"Grail Springs was the escape I didn't know I needed."

Grail Springs Wellness Retreat Review

When this landed on my desk, 10 days before my working trip to Indonesia, I thought “perfect timing.” I had visions of bubble baths, pedicures and luxurious massages. As someone who has never done a spa retreat before, I was excited about this assignment.

When I arrived in Bancroft, Ont., the colourful foliage that lined my three-hour drive already, put me in a chill mode. I was immediately dreaming of cushy robes, fluffy slippers and cucumber-infused water.

What awaited me at Grail Springs was an opportunity to completely shift my thinking when it came to my overall health and wellness.

I don’t know the difference between chakras and chinos, and I’m not the type who reads self-help books, so I knew this was going to be out of my comfort zone. Grail Springs was ready for me. But was I ready for it?

The Journey to Grail Springs

The 100-acre impeccably designed property is nestled in the scenic hamlet of Bancroft, Ont. Bancroft has the largest quantity of mineral deposits in Canada and is known as the “Mineral capital of Canada,” which makes Grail Springs wellness retreat (and its alkaline-rich lake) all the more magical. The property lends itself to renewal with incredible forests, hiking, a crystal outcrop, wildlife and meditation gardens, creating a unique combination of nature and nurture and making Grail Springs a destination like no other.

It was a long journey for founder and educator Madeleine Marentette, who looked nationwide for a unique space to call her own. Founded in 1993, Grail Springs started out as a bed and breakfast and evolved into a spa. In the 2000s, Marentette recognized that there was a societal shift taking place. Requests for traditional beauty treatments were being replaced by requests for a more in-depth look at improving one’s overall health and wellness. She knew that was where Grail Springs needed to pivot.

Eco-Tabin at Grail Springs Wellness Retreat

Now, the globally award-winning 13-room private estate (all designed by Marentette), along with very cool “Eco-Tabins” (pictured above) that are nestled further into the wooded areas of the property allows for an intimate and inclusive experience perfect for groups, solo travellers and company retreats. Accredited by a number of global health and wellness associations and the only accredited Canadian member of the Healing Hotels of the World, Grail Springs brings forth a very solid global reputation.

Treatments Offered at Grail Springs

Grail Springs’ mantra is about bringing focus to all facets of your life and bringing them in tune with each other. With the retreat’s 7 Keys philosophy, the courses and treatments provided are centered on the idea of ensuring that your mind, body and spirit are nourished and recharged.

Your retreat time can range from two to 21 days, depending on your specific goals. I met various people who checked in ready to achieve their own set goals. There were two sisters who were also from Toronto who wanted a seven-day retreat just to replenish themselves. And the only gent who was there from out west was in the midst of his two-week experience as part of his quitting-smoking initiative. You start with the all-Inclusive Grail Experience and then add various treatments available to you.

A daily schedule includes an organic and vegetarian breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked by award-winning chefs. (I’m a carnivore to the core, but I have to say the food was yum!). A glass of Austrian Vienna Mud greets you every morning, and shots of some pretty fantastic fruit blends provide the necessary vitamin jolt you need throughout the day. And no coffee—only herbal tea is provided.

Group Yoga Class at Grail Springs Wellness Retreat

Each morning begins with a one-hour calming and stretching yoga session appropriate for all levels. The environment is free from any sense of competition. Everyone is there at their own pace, ready to accomplish their own personal set of goals. Grail Springs provides a nurturing environment absent of any type of judgment.

After the yoga session, there is a daily variety of workshops led by Marentette, issues such as focus, motivation understanding your overall purpose and tips on understanding and achieving
your personal goals. By implementing spiritual practices from a variety of cultures, including First Nations and Buddhism, Grail Springs adds a unique layer of self-analysis.

My Treatment Choices

BODY COLOUR CHART

An electronic reading of your energy levels and chakras is monitored. Usually you get one done right at the onset and one done before you leave to show the change in your energy and stress levels. I’ve never had my energy measured before, so this definitely was an eye-opener.

COLOUR BATH

After your chakras (each of your seven chakras is associated with a colour), you are given a colour jet- propelled bath of approximately 15 minutes (the colour chosen is the chakra that needs replenishing). This is simply luxurious.

MASSAGE

Thanks to the expert hands of the masseuse, I was able to discuss and figure out the location of my stress points. And yes, it’s a massage, which was a bright spot to my already interesting day.

REIKI

This is when things got real. I’d never done this before, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The reiki expert and I had not conversed at all before the meeting, so she had no idea who I was, what I did and what my personality characteristics were. That made this session all the more intense. With an option to discuss or just be quiet (I wanted to discuss what she found), the session gave me and my fellow Grail Springers a pretty jaw-dropping experience. Without revealing too much, this cynic has been sold. The reiki session alone is worth the drive to Bancroft.

Beyond the treatments, there is plenty of time to explore the property on your own. One of the (many) qualities of Grail Springs, that appealed to me was that I wasn’t herded like cattle from one session to the next. You had approximately one or two in the morning and one in the afternoon and you had the option of attending a nightly informational session helmed by a speaker from a specific specialty.

Oftentimes we felt we would get more out of just wandering around the property under the remarkable blanket of stars. We even spent an evening around a fire in a gorgeous authentic teepee.

Authentic Teepee at Grail Springs Wellness Retreat

The Verdict

I was there for three full days and, let me tell you my skin felt and looked better and my metabolism was healthier (thanks to incredible food and the newly discovered cayenne pepper, cinnamon, lemon, water and maple syrup mix that I still drink to this day). Because of the natural setting, I felt completely rejuvenated. The environment was free of competition, noise, pollution and the usual everyday stresses. Of course it’s a retreat, so reality does have to settle in once you’re done. But Grail Springs gives you the tools to help you give pause to your day and focus on yourself. It was ready for me, and I realized I was indeed ready for it.

Visit Grail Springs at 2004 Baay Lake Road, Bancroft, Ontario (grailsprings.com).