The scene upon arrival was like a winter wonderland!
We checked in and got a little tour of the spa which was great because some things have changed since I was there 2 years ago! The first thing we did was borrow a pair of snow shoes and give them a try! Neither of us had ever tried snowshoeing so this was a really neat opportunity since they have them available. You can sign up for a free class where you're led on a guided hike along one of their trails, or you can borrow them on your own like we did (I wasn't sure we'd last for the whole class).
We set out on a hike to the tranquility garden that my mom & I had seen in the spring when we visited. The snow was high (great for snowshoeing) but the view was still amazing- just a lot snowier! The statues had a layer of snow on them, and so did the buildings around the spa.
We went snowshoeing across the grounds that my mom and I had leisurely walked across in our spa robes. I grabbed this photo of Ken, helping out with my camera bag. :)
This was our view of the spa from out there:
I'm so glad we had the opportunity to do that- it was like a bucket list item I didn't even realize I had! I'm also glad we decided to do that first because I don't know if we would've been able to convince ourselves to go from cozy spa robes indoors to snow pants, boots, and snowshoes outside!
I had been looking forward to sharing Ste. Anne's food with Ken because good food is one of our favourite things to experience together. Our first opportunity was during afternoon tea on the day we arrived.
I ordered hot apple cider (which came complete with a cinnamon stick). We both liked the cider so much that we got it with several of our meals too. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity during afternoon tea to sample different cheeses, sandwiches, and sweet treats along with an assortment of fruit and vegetables. Some of our favourites were the chicken & cranberry sliders, the fruit kebabs, and Ste. Anne’s signature scones served with honey butter, house made preserve and devonshire cream.
That afternoon we checked into the Birdsong spa cottage. This is the same cottage I stayed in with my mom but this time we stayed in the Dove room.
This section of the cottage was smaller than the Eagle's Nest (you can check that out in my previous post) but it was just as beautiful and was plenty of space for us! We had a king sized canopy bed which faced a beautiful fire place. The room came with an essential oils diffuser, loaded and ready to go- I loved that little touch! Our room also had a sitting room and just across the hall from our room was a shared kitchen with doors that went directly outside to a hot tub (a new addition since our last visit)!
My favourite part of the bathroom was the rainfall shower with side jets! I also really like that they give you a sample of their signature bar soaps. Ste. Anne's Skin Nourishment body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion is available wherever you go at the spa, in the bathrooms, locker rooms, spa cottages, etc.
After getting settled into our cottage, we headed back to the spa where we sat in a couple of massage chairs in the quiet room before dinner. We had a late dinner and with the sun setting so early in the winter it was dark when we ate and I wasn't able to get nice photos of our food for you, but let me tell you we fully enjoyed our short rib and rack of lamb! The meat in particular was amazing- the portions were large and the meat was incredibly tender. We were very happy with it and stuffed by the end of dinner! Stay tuned for food photos from our second day later in this post!
It was dark by the time we had our late dinner, but we wanted to experience the fieldstone grotto, so we braved the cold night air and went for it! Ken felt the need to try the cold plunge pool (craziness! I did it during June and that was enough for me). The lap pool was heated to a nice temperature (which probably felt like a hot tub to Ken after that plunge) so he tried that for a little while too. Then we enjoyed the hot tub together- my favourite part. I took a couple of photos with my phone in the dark so you could get an idea of the beautiful surroundings and how very cold it was, too! Someone had left a towel draped over the handrail by the hot tub and it had icicles hanging from it!
When we were finished, we grabbed our robes and made the dash inside and straight for the eucalyptus steam room where we quickly got warm again. Then we traded our swim suits and robes for coats and boots for the short drive back to our cottage. At this point it was so cold outside that we changed our minds about using the hot tub outside our cottage, deciding that the one at the grotto was good enough. As we drove up to the cottage, we could see the steam rising from the side of the house where someone else at our cottage was using the hot tub. That's when my mind changed again... after all, if they could do it, we could do it.. right?
I'm so glad we decided to use it! By the time we were ready to go out, our neighbours were finished using it. It was dark outside and the only light was coming from the lights inside the hot tub. As soon as we got settled, it started to snow! Big, fat chunks of fluffy snow were slowly floating down between the branches of a tree above us and it was like magic! That's one thing I will not forget from this visit. It was so peaceful and pretty! I couldn't get a photo in that dark (nor did I want to in my wet swimsuit in the middle of the night!) but I did grab one the next morning, so you could see the pretty location with a nice little fence around it for privacy.
Not only are the dishes beautifully presented and delicious, but I love that they include so many local ingredients, many from their own property. They are also very aware of food sensitivities and happy to cater to different dietary needs.
For breakfast, Ken had eggs benedict and I had crème brûlée french toast with coconut cream and caramelized apples. I LOVED my french toast! It was so light and fluffy!
Before I tell you what we did between breakfast & lunch, I'm just going to skip ahead to lunch since we're on the subject of food!
I had the beet salad for my starter and Ken had the meatball marinara. I have always liked beets alright, but this salad renewed and increased my love for them- it was fabulous! Ken said the meatball marinara was like "a party in your mouth" because it was so flavourful. I got a taste of it and I have to agree.
For our entrées Ken chose the beef burger and I went with the pan seared trout. Isn't my trout dish beautiful? I loved the cilantro sour apple tzaziki that it was paired with. In the middle of those photos, I shared a shot of my tea because I loved the Festive Flare tea! I wish I could find a description of it for you because it is composed of so many different things from fruit to gingerbread and even popcorn!
Ken had carrot cake for dessert and I had their delicious raspberry orange sorbet. This sorbet was SO delicious that we went to the bakery before we left and bought some to take home with us!
Between breakfast & lunch, we each had a spa treatment scheduled. Ken had a European massage (his first massage ever) and he walked back into the waiting room looking very relaxed. He said it was much better than he expected and a very nice experience. I tried something new this time: a nourishing seaweed body wrap. I'm glad I did because it was a really neat experience. The dry brush exfoliation was a new experience for me. My skin was super soft afterward and I was very relaxed. We were both happy to be able to take home a little "souvenir" from our treatments (Ken was given some massage oil and I got to take home my dry brush for future use).
New Dining Room & Lounge Areas
Ste. Anne's has been expanding and recently added a new dining room to their facilities. The room has two parts, both with large windows, letting in plenty of natural light. I like that they decided to make two dining rooms because each one feels more intimate while still allowing them to host more people at once.
If your spa treatment times are different like ours were, there are lots of things to do and ways to relax while you wait. I had a massage in the quiet room massage chairs again, sat in the sauna in the ladies locker room, and enjoyed a rain shower with Ste. Anne's Skin Nourishment body wash. When that was all done, I had a few minutes to relax in the new lounge area (which is in the old dining room). I curled up on a couch, looking out the window at the gorgeous view that I remember from the dining room last time I visited. This room now has lots of couches for relaxing, visiting, or resting. You'll also find games, apples, granola, and biscotti in the lounge areas throughout the spa.
I'm not really an exercise-to-relax person so I didn't visit the fitness facility during my last visit, but during our tour, I caught the words "treadmill under water" and my interest was piqued! So when the time came for us to hand in our robes, we made one last stop at the fitness facility (which is in a separate building, just down the road from the main building). I wanted to experience this underwater treadmill! It was pretty cool. You could adjust the speed of the treadmill and even add extra current for more resistance. There was also a hot tub at the fitness facility, so we finished our visit off with a little soak before hopping in the car for our drive home.
On our way out, we stopped at Ste. Anne's bakery (which is separate from the main spa) and picked up some of their granola to give to Ken's mom as a thank-you for watching our girls. We also bought some raspberry orange sorbet and a jar of strawberry jam (some of the items we loved and wanted to bring a taste of Ste. Anne's home with us).
This visit was different in many ways from my springtime visit but it was great in its own unique way. There isn't as much to do outside during the winter, but part of the experience is being able to relax while enjoying the wintry view from the warmth of your cozy spa robe!
Thank you to Ste. Anne's Spa for hosting us for our spa getaway!