Ontario Spa Retreats – Grail Springs

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Photo courtesy of Grail Springs Wellness Retreat, Ontario

by Anne Dimon

Detox. It’s been a buzz word in the spa industry for a number of years. Spa enthusiasts have been dipping themselves in mud baths, having the body wrapped in seaweed, and steaming themselves in sweat tanks until toxins literal ooze from every pore. Generally people think of detox in term of drugs, smoking and alcohol addiction, but in spa terms “detox” is more about ridding the body of everyday toxins – things such as pesticides in food, heavy metals in fish and environmental pollution. Then there are those emotional toxins – those unresolved issues that impair the mind from reaching a total sense of calm.

At Grail Springs Health & Wellness Centre in Bancroft, Ontario “detox” is much more than a buzz word: it is the focus of a weekend program called Detox in a Weekend. About three years ago, Madeleine Marentette, owner of this 13-guest room, Medieval-themed destination spa, introduced three, six-day health programs ( Detox Cleansing, Health Rejuvenation and Weight Loss) and they were so successful that guests asked for something they can do over a weekend. “I believe detox should become an annual process in everyone’s life,” she says, “just like visiting a dentist.” She says, “people are getting smarter and more self responsible about their own health. We are taking greater control over our own wellbeing.”

When I suggested to my daughter, Julia, that we could both use a little detox, she worried that it would be all about drinking fruit juice and watery soup. She wasn’t up for that. Yes, the weekend does revolve around a set, acid/alkaline, PH Balance menu with dishes designed for detox, but bland and boring it is not.

Beyond the hemp, quinoa and sunflower seeds, there is ginger carrot soup, poached salmon, baby spinach with marinated seasonal vegetables , and baked hemp encrusted talapia. Breakfast begins with a shot of Moor mud mixed with orange juice. It looks a whole lot more like mud than orange juice. The mud, our server says, “brings minerals to the inside of the body and helps in the detox process.” Bottoms up! A hemp protein shake follows. A twist on a blueberry/banana/herb smoothie – not the tastiest smoothie, mind you – in fact, it tastes a little like gritty chalk. “It’s weird,” proclaims the smoothie princess making a face as she sips the smoky green concoction. We gaze longingly at the next table where a romantic, young couple is enjoying warm banana crepes. Not everyone sitting here in this lovely cedar-lined dining room with its cathedral ceiling and floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace is in the detox mode.

The yoga class that follows finds our instructor explaining how yoga, too, can help with detoxification. Deep abdominal breathing and positions that twist the abdominal region are good, she says, because they help digestion and stimulate the body to rid itself of waste more quickly and efficiently.

Meditation, she explains, is good for ridding the mind of emotional toxins but like anything else it takes practice. “If the mind wanders, just gently bring your thoughts back to focus on breathing,” she advises.

Over lunch, the chef gives us a mini workshop on healthy eating. Then it’s time for a two-in-one detox body wrap. The therapist applies an active seaweed to the areas more prone to storing cellulite which she explains as toxic pockets gathering around the cells and eventually causing that annoying dimpling of the skin. You can actually feel the tingling of the seaweed as you hope it’s doing the job. The mud is applied to the other areas of the body for a calming effect. Both are detoxifying. A warm shower rinses the body and it’s ready to be massaged with gels and lotions to cool the skin and help in the firming process.

In between the healthy eating, yoga and spa treatments, there are walking trails, afternoon tea on the front terrace, relaxation in private meditation areas, a dip in an outdoor hot tub and, weather permitting, canoeing on a private spring fed lake.

No way a two-night program is going to rid us of all the toxins that have collected in our systems over the years, but it’s a good start. For those wanting something more intensive, Grail Springs also offers weeklong wellness programs.

For more information: www.grailsprings.com