Work. Work. Work. Carpool. Laundry. Work. Groceries. Clean. Work. Sigh. Life occasionally gets stalled in the mundane lane and one day you realize the most important words you’ve exchanged with your spouse in weeks are, “We need milk.”
My husband and I fell into this trap and although we knew we needed to reconnect, we couldn’t figure out where the “time” was coming from. It was impossible for us to escape for a day, let alone a whole weekend. I was surprised to find out that, if the setting is right, one night is all you need to take a breather and feel refreshed.
A short drive from Ottawa and nestled along the Gatineau river, you’ll find Wakefield, Quebec. Settled in the early 1800s, this historic village that was once part of our lumber industry’s past, now attracts tourists from all over, but primarily Eastern Canada. With one of Canada’s last covered bridges, historic buildings, charming cafes, gourmet restaurants, a thriving art scene, and eclectic stores, it’s not hard to see why.
Even the old lumber mill, has found a second life as the Wakefield Mill and Spa.
With two buildings that marry old and new together in a picturesque setting, Wakefield Mill and Spa is where I recently discovered that 24-hours is all it takes to move your marriage back into the fast lane. Va-va-va-voom.
We drove out of Ottawa at mid-day on a Friday, leaving life and work worries in our dust. Before we checked in at the Mill, we stopped for a leisurely lunch at Pot au Feu in the village of Wakefield. It was the perfect way to start our decompression: delicious food, quiet setting, gorgeous view. Aaaaand release.
By the time our heads were in the right space, it was time to check in.
While there is no doubt that a unique setting is a draw for tourists, there needs to be something more than a pretty locale to call people back time and time again. Here’s where Wakefield Mill is a triple threat.
That this hotel and spa is part of an historic mill makes it a destination in and of itself, but that’s not all there is to see. Located within the 30,000 acre Gatineau Park, guests are surrounded by natural beauty at any time of year. Simply put, there is no “wrong” time to visit. The rushing water of MacLaren Falls just outside the mill is impressive any season, deer regularly visit the feeding station at the front of the mill, and guests can let their cares slip away while hiking nearby trails. The hotel boasts an outdoor hot tub overlooking the falls and a second hot tub and pool along the La Pêche river. During the summer months, yoga on a deck over looking the river is a great way to centre yourself before heading back to work. In a nutshell: it is beautiful here!
Guests can choose accommodations in the converted mill, which stays true to its past and has a rustic feel, or they can stay in the ultra-modern LEED certified Eco River Lodge. It’s worth noting, if you can’t find anyone to take care of Fido, pets are welcome in the Eco River Lodge.
The menu at Muse, Wakefield Mill’s restaurant, is inspired by local ingredients. There is something to please everyone on the table d’hôte menu, but foodies will be especially delighted. The menu changes approximately every four weeks, so it’s always seasonal and never boring. For adventurous food lovers I highly recommend the Discovery Menu; trusting in a chef is a very liberating experience. We were delighted with the seven tasting plates chosen for us by Wakefield’s chef Rémi-Paul Duval. Be sure to couple the meal with the wine pairing to get the full experience.
Even though you think you’ll never be hungry again after dinner, you’ll be amazed how much you can eat at breakfast the next morning. I’m a sucker for classic Eggs Benedict but you can’t go wrong with the crêpes or French Toast on the menu.
The icing on the cake at this charming hotel is definitely the spa.
Spa Eau Vive has been voted “Most Romantic” more than once in the region, but if your partner is not the spa type, you’ll muddle through just fine on your own. Set at the base of MacLaren Falls, you’ll feel a sense of calm as the water from the 28-foot falls rushes down just outside the floor to ceiling windows. Spa Eau Vive offers a full spa menu with everything from manicures and pedicures to facials and massages. I took advantage of a facial and fell in love with the all-natural Éminence Skincare line. A word of warning, be sure to book your spa experiences when you book your room or you may not get in. The spa is the most popular amenity here.
Wakefield Mill, as you would expect is quite busy on the weekends, so make your reservations in advance. If you can escape during the week, you might get lucky with last minute reservations. I highly recommend this as a couples retreat, but it’s also ideal for a girlfriends’ weekend, corporate retreat, or intimate wedding. I, for one, just told my husband to pick up milk on the way home, so I’m plotting my return visit now.
Thank you to Wakefield Mill and Spa for inviting Life in Pleasantville to come visit.