Some secrets are just too good to keep. Contrary to popular belief, Yorkville is not the best place for close-range celeb-sightings. Grail Springs Retreat for Wellbeing in Bancroft, surrounded by solid rock and evergreen forests, is the secret sanctuary of the TMZ headliners. They’re picked up at Pearson or from their private planes at nearby Peterborough Airport and whisked to Grail by Bancroft Taxi.
The secrets of the stars are safe with me. But we’ve all come for the same reason: a wellness vacation. It consists of the five essential elements to achieving optimum health: internal cleansing and general detoxification; nourishment through a high alkaline organic diet; exercise and breathing—cardio, pilates, yoga to stretch our bodies and untie the knots; and peace of mind in luxurious country comfort.
Madeleine Marentette, owner of this holy grail of spas, has introduced three health programs: Detox Cleansing, Health Rejuvenation, and Weight Loss.
After the New Year, I plan on jump-starting a regime of good health, and losing a few pounds, before the excesses of the past holiday season become ingrained habits. It’s the best gift I can give myself. We can all benefit from Detox Cleansing, there are pesticides in food, metals in fish, environmental pollution, and of course, emotional toxins that impair our sense of well being.
Breakfast begins at 8:00 in the vaulted ceiling, golden pine dining room. I’m here early, hungry, and take a table in front of a wood burning fireplace that’s big enough to roast a whole lamb. I look forward to the Anti-oxidant smoothie that’s made with hemp protein, almond milk, almonds, seeds, sprouts, berries, figs, prunes, durian, avocado and that all important fish-oil. Talk about an eye-opener that packs a powerful punch! And they’ve mixed the Irish oatmeal with sliced almonds and other crunchy bits. By mid day, I’m afloat on a sea of exotic herbal tea: Shanghai Spice that tastes of licorice root and cinnamon bark and a myriad of other spices; Long Grass Slim tea made from a globally sourced herbs and extracts; Black Vanilla Rose with the yin of the vanilla bean and the yang of black tea.
The kitchen doesn’t skimp on beautifully designed meals that are prepared free of white flour, wheat, sugar or dairy and in accordance with each specific program. Grilled filet of Tilapia with asparagus and peppers; halibut with crushed pistachios, and vegetables so perfect I don’t leave even one morsel on the plate. Grilled chicken and salad sprinkled with yummy hemp seeds is a first for me, and these nutritional seeds, with their amazing properties have become a new staple in my kitchen.
I look forward to the exotic elixirs and tonics that brim with phyto-nutrients and other botanical wonders. Even cabbage and beet soup (something I would usually cross the street to avoid) is delectable. The Chef believes that a high alkaline organic diet is the missing link to achieving optimum health and preventing premature aging. Sounds good to me.
Even this spa junkie is impressed with the technique in the Spa which includes Rekai and magically healing Cranial Sacral Therapy. But the treatment Hollywood leading ladies get pre-red-carpet-events, is the mineral wrap which, in the space of an hour, eliminates nine and one half inches of body fat from me. The proof is in my jeans. My masseuse reads my energy fields like an open book and administers the hot lava stone massage and an incredible Tibetan hair and scalp massage. Pilates, Yoga, Cardio get the blood flowing—and then, it’s time for another meal.
A twenty minute seaweed detox bath in my own huge oval tub then drying in front of my own fireplace every night puts me right to sleep. And wearing a cozy terry lined silk robe and slippers all day is unusually calming as well. It prompted a young couple who had come from Florida, just to get away from all that sunshine, to strap on snow shoes and explore the woods. Surprising who you can bump into crossing a frozen lake.
Grail Springs Retreat For Wellbeing, 2004 Bay Lake Rd, Bancroft, ON, 877-553-5772
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.