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stretch, soak + savour at strathmere

Man, winter can really take it out of you. Hubby and I have been working loads and were craving a getaway, but with my upcoming $10,000 bill for gum surgery + Invisalign, a trip down south is out of the question. So when the kind folks at Strathmere invited us for a stay, we jumped at the chance.

Located just south of Manotick, Strathmere has become one of our favourite local spots to recharge. It's a quick 30-minute drive from downtown but feels like a total change of pace. From the moment you arrive you'll move a little slower, breath a little deeper, and let go of that urge to multi-task all. the. time.

I have to admit that until hubby and I visited last summer, I thought they exclusively did weddings and events. Not so. The Retreat at Strathmere boasts (huge) overnight guest rooms, a spa, a restaurant with both a head chef and a head gardener, snowshoeing trails, yoga classes, hot tubs, and more.

We checked in to our spacious suite, which had a fully stocked kitchen, dining table for six, and sitting area with a fireplace. You could easily share one of these suites with friends and make a weekend out of it: tons of room and easy to cook if you like.

We dropped off our bags and headed to the spa for a couples treatment called The Retreat Warm Herbal Bouquet Stem Massage. Holy heck, it was next level.

It starts with a 15 minute soak in one of their outdoor hot tubs, followed by a 90 minute massage with densely packed herb bouquets (similar feel to hot stone massage), then finishes with a cup of tea and a baked treat by the fire. Whoa.

The massage incorporates gentle table stretching and breath work, so it's basically like someone is doing yoga *to* you. We stumbled out of the treatment room in a fog of aromatherapy. After our treatment we spent the afternoon in our suite, snuggled up in cozy robes and reading books by the fire.

Next up: dinner! I adore The Retreat Café at Strathmere because they create everything from scratch with local ingredients and it's incredibly affordable. Example: most dinner mains are around $20 and their entire wine list hails from Ontario (Prince Edward County and Pelee Island!), with most bottles for $30 and most glasses for $7.

They have wonderful vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu options too, like these vegetarian risotto balls (aka arancini):

My pick: try their Local Wallace Beef Burger ($20). It's made with local ground beef, topped with house pickles & chips, seared brisket, double smoked beer-infused cheddar, arugula, and garlic aioli, served with Yukon potato wedges with truffle oil, thyme & parmesan.

It's been named one of the best burgers in Ottawa and my stomach knows why.

After polishing off an incredible meal, hubby and I headed back to our suite for a relaxing night in. Strathmere has Netflix in their guest rooms (!!!) so we binged some New Girl, I had a bubble bath, we did face masks, and hung out by the fireplace.

In the morning hubby hit the snowshoeing trails while I headed off to yoga. The yoga studio at Strathmere is positively beautiful, with a big fireplace and loads of sun streaming in through the windows.

The teacher led us through an invigorating flow that served as the perfect warm-up for Strathmere's Champagne & Whiskey Brunch (in my mind brunch is a sport, but maybe I've got Olympics on the brain).

Here's just a *wee* taste of what we devoured that morning:

  • Blood Orange + Raspberry Mimosa

  • Café Hot Toddy with Lemon Peel + Thyme

  • Blue Crab Eggs Benny on a Chive & Leek Scone (YAAS)

  • Maple Bacon Sausage-Rolled Crepes with Whiskey Syrup (OMG)

  • Brown Sugar Baked Beans

  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken + Waffles (also YAAS)

  • Indian Spiced Lentils + Chickpeas with Roasted Eggplant

  • Champagne-Battered Avocado Tacos with Pickled Carrot + Cilantro

  • Winter Green Salad with Beets, Pomegranate Seeds + Blood Orange

  • Local Artisan Cheese + Charcuterie Board with Crostini + Preserves

  • Lime + Cardamom Cinnamon Buns

  • Vegan Date Squares

  • Dark Chocolate Espresso Pot de Crème

  • And sooo much more

After stuffing our faces for an hour and a half, we headed back downtown feeling rested and recharged. Thank you, Strathmere! Because I loved my experience so much, I wanna treat one of you! Read on.

win a strathmere staycation

I'm treating you and a guest to a day at Strathmere to Stretch, Soak + Savour! Your staycation for two includes:

  • A yoga class in their beautiful studio

  • Hiking or snowshoeing on their nature trails

  • A soak in their outdoor hot tubs

  • Relaxation by the campfire (it's licensed so order a hot toddy!)

  • Two $20 credits for food + drinks at The Retreat Café

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