About this series: Wheels wants to inspire you to get ready to explore — but only when it is safe to do so. This series of daytrips and longer drives highlight great experiences you can have in the province and across Canada, ands show you why this country is “Ours to Discover.”
The ancient Greeks were onto something when they used bathing and spas as a form of therapy. Take a cue from them this winter and make a road trip to a spa. Having weathered the unprecedented times of the pandemic, escaping for a day of pampering is precisely the self-care we could all use right now. It’s also a great way to enjoy a fresh start to the year ahead. From getting those tight muscles expertly kneaded to giving your skin the TLC it’s crying out for, visiting any one of these five serene spas will allow you an opportunity to regroup and recharge.
About an hour-and-a half-drive from Toronto, OSpa can be found at the Oban Inn, a boutique hotel in Niagara-On-The-Lake. The calming contemporary space — with a striking domed brick ceiling in the spa’s lounge — exudes an intimate ambiance. Visit a winery or two in the morning and then stop into OSpa for its Grape Seed and Algae Signature Body Wrap. Featuring local red grape seed extract, this antiaging and detoxifying 85-minute wrap begins with a dry exfoliation. Then, once the treatment is applied, you’re wrapped up in warm sheets like a burrito and the therapist treats your scalp, face and feet while the polyphenols, iodine and vitamins work on the rest of your body. After you shower it off, you’re slathered with a warm hydrating lotion infused with essential oils. You’ll leave feeling reborn.
Getting there: Take the Queen Elizabeth Way west out of Toronto toward the Niagara Region, followed by Regional Road 55 to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Elora Mill Hotel and Spa
For nature lovers looking for some spa time, a 90-minute drive northwest from Toronto in the quaint town of Elora is the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa. The spa overlooks Elora’s star attraction, the stunning Elora Gorge. Take in the breathtaking cliffside view from the hot tub before you enjoy the bliss of your treatment, with the spa’s guest experience liaison looking after every detail of your visit. Try its Rose Quartz Restorative Body Treatment, a massage treatment that harnesses the healing and radiant energies of rose quartz crystals. Afterwards, feeling rejuvenated and your skin expertly tended to, you’ll glow inside and out and all of that pandemic stress will feel much more manageable.
Getting there: Drive west on Highway 401 toward Guelph and then head north on Highway 6, or by following the Queen Elizabeth Way to just before Hamilton and then heading north on Highway 6.
A Relais & Château property, Cambridge’s Langdon Hall Country House and Spa (about an hour’s drive west from Toronto) is one of only 14 properties in Canada with this prestigious designation, which recognizes its superior dining, accommodations and architecture. Driving up to stately Langdon Hall, which was built around 1898 and is surrounded by a Carolinian forest, will make you feel like a member of Canada’s historical high society. But, once in the spa and wrapped up in your bathrobe, the spa’s Valmont facials will transport you to present-day bliss.
Getting there: Take Highway 401 west to Cambridge.
Ste. Anne’s Spa
About a 90-minute drive east of Toronto in Grafton, you’ll find the 1800s fieldstone castle that houses Ste. Anne’s Spa. Outside is an expansive hydrotherapy are — including a lazy river and warming room — while inside are 30 treatment rooms where you can let go of the stresses you’ve been holding onto. Put yourself in the capable hands of one of the spa’s therapists and try its Rose Petal and Honey Body Wrap. Using rose petals from the property’s gardens and honey from its bees, your tired soles get a rose tea foot bath, followed by a massage using a rose and honey mask. Once wrapped up in warm sheets, your scalp gets some attention with an aromatic massage. Shower off the mask, slip back into your fluffy robe and head straight to lunch. Don’t worry, nearly all of the spa’s guests will be in their robes, too.
Getting there: Drive on Highway 401 east to Grafton, which is just past Cobourg.
Enjoy an invigorating water circuit experience just a two-hour drive north from Toronto at the sprawling 25-acre property of Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain in Grey County. Never been to a hydrotherapy spa? You start in a hot bath to warm up for 10 minutes (there’s a thermal waterfall, steam room or sauna, too). Then, to release toxins from your body, you plunge into cold water (about seven to 13 C) for 10 or 15 seconds to get your heart rate and endorphins going. Return to a resting heart rate by spending 15 minutes in the solarium or by one of the spa’s outdoor fireplaces, then repeat the whole circuit another few times. Once done and bundled up you stroll through the property’s forest bathing trail, which features eight spots where you are invited to stop, reflect and take in the moment.
Getting there: Drive on Highway 400 north toward Barrie, taking Highway 26 west to Collingwood.
For the drive
Get into a relaxed frame of mind for the drive by listening to BBC 3’s “Slow Radio” podcast, which features ambient sounds from places around the world, such as an episode that takes you from London to the Suffolk coast by bike. Listening will allow you to let yourself slow down mentally, setting the tone for a day of rest and relaxation
COVID-19 need to know
Note that the government-mandated proof of vaccination rule is in effect. Check provincial guidelines (ontario.ca) and contact the businesses before you head out on your spa excursion.