We are such big fans of Ste. Anne's Spa in Grafton, Ontario that when the same owners invited us to visit their newest sister spa, The Dorset Manor - we jumped at the opportunity to visit them in Port Hope. Newly re-opened in May 2011 after over $100,000 in renovations, the rustic inn is warm, comfortable and full of charm. It's the perfect little place for a romantic getaway or to recharge out of the city on a girlfriends getaway. Yes, the bed was actually so high that it required a step stool (above).
My first treatment upon arrival was The Botanical Resurfacing Facial ($120/60 mins) which included cleansing, exfoliation, a hydrating masque, a face and arm massage along with a foot scrub. I felt very relaxed, especially with no painful extractions this time around.
My spacious guest room for the weekend
The view from our suite at the top of the hill overlooked four wooded acres and Lake Ontario. I felt nestled in nature inside a gorgeous Victorian mansion. The inn features only nine rooms, so it was easy to find peace and quiet. We had our own little balcony with Muskoka chairs to relax and drink our coffee in. The building is not licensed, however guests are encouraged to bring along their own wine and beer. I actually chose not to drink that weekend, so my body could fully detox.
The best way to relax after the drive-in from Toronto was with Afternoon Tea served in a sun-filled dining room. I felt instantly energized after some veggies & dip, herbal tea, fruit skewers, mini-sandwiches and sweets. The chef also accommodates gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian diets.
The overnight rate might seem pricey at first glance, but it does include breakfast, a three-course lunch, afternoon tea and four-course dinner. Not to mention a $100 spa allowance and use of all the facilities - hot tub, sauna, steam room, saltwater pool and relaxation areas. Rates start at $425 per person/night, but your brain doesn't have to work the entire you're at The Dorset Manor. Life really just becomes: eat, spa, relax, sleep and repeat. You're never thinking about where to go for dinner or how much everything is going to cost - the inn is all-inclusive and taken care of.
The main dining room where all the meals are served
Complimentary bicycles are available for loan and an active way to see some of the beautiful homes and buildings that have been restored throughout Port Hope.
Right before dinner we took a drive over to the salmon run, where they were jumping out of the water like crazy. I have never seen anything like this before in real life and I couldn't believe the energy and vigour of the fish. I recommending hopping in your car or grabbing a bike and not missing a trip to this beautiful creek.
A thick and rich Roasted Tomato Soup to start with a crispy Parmesan crouton for dinner
Seasoned Beef with Roasted Vegetables & Rice Pilaf for a healthy main course
Fruit & Seed Tart for dessert - definitely an original and perfectly paired with a dark coffee
One of the many relaxation areas (above) where you could curl up with a magazine or good book. We really felt like we were guests at a friend's country house. The Dorset Manor makes you feel at home and because it's a small country inn, it never feels busy. I loved just walking around in my bathrobe all weekend. The spa facilities are co-ed, so bring a bathing suit - it's a romantic getaway where you can hang with your significant other.
Breakfast the next morning included a self-serve continental display plus a hot option off their made-to-order menu. A selection of juices, coffee and tea were also available to us.
After breakfast I had a unique seasonal treatment called The Hydrating Chocolate Wrap ($145/60 mins). I received a peppermint and hot chocolate foot soak and then had my body exfoliated from head-to-toe before a masque of moor mud and cocoa was applied. While wrapped in warm towels, I received a vanilla-mint face, scalp and foot massage and fell asleep in heavenly bliss. Once I rinsed off all the mud, my therapist met me with a hot chocolate drink in her hand while I skipped off smelling like a molten lava cake. My skin was glowing and detoxified. I couldn't believe how relaxed I was and fell into a deep sleep that night.
After check-out, we took a drive over to the lovely Main Street district of Port Hope. I got some pretty pictures of the Ganaraska River that runs through the historic Downtown of Port Hope. It's lovely just to take a walk around the river and unplug for a bit and soak up country life.
If you're looking for a bit more action, visit all the adorable little antique shops and specialty boutiques along Walton Street. Don't miss The Wicked Wik for handmade soaps and candles. The Dreamers Cafe is a charming bakery cafe with a famous 'crazy cookie' that you'll need to try for yourself. I love visiting a small town and exploring all the unique and local-owned businesses - it's so much more refreshing than shopping around in a mall. TVO named it the "Best Preserved Main Street in Ontario", so don't miss it.
We finished our glorious weekend visit with a green salad, sandwiches and a hearty lasagna back at The Dorset Manor Spa before making the 90 minute drive back to Toronto.
To learn more visit, The Dorset Manor Spa, Port Hope - www.DorsetManorSpa.com
CONTEST!!! Want To Experience The Spa Life?
We're giving away a Carpe Diem Day Spa for Ste. Anne's Spa ($185 value) which includes:
* 3-course lunch
* Afternoon Tea
* $100 Spa Allowance
* One Group Wellness Class
* Complete use of the facilities from 8:30am - 6:00pm
Also! Every person who enters will receive a bonus $25 spa allowance to use at their leisure for your next visit! A winner will be chosen at random on May 27th, 2012 - good luck.