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Plan your wedding at perfect spots for intimate dream weddings in our lakeside settings.  Special, unique, memorable and one of a kind weddings  – that is what every bride and every groom seeks for their special day.  Ontario Resorts help to create the Bayview Springwedding of your dreams .  Specializing in wedding packages our many resorts offer natural settings combined with the wishes of the bridal couple to make memorable memories of your perfect wedding day.  All inclusive packages  country charm, rustic elegance, waterfront weddings all offer perfect venues  for weddings of all sizes.

We specialize in casual, intimate and exclusive locations for your special day. Visit these resoron line at www.resortsofontario.com/weddings for details on outdoor ceremonies, chapels, lakeside weddings, elopement packages, and more ! We have facilities ideal for weddings of all sizes, multi course dinners, accommodations to suit the group, spa services for pampering, rehearsal dinners, outdoor bonfires and more.

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Unforgettable events start right here in Resort Country with expert wedding planners to create the perfect wedding just for you.  Photographers will be able to capture unique memories in spring, summer, fall or winter.

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Photo: Martin Lortz

Enjoy the ride from Bayview Wildwood. Photo: Martin Lortz

A resort vacation appeals to those who want it all in one place, no planning, mapping or scheduling required. For many people “it all” means relaxing, dining, comfortable accommodations, a beach or pool, and fitness centre. But others want adventure as part of their hard-earned vacation, too. They want relaxation, but also a thrill.

Fortunately, Ontario resorts have much more to offer than might be obvious, Ontario resorts have much more to offer than might be obvious, ATVing and PWC adventures among them. Both are popular outdoor activities for the modern adventurer, tourists from within the province and country, and those from across the US border can join in at any experience level. Maybe you’re booking a vacation for yourself, your spouse, and your teenaged children and you all want a bit of adventure? Maybe some of your group is more interested in taking it easy, and some want the option of a rugged ATV trail, or some time speeding along the water on a choice personal watercraft?

If your version of “having it all” means thrills and comfort, or the group you’re travelling in—be it a family vacation or company retreat—requires both to balance out everyone’s wants and needs, you’re in luck. Here is a list of some of the resorts in Ontario that offer an endorphin rush, and luxury. (Please note this is not a complete list. For all bookings and the most up-to-date information available, please contact the resorts and/or rental companies directly.)

 

Ontario Resorts That Offer It All

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Pinestone offers meeting space of the conventional sort, and for those more interested in meeting on the trails. Photo: Virgil Knapp

Pinestone Resort & Conference Centre — Haliburton, ON

One of the province’s most premiere destinations, the Pinestone may be best known for it’s spa amenities and golf getaways. Offering natural beauty and truly upscale accommodations, it will please thrill-seekers to know there is also opportunity for more hardcore fun in the form of PWC and ATV. The well-reviewed Back Country Tours is the resort’s official provider for off-road ATVs, Sea Doo and Jet Ski rentals (and, in winter, snowmobiles as well). Back Country is an easy 15 minutes away, and right next to a trail. Guided ATV tours are on offer and a popular activity for family fun and corporate bookings and safety and riding lessons are available.

 

Deerhurst Resort – Huntsville, Ontario

Deerhurst is a high-end option for accommodations in Muskoka—so much so that the resort has played host to world leaders. On-site you’ll find golf and a spa, as well as numerous other seasonal activities for families or adults. Among them are fishing charters, an antique boat tour, an inflatable waterpark, tennis, paddleboarding, treetop trekking, indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Personal watercraft rentals are available on site. They’re booked through the resort’s activities desk and run through the ski school company Summer Water Sports (SWS). The company offers one, three and six-hour rentals.

Guests can also take part in a Yamaha riding adventure, with the use of brand new 2016 Yamaha ATVs and Viking side-by-sides. The experience includes rider training and a guided tour; mini dirt bikes and youth ATV options are also available.

 

Ogopogo Resort on Mountain Lake – Minden, Ontario

Enjoy the natural beauty of the Haliburton Highlands. This family-friendly resort offers screened lakeside dining in their gazebo, evening campfires and swim rafts off their dock. Summer at Ogopogo includes a heated pool, fishing, a sand beach, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats. Plus, there are five golf courses within a 15-minute drive.

Ogopogo is the first on their lake to offer Sea Doo Spark rentals—guests can enjoy these 3-person PWCs, as well as single-person tubes and water skis for towing.

Set on Mountain Lake in the Haliburton Highlands, Ogopogo Resort partners with Back Country ATV Tours to offer discounted rates on your accommodations when you book an ATV tour or rental.

  

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Family-friendly PWC fun awaits at Ontario resorts.

Ontario Resorts Offering Personal Watercraft (PWC) Rentals

Viamede Resort – Woodview, Ontario

Set on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, the Viamede makes it’s fun-friendliness evident from the get-go, with boat-up dining options and trailer parking. With 2,000 feet of shoreline, this full-service conference centre and resort has lots of space and lots to offer any type of traveller staying in their resort rooms or cottages. Mountain-biking, a water trampoline, disc-golf (Frisbee golf, essentially, if the term is new to you) and an on-site farm that grows food for the resort kitchens all set this spot apart. While Viamede doesn’t offer motorized rentals, guests can rent from a third party and have PWCs delivered; often opting for Town & Country Marine in Lakefield.

 

Severn Lodge – Port Severn, Ontario

This premier lakeside resort offers all-inclusive vacations in the Muskoka and Georgian Bay Lake district, about three hours from the Detroit border and only 90 minutes from Toronto. Resort rooms or cottages are available, as are family and corporate packages. Distinguished Executive Chef Hubert Obermeier leaves an impression on resort guests with outstanding fare offered waterfront, often including local specials. Through the summer, supervised activities for children create the right balance between family, couple and solo time. Jet-ski rentals are available on-site for an additional charge.

 

The Rosseau: A JW Marriott Resort & Spa – Minett, Ontario

A gem in the Muskoka area, The Rosseau offers rooms with full-kitchens, excellent fine and casual dining—with craft beers, an extensive wine selection and local “farm-to-fork” options—and a full-service luxury spa, with men’s and women’s facilities, as well as packages catering to couples. There’s a stone fireplace in every room of this, golf courses nearby, and a 24-hour fitness centre. Spend time on the exclusive beach, newspaper, enjoy a horse and carriage ride or Segway tour. And when it’s time for an adrenaline boost, 2-person jet ski rentals are available for one or three hour bookings, with fuel included in rental rates.

 

Bayview Wildwood Resort – Severn Bridge, ON

Choose between suites, resort rooms or waterfront cottages at this stunning resort on Sparrow Lake. Upscale dining and suburb views make this a popular wedding spot for those looking for a rustic and elegant event. Whether it’s a gold trip, meeting destination or family vacation, a trip to Bayview Wildwood promises to be memorable. Though the resort no longer offers ATV rentals, thrill-seekers won’t be left in the dust, as jet ski rentals are made available through Summer Water Sports.

 

Living Water Resort – Collingwood, ON

The Living Water Resort has lots to offer: golfing, spa treatments, and exclusive events amongst them. Theirs is the only waterfront restaurant in the area, and specializes in sustainable seafood. The Marina is one of the amenity landmarks at the resort, allowing you to explore all that Georgian Bay has to offer. Living Water Resort partners with Xtreme Adventures, offered exclusively at this resort in Collingwood, offering many ways to get out on the water: waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, boat tours, and jet ski rentals. To rent jet skis, drivers must be at least 16-years-old; a license is required.

Ontario resorts offering ATV rentals:

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ATV parking at Bayview Wildwood. Photo: Martin Lortz

Couples Resort – Algonquin Park, ON

Spend a kid-free weekend at this 5-star luxury couples resort in the heart of Algonquin Park. First-class five-course meals, and rooms equipped with Keurig coffee makers, private outdoor hot tubs and wood-burning fireplaces are only some of the perks of this resort. While the resort has stopped offering private ATV rentals onsite, they remain ATV-friendly and suggest Back Country Tours or Highland Wilderness Tours for rentals during your stay.

 

Lake Herridge Lodge & Resort – Temagami, ON

With a tagline like “where adventure meets relaxation,” you know the people operating this resort understand what you’re looking for. Stunning rock formations, vast forests, and plenty of wildlife adorn the area. Fish on the remote lake, hunt game, go out on a kayak or chow down on a locally-sourced meal or baked-from-scratch dessert. When you’re ready for the mud, there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore—with rough terrain for the more experienced rider, or more tame trails for those just starting out. Bring your own gear and go out with a guide or on your own.

 

Beauview Cottage Resort – Huntsville, ON

This down-to-earth lakeside resort will appeal to those looking for a more laid-back vibe. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend away or a longer family trip. Starting May 1st each year you can ride ATVs from the resort to the Lake of Bays trails, only five minutes away—look out for moose as you ride!

 

Bonnie View Inn – Haliburton, ON

This family-owned and operated resort is situated on a luxurious waterfront with suites, chalets and cottages available. Only two hours from Toronto, you’ll be in awe of your surroundings—the unique countryside offers the best in “big resort” activities and down-to-earth ambience. Expand on your standard resort package at Bonnie View by booking adding on a package from Ski Mazing Watersports, which offers watersports, parasailing, flyboard and jetovator options. ATV and Hummer excursions can be booked through Back Country, and with owners who ride you know you’ll get good advice about local trails.

 

Cedar Grove Family Resort – Tobermory, ON

A family resort with a sense of serenity and adventure! These cottage rentals offer a home away from home; each offer an equipped kitchen and backyard propane BBQ. Boat rentals are available onsite—canoes, solo and tandem kayaks, paddle boats, and motorized fishing boats. In town, you’ll find many quality pubs and restaurants; nearby are unique attractions including The Grotto and Flowerpot Island, and glass bottom boat tours that will take you there. Book your ATV or jet ski rental with Back Country Tours (first) and a discount will be applied to your resort booking.

 

Horseshoe Resort — Barrie, ON

With treetop trekking, Segway tours, rock climbing, zip-lining, cross-country and downhill bike trails and a water ramp that gives high-performance freestyle skier and snowboarders a training facility during the off-season, you’d think you were signing up for an adventure camp, rather than a luxury resort. A man-made lake with wakeboard cable park, upgraded golf facilities, and beach volleyball are all new offerings at the much-loved Ontario staple. Join a Yamaha adventure, with two-hour and half-day options available. Or, opt for motorcycle training and/or riding for two hours, half or full-days (dual-sport options are available for full-days). The website boasts natural trails through rugged forest and a wide range of terrain—“hills and valleys, snow peaks and grassy meadows, mud and gravel pits and much more!” Anyone over the age of six who can ride a bicycle very well is welcome.

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Horseshoe Resort is popular with many types of thrill-seekers, motorcyclists included. Photo: Virgil Knapp

You’re planning a motorcycle tour in Ontario and there’s lots in store: diverse scenery from region to region, sprawling terrain and some of the most stunning sunsets you’ll see. The days will be long, in the best of ways, and when you’re done riding for the day, you’ll want to relax. There’s no reason not to do that in a clean, comfortable, way. One that will have you well-fed and well rested for the days ahead.

Whether it’s your first tour or your thirtieth, you can rest assured that there’s an Ontario resort (or a few of them) that’ll suit your motorcycling—and other—needs. The best of both worlds is possible with rugged days out on the road, delicious meals and high-quality accommodations. Here are some recommendations.

 

FOR RIDING THE HIGHLANDS LOOP 

The Highlands Loop is a must-ride; so much so that you’ll hear it called “the ultimate motorcycle playground.” You’ll want to budget three days for this tour, as there are many stops to make along the way as you travel through small towns; there’s Algonquin and Bon Echo parks, caves, museums and a couple of breweries. From artisan bread at The River Bakery and Patio in Tamworth, to locally roasted coffee or homemade gelato at The Little Coffee Shop & The Scoop in Cobden, to traditional taverns and chip trucks (Wilno’s, Charlie D.’s) there’s something for all, no matter what your tastes are. Resorts along the route include:

Calabogie Peaks Resort – Calabogie, ON 

Ride the uncrowded Ottawa Valley and stop—in a motorcycle-reserved parking spot—at this country boutique hotel. A staging area for the late-summer Calabogie Boogie Trail Ride, this resort offers some well-deserved comfort after a long ride, including a health club, hot tub and swimming pool. Nearby riding is full of elevation changes and S-turns, winding you through the stunning scenery.

 

Sir Sam’s Inn & WaterSpa – Eagle Lake, ON

 This inn comes complete with an on-site spa, the perfect antidote for your ride. Top-quality food, tennis courts, a huge hot tub, and nightly bonfires. The owner himself rides, so won’t be thrown by the state you might arrive in (or your gear), and has a particular interest in making upscale accommodations available to those taking in the area on two wheels.

 

Blue Spruce Resort – Dwight, ON

 Let the winding roads lead you to the Blue Spruce Resort, a tasteful option in Muskoka, with cottage and motel options available. Blue Spruce is located on Oxtongue Lake—offering swimming, boating and calming views. Laundry facilities are available, so you can plan to pack less, and full-housekeeping services are included.

 

Spectacle Lake Lodge – Barry’s Bay, ON

Tour the Madawaska Valley and make the rustic Spectacle Lake Lodge your short-term home with a stay in the lodge or cottages. Spectacle Lake welcomes sledders and ATVers in the winter, and motorcycle riders in the summer, ensuring a good night’s sleep and full belly is part of your trip. The Friday night buffet is not to be missed—plan your travel dates accordingly.

 

Pinestone Resort & Conference Centre – Haliburton, ON

 A short drive from the more active areas of Haliburton, this golf and spa resort is a spot of bliss in the wilderness. The resort features high-end rooms, with a Jacuzzi option, and amenities such as pools, a fitness centre and a business centre. After a long day on the road, you deserve luxury like this.

 

Heather Lodge – Minden, ON

 This motorcycle-friendly lodge has been in business since 1942 (with many upgrades made over the years!) is a charming and elegant family-run business, dedicated to offering the comforts of home while you’re on the road. Contemporary dining by the Twelve Mile Lake includes a local wine list, and top-notch cuisine. With only 24 guests at any given time—when fully booked—you can count on a peaceful stay.

 

Port Cunnington Lodge and Resort – Dwight, ON

 First off, there’s a private parking lot. Motorcycle washing facilities are available upon request, and you’re right by the Lake of Bays in Muskoka and many scenic roads en route. Smaller and larger accomodations are available, depending on the size of your group. To top it all off, both managers are motorcycle enthusiasts and will be able to share their knowledge of the area on two wheels.

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FOR RIDING THE GEORGIAN BAY COASTAL ROUTE

Touted as “the road less travelled,” this route around Georgian Bay offers welcoming locals, clear blue waters, and a high likelihood of meeting other friendly riders at your various stops. Scenic and unique, with gift shops boasting local crafts and delicious cuisine—take your pick of the many pubs, grills, fine dining and, of course, fish ‘n’ chips spots. Resorts along or near to this route include:

Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa – Port Severn, ON

 Three meals a day surrounded by beautiful woods in a waterfront dining room, the Avalon Spa—a relaxation-focussed facility with registered massage therapists appointments available, and clean guest suites with HD TVs and wifi are only a few of the reasons to stay at this country inn. Enjoy a ride through Muskoka, and start and end your days with the conveniences of home also available to you.

 Blue Mountain — The Blue Mountains, ON

 Just outside of Collingwood, this mountain village resort is known primarily as a ski resort. But, its summer offerings are not to be missed, especially if you’re out riding in the Georgian Bay area. Blue Mountain offers the best of all worlds: proximity to nature and great riding, nightlife and events, casual and fine dining and shops all within the resort area. Beaches, caving, wine-tasting—it’s easy to turn your motorcycle trip into a multi-activity trip here.

Killarney Lodge – Algonquin Park, ON

 On the north shore of Georgian Bay, here’s a spot where moose-sightings are as much a given as fine country dining. Waterfront cabins situated within Algonquin Park, on the Lake of Two Rivers, offer tranquility at the end of the day, but you’re still close to the road for when it’s time to head out again.

 Killarney Mountain Lodge – Killarney, ON

 This wilderness resort offers it all: fishing, dining, a pool and sauna, even boat and sailing cruises are offered. Stay in a cabin, lodge or chalet as part of what the resort calls “your wilderness therapy.” Having gone through a huge revitalization only a couple summers ago, this is a one-of-a-kind accommodation option after days spent riding by pristine blue waters and sloping red granite rocks.

 Sportsman’s Inn – Killarney, ON

 Ride Highway 637, or whichever way you arrive, to Killarney and stop at Sportsman’s Inn for space, comfort and gorgeous views of the North Channel. The La Cloche Mountains and pink granite rock are some of the scenic highlights, making the sometimes-bumpy roads well worthwhile. Fine dining, a dockside patio (with live entertainment on Saturday nights) and a pub option should keep you fueled and satisfied. It’s entirely appropriate to have high expectations here.

 

MORE MOTORCYCLE-FRIENDLY RESORTS

If you’re travelling to or within Ontario for good riding, there are many routes you might find yourself taking. There’s good riding throughout the province, and many upscale places to stay that are close to good riding. Here are some of our favourites:

Elk Lake Eco Centre – Elk Lake, ON

 This spot is a premiere, one-of-a-kind facility. The Boreal Forest backdrop is not surprisingly a pick for many weddings and high-end retreats. Local food is served on-site and a chalet option is also possible. This is a good choice to accompany the The Temiskaming Loop Tour.

Golden Beach Resort – Roseneath, ON

 This gated, family-oriented resort on Rice Lake in Northumberland County comes up in many an online recommendation for motorcycle-friendly resorts. Covered parking comes along with your stay, whether that’s in a condo or campsite. There’s a licensed restaurant on-site, sports facilities, and an in-ground swimming pool and hot tub to take advantage of.

Saucy Willow Inn – Coboconk, ON

 A great choice for the full bike season, this spot offers cottages and a B&B and off-road parking. A fine place to rest after riding through Kawartha Lakes or Halliburton Highlands.

Bayview Wildwood Resort – Severn Bridge, ON

This resort has graced the village of Port Stanton for over 100 years. The upscale casual dining room overlooks Sparrow Lake, and suites, resort rooms and waterfront cottages are available options for your stay. Music festivals, farmer’s markets, concerts and sports events are all area staples—don’t miss out on a fishing excursion during your stay. Our pick for when riding the Big Loop/Explorer’s Edge.

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Andrew Hind

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Ontario’s woods are ablaze in fiery shades throughout October. At the same time as forests are being transformed into a painter’s palette of colour, harvest season is in full swing. It makes for an ideal season to escape and unwind at one of the province’s resorts; wander along country lanes lined with maples turned cherry red, harvest apples by the bushel in orchards strewn with copper-coloured leaves, or simply curl up by a crackling fire-pit to inhale the scent of autumn. October is all about experiencing the natural bounty of Ontario’s magical autumn season.

Perhaps in no place does the bounty of the season—brilliantly-coloured leaves and flavorful crops—come together more perfectly than in Muskoka, home to some of the best leaf-peeping in the province and as well as to our most distinctive autumn crop, the crimson cranberry floating languidly in their flooded fields.

With 11 hectares in cultivation producing 137,000 kilograms of cranberries each year, Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is the second largest cranberry farm in Ontario, and the only one with its own winery (www.cranberry.ca). It’s also the oldest, established in 1950 by Orville Johnston. His son Murray, along with his wife, Wendy, and their children, continue the much expanded operation today. Thanks in large part to their efforts, the cranberry has become synonymous with autumn in Muskoka, serving as the inspiration for the can’t-miss Bala Cranberry Festival (October 14-16, www.balacranberryfest.com)

“The biggest misconception about cranberries—and there are many—is that they are an aquatic plant. They actually grow in boggy fields. It was discovered that ripe cranberries float in water, and so it became common practice for farmers to flood fields in the autumn to facilitate harvesting,” explains Wendy, one of many fascinating facts you discover during the daily bog-to-bottle tours of the farm (recently named a Signature Canadian Experience).

During October you can watch as berries are harvested from the flooded fields, enjoy wagon rides of the bucolic property, wade in amongst the berries for a priceless photograph, and sample a number of delicious cranberry wines in the Cranberry Café. An autumn day at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is a truly memorable experience.

A warming postscript to cranberry cravings and arboreal amblings can be found at a number of nearby resorts, including Sherwood Inn (www.sherwoodinn.ca), a cosy yet elegant hotel on Lake Joseph just a short drive east. When you arrive at Sherwood Inn, you slip into a slower pace of life. You can’t help yourself. True, the property boasts the amenities required of a modern resort—a comfortable spa with staff as soothing as the treatments themselves, a fine dining restaurant with world-class food that manages to be both sophisticated and hearty at the same time—but in general pleasures are simple.

When Charles Draper built the inn in 1939, his vision was of a property more akin to a cottage than a hotel, where personal service and a sense of intimacy would be the main drawing cards. Much has remained the same in the 75-years since. The main lodge is still nestled snuggly among century-old pines. A calming tranquility still prevails. And the tradition of excellence in hospitality that has been a part of Sherwood Inn’s history remains very much alive.

Sherwood Inn is also famed for its fine dining. Executive Chef Everett Bell was born and raised on Lake Huron’s North Shore, and brings distinctive cottage country flavors to the menu. When days shorten and temperatures drop, Bell likes to introduce fresh cranberries into his menu as a nod to the season.cranberry-resorts1_edited-1

“My grandparents had a farm on the North Shore, so I gained an appreciation for fresh, local food. The only experience most people have with cranberries is canned cranberry sauce, but these tart berries can be used for so much more (see recipes below),” Bell explains.

Nature’s bounty, in the form of spectacularly colourful scenery and farm-fresh food, makes October a truly unique season. Make the most of this fleeting season with days spent escaping and unwinding at one of Ontario’s resorts.

Sherwood Inn isn’t the only resort from which to base a weekend spent indulging in cranberries and marveling at brightly-coloured landscapes. Also nearby Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh are Rocky Crest Resort, Shamrock Lodge, Windermere House, Trillium Resort and Spa, Grand Tappattoo Resort, and JW Marriott, the Rosseau.

 And of course, cranberries aren’t the only crops being harvested this time of year. Apples, corn, garlic, pears, pumpkins, squash, and a host of others are available at market stands and pick-your-own farms across the province (to find them, go to http://www.HarvestOntario.com) Wherever you vacation in Ontario, whichever resort calls out to you, there are certain to be an open-to-the-public farm nearby.

 Andrew Hind is a freelance writer specializing in travel and history. He is the author of 19 books, including Muskoka Resorts: Then and Now and most recently Patterson-Kaye: A Celebration. He can be reached at maelstrom@sympatico or followed on Twitter @discoveriesAM.

 

Cranberry Vinaigrette

1 cup cranberry juice

½ cup white balsamic vinegar

½ cup honey

1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries

1.5-2 cups olive oil

1 tbls Dijon mustard

  1.  Add the cranberry juice, vinegar, honey, and whole cranberries together in a medium size pot. Reduce for 20-30 minutes over low heat, or until the whole cranberries begin to break down.
  2. Cool this mixture.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the Dijon and cranberry reduction. Whisk briskly, slowly dripping the olive oil in until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Serve with your favourite salad!

 

Cranberry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding (with Northern Spy Apple and Cranberry Chutney)

½ cup sundried cranberriescranberry-resorts2_edited-1

½ cup white chocolate chips

½ cup beaten whole eggs

½ cup 10% cream

8 slices white bread (or any bread; depends on your preference!)

½ cup white sugar or honey

Pinches of; cinnamon, ground clove, allspice, nutmeg

  1.  Cube the bread. Combine all ingredients, and mix until a rich thick consistency is formed.
  2. Bake at 325 F for approximately 20 minutes or until the chocolate just starts to ooze out and the bread is turning golden.

 

Northern Spy Apple and Cranberry Chutney

1 cup sundried cranberries

2 cups diced northern spy apples

½ cup cranberry wine

1 cup apple juice

1 cinnamon stick, broke in half

Pinch of ground clove

White sugar or honey, to taste

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and gently simmer, until the apples and cranberries start to break down, and form into chutney.
  3. Taste, and add honey or sugar as desired.
  4. Add atop bread pudding

 

Andrew Hind

Children in bathing suits running past, faces spread wide in smiles and squealing in glee. Parents sunk into comfortable chairs, content and relaxed under azure skies. Turquoise waters lapping a sandy shoreline. The palpable thrill of seemingly endless activities from which to choose, but sadly not enough time to sample them all. A glorious sun beating down from high above. Nope, not Florida or the Caribbean—this is Fern Resort, an all-inclusive family-friendly resort right here in Ontario.

Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?Fern-IMG_9338

When you’re looking for a summer escape to a family friendly resort, you don’t want just any resort. You want one that will thrill the entire family, from children to restless teens to deserving parents. You want one that children will have to be pulled away from, where parents can truly unwind, one where cherished family memories that will be fondly recalled at gatherings for years in the future are made.

Thankfully, Ontario has a number that fit the bill to a tee, each one elevating a family escape to OMG-heights in their own unique ways: among them Bayview Wildwood Resort, Shamrock Lodge, Bonnie View Inn, Pine Vista Resort, and of course, Fern Resort. You don’t need to go far to relax and rejuvenate as a family.

“What’s the perfect family vacation? It’s one where the kids are entertained, parents are relaxed, and where parents aren’t looking ahead to the next expense,” says Scott Collens, General Manager of Fern Resort, an Orillia property which has been perfecting the family vacation for 120 years. “That’s where an all-inclusive, family-friendly resort like Fern comes into its own. There’s so much to do that you never have to worry about children getting bored, and with their children (infant to teens) enrolled in a kids club program,  parents get important alone time.”

Though Fern Resort is a magical year-round destination for kids, it truly comes alive in summer with oodles of family-oriented activities—from wall-climbing to mini-golf to tennis and knee-boarding, not to mention swimming in two large pools or the clear waters of Lake Couchiching. It’s like a cruise ship on land.

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“When considering where you want to spend your vacation, ask yourself what you are hoping to enjoy and what do you want to achieve during your holiday? Where you go should satisfy all your needs,” says Collens. “It’s important to call and speak to someone at the resort itself. You can read all about our programs and facilities online, but you only get a feel for how everything we do is based on solid family-values by actually speaking to us.”

Muskoka’s Shamrock Lodge, another all-inclusive resort, represents a dying breed: a family owned and operated resort where the owners are ubiquitous and as much a part of stay as are the joyful activities or comfortable accommodations. “The Bryant’s are very present. They’re here every day, driving the boat, running activities, overseeing operations and welcoming guests. By the second day, they know every guest by first name. People love that connection. It’s rare today, but people value it. Our guests often say a stay feels more like vacationing at a family cottage than a resort,” enthuses Operations Manager Susan Nairns.

In many ways, Shamrock is a throw back to a simpler time, a more innocent time. Indeed, the lodge itself is over a century old. But it has remained relevant by keeping up with vacation trends, offering an all-inclusive vacation in an atmosphere more intimate than most of its kind. Parents with love the charm and idyllic setting; children will love the endless fun.Fern-IMG_9876.JPG

“We’re rated the #1 resort in Muskoka by Tripadvisor and we always encourage people to go there when they are considering booking—here or anywhere— because it’s written by guests from their own personal perspective,” explains Nairn.

Every resort is special in their own way, so choose the one that best suits your needs and interests.

Nothing beats a vacation at one of Ontario’s family-friendly resorts. You’ll know it’s a special holiday when, at the end of the day, exhausted children drift off to a contented sleep with the need of a bedtime story. They’ve made their own adventures.

Bayview Wildwood Resort Beach

List of Questions to Answer when Booking a Summer Resort Vacation

In an attempt to help readers choose from among the many family-friendly resorts in Ontario, we wanted to put together a checklist of questions to answer. Who better to help us than Dianne Hounsome, Owner and General Manager of Bayview Wildwood Resort, a property with an unrivaled reputation for providing cherished summer memories.

  1. Do they want a supervised children’s program? If the resort offers them, what times are they offered, what ages of kids can participate, and is there a cost?
  2. Is entertainment at night important to them?
  3. Can kids go into the entertainment areas (bars) at night?
  4. How does the meal plan work – are their meal times set – do they have to make a reservation or do they get assigned a table?
  5. Do the rooms/cottages have views of the lake with balconies or decks?
  6. Are there room/cottages that are 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom?
  7. Do you want to cook your own meals or have a meal plan?
  8. Do you want to eat with your kids? Do you want the option to have a meal without kids if possible?
  9. What is the atmosphere of the dining room (upscale dressy or relaxed casual)?
  10. Are the meals buffet or service? Is there a kids buffet option?Bayview-fire-3-2010
  11. Are there food allergies and can they be accommodated?
  12. What is the clientele – is it mostly families, conferences, couples, or a mix of any?
  13. What watercraft (canoes, paddleboats, etc.) are available – are any free and what is the cost?
  14. Can you swim in the lake – is there a sandy beach – and are there water toys (trampolines, for example)?
  15. Is there an indoor pool? Is the outdoor pool heated?
  16. Are there activities to do indoors in the case of bad weather?
  17. Is there private babysitting service at a cost?
  18. Can they rent a boat and fish?
  19. Is there a teen program (if relevant)?

Andrew Hind

The warming days of April bring with them maple syrup season, an annual tradition in rural Canada and a favourite for family eager to experience a taste of spring. There’s no place better to experience the bounty of the liquid gold than JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort, where the resort’s talented chefs have crafted a maple inspired menu to tempt your taste buds. Maple syrup isn’t just for drizzling over pancakes and waffles.

Executive Chef Shaun Crymble is excited about the new menu and how it reflects the season.

“This is a new endeavour for us this spring and we’re excited about it,” he enthuses. “We’re using only the best-locally sourced maple syrup from Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm. Robin (Executive Sous Chef Robin Little) did a tour of the farm so that the experience could be incorporated into the menu. What we came up with speaks to the character of maple syrup season in Muskoka.”

Begin your dinner with steaming bowl of maple-roasted butternut squash soup, made with pumpkin seeds, sage and maple-infused cream, and maple bacon lardons. It’s so good you’ll be scraping the bottom of your bowl for every last mouthful. For a main, savor the maple-glazed pheasant breast, served with braised red cabbage, apple and onion soubise, and drizzled with a mouth-watering red wine maple syrup reduction.

Perhaps the best was saved for last, the sinfully good maple syrup sugar pie. Put aside your diet for this one evening and enjoy.

“This is pure Canadian flavour,” enthuses Little. “It’s like a buttertart and is inspired by a Quebecois tart that uses maple syrup. The rosemary and thyme crème fraiche and lemon thyme pudding provide a unique twist, and the local cranberry compote (sourced from nearby Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh) roots it in Muskoka.”

Pull yourself away from the table long enough to experience the process behind the maple sugaring process as performed by Muskoka’s settlers. Tap, collect, boil, and taste during onsite demonstrations every Thursday and Sunday from 1-4pm starting March 20th.

With gorgeous views of Lake Rosseau, an indoor-outdoor heated pool, and soul-soothing spa, it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of tranquillity at The Rosseau. But if you can pull yourself away from the comforts for just a few hours, you may perhaps want to tour Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm in Huntsville, or any one of the other area sugar bushes taking part in the first annual Muskoka Maple Trail (www.discovermuskoka.ca/muskoka-maple-festival.html), to appreciate how a commercial maple farm operates.

Maple sap runs for only a brief window, and so too does the maple menu at JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort. Visit before April 24 to savour the bounty of the springtime Muskoka woods.

Resorts in Ontario offer an incredible range of experiences for all season, and many member properties have integrated the sweet taste of maple into their menus. For more information, go to www.resortsofontario.com.

tart

Maple Syrup Sugar Pie

With Rosemary and Orange Crème fraiche, Bala Cranberry Compote, Lemon Thyme Pudding

Courtesy JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa

Maple Syrup Sugar Pie

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (preferably dark amber)

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together brown sugar and eggs until creamy. Add cream, syrup, and butter, then whisk until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell.

Bake pie in lower third of oven until pastry is golden and filling is puffed and looks dry but still trembles, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack to room temperature (filling will set as pie cools).

 

Rosemary & Orange Crème Fraiche

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 oranges

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

2 small fresh rosemary sprigs

2 x 200g cartons crème fraiche (recipe follows)

Directions:

Pass the orange juice through a sieve into a small pan with half of the caster sugar and rosemary and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, then remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Fold into the crème fraiche, then cover and chill until needed.

Crème Friache

Ingredients:

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons buttermilk

Directions:

Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.

Maple Cranberry Compote

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces), rinsed

1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably grade A dark amber)

2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup maple sugar or (packed) golden brown sugar

Directions (Do AHEAD; can be made 3 days ahead):

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until berries pop, about 4 minutes. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.

Lemon Thyme Liquid Gel

Ingredients:

100ml Lemon juice 100ml Water 100gm Sugar

2tsp thyme leaves 3gm Agar Agar

Directions:

Bring water, sugar and thyme leaves to a boil add in Agar Agar and cook 1-2 min more. Allow to cool before mixing with lemon juice. Allow to set until cold. Process in Vitamix until creamy, strain, reserve at ambient temperature

Andrew Hind is a freelance writer specializing in travel and history. He is the author of 19 books, including Muskoka Resorts: Then and Now. He can be reached at maelstrom@sympatico or followed on Twitter @discoveriesAM.

Feast Ontario Style

Tales of a Food Writer – Lynn Ogryzlo

As Ontario’s Local Food Ambassador I’ve travelled the province uncovering its hidden treasures from amazing resorts to charming country villages and mouthwatering food festivals. In between I have savoured toasted garlic fudge a the Perth Garlic Festival, enjoyed a romantic field dinner at Cross Wind Farms and chowed down on the sloppiest, juiciest ribs at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market – oh yum.

I discovered Ontario’s most delicious food in the most unlikely places. Travel through Hensall, the bean capital for amazing cassoulet, Perth County the pork capital and home of the Bacon and Ale Trail or the dairy capital, Oxford County and savour your way through the Cheese Trail. I also discovered many resorts that excel at making Ontario food a focus for what they do best.

In Oxford County, Elm Hurst Inn’s executive chef Michael Davies takes his cheese very seriously. I used this historic inn as a base to visit as many stops along the Cheese Trail as I could. At the inn, try Michael’s all-local cheese platter or enjoy one of his cheesy features such as the delicious cheddar soup.  What a great time you’ll have!

Blue Mountain Resort is the centre of Ontario’s apple production and also home to the Apple Pie Trail. The Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood is at the beginning of the Trail and is a great place to take advantage of everything apple pie from the different  stops along the way. Then when you’ve over indulged (as I did), have fun working it off with many of their 4-season outdoor activities, it’s great for the whole family. When you leave, don’t forget to buy a bushel of farm fresh apples to continue your apple love affair.

One of my favourite culinary destinations, the Millcroft Inn & Spa was once a knitting mill providing yarn and blanket. Executive Chef James Buder crafts delicious dishes from fresh, organic and natural foods that are available to him throughout the fertile and unspoiled Hills of Headwaters. Bring a good pair of hiking boots because the tranquility of this place along with Buder’s cuisine will captivate you.

The Hills of Headwaters, or Headwaters as the locals call it, is quintessential Ontario equestrian country with rambling ranches and graceful horses. It’s also a delicious rural landscape with farmers the likes of Amaranth Springs, Besley Farms and Hockley Valley Resort growing amazing food. At Hockley Valley they have a 4-acre vegetable garden providing over 80% of the vegetables for Restaurant 85 and Cabin. Some of it is preserved to enjoy year round. What a refreshing experience to bask in the authentic flavours of the summer when you’re dining in January or February.

You’ll find more gardens at Briars Resort and Spa. Executive Chef Trevor Ledlie plans his menus a year in advance. It’s a great culinary collaboration between Inn owners and a chef who knows it takes as much time to nurture a tiny seedling into a fully mature plant as it does to simmer the ingredients into a luscious meal for his guests in the Briars’ dining rooms. Foods this fresh are thrilling on the palate.

When I was at the Westwind Inn I remember sitting in a large Adirondack chair watching a herd of deer pass through the forest. The Inn is as peaceful and remote a place as any in the heart of Ontario. The owners forage the wilderness around them for wild fiddleheads, leeks, morel mushrooms, edible flowers and more. You can try asking for  their favourite picking  spots but it’s like asking a fisherman for his favourite fishing hole – they’ll never tell. I’m told it I sat in the chair long enough, I might catch a glimpse of a flock of wild turkey, or perhaps even a moose. At Westwind you are allowed to shoot them, but only with a camera!

1 garden