Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My world is full of incredible women!

Donna tries to co-ordinate her visit to Ste. Anne's with her best friend's trip to the groomer. Donna is a non-stop whirling dirvy - she makes the energizer bunny look like a slow poke. A member of the Winnipeg National Ballet from 1962 to 1970, she still works out with a group of friends for 2 hours every morning. She fills her days running Donna's Country Garden out of her beautiful home overlooking the Trent River in Frankford. If you think the afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel is something special, you haven't been to Donna's place for tea and a tour of her gardens!

Last night Donna had about 100 of her best non-canine friends, customers, and supporters to her house to celebrate the addition of a new sun room to her home, a place where she can serve tea to her guests on rainy days. You see, Donna celebrates every moment in life. The picture shows Donna glowingly surrounded by some of her fans from her Ste. Anne's extended family: starting on the right, my 78 year old mother, who still comes to work at the spa everyday touching up the floral arrangements, checking on the rooms, adding those little touches that make it a home away from home for our guests, Donna, David, a very popular part of our family and friend to many, many guests, (regular long term spa guests rarely leave without asking for him), Rebecca Ryan who ran the spa for 10 years and now operates one of the most creative, warm and loving day spas you will ever experience (just north of Trenton) called Lolly Lodge, and her loving husband Dan. Peeking in from the back between Becky and Dan is my sister-in-law Nancy, our effervescent innkeeper and wife to my youngest brother John. Nancy spreads sunshine through out the spa, and has become a tireless champion of the book "Breaking the Vicious Cycle", offering hope to people suffering from maladies like colitis, I.B.S., and autism, written by another amazing woman, the late Elaine Gottschall.

These are but a few of the men, and mostly women who have in some way become associated with the Ste. Anne's story over the past 16 years. I could name others, politicians, movie stars, musicians, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, literally thousands of people. I salute all of them for their enduring energy and enthusiasm, zest for life and stamina. No matter what life throws at them they all stand tall and like Donna keep reaching out to those around them with genuine love and affection. Thank you God for yanking that rib out of Adam, and thank you Adam for the rib!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's all in the hands . . .

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone say "my husband refuses to have a massage with a man", or in some cases "What do you mean my treatment is with a man!", I'd be a very rich man. I must tell you, having been in the spa business for 16 years, I see this issue a little differently than some. The very first massage I ever had was with a man working at a hotel in Vancouver. He told me that he had been Bob Hope's personal "masseuse", and that Mr. Hope had a massage every day. It came as no surprise when Bob outlived all of his friends! I also have fond memories of the ritual at the centuries old "baths" in Budapest - no room for modesty here. You were given a little 6" X 6" apron to cover up your privates, as a big burly man slapped you around on the massage table. So, my advice to those people who are concerned about the gender of the person giving you your massage (or other spa treatment):

1. Look at their hands - they will be doing most of the work;

2. Consider their qualifications;

3. Relax and enjoy the good intentions of your therapist; spa practitioners in Ontario are the most regulated, trained and professional in the world.

At Ste. Anne's Spa we employ both male and female therapists from a variety of racial and religious backgrounds.

For answers to more questions about spas, visit Spa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What a spectacular day it was today, and to top it all off, we had an incredible sunset, and a crescent moon. Life/nature is such a wonderful thing on days like today. Best wishes to our American friends as they celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Since leaving Toronto 16 years ago to make the move back to Grafton and Ste. Anne's, I find myself spending less and less time in the city. However, when I do need to be in "the big smoke", I find I am drawn to parts of the city that remind me of my home in the country. More often than not, I treat myself to a night at The Old Mill Inn& Spa. Not only have they perfected the fine art of hospitality, I just love the architecture, the comfortable rooms, and the old world charm that brings this place together. Walking into the dining room is like stepping back in time - huge wooden beams and stone walls connect soaring ceilings in a series of rooms that echo the sounds of the musicians who play here nightly. And, as you would expect, the food is wonderfully presented and delicious. I salute the Kalmar family who have done a fantastic job of keeping a Toronto landmark alive. My only disappointment is with my lack of planning, which usually means that spa appointments are not available for me to book at the last minute, a sign that this out of the way place continues to be a popular destination for Torontonians looking for a unique and exquisitely comfortable escape within the city limits.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Got a text message from a friend asking me if I'd like to take his wife and kids to the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto so that he could get some work done on the house. I had planned to spend the day in my office reading a business book in preparation for a Monday morning management meeting. What the heck, I thought - it'll be fun, and I can always do my reading in bed. I can't remember the last time I was at the Santa Claus Parade - I do remember when it used to be the Eaton's Santa Claus Parade, and I remember when Eaton's pulled out, and it continued without them, and now, where is Eaton's? Thinking I'd be a smart public transit user, we parked at Yorkdale, got all the kids zipped up and made our way to the station. I couldn't believe my eyes - the line-up extended all the way back to the mall - there must have been 500 people lining up to get into the subway station. We packed the kids back in the car, and drove right downtown, to Queen and Church. After a quick pit stop at the smallest MacDonalds in the world, we joined the hordes of people pushing and shoving to get the best view of the parade. One of the kids was old enough to make her way to close to the front of the crowd, but kept finding herself in front of taller adults pushing their way in front of her. I ended up with one 40 pound child on my shoulders for the full 2 hours of floats, bands, and of course, old St. Nick himself. All in all, a great day, nothing a nice hot bubble bath couldn't fix. Next year, I'm going to bring a step ladder for the kids to perch on so the adults can all take their rightful place at the front of the pack!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday morning, 5:45 I got a call from the night auditor - a CO2 detector at one of the spa cottages has gone off. Pulled on some track pants and a hoodie and set off to work. Very dark, but very peaceful at this time of day, a chubby rabbit crosses my path, and some other night dweller is in the ditch. I switched detectors and checked all the gas appliances - everything seemed to be in order, so I went back to bed. I should get up early more often - we miss so much when we sleep! The cool fall weather, combined with lots of spa treatments makes for a good night's sleep! Come to Ste. Anne's Spa for your next escape!