Travel Tuesday: Ste Anne's Spa - Luxury retreat in Grafton, ON

Man oh man did I need to get away last month. I don’t know if it was the crazy long winter that got my mood down, life, or just general stress around tax time; whatever it was, I needed a break!
No makeup selfie:) 

Lucky for me, since I’m heading in the retreat planning direction; Health & Wellness retreats; Couples Retreats; and Business Meetings or Professionals retreats, I was invited to explore the beautiful SteAnne’s Spa. I met Marketing Manager, Wanda at the Ignite Business Expo earlier in the year and let her know I was venturing into retreats; before I knew it, she arranged for a glorious spa getaway for me to experience the magic first-hand. In addition, my dear photographer friend, Joee Wong gifted me a gift certificate, which got me a second night and several wellness treatments!

So, without further thought, I jumped in my car and off to Grafton I drove, for 3 full days and 2 nights at Ste Anne’s Spa, just 90 minutes East of Toronto.

Once I got off the highway and entered the dirt road winding over to the Spa, there were very thoughtful and fun messages disguised as road signs: ‘Yield to your inner self’ or ‘Take a deep breath…and relax’. Of course, this just made me super excited and I knew that if this trip didn’t get me to ‘chill-out’, nothing would.  Parking was free and once I got in to check-in, they addressed me by name, gave me a tour of the property and treated me as if they had known me forever. Just the type of experience I was looking for…pure comfort from the get-go.

My room, just a short drive away at the Birdsong Spa Cottage, was beautiful. The Eagle’s Nest Suite was huge; in fact, the bathroom was as big as my living room!! Take a look at the photos. I loved the homey feel to it, from the colours to the fireplace. So calming!

The Property itself is huge. It stretches over 400 acres and includes a fitness facility, several cottages, their very own stables, trails, gardens, bakery and the main building. The main building is where the action happens. It houses a gift shop, hydrotherapy spa with Eucalyptus Steam Room, massage rooms, an outdoor pool, waiting rooms, living room, reading room, spa rooms, steam room, sauna and hot tub in the change rooms and wellness rooms. 

The Spa is incredible. Ranging from Purifying cleansing treatments to holistic treatments and everything in between! Now, you don’t have to get a spa service to use the facilities. The Hydrotherapy Spa: Eucalyptus Steam, Hot Tub, Cold Plunge Pool and Lap Pool are at your fingertips all day; as are the massage chairs, fitness facility (down the street) featuring a pool treadmill, hot tub and sauna as well as full Gym Equipment.

The Spa & Wellness Services I took part in for both days were the Nidra Yoga and Meditation, I also chose the Chakra Balancing as my massage option. I had never done Nidra Yoga before and thought it would be something interesting to try as it promised to clear my mind. That is exactly what it did… in fact, the second day; I actually fell asleep during the session. The Chakra Balancing was amazing. It combined, aromatherapy, reflexology, light massage and chakra balancing to relax and balance my mind and soul. Combined with the meditation, believe me when I tell you that I felt like a whole new person! 

The Restaurant is fine dining meets country cooking at it’s best! Aside from them being incredibly accommodating to my dietary needs, the food is all-fresh, homemade and impeccably presented; the taste is DELECTABLE! I admit, I did have a cheat or two… I couldn’t help it; the desserts and breads are amazing. Did I mention they are all Gluten-Free! In addition they offer culinary classes, a private chef experience and their very own Bakery (near the Birdsong Cottages) that will cater to absolutely all your needs. If you have very specific dietary needs, give them 48 hours notice and they will do all they can to create something for you.

And finally, the Staff! Where do I start with the service? These people collectively make the resort what it is. Without them, it would not be the same. They are all-accommodating and all went out of their way to make my experience exceptional. I could tell they loved their work and were genuinely happy to help.

Overall, this is an ideal location for a local honeymoon, a reconnecting trip pre-wedding or just a trip to rest with your Bestie or Mom.  

My top 5 highlights of Ste Anne's Spa:
1.     They make their own granola and it is amazing!
2.     Teatime is my favourite time and at Ste Anne’s it is fantastic! They have a tea menu that is extensive and original that taste delicious.
3.     The walking trails are something I’ll do next time for sure. It was way to muddy when I was there as it had been raining.
4.     I was in one of the living rooms and a wellness therapist came in and offered           
me a hand massage complimentary. It was wonderful.
4.     All the sitting areas were sooo incredibly comfortable, but my fave was the library/games room.

Exotic & Unique Honeymoon: Maldives

Exotic & Unique Honeymoon: Maldives

Happy #TravelTuesday to all couples-in-love out there! I am having a blast quoting, planning and booking some great romance and honeymoon travel these days. Everywhere, from my nostalgic fave, Mexico and Greece, to some amazingly unique and exotic getaways in the South Pacific!

As always, my eyes are wide open for unique concepts and locations, and this week did not disappoint. I came across this amazing photo on a friend's Facebook wall and was blown away. So much so, that I immediately went into research mode to find out where it was so I can share it with all of you. Take a look at this AHH-Mazing dream honeymoon suite:
 Conrad Hotels

Although this is far from an ordinary honeymoon experience, you can absolutely make this dream come true for the right budget. You see, the Suite is actually a restaurant that can be converted into a honeymoon suite for that special newlywed couple. In fact, if money is no object, you can book this room for any private event your heart desires. Want a wedding proposal of a lifetime? Propose under the 'sharks'; Want a romantic private dinner for two?  You can't get more private than being 16 feet below sea level. If budget is in play, don't worry, you can still enjoy this beautiful underwater paradise in all it's glory.  ITHAA Underwater Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rengali Island, is open daily for lunch & dinner, unless it's pre-reserved for a private event or honeymoon, of course.  

5 reasons that Maldives is the ultimate Honeymoon location: 

1. The gorgeous deep blue sea full of Coral Reefs in the Indian Ocean paired with white sandy beaches and glorious palm trees make this the perfect location to relax on the beach with a cocktail in hand or your own private over-the-water-bungalow.

2. Most of Maldives is water and when I say most, I mean 99%!

3. There are 1190 Islands that make up Maldives but only 105 are resort Islands and only 200 are inhabited.

4. One of the must-do activities in Maldives is definitely diving. With caves, reefs, caverns and wrecks to explore along with the abundant marine life, it's no wonder that it has some of the best diving in the world.

5. The Maldivian cuisine is a Sri Lankian-Indian Fusion with a sweet exotic twist. Make sure to have the traditional Kulhi Boakibaa when you're there: A spicy tuna-coconut fish cake satisfying for the foodie in all of us.

To plan & book your honeymoon, please contact me with your honeymoon details at: dnewell@tpi.ca or info@weddingsjubilee.com or call me at 416-500-6265

source: visitmaldives.com
source: travelingeast.com
source: conradhotels.com 


2014 Wedding Trends in Canada and beyond

I am so excited for the chance to have been interviewed about 2014 Wedding Trends in the Brantford Expositor! Check out my top tips:)

The Brantford ExpositorCopyright © 2014, The Brantford Expositor
The Brantford ExpositorCopyright © 2014, The Brantford Expositor. Unauthorized reproduction or Web posting prohibited.
1 / 21 - Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wedding trends for 2014

Edition: Final
Section: Lifestyle Page: C3
   For whom the bells toll, 2014 is going to be a year that's up close and personal.
    Brides will be blushing, their moms crying and guests swooning when it comes to the wonderful world of weddings. Think small and quaint, warm beaches, pastels, and sleek silhouettes.
    "It's virtually impossible to create a truly memorable and unique event with a large guest count," says Karina Lemke, a Toronto-based wedding and event planner, of karinalemke.com.
    "The logistics of feeding and organizing guests takes its toll on the little details and atmosphere."
    One big trend is small scale soirees -- that means 10 to 100 people in a restaurant or unique venue.
    "Anything but a banquet hall!" says Lemke.
    Pledge your love and sip cocktails in a fancy barn, charming countryside inn, upscale bistro, chic gallery or a rooftop terrace.
    Or take it away -far away. Destination weddings will continue to boom in popularity.
    "Couples realize that spending tens of thousands of dollars is perhaps better applied to other things," says Lemke.
    "Going somewhere truly beautiful and unique with a few close family and friends is not only budget-wise, but romantic too."
    Cold months are heating up: Expect more off-season nuptials as couples forego flower-filled wedding photos and pocket 20% to 40% in savings, says Lemke. Besides hosting winter-month weddings, non-Saturday night weddings and afternoon brunches are expected to be popular. The savings are worth celebrating.
    Wedding design will focus on opposites and mismatched elements, says DeeDee Newell, certified wedding planner at weddingsjubilee.com."Rustic will meet elegant, and vintage marries modern/futuristic and so on."
    Colour the event in beautiful pastels, vibrant floral shades and metallics, says Newell. "Wedding dresses dazzle with dramatic backs, beautiful sleeve designs and more sleek silhouettes."
    Textures are rising to the occasion. "From wedding cakes to wedding stationary, smooth finishes will take a back seat this year," she says.
    Technology is a virtual boon. "Everything from Skype-ing in family and friends to join the ceremony, live video feeds for destination weddings, and live wedding Twitter parties, scrolling on a screen during the reception is mainstream in 2014," adds Newell.
    - - -
    Personal touches make the event one you'll remember
    Ditch the candy buffet, photo booth or dancing Vegas show-girls. "It's nothing your friends haven't seen before," says wedding planner Karina Lemke.
    So if they've seen one, make sure they haven't seen them all! up the unforgetability quotient by involving guests in the sentiment and events of the day:
    * Divorce conventional wedding hoopla! Put on a great show by infusing your own spirit into the festivities. Tell your story of your life as a couple.
    "The wedding can be an extension of who you are. Are you avid sailors? Then host a smaller wedding on a boat or by the water. have guests sign an oar rather than a guest book, use classic sailor's monkey knots as table markers."
    * If you love food, host in a favourite restaurant and offer a chef's tasting menu.
    "Make the meal the star of the night," suggests Lemke. "If you met in a neighbourhood coffee shop, have your ceremony and possibly your reception in that same shop."
    * Put some feeling into it!
    "have friends with beautiful voices serenade you. The bride could sing a song to her parents. Serve your favorite mac 'n' cheese or your grandma's chicken soup and homemade apple pie at your wedding. Skip the conventional banquet hall dish. These are the things that become stand-outs for guests."
    * Speak up but... We all hate long, boring speeches, however, a wedding that doesn't feature the host thanking their guests for attending, or the family expressing affection for their newly-married offspring, feels void of emotion, says Lemke.
    "Cut out wedding party speeches and the best man/ maid of honour speeches if you must, but the bride and groom, as well as a representative of each family, really should speak and with warmth, love and gratitude."
    * Bring on the kissing games. Maligned but mandatory.
    "We all hate them but a wedding where the bride and groom don't lock lips feels like a work party," adds Lemke. "There are ways to make it fun but if you opt to not have them, please remember to stand up at least once or twice and put on a good show for your guests."
ID: 223413153
Copyright © 2014, The Brantford Expositor. Unauthorized reproduction or Web posting prohibited.


Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Engaged!

"Kim and Kanye
Sitting in a Tree
First comes love;
then comes marriage;
Then comes Kimye,
pushing a baby carriage..."

Wait, What? It's been a long time since that Rhyme was the way things happened. In fact, what it should read now is:

"First comes love;
then comes baby;
Then comes Kanye,
Proposing to his lady."


In any case, I have to admit that they do make a super cute couple. They remind me of high school sweethearts who wear matching shirts, finish each others sentences and are always smiling and giggling with each other as they hold hands. They are in love, plain and simple... and I love, LOVE!

The other thing I love is a when a proposal is done right! Now, I'm not saying that every proposal needs a 50 piece orchestra, an incredible Lorraine Schwartz 15-carat 3 Million dollar diamond ring and a Jumbotron, that would just be crazy-talk. Some people are the intimate and romantic types, some more social, some like a show and others just want the surprise factor. The one thing they all have in common though is that they need to be suited to the person being proposed to and they definitely need to be memorable. I mean it is a once in a lifetime event!

What I think Kanye did best of all, aside from getting down on one knee (Some things should stay traditional) is that he picked the perfect date. Her Birthday! For someone who is always in the spotlight, has already had so many 'Wow' moments in her life and isn't easily surprised, I think he chose well. Where she was expecting a great Birthday, with, no-doubt, amazing gifts, she likely wasn't expecting that he'd pick an already celebrated day to propose. I think it made her 33rd Birthday one of the most memorable days of her life.

Did you love their proposal? What is your dream proposal?