Home reviews Grail Springs Holistic Health Resort Review – Part 1

Grail Springs Holistic Health Resort Review – Part 1

written by Head Health Nutter September 24, 2008

The Legend of the Holy Grail is an ancient tale dating back to at least the 12th century. Some say it is based on even older Celtic mythology and nature cult folklore. If you’ve seen the excellent Spielberg and Lucas flick, Indian Jones and The Last Crusade, you’ll remember that the Grail holds mystical powers. According to the legend, it was the cup that Jesus used at the last supper. Anyone who drinks from it is blessed with eternal youth.

So for a holistic health resort featuring natural living and a focus on helping their guests recover their youthful appearance and vigor, Grail Springs Health Resort is aptly named. Even their message at the bottom of their new website (just launched on Sunday, the day I checked out) promises, “where the legend is alive and well…”

A vacation get-away for Hollywood stars (like Jim Carrey), wrestlers (like Trish Stratus), music moguls and top executives, Grail Springs is the perfect place to be pampered. It’s no wonder people travel from all over the world to get its guaranteed R & R.

One American guest told me that Grail Springs was by far the best health spa he’s been to out of seven he’s encountered during his globe-trotting. Another guest traveled all the way from London, England to get the tonic served here in Bancroft, Ontario.

Driving through the front gates, Grail Springs is protected by two stone angels. Idyllic is a weak descriptor as its quaint, rustic European country architecture, complete with beautiful climbing vines and landscaping, nestles against a Northern Canadian lake and country setting. The newer addition features a castle turret and a wooden hobbit door. Not quite ready to meet Bilbo Baggins, and enamoured with the place already, I miss that it’s the entrance to the front desk.

Using the more traditional square door, I find myself by a staircase and the dining room. The busy chef (Ryan) happens by and my first encounter with the Grail staff is delightful. He is friendly and welcoming, showing me the way to the lobby.

The girls at the front desk are just as helpful, genuine and down-to-earth. I sit down to fill out my health forms and look around. There’s a movie listing for every day of the week, as well as a daily schedule of activities. Among these are sun salutations yoga, the morning Mantra, nature walks, afternoon yoga, the grotto, a workshop, campfire, and ending with movie and popcorn.

Mom meets me in the lobby and practically drags me up to our room before I get a chance to finish filling out the health history questionnaire.

The room, like the rest of the resort, is an enigma – posh yet charming and colonial. A stone fireplace is the centerpiece of the room. From the ceiling, a hanging chandelier. The bed is massive and I joke that we’ll need a step stool to climb into this deliciously fluffy dream-maker. Past the big buckwheat pillow are French doors leading out to the double balcony overlooking the lake.

Laid out side by side at the end of the bed are two housecoats and on the floor, two sets of orthopedic plastic slippers. Pinned on our robes are our itineraries for the rest of the day. It’s a light list which leaves us plenty of time to get settled and back downstairs for a tour.

Kelly takes us through the inside, showing us the spa (which includes many different rooms), steam room, workout and yoga rooms, gift shop, dining room and immense living room. This last room fits comfortably three regular sized living rooms and features the mother of all stone fireplaces.

Our tour takes us outside past the beach with paddle boats and canoes available for our pleasure. Close by is the Grail grotto which includes an outdoor sauna, cold plunge tub and hot tub. I barely get out my excited chatter about jumping into my bikini right away when we come across the fascinating labyrinth. The sight leaves me dumb while I drink in its magical energy.

That ain’t all. Walking further into the property, we catch a glimpse of the owner’s house as we’re shown the path to the walking trails. The tour ends at pungent red stables. Five retired rescue horses feed lazily at their troughs hanging from the internal set of a series of fences. Although I haven’t booked horseback riding, I ask if it’d be ok if during my stay I pet them. “Sure,” she answers. “I think they’d like that.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review, where I describe the different packages Mom and I experienced, our individual treatments and meals. The overall Grail Springs philosophy will be exemplified as I discuss the complimentary workshops and movies, gifts sold in the shop and some of the stories of healing from staff and guests, including myself.

Just so I don’t have you waiting in suspense, would I go again? In a heartbeat. Between Mom and me, we spent nearly $2000 for 2 nights at seasonal prices. Was it worth a few months of cutting out the extras to save for such a luxurious adventure? Definitely. But only for longer.

Note: Mom and I received the same treatment as any other guest. No one knew I was a blogger and that I was planning on writing a review until the last day after check-out.

If you’re curious about the labyrinth, take a walk with us in Friday’s post in a video I shot while there. I’ll also explain what it is, where it came from and its purpose.

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Afshin September 26, 2008 at 8:27 am

Hey Steph,
Love the post. The pictures are awesome also. Looking forward to part 2!

Carolyn May 6, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I am planning on going for a 5 night stay beginning May 18 2009,when did you visit?

Stephanie Miller May 7, 2009 at 8:40 am

Hi Carolyn! You’ll love it at Grail Springs – I know I did! 🙂

I went just last fall, in September of 2008. It was expensive but well worth the money.

Enjoy your trip and please come back to tell us your Grail Springs experience!

A Friend of a Friend June 25, 2009 at 1:30 am

If you only knew the truth about some of the people that work there you would be horrified. Of course they appear genuine because they receive customers that pay big bucks. You don’t need to publish this. I’m just tired of seeing people going into the there and not seeing the unfortunate truth. For example you have people that work there that drink like its going out of style (when they aren’t working; as they say around here “this is Bancroft”. Should not all the staff that work there be health conscious? You have other people that aren’t even qualified for some of the jobs. Some of the staff like to spread gossip about the guests; not very dharmic of them; perhaps because they are envious? The staff generally are underpaid and have to rely on tips so I guess thats what you would expect. Sorry to say that but like I said; I am tired of seeing people pay big $$ for this. I wish I could be more specific on details but I feel like I am already pushing it. You don’t have to publish this and I’m sure you won’t. I came across your blog and felt compelled to speak. And my email address isn’t real as you don’t need to respond. I’m really sorry about that. Of course this is only my opinion based on a couple years of observation.

Stephanie Miller June 25, 2009 at 11:20 am

Thanks SO much for your thoughts, Friend. This is what social media is all about and so of course I’m going to publish your comment!

I’m especially glad you commented because after my Mom and I left Grail Springs, we stopped by one of the stores in Bancroft. We were talking about Grail Springs and the person working cash was noticeably disturbed at the mention of G.S.

She said she worked there and without going into details, had a terrible experience working there. I thought it was an isolated incident but your comment makes me wonder…

Plus, I’m extremely disappointed with how they are handling their social media efforts. There was no recognition for my blog review on their resort, I’ve also contacted them through Facebook and Twitter – no response – and even called them to see if they needed help with their social media efforts – again, no response.

They are obviously missing out on the most important aspect of social media (and business!): the people.

How well you treat your staff and the people trying to help you out is a good indication of your true intentions. It’s unfortunate because I thought Grail Springs was all about raising the consciousness level of the planet.

I thought they wanted to help the world be a better place. But I haven’t seen it yet – except for when I paid them for it!

Thanks again for sharing your experience with us and for your honesty, Friend.

Head Health Nut

friend of a friend July 22, 2009 at 11:33 pm

There is one person on the above website link that is really a fraud. Oops did I say that? What I mean is that she is a yoga instructor only because she has read several books last year and came up with routines to teach the high paying clientèle. Last year she ran a weekly yoga for kids at a gym which I guess gave her some experience but she never had training from a yoga instructor; therefore not even a certificate and many hours to prove it. She certainly cannot know the human anatomy very well and could possibly injure someone by suggesting an asana for someone with a back injury etc.

She is a student of many schools of knowledge only because her knowledge comes from the internet. When she runs lectures she prepares her information by looking up what she can find on the net; powerpoint presentation and cut/paste then Presto! No background understanding required.

She studied from only one school and never completed it because she did not agree on some of their fundamental values. She councils women and they love her vast knowledge (see Tripadvisor; and speaking of Tripadvisor did you know its biased?) but is she really then qualified to give advice?

How do I know this? Well I used to know this person very well but maybe it would be best not to post that fact since I need to remain anomonyous. Maybe you don’t want to post this tidbit of yet another example of misleading well paying clientèle looking for help and healing while paying big bucks for it. But I thought you might like to know.

This is another example of what has been disturbing me about this place. She should not be working for guests doing what she does. She would have been excellent at front desk or the kitchen etc.

Peace to you Stephanie

Rose July 24, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Hi Steph
I agree with the second last comment made about the Grail…I know first hand of some of the staff that work there and it’s true some are not qualified at all to be working there, I believe that the Grail could afford to hire trained and certified people but they don’t; why? I don’t know why, perhaps it’s because the owner likes to keep the big profits, she has staff doing duties that they have no business doing. Some of the staff are overweight and is certainly not a sign of being health conscience. The Grail used to be a Bed & Breakfast & Restaurant that was owned by the present owner( Madeleine Marentette) and her ex-spouse. It was re-vamped to become the Grail Spa, built on ancient Native land very spiritual and very haunted, check it out and ask around. The Grail doesn’t like the guest to know about the spooky things that go bump in the night.

Head Health Nut July 29, 2009 at 11:18 am

Wow, my experience at the Grail was a positive one and gave me no indication of unqualified service!

Thanks again for your honesty and sharing your knowledge about the Grail. A good review is constructive, and although it makes me a little uncomfortable to be criticizing others, I felt it was important to publish your comments.

Not only is this an open forum but people SHOULD have as much knowledge as possible for their purchasing decisions. Many people, especially when we’re talking about health, prefer to work with trained and certified practitioners.

Personally, I had fabulous service and I loved the yoga! The instructor even showed me a few new poses. 😉

Since you fill out a detailed health questionnaire at the Grail before your stay, I hope that in their review they would advise against certain activities that may harm someone (say with a back injury).

I’d like to know who reviews these health questionnaires and their qualifications…

@Rose – thanks especially for the extra tidbit about the Grail! Native land, spirits… now THAT’S interesting. 🙂

Steph Miller
Head Health Nutter

Massage Therapy Insuranec July 27, 2010 at 3:19 am

I think working in a Spa or massage center it is very important for staff to be qualified. If this place dont have qualified staff then i think location dont have any worth.

Jack September 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

Hi Step: Below you will find a long but truthful email that I sent to someone who was recently scheduled to do a workshop at the Grail. I removed her name to protect her privavcy. You need to know that this woman is the biggest fraud on the planet when it comes to health and wellness. She has created a huge trail of destruction and has made many enemys along the way.

Hello: This is a very difficult email for me to write but I send it to you out of love and concern, because I really like your energy and what you are all about and do not want to see you get hurt. I want to let you know that I personally know Madeleine the owner of Grail Springs in Bancroft, unfortunately all too well. Having worked for her in the past, I cannot keep silent any longer. I notice that you are holding a 4-day workshop at the Grail in late July. You are such a kind and beautiful woman, and I do not want to see you get hurt, used and taken advantage by Madeleine, as she has done so to far too many people in the past. It’s so important that you know that this woman is a user, abuser and an energy vampire in the worst possible way! The way she treats her staff, her guests and her workshop facilitators is absolutely horrendous! I have been a witness to it firsthand, on many many occasions and it’s crucial that you know this. She has also been known to steal your information, your ideas, your work, and then make it look like that of her own. She will also promise you the sun, moon and stars, but when it comes right down to your event, do not expect much of anything, no help whatsoever from anyone there, and you will be left on your own.

Of course it is totally your choice to continue to hold your workshop, but just be warned, do not let your guard down for one moment, do not turn your back on her, for she will drive a knife in it so deep that you won’t even see it coming until it’s too late. She will suck the life force energy right out of you, leaving you feeling used, hurt and empty. Please, please be careful and protect yourself.

There is so much to tell you that I will outline it in point form:

1. Just so you know, you do not order your meals from a menu — there are no menus provided for any of the meals. You will be served a vegetarian meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if you do not like the food choices you are simply out of luck. I’ve seen many guests become very angry over this when it happens. Guests have complained about the small portion sizes and they end up going to bed at the end of day hungry and upset. They don’t serve coffee which usually upsets many of them also. You can always drive into town to pick one up but it would take you at least ten minutes or so to do that. Upon arrival the front desk person will ask for your credit card. Many guests have had their cards billed with extras and unnecessary charges! Be very careful.

2. As far as the rooms go: it will depend whether your room is in the old section or the newer section. Both sides have many flaws such as no hand soap in the bathrooms, very low water pressure, unclean linens on the beds, drinking glasses that have not been cleaned from the guest(s) before, very old TVs in each room — some of them being fuzzy and out of focus, ripped and torn lampshades, broken window blinds, dirty carpets, chipped and worn out furniture, etc. etc. etc. Looks can be very deceiving. On the Grail website it looks like such a magical place and beautiful place, it may also appear to be this way upon your arrival, but this will quickly dissipate once you are there and have a chance to settle into your room and explore your surroundings. You may be very disappointed. For safety, do not use the wooden outdoor hot tub — guests break out in bacterial infection and skin rashes since it is not maintained and cleaned out on a regular basis.

3. As far as being paid for your workshop sessions, you need to be concerned about this. I recently connected with a workshop facilitator who did an event at the Grail and Madeleine wanted a large percentage from each of their sessions, and she also wanted a session done for her for free! Unfortunately, Madeleine has no clue, no idea about the exchange of energy and services provided. Anyone who works with energy such as yourself knows there always has to be an even exchange or an energetic imbalance will be created — someone will be hurt. She has been known to make big promises but when it comes time to deliver, sadly she falls short.

4. In case you are not aware of it, the Grail when it’s full will only accommodate about 26 guests, and not everyone will choose to take part in your workshop. Please don’t get your hopes up — you may be very disappointed. Also, depending on who works at the front desk the weekend you are there, you may end up with a very rude and abrupt receptionist! And, none of the staff wear any type of uniform, making it difficult to tell who is a guest and who is a staff member. All in all, it’s a very poorly run operation.

5. Do not let Madeleine threaten or scare you if you decide it’s not in your best interest to go to the Grail. She does not have the time or the money to chase after people who have walked away from her. For many years now she has run the Grail doing a great deal of barter — robbing Peter to pay Paul. She will always try to get the better end of the deal when it comes to bartering, so just be aware and be careful now that you know this information.

6. The Grail has a big turn over in their staff and most of those who work there come from great distances and not from the town of Bancroft which is only a few minutes away. She is now on her third chef in as little as 4 years. The reason for this is that she has alienated many if not most of the local towns people. Bancroft is a very small place, with a population of a approximately 3,500 and everyone knows everyone else. If you do choose to come, you simply need to go into town and talk to the shop keepers to find out how they really feel about her and the Grail, and it’s not good at all. They actually have nick names for her and her son — they call them “Mary and the baby Jesus.” This reference meaning that they are “holier than thou” and that they are above everyone else. Madeleine is divorced and seems to have vicious hate on for men in general. Her teenage son lives with his father out west and only sees his mother a few times each year. Her elderly father works on the property and is very unfriendly, actually nasty is a better description. This family is very dysfunctional to say the least!

I could tell you much more but I hope that this information will help you in deciding about what you may or may not want to do. I’m very sorry but I cannot reveal my true identity or she will come after me for revealing the truth and I will be hurt again — I simply cannot take the risk. I know it’s a lot to ask, but please trust me and know that what I revealed to you is the absolute truth — this is not a joke in any way. I hope you understand and I wish you all the best in all your future endeavours. I send you much light and love.


Head Health Nutter October 1, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thank you, Jack, for sharing your experience and feelings with us. I’m sure anyone going to the Grail will take them into consideration before booking.


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