Where spa meets nature - Metro US

Where spa meets nature

There is no chocolate wafer with turn-down service at Ontario’s newest resort. But guests with a pre-bedtime sweet tooth will not be disappointed.

Instead of the traditional chocolate, a leaf-shaped maple candy is the bon bon du jour. The candy, a maple tea bag and a red silk maple leaf creates a little nighttime package that offers a sense of place.

The place is Muskoka. The resort, which opened in mid-February, is The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa. Located on the rocky shores of Lake Rosseau, just under a three-hour drive from downtown Toronto, the property is part of the new Red Leaves luxury resort community.

In addition to the leafy turn-down ritual, the nature motif is scattered subtly around the resort as if dispersed by a Muskoka breeze. Design elements include twig-inspired furnishings, stone fireplaces and wood-framed works of art depicting local forests, lakes and autumn foliage. The ambiance is warm, inviting and casually elegant.

The feeling extends to the spa. Luxurious in its design and decor, the two-level Spa Rosseau is the most spacious of Ontario’s resort spas and certainly one of the most beautifully appointed.
As a welcoming ritual the spa attendant offers guests a small roll of gauze infused with a blend of rosemary, citrus and eucalyptus oils. “Take a deep breath,” she says. “Relax and begin the journey.”

It is indeed a journey: A relaxing few moments in a eucalyptus steam room or the dry sauna, a cooling off with chilled towels, a dip in the whirlpool with its stunning lake view, then off to the lounge to snack on dried apricots and sunflower seeds while waiting for your treatment to begin.

I tried the Red Leaves Ritual with its very gentle scrub followed by an even gentler massage with sweet birch bud oil and hot stones. It’s one of several nature-themed body treatments. Afterwards, guests can relax in the lounge (one of three is co-ed) or by the spa’s private outdoor pool and terrace overlooking the lake. It’s a lovely, quiet spot to enjoy a healthy spa lunch.

For couples there’s a suite with a private sitting room, terrace and treatment beds with built-in sounds systems. A hair salon is part of the spa facility and just down the hallway, a state-of-the-art gym and a year-round indoor-outdoor pool and deck.

Along with the spa, another great point of distinction at Rosseau is the emphasis on activities — both fitness and arts-related, including an artist-in–residence program.

You can rent bikes, canoes and kayaks, take a guided nature tour with a naturalist or pick up a trail map and explore the 700-acre nature reserve on your own.

We hike along the Boardwalk Trail through a wetlands area, past moss-covered logs and patches of wild leeks. Trilliums are just beginning to bloom and a sprinkling of purple violets add a splash of spring colour.

Further along we spot deer tracks. White-tail deer, points out guide Meredith Wires. “You can see groups of them early in the morning or at dusk.” She purses her lips and calls out to the numerous songbirds that populate the area. There’s a chorus of replies. We make our way from a coniferous to a deciduous forest escorted by the hammering sound of a pileated woodpecker. The woods are alive with the sounds of nature.

On the second night of our stay, there is no maple candy with turn-down service. Instead, there’s a balm for feet tired from walking the trails. It’s a good marriage of nature and spa.

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– Anne Dimon is a spa and wellness travel writer and editor of www.traveltowellness.com.

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