NEW BRUNSWICK SPAS & WELLNESS TRAVEL
Like its neighbouring Atlantic Canada provinces, New Brunswick cannot boast a lot a spas, especially compared to Quebec, Ontario and B.C. However, come the summer season, it could be considered a destination for natural “hydro-therapy.” Currently the province boasts 1,419 named lakes and 3,813 rivers, which include creeks, streams and brooks. The length of all the rivers combined reaches 60,000 kms. It’s home to the Bay of Fundy and the “world’s highest tides,” the impressive falls at Grand Falls Gorge and Chaleur Bay recognized as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Hiking trails are plentiful and in summer and fall there are plenty of waterways to canoe and kayak.
Things you should know before you go.
SPAS IN NEW BRUNSWICK
The Spa at the Fairmont Algonquin, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea.
Inn on the Cove & Spa, Saint John
Spa eau Vive, Auberge de la Vallee, Bathurst
Spa Hopping in New Brunswick
Things you should know before you go:
• New Brunswick is home of some of the highest tides in the world. Read more...
• Best time to spot whales in the region is mid-August to early September. Read more...
• Major cities are Fredericton (capital), Moncton and Saint John.
• Sussex is known as the Covered Bridge Capital of Atlantic Canada. There are eight “kissing bridges” within ten minutes of the town hall.
• There are more than 900 kilometres of cross-country ski trails in New Brunswick.
St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, Southern New Brunswick
St. Andrews by the Sea is one of those gem-like seaside towns where you can spend the good part of a day just strolling the main street soaking in the atmosphere and breathing in the free sea salt air. A National Historic District, St. Andrews is located about an hour’s drive from the city of Saint John on the Southern shore of New Brunwick. Snuggled into Passamaquoddy Bay (part of the Bay of Fundy) the main street of St. Andrews is lined with a collection of shops (mostly touristy), galleries, restaurants and the famous tides. In the center of town is Market Wharf and directly across the bay, almost 4kms (two miles) is the coast of Maine.
The Spa at the Fairmont Algonquin, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea
Much like the grand resort itself, the spa is traditional in design and décor making it more comfortable for long time guests and the older clientele that the resort attracts. There are seven treatment rooms plus a dry sauna, a hot tub and swimming pool (in season.) There’s a full menu of treatments including facials, massages, body treatments with products such as seaweed and mud, manicures and pedicures. Waxing services and make-up applications are also available. If you are staying at the Fairmont, it’s a lovely stroll down through the residential part of this peaceful and picturesque town, toward the sea, the wharf and the main streets quaint collection of shops and restaurants. The Fairmont Algonquin hosts an annual Wellness Weekend in April.
Worth a detour: Bear River - Artist Community on Stilts
Inn on the Cove & Spa, Saint John
Located just a five-minute drive west from downtown Saint John (the provincial capital and recently named the "happiest city in Canada"), this intimate inn and spa is right on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. At the time we visited it was the only inn and spa in the port city with direct water access. The owner-operated inn offers just nine guest rooms and the spa just four treatment rooms. There’s also a dining room plus a garden and terraced lot that descends to the shore. From the full menu of services, facials and the mud wrap are the most popular, while the signature treatment is the Hot Stone Massage using stones direct from the bay. It's a pleasant and peaceful spot and guests tend to stay anywhere from one night to two-weeks. The product line at the time of our visit was Phytomer. Because owner says a lot of her clients have allergies or are sensitive to scents, it’s a scent-free enviroment so don’t expect to walk in and be enveloped by scents of aromatherapy.
Take a meditative walk along the shore during low tide or drive into the port city of Saint John, just five minutes away, to hit one of three historic and self-guided walking tours. It is also near the Irving Nature Park where you can go for a hike along sandy beaches and numerous trails and see marine wildlife and flora and fauna.
Other spas in Saint John
Element5 Spa is located in the downtown Market Square shopping complex.
Spa Eau Vive, Auberge de la Vallee, Bathurst
Located on the eastern coast of New Brunswick along Chaleur Bay, recognized as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Bathurst is one of the main cities in New Brunswick.
A five-minute drive from Bathurst (two hours from Moncton) and located on 13-acres of property that was once home to a monestery, Spa Eau Vive at Auberge Vallee is one of the few full-service spas with accommodations in Northern NewBrunswick. There is a log-cabin-style main building, plus four spacious cottages connected by walkways perfect for girl getaways. About 60 per cent of guests come for the spa, the remaining 40 just come to relax. There’s a good size indoor pool, two inter-connected massage rooms for couples, a capsule float bath, and signature treatments such as Balneotherapy – bath therapy with mud, chocolate, aromatherapy oils or seaweed. One treatment room used for body wraps has a Tamascal shower complete with aromatherapy and light therapy. The lounge, with expansive windows overlooking the enclosed back yard garden, is a nice spot to enjoy lunch between treatments. The dining room features local fish and seafood.
More about New Brunwick Tides
It takes six hours for the tides to roll in, they linger for about 20 minutes, then it takes another six hours for them to recede, exposing a wide expanse of beach. This happens twice in a 24-hour period. The full and new moons of late summer and late winter bring the highest tides. Take a stroll to the end of the town’s wooden wharf and you can see where the tides rise 8 metres (26 feet). Don’t think about swimming. Even in summer, the waters are way too chilly. More on New Brunswick tides.
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The Whale Watching Scene
According to St. Andrew-by-the-Sea whale watching interpreter Derrick Beardsworth, the best time to spot whales in the region is mid-August to early September. Varieties include Finbacks – one of the largest mammals in the world that can grow up to 26 plus metres (about 80 feet) Minke (8 - 9 metres or 25-30 feet), and humpbacks. He says seeing a breach (when the wales jumps out of the water) is hit and miss. “Mostly it’s a ‘tail fluke.’” He says there are only 350 North Atlantic Right Whales left in the world and 200-250 of them call the Bay of Fundy home.
At the time of this interview, Beardsworth was an interpreter with The Jolly Breeze, a 25 metre (74 foot)long tallship that resembles an old pirate ship. He says because of the ship’s size and because it sits so deep in the water there is minimum rocking and no sea-sickness. The educational, narrated tour takes customers 4-5 km (12 to 15 miles) into the bay then stops and hangs around for about an hour looking for whales...
New Brunswick Hiking Trails
Local guide and whale watching interpreter Derrick Beardsworth has hiked most regions of the Atlantic provinces and he has his favourites. One is Dobson Trail (www.dobson-trail.com) with what he calls an easy-to-average hiking trail offering designated camping areas with spring water. He says Fundy National Park (www.fundyweb.com) is good for day hikers because it offers a wide variety of trails – gravel, wood and forest path – to suit different interests and levels of hikers. Along the coast the terrain runs from moss to dry open fields. For highly advanced hikers Beardsworth likes the Fundy Foot Path (www.fundyweb.com/fundy/trails.html) “It’s one of the harder trails on the east coast,” he says, “and you need to know the tides times because there is a beach crossing.”
He says people come from all over the world to do the hike and it’s often that hikers get trapped in high tides. He says it takes three to four days to complete the trail and it’s best to go with someone with some knowledge of the area. For those who like a tamer hiking experience Simpson Trail (www.simpsonhill.ca) winds up the side of Simpson Mountain and affords a lovely view of St. Andrews and the bay from its summit. Running from St. Andrews almost all the way to St. John, the New Brunswick Trail (web site), an old CP Rail bed, is good for both hiking and biking. He says the New Brunswick Trail system is good for beginning hikers and one trail allows one to follow the coast for two to three hours then turn around and come back to town. Chamcook Mountain offers a mountain side trail built in the 1800 for horse and buggy. Beardsworth says it now is marked with interpretive plaques.
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