Living so close to Quebec, I still can’t believe how long it took me to discover how beautiful the Outaouais region is. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a day at Nordik Spa-Nature, an afternoon at Gatineau Park and a night at the Fairmont Montebello but that’s the extent of my travel in this region.
With our first wedding anniversary on May 24, I knew I wanted to do something special. I wanted a relaxing and romantic place, away from the hustle and bustle, where Mark and I could enjoy some time together. With him travelling for business most of May and me busy with my Arbonne business, we had been working so hard that we hardly had any time to spend together. The week leading up to our anniversary Mark spent working in Montreal and Kingston and I spent working my Arbonne business every single night!
We decided on the Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa after having it recommended to us by pretty much everyone we know. A short twenty minute drive from downtown Ottawa (and a beautiful scenic one at that), made going away for our anniversary easy. I was so excited to experience the Mill because after a week of being insanely busy, I knew a night in the beautiful Eco River Lodge would be exactly what we both needed.
For those who aren’t familiar with Wakefiled Mill Hotel & Spa, it is located right in the heart of Gatineau Park, providing its guests with more than 36,000 hectares of forest, hills, lakes, and rivers. The flour mill was renovated in 2000 to create what is now a 42-room hotel and spa. Foodies alike can choose from the two restaurants and enjoy a meal overlooking the waterfalls.
As we entered the town of Wakefield, it was a beautiful, sunny day. We stopped at the Wakefield General Store to stock up on a few snacks (and side note: they had some delicious ones! We left with roasted chickpeas, wine and maple bacon kettle chips – SCORE!). Even though we were super excited to get to the Mill, we decided to stop for a walk along the water and train tracks.
After some time enjoying the fresh air and cloudless sky, we made the short drive to the Mill. We drove up a secluded, tree lined, dirt road until there it was – the heritage building itself. We checked in and drove a very short distance to the Eco River Lodge where we would be staying for the night. The Eco River Lodge was created to keep up with the growing demand of visitors to the Mill. In an effort to preserve the nature and wildlife surrounding the lodge, and maintaining a focus on respecting the environment, the Lodge was created to be as green as possible. This February, the LEED certification was awarded to the Lodge, making it the first hotel in the National Capital Region to receive this prestigious designation.
The Lodge takes advantage of solar heating in the winter and houses bee hives nearby to farm their own local honey. The stunning interior of the Lodge features locally sourced and recycled wood. The Lodge backs out onto the water and the lower level rooms each have their own terrace. There is also a pool and hot tub just nearby.
After settling into our room, we decided to sit outside on the terrace and enjoy a glass of wine. Mark and I sat enjoyed the warm sun, sipping wine, reminiscing about our wedding day one year earlier and letting the afternoon slip away.
Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner at Muse. I had heard a lot of amazing things about the food at the Mill so I was really excited for the meal ahead.
Muse is located in the Mill, just a short walk from the Lodge. We were able to get a table in the glassed-in solarium which overlooked MacLaren Falls. The view, along with the Mill’s beautiful stonewalls and fireplace, was an ambiance that couldn’t be beat. On top of this, the staff were attentive, friendly and quick to make recommendations when we were overwhelmed by all the delicious choices on the menu.
For an appetizer, I started with the Black Cod while Mark chose the Scallop. For main, I went for the Risotto with Tempura Tofu and Mark chose the Duck. For dessert, we both decided to try something different and picked the Mousse which came with a unique (but delicious) carrot sorbet.
When we couldn’t eat another bite, we decided to take a walk behind the Mill. You can get pretty close to the waterfall and it was so relaxing to sit and listen to water as it hit the rocks below. There were a lot of spots to sit along the water’s edge which I thought was a really nice touch for guests, especially with the warm weather coming.
That night we slept with the window open and we got to listen to all the sounds we never hear living in the city. It was such a relaxing sleep and the perfect way to end our anniversary. I could easily see this becoming a yearly tradition!
For those that want to experience even more out of the Mill, treat yourself to some time at the spa. Since 2005, Spa Eau Vive has set the standard for spa retreats in the National Capital Region. In 2008, Glow Magazine voted the spa Canada’s Most Romantic Spa, and this award was once again received in 2013.
Another amazing thing I learned about the Mill is that they allow cats and small to medium sized dogs in their Lodge section of the hotel for only $35 a night. With the Lodge right at the entrance to Gatineau Park, it’s a dog’s paradise! We are thinking about bringing Winston the next time we visit as the rooms were definitely pet friendly and there were unlimited trails to walk him on.
Since we enjoyed dinner so much that we decided to have breakfast at Muse as well. I had a smoked salmon, brie and asparagus crepe and Mark had a smoked salmon eggs benedict. After checking out, we made the drive back to the city, back to the hustle and bustle and back to real life. The only consolation? I know Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa is only a short drive away and it will be waiting for me when I need to unwind and return!