Nurture and Nature: Ontario Hotel Spas and Massages near Toronto

How could it be that the same technology that we use to make our lives easier sometimes proves to be just the opposite?

I’ve learned there’s no better way to recharge my batteries than turning off the cell and heading out of town for a little “me time.” In fact, I can’t think of a better way to de-stress than powering down the device, grabbing your BFFs, jumping in a car, and heading to the spa.

And the best place is a spa or resort specializing in just that. Now I’m not any different from most — life is busy and I’m always wired to something. Sometimes, all you need is just a day of R&R. But on the rare occasion when I feel ‘burn-out’ knocking, I dream of that luxurious weekend full of soft music and tranquil pampering. Either way, the rejuvenating natural treatments you receive at a premium hotel and resort spa will soothe and energize at the same time.

If you live in the Toronto area, you have many special spa experiences and massages to choose from. I found three of the best to test – I know it’s a difficult job, but somebody has to do it.

Ste. Anne’s Spa, Grafton

If you’re looking to escape, there’s no better place than Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, Ontario. Less than an hour and a half from Toronto, this relaxing Spa and Inn is just the ticket. You don’t even need to pack much; most guests lounge around all day in a robe and slippers (even at dinner). It’s the dress code of choice.

At check-in, you’re welcomed by the friendly staff and given your attire in a spa bag — white robe and slippers. From there you can retire to your room if you’re overnighting, curl up on a comfy couch with a book or get a bite to eat.

Cell phones are allowed for photos but frowned upon for anything else. This helps to create a peaceful and tranquil environment, which I applaud.

If you’re booked for a facial, then I highly recommend the Signature Facial, which includes a French Pink Clay mask and their specialty, in-house developed products. This gentle treatment made my face feel clean and radiant.

For a full body treatment, the Contouring Mud Stone Wrap will have you tingling from head to toe. The amazing therapist, Heather, used hot stones and essential oils, lavender in my case, to release all of the tension in my body while the mud wrap extracted impurities from my skin. After the final rinse, I left relaxed and rejuvenated.

You can enjoy this glow long after you leave the spa, as their product line, specially formulated by the spa, is available in the gift shop, and trust me; you’ll want to take it all.

The facilities include change rooms with lockers, essential for day-guests. On the grounds, there are hot and cold grottos, a coed eucalyptus sauna, and a pool for a quick dip in warmer months.

The relaxation continues in the comfortable guest rooms of The Main Inn, the newer North Wing with contemporary rooms or, the original section where the rooms have interesting architectural elements like original pine flooring and wardrobes. I stayed in the gorgeous Anne Elizabeth room where I had a sweeping view of Lake Ontario and the beautiful Northumberland Hills from my French balcony.

An overnight stay includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The knowledgeable staff will ensure you enjoy excellent meals and take into consideration any allergies or intolerances you may have.

Much of what you eat is grown on the property…they even have their own beef cattle.

I had delicious gluten-free pancakes for breakfast, Caesar Salad and Spaghetti Bolognese for lunch. When it was time for dinner, the heirloom beetroot salad was almost too pretty to eat, which then led into their special beef with port wine reduction and seasonal vegetables – simply delicious. There are so many delectable dishes to choose from but save room for the desserts like coconut milk ice cream (allergy-friendly) or rich, sea salt chocolate tarts. Alcohol is not served, so if you prefer a drink with dinner, bring your own bottle of wine.

Ste. Anne’s also owns an off-site bakery. If you love a particular treat, you can order more to take home!

Whether it be a girlfriend’s getaway, couples vacation or a solo trip away, Ste. Anne’s Spa is the spot for a little R&R.

Ste. Anne's Spa

Top rated
9.8 Excellent (219 reviews)

Hockley Valley Resort Spa, Mono

Even though Hockley Valley Resort Spa is less than an hour from Toronto, it feels like a million miles away. As you approach the resort and its 28 pristine acres, you instantly feel a sensation of relaxation, which continues throughout your stay.

Checking into the luxuriously appointed Vice Regal Suite I’m impressed by the magnificent wrought-iron spiral staircase leading to a king bed, Jacuzzi tub and elegant four-piece bathroom. After dropping off my luggage and inspecting the lower spacious sitting area with fireplace, I head to the spa.

I was greeted with a plush, comfortable robe and slippers. My treatment gave me access to the Oasis Cafe, the “Whisper Zone” Lounge, fitness facility, locker room, indoor and outdoor pool and sauna.

I chose the Aromatherapy Healing Body Treatment – and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my day. This 70-minute treatment consisted of a full body scrub followed by an aromatherapy cream application and hot stone back massage, which had me melting into the table. The package included a mini hydration facial, a relaxing scalp massage and lunch at the Oasis Cafe.

The treatment started with two deep breaths of the essential oil to relax and set the tone. Then, a sugar scrub was applied all over my body gently exfoliating my skin. After rinsing off, the technician applied rich cream and the relaxing hot stone massage began.

When my body was finished, it was on to my face. They cleansed, exfoliated and hydrated it, quenching my dry, thirsty skin and making it glow for days. The icing on the cake was the scalp massage — heavenly.

I left the spa radiant, refreshed and glowing from head to toe. My normally dry skin was smooth and silky for days and the specially formulated products didn’t cause any sensitivity.

If you love the products used in your treatment, they’re available in the gift shop. Some of the products they used are Laver Au Naturel from Caledon, Bridlewood Soaps from Orangeville, Naturopathica and Jan Iredale.

One of my favourite spots in the Hockley Valley Resort was the “Whisper Zone” (No cell phone calls). It was filled with comfortable armchairs, chaise lounges and a beautiful fireplace. I lingered for 30 minutes after my treatment, not wanting to leave the quiet, comfortable space where they provide colouring books, magazines, newspapers, tea and coffee.

The spa treatments aren’t the only draw at this resort. The food is a close second! I chose to eat at the Cabin restaurant. For lunch, I indulged in the beet salad, speckled with smoked goat cheese, shaved Brussel sprouts, beet crema, roasted grapes, Adamo Estate maple syrup and mustard vinaigrette, organic arugula and pecans — a delightful combination of ingredients.

Dinner was delectable. I dined on pan-roasted chicken, kabocha squash and bacon stuffing, mascarpone potatoes, roasted parsnips, sautéed greens, finished with bacon jus. Of course, I couldn’t leave without tucking into dessert! The Pear Upside Down married poached pears with vanilla cake, caramel sauce and a port wine gelato. A Cranberry Sparkle (non-alcoholic in my case) perfectly complimented this meal.

The Hockley Valley Spa is the perfect girlfriend’s getaway, with special packages like Wellness Wednesday and a Bachelorette Package. The spa has carefully arranged the chairs in the manicure and pedicure room so you can indulge in your treatments together. It’s located down the street from the Adamo Estate Winery where you can enjoy a wine tour or tasting as a part of your girls’ weekend.

Hockley Valley Resort

8.0 Very good (613 reviews)

Spa My Blend Spa, Toronto

As one of the most luxurious spas in Toronto, Spa My Blend by Clarins (at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto), helps you find the rest and relaxation you desire, without leaving the city. Drop your troubles (and cell phones*) at the door for an ultimate digital unplug and walk into the atmosphere of a resort. This is the perfect place for a brief respite in the city – for all the gang or those in need of a little “me-time.” My visit was a day-cation consisting of a treatment and afternoon tea.

Cell phone use isn’t prohibited in the spa, but frowned upon.

After disconnecting your devices, reconnect your senses through an Art of Touch treatment, which will energize and regenerate your face and body. It’s based on the three touches: Balancing Touch for relaxation, Stimulating Touch to energize and the Enveloping Touch for regeneration.

This treatment uses ClarinsPRO products, made of rich ingredients that melt into your skin like a buttery miniaturization. You will feel radiant for days.

Included in the spa treatments is a Complimentary Spa Day Pass, which gives you access to the Salt Water Lap Pool, Hot Tub, Sauna, Experience Showers, Eucalyptus Steam Room, Green Tea Infused Vitality Pool, and Fitness Centre.

One of my favourite spots in the spa is the Men & Women’s Relaxation Lounge and Co-ed Sanctuary where loungers with blankets await you as soothing, relaxing music plays lightly in the background. While you rest, you can sip Sloane tea and nibble on delicious bites from the snack bar, like mini carrot muffins, dried apples, yogurt pretzels and ginger bites.

The grand finale of my day was afternoon tea, available at the Ritz Café throughout the week. It’s a culinary delight not to be missed. Choose from their selection of delicious tea sandwiches, like Salmon Gravlax with Dill Cream or Roast Beef and Creamy Horseradish; and don’t forget the sweets. They have freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream and preserves, Ļe Ritz Carlton Signature Cake, Classic Cheesecake and fruit tarts — all complemented by your choice of Tea. I recommend the Heavenly Cream loose leaf Ceylon and Assam tea, which is blended with bergamot and creamy vanilla.

When you walk out the door of Spa My Blend, you’ll count the days until your return.my b

The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto

Top rated
9.5 Excellent (1688 reviews)

Finding some rest and relaxation doesn’t need to be a weeklong getaway; there are many options like the above; close to home and easy to fit into your schedule. What’s your favourite spa to visit?