It’s so tempting to laze a bit longer by the pool. The sun warms your skin. A summer breeze wafts off Lake Ontario. But in the gazebo of the lush garden, the masseuse is ready to lull you even further into tranquility with a signature “Valenova Wave Massage.” Your backdrop: an exquisitely restored 1874 mansion. At Port Hope, ON’s Hillcrest Inn, it’s all about you. And what’s best of all, you already entered the relaxation zone en route. On a train.
Can you take a train to wellness? Affirmative. In July 2007, VIA Rail and Premier Spas of Ontario launched “The Route to Well-being” on Ontario corridor trains. The Toronto-Ottawa stretch has 10 retreats, both urban and rural. Trips by day, overnight or longer — each superb and each with its own personality. Spas transport you to and from the nearest station, so you can begin unwinding the minute you sink into the train’s comfy seats. Gridlock, good-bye.
The Hillcrest Inn – A Valenova Spa, Port Hope Guests feel instantly at home, thanks to nurturing staff, customized programs and gourmet cuisine. It’s the only location in North America that offers famously organic Dr. Hauschka treatments and products. “They’re as pure as you can get,” says Hillcrest owner, Robin Dines. www.thehillcrest.ca
Claramount Inn & Spa, Picton An antique collector and family physician-turned-spa-maven has brought this gracious colonial revival mansion overlooking Picton Bay to new life. Her signature hydrotherapy treatments are based on the teachings of Sebastian Kneipp, the father of naturopathy. Kneipp’s five elements of wellness, combined with other modern philosophies, are the basis for treatments that revive tired feet and legs. Aching muscles revive after an hour of “Aqua Massage Therapy” in the salt water pool. www.claramountinn.com
Au Naturel Wellness & Medical Spa at Brookstreet Hotel, Kanata A sophisticated sanctuary: minimalist with punch, deep colours, exotic contrasts, corporate chic. Located on the second floor of a glitzy high-rise hotel, locals and stressed-out suits (especially twosomes who can’t resist the couples’ massage suite), bask in the spa’s luxurious atmosphere and star treatments. A local cosmetic surgeon gives in-house consultations. www.brookstreet.ca
Holtz Spa, Ottawa At Holtz — Ottawa’s best-loved spa — city life goes Zen at this oasis just a step from bustling Rideau Street. Harmonious sounds, holistic Eastern treatments with Tibetan healing bowls and gourmet Asian cuisine make you feel as if you’ve been whisked on a magic carpet to a remote, exotic sanctuary. www.holtzspa.com www.premierspasofontario.ca www.viarail.ca