Thứ Bảy, 3 tháng 10, 2015


Thứ Tư, 29 tháng 8, 2012

       Summer at Grail Springs Spa is the time to experience the ultimate cool with an early morning swim in the still waters of Chalice Lake.  Explore the surrounding forests and for a unique Canadian experience attend a Weekly Fire Ceremony.  For those quiet moments, meditation in a labyrinth inspired by labyrinths of old, ensures that guests will discover a deep inner calm.

       Trail rides on Rocky Mountain ponies in the forest surrounding the estate are a popular choice.  Richard Capener the spa's 'Horse Whisperer' accompanies guests, imparting fascinating tidbits of 'horse wisdom' along the way.  During a brief conversation at the horse paddock, Seira and Chris Lopez, a young couple about to have their first baby, told me that they had come to the spa for their last holiday alone together before their family became three.

       There is something uniquely special about this place. Lucille Necas a guest from Toronto agreed whole-heartedly with my perception of the spa.  "It is one of the loveliest places I know" she said enthusiastically.  "This is my 6th visit and I've just booked a 7th.  When I asked what attracted her here year after year, she told me, "This is where I reconnect with nature and it's also for my spiritual journey.  It's a magical place; just what the doctor ordered."  With an infectious laugh she said "And I should know...  I'm a doctor.

       A Hollywood celebrity guest obviously felt the same intense pleasure when she visited.  She described Grail Springs in poetic prose, "Sacred land, spring-fed lake, crystal outcrop, ion-charged forest, abundant just doesn't get any purer than this."

Photo (1) copyright Grail Springs Spa, photos (2 and 3) copyright Anne Gordon

Posted on Wednesday, 29th August, 2012

       At the Grail Springs Spa it's not just the creature conmforts that are catered for.  This is a resort where health, spirituality and a oneness with nature are premium.  When I asked Marentette if her guests are mostly those who have a spiritual leaning she smiled and said, "I would say that many are, but there are others who are simply searching for a reconnection with self, with mother nature, in order to find balance in their lives.  These guests often discover that it is the spiritual connection that has been missing.

       In an area known throughout North America for a plethora of mineral deposits and a rich accumulation of gemstones including quartz crystals, there are those who say that this environment has special healing properties.  To learn more about Bancroft's mineral riches, hike to the spa's own exposed crystal bed.

       In keeping with the spa's raison d'etre, treatments include Austrian Moor Mud treatments that detoxify and nourish the body.  An ancient Celtic Bath Ritual is available twice a month during the full moon phase and the new moon phase.  Himalayan and Tibetan treatments, a Hot Stone massage, Colon Hydrotherapy, Infrared Sessions and the spa's special aromatic oil treatment, a Brazilian Babassu Body Ritual, leaves participants feeling deliciously relaxed.  "Our most popular treament" Marentette explains, "is Raindrop Therapy.  It's a combination of nine aromatherapy essential oils, massage, heat and energy - it's very soothing and deeply healing."

More to follow about the Grail Springs Spa ...

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted on Wednesday, 29th August, 2012
       Guest accommodations at Grail Springs range from 'country' through to 'modern classical' and at the other end of the spectrum 'rustic' in one of the spa's recent innovations - eco-tabins.

       Located in a forest glade or with an open view of the horse paddock, eco-tabins are a combination of tent and cabin.  With a light and airy decor that comprises a spartan but comfortable interior with pure wool Hudson Bay blankets and handmade wooden furniture, these cabins will appeal to the guest wanting to experience simplicity with a dash of comfort.

       In the main building, for those who tend towards cosy, 'country' is where Laura Ashley reigns with dainty floral and striped wallpapers and large comfy Empire beds.  In a newer section of the building 'modern classical' is where luxury dominates with special pillows imported from Belgium on ornate four-poster beds, gothic windows with views of lake, stream, or garden, rich tapestries and walk-out balconies.  Bathrooms are fitted with luxurious tubs and rain showers.

More to follow on the Grail Springs Spa ...

Photos copyright Anne Gordon and Grail Springs Spa (bedroom)

Posted on Wednesday, 29th August, 2012

       If ever there was a place dedicated to the spiritual needs and well being of the individual, Grail Springs Spa is it. With a gothic influence and strong connections to Arthurian legend, this delightful place is located in a glorious wooded setting in Canada's northern wilderness. 
       As I approached the resort recently, golden light shining through the tall gothic windows of the Great Hall engendered a magical ambience.  On the lake a lone kayaker illuminated by the setting sun skimmed effortlessly across mirrored water.  In a fanciful moment the soft whinny of a horse in the Grail Springs stables conjured thoughts of King Arthur and his Knights.  At that moment I could well understand the attachment that Madeleine Marentette, the spa's founder, had for this enticing setting. Looking around her she said, "I fell in love with the area a long time ago when I was a camper at Silent Lake Provincial Park".

       In its charmed setting Chalice Lake, a receptacle for hundreds of bubbling springs, provides the resort with the purest of water.  Iced over in the winter, skaters glide and twirl in a winter workout.

       Indulging in other cold-weather pursuits, guests cross-country ski or don snow shoes to explore trails that twist and turn like sleek icy ribbons through a still silent forest.

       In Canada's snowy winter, crackling fires and star-filled nights with the occasional mournful cry of a coyote or wolf, indicate that nature in all its majesty is just a whisper away.

More to follow on this glorious spa...

Photo copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Wednesday, 29th August, 2012

Thứ Hai, 13 tháng 8, 2012

     If you’ve been immersed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, you’ll be glad to know that another Olympic fix is just around the corner. Tapati 2013, one of the most important annual festivals in all of Polynesia, is the Easter Island version of the Olympic Games. Tapati takes place February 3-18, 2013, with its own version of triathlon, rowing and other contests of athletic prowess. explora Rapa Nui, the 30-room hotel named Posada de Mike Rapu, invites its guests to take part in the celebrations.

     This traditional Rapa Nui festival has been celebrated since 1963, in January and February of every year. During the festival, around 40 ancient sporting and cultural events from Easter Island take place. The best-known are the Vaka Tuai, in which each alliance or team makes a reed canoe and sails with its candidate for queen; the Takona, in which the participants paint their bodies with natural pigments; the Tau’a or triathlon; and the Haka Pei, where competitors throw banana tree trunks downhill at speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.

     The festival began 40 years ago with the passing of the law, Ley Pascua, allowing the residents of Isla de Pascua, or Easter Island, to vote in the Chilean presidential elections. The festival activities expanded to include the celebration of Rapa Nui heritage with music, dance, feasts and fireworks.

     explora Rapa Nui’s lodge, Posada de Mike Rapu, is a perfect base to experience Tapati 2013. Opened in December 2007, Posada de Mike Rapu is the first green hotel in Latin America. It meets the strict international certification standards of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), evidence of the high environmental standards used in its design and construction. explora Rapa Nui most recently attracted worldwide attention with an impressive perfect score of 100 in Travel + Leisure’s 2012 World’s Best Service Awards.

     In addition to participating in the festival activities, the lodge brings travelers closer to Rapa Nui culture, from its cuisine rich in fish and seafood, to daily excursions on foot, by bicycle and on the ocean (boat trips, snorkeling, fishing and surfing).

Interesting facts about Rapa Nui:
  • The island is a World Heritage Site (as determined by UNESCO) with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
  • The island lies 3,510 km (2,180 mi) west of continental Chile at its nearest point.
  • Rapa Nui, claimed to be the most remote inhabited island in the world, is famous for its 887 monumental statues, or Moai.
  • explora's report from Tapiti 2012.
For more information visit or contact for reservations.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Monday, 13th August, 2012

     In May of London's Olympic year, I had the good fortune to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden, nestled in an upmarket residential area close to the heart of Britain's capital city.
     Created in the 17th century, it was in this garden that apothecaries and healers acquired herbal stock for curing all manner of ailments.
Confined within high walls, London's 'secret garden' ranks among the oldest of its type in the world, preceded only by a physic garden in Pisa, Italy and the Oxford Botanic Garden.
Visitors exploring in Chelsea Physic Garden

      Laid out much like a monastery garden with mostly long narrow beds separated by grassy ribbons, its central feature is a rock garden pond, made with basalt spewed up by volcanos in Iceland.
The Physic Garden Cork Oak

      In the garden's far corner, Britain's largest outdoor olive tree produces abundant fruit; tiny bitter olives requiring a brine soak to render them palatable. Overhanging a stony path nearby, a massive Cork Oak is adorned with a necklace of bottle corks. In the early 18th century nursing mothers believed that wearing cork necklaces would dry up their milk!
      Edible plants, medicinal plants and poisonous plants are all represented here. Until fairly recently outside guides were permitted to escort tours of the garden but that has been stopped. A Spanish guide, I was told, allowed three members of her tour group to taste the round almost black fruit of the Deadly Nightshade. All three were hospitalized.
Deadly Poisonous Foxgloves

      Attesting to the danger of some herbal plants, poison from the husk of the castor oil seed was applied to an umbrella spike used to kill a Bulgarian dissident in Britain many years ago. I was surprised to see an apricot tree in the 'Poisonous Garden', then discovered that the kernel is a source of arsenic.
      More delectable is chocolate from the cocoa bean. It also has medicinal properties. In 1742 Jean-Baptiste Labat, a Dominican priest and renowned botanist, said dark chocolate quenched thirst and was flesh forming. In his opinion it restored strength, encouraged sleep, helped digestion and softened and purified the blood, preserving health and prolonging life. But there have been differing opinions on chocolate. Casanova, history's famous lover of the 18th century, was not impressed with this new addictive fancy. He claimed it was fit for maid servants only.
      In the Chelsea Physic Garden pesticides are an unknown entity. Thirty tons of manure arrive every winter from the Buckingham Palace garden. On this rich and nutritious diet the plants thrive. The resident bees are happy too with their pesticide-free environment. Peter James - the beekeeper – tends the garden hives and last year harvested 100 kilos of honey from a single hive.
Chelsea Physic Garden Coat of Arms

      You may wonder who in the past kept this garden weed-free and beautiful. It certainly wasn't the apothecaries. Until the turn of the century women were banned from entering the gardens except for “weeding women” who were paid the paltry sum of sixpence a day. Fortunately pay and conditions have changed, but the rent for the garden - five pounds per annum when Sir Hans Sloane was the landlord in the early 18th century - remains frozen in time, a mere pittance for what today must be one of London's most expensive pieces of real estate.
      Five hundred years after its inception, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a place of delightful tranquility where perfume from scented herbs and the twittering of birds is a perfect locale for rest and learning. Its early rural loveliness – flower-filled meadows, fields and farms - have been replaced by London sprawl, but it still retains a fascination with a history that attracts a never-ending flow of plant loving tourists from around the world.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Monday, 13th August, 2012