As Canada prepares to celebrate its 153rd birthday on July 1st, and with random COVID testing temporarily suspended and, as of June 20, the Government of Canada suspending vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound travel, hopes are high that Canadians will soon be able to welcome many more of their American neighbors.
“After two long, hard years, we are now focused on rebuilding tourism back to the economic powerhouse it was pre-pandemic,” says Beth Potter, president & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada. She adds that while the suspension of vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound travel is “a step in the right direction toward helping us achieve that goal, it does not address any of the current issues for inbound travelers or our cruise sector. I urge the federal government to now turn its attention to eliminating barriers to travel in these important areas and do so quickly so we can promote a resurgence in travel over the summer months,” concludes Beth.
A recent stat from Virtuoso ranks Canada as #4 of the top five destinations for Virtuoso’s U.S.-based clients (behind U.S., Italy and France). “This tells us that demand is strong and travelers are eager to get back to Canada now that they can,” says Una O’Leary, Virtuoso’s general manager, Canada. She points out that “while demand is high, so are hotel rates for Canada this summer. According to Virtuoso’s own booking data, hotel rates for this summer have increased 66 percent internationally and as much as 133 percent domestically compared to summer 2019. Not as high but still surging, airfares for this summer are up 30 percent internationally and 14 percent within Canada.
However, at the time of writing, the Canadian dollar exchange rate, according to the Bank of Canada was $1.00 CAD to $.78 U.S. That translates to a 22 percent discount for Americans traveling to Canada.
When it comes to wellness travel, Canada’s many natural assets continue to be a big draw. Here’s just a handful of Canadian wellness travel options to have on your radar for your clients:
Grail Springs Retreat Centre for Wellbeing
Founded in 1994 by Canadian author, speaker and wellness coach Madeleine Marentette, Grail Springs Retreat Centre for Wellbeing is an intimate 13-room property on the edge of the town of Bancroft, Ontario about a 3-hour drive from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Developed with a holistic approach to wellbeing, guests are given the opportunity to learn how to manage stress with daily yoga, meditation and workshops, enjoy spa therapies, eat healthily with plant-based focus, and connect with nature through daily hikes and a unique program in equine meditation. Grail Springs offers 2- to 14-night packages and has just introduced a Salt Temple with VibroAcoustic Sound Therapy. “It is such a special time as travel begins to open up,” points out Marentette, “especially for people who wish to discover an abundance of wellness tools, healing modalities and wellness-focused destinations. The time is always right for self-care and it is certainly much more accessible today.” grailsprings.com
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Located on the shores of the iconic Lake Louise, and one of the rock stars of the Fairmont brand, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a resort with a long history of promoting a sense of wellbeing through connection with the pristine, natural environment. From retreats led by world-renowned facilitators to immersive outdoor activities available as part of the Mountain Adventure Program, the experiences at the property inspire guests to embrace whole-body wellness and reignite their zest for life. Director of resort wellness & activities, Davina Bernard, says, “The international market has started to return to Canada, specifically from the United States. Visitors are keen to experience our natural wonderland and to be surrounded by the Canadian Rocky Mountains.” fairmont.com/lake-louise
Le Monastere des Augustines
Le Monastere des Augustines, site of the continent’s first hospital north of Mexico, offers an unforgettable experience within its historic walls. Guest have the opportunity to experience authentic accommodation in a 17th-century cloister that has been sensitively restored and redesigned. Le Monastere offers a unique experience in holistic health, along with a rare opportunity to connect directly with the Augustinian Sisters’ remarkable heritage in a secular environment. Wellness offerings include healthy mindful cuisine highlighting local organic products, daily activities such as yoga classes and meditative walks in historic old-Quebec, spa treatments, holistic health consultations, immersive museology and soothing concerts. The retreats are personalized to meet the needs of the guests. Le Monastere des Augustines is a non-profit organization, and by staying at the property guests contribute to offer respite to personal and professional caregivers as well as their “sustainable tourism” efforts. Isabelle Duchesneau, founding director & head of strategic development, says, “No words can compare to experiencing the uniqueness of Le Monastere. It’s a very special place, where a community of strong and compassionate women have been cultivating a legacy of care for nearly 400 years.” monastere.ca
Celebrating its 45 anniversary, Spa Eastman Health & Wellness Retreat is located in the heart of the French-speaking Eastern Townships, on a 323-acre estate and about a one-hour drive from Montreal. Facilities include seven pavilions for accommodation, miles of hiking trails, gardens for relaxing, Nordic baths, a gym for daily fitness and yoga classes, customized seven or fourteen-night Health Immersion packages, and daily workshops and conferences. The Spa Eastman restaurant offers the signature Tonic Cuisine, a unique gastronomy experience based on current scientific research that food can be one’s medicine. Food is not only beautifully presented and delicious, but wholesome and nutritious. “Our retreats and packages are designed around an all-encompassing approach to balance and health,” explains Founder & President Jocelyna Dubuc. “Our guests have access to naturopathic health check-ups and can benefit from the services of passionate and bilingual professionals (such as kinesiologists and naturopaths), as well as attend lectures and activities that teach them how to take care of their bodies and minds.”
Wellness Travel BC
On Canada’s West Coast, the online directory Wellness Travel BC profiles a select group of resorts and hotels offering everything from seasonal yoga retreats, to forest bathing, hot springs and indigenous experiences.
The prevailing message from Destination Canada is that “Canada has what the world wants—lively cities wrapped in nature, spectacular wilderness and coastlines, a unique mosaic of Indigenous and global cultures, and welcoming people ready to host our guests with open hearts.”
Check out what’s in store in Portugal when it comes to wellness.
Recommend magazine has partnered with the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) to bring you monthly columns to help travel advisors sell wellness travel. For more information on the WTA, visit wellnesstourismassociation.org.