.
if mud isn't your cuppa tea (and there
is plenty of that too -- the most delectable
blends brewing every afternoon in the
dining room), then you will have a plethora
of treatment picks to make your visit
worthwhile. Hint: Try the Caribbean Therapy
to see what wonders amaris, lime and ylang-ylang
do for the skin.
Anne's is located in Grafton,
Ontario, near Cobourg, and spans 600 acres
of rich countryside and rolling hills.
No matter the season, it is a getaway
to pure paradise.
the architecture may be all castle-like,
with courtyards, turrets and winding hallways
bejeweled with ancient family portraits,
the spirit of this place is far from pretentious.
What other mansion would allow you to
don nothing but a robe and spa hair at
In fact, Ste. Anne's owner Jim Corcoran
encourages all manner of slothfulness.
"To me, that's all part of the full
relaxation that comes from a destination
spa experience -- being able to forget
about having to dress for dinner and forget
about having to put makeup on," he
part of our being a respite to women,
to say 'Hey, once you cross that line
into the courtyard, don't worry about
how you look!' And our guests take full
advantage of that."