Archive for the ‘Haliburton’ Category

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)?

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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

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Glen House Resort, Gananoque

One of Eastern Ontario’s most demanding and picturesque courses  is found at this historic 75-room inn on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, in the heart of the Thousands Islands. From the nerve-rattling opening tee shot over a deep gorge, Smuggler’s Glen Course treats golfers to spectacular river views and a roller-coaster thrill ride through a Canadian Shield landscape of high granite cliffs and rolling pine-covered hills and valleys.

4Pete teeing off 1st tee

The Briars Resort and Spa, Jacksons Point

With nine holes designed by legendary golf architect Stanley Thompson, and nine by his lone-time associate Robbie Robinson, The Briars Golf Course boasts one of the most enviable  pedigrees in Canadian golf. The subtle 6,285 yard layout near the banks of Lake Simcoe rolls gracefully through mature stands of birch and evergreens, while offering vistas of the Black River. The resort itself is build around an antiques-filled Regency manor house dating from the 1840’s.

1 golf

Cobble Beach Golf Resort, Owen Sound

Doug Carrick’s acclaimed Cobble Beach Golf Links is the centerpiece of a master-planned golf community on the southern shore of Georgian Bay near Owen Sound. From the Nantucket-style clubhouse, which includes a 10-room inn (there are also five new guest cottages), golfers set forth to play a links-style course that offers gorgeous views of the bay with almost every shot. And like all great courses, this one ends with a wallop on the 18th hole, a par five that rolls along  dramatic cliff-top bluffs.

a-Clubhouse 9th and 18th holes from air

Pinestone Resort, Haliburton

A sky-high slope rating of 141 has earned Pinestone’s golf course a reputation as one of the most challenging in cottage country. Though just 6,024 yards long, architect Jack Davison’s layout deep in the Haliburton Highlands features tight fairways, treacherous multi-level greens and numerous water hazards. After golf, explore kilometres of marked wilderness trails at a country-style resort that offers accommodations in 103 guest rooms, villas and chalets.

2Pinestone Resort Golfers on 18th Green - Jpeg June 2009

Hockley Valley Resort, Orangeville

This intimate and popular family-run resort, which offers 14 downhill ski runs in winter, is home to a gorgeous links-style course by Tom McBroom routed through the dramatic and heavily wooded Hockley Hills. Following the natural contours of the land, McBroom’s layout climbs about 90 metres and then plunges as much within a span of several holes. On a clear day, eagle-eyed golfers can see as far north as Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.

Golf-Hole-10

Rocky Crest Golf Resort, MacTier

A popular cottage country getaway offering spacious suites and a variety of sporting activities on Lake Joseph, Rocky Crest caught the attentions of the golf world with the 2000 opening of a Tom McBroom-designed course that surely numbers among the most scenic  in Canada. McBroom carved his fairways through a thrilling mix of forest and wetlands, brilliantly using the granite outcroppings of the Canadian Shield to shape and accent golf holes the same way that Arizona’s desert courses are framed by cacti and sand.

golf

Horseshoe Resort, Barrie

Adrenaline junkies flock to this popular ski resort during the summer to mountain bike, take a Hummer tour, and zip-trek through the treetops. A more sedate-though no less satisfying challenge is offered by Horseshoe’s two excellent Rene Muylaert-designed golf courses. The Valley course starts at the base of the hill and ends with a panoramic view of the valley from the 18th tee while the wider fairways of the Highlands course are slightly more forgiving.

Golf

Deerhurst Resort, Huntsville

Muskoka’s golf boom began with the 1990 opening of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course, an outstanding Top McBroom-Robert Cupp co-design on the grounds of a sprawling lakeside resort capable of accommodating more than 1,000 guests. Starting with a awe-inspiring view of the surrounding countryside from the elevate first tee, Deerhurst Highlands leads golfers on a thrilling ramble through forest and wetlands, and past immense walls of Canadian Shield granite. Also offered at Deerhurst Lakeside, and executive course renowned for its lovely views of Peninsula Lake.

Golf-Swing

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The Spa at Pinestone is officially open giving guests more reason to stay at this beautiful Haliburton Resort. Offering a complete selection of treatments and services, a stay at Pinestone Resort, Conference Centre, Spa and Golf Course, will have guests feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Located two and a half hours from Toronto, Pinestone offers guests:

  • Relaxing and comfortable accommodations with options for solo travelers or large family groups.
  • Fantastic Golf: Pinestone Resort is offering a fantastic special of 2 for 1 golf on Tuesdays. This is a great opportunity to challenge your game on their par 71, 6,204 yard course designed by Jack Davidson.
  • Full conference facilities. With 10 meeting rooms, they can easily accommodate groups from 10 – 250 people making it a great place for you to hold your next wedding or conference.
  • Dining at Heatherwood Restaurant. This beautiful restaurant was designed with true north decor and provides fantastic views of stunning sunsets. Heatherwood Restaurant a very sought after restaurant in Haliburton so be sure to make a reservation.
  • And now they add the new spa with an assortment of treatments that will leave any guest feeling completely rejuvenated.

Of course, if you are going to Haliburton, the town is beautiful, it is a short drive to Algonquin Park, and there are many beautiful lakes in the area. Haliburton is also a terrific spot to see the fall colour change in all it’s glory.

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After what has been one of the hottest summers in recent memory, it seems as though mother nature finally turned on the Air Conditioning last night… Can’t blame her for doing her part to keep the a/c off for most of the summer to help combat climate change but what a difference today was. I for one welcome the change and the more comfortable sleeping conditions. When I woke up this morning, I noticed something a little different in the air, something almost a little crisp.  It reminded me of my favourite time of year… Fall. While there is still time to getaway this summer (and still some resort availability for the weekends leading up to and including labour day. Call us at 1-800-363-7227 for a list of resorts with availability.)

While the next season may still be several weeks away there are some great benefits to it.

  • Bugs tend to be less active. Not sure about others but at my place, the deer flies were bigger and meaner than ever this summer and it seems their season is coming to an end. I think the hot, dry July also did it’s part to lower the mosquito population… I am happy to say I have only had 1 bite in over a week and I live in a very low-lying, swamping area.
  • The beautiful colours on the trees. Our most northern resorts typically start seeing the colour changes around the middle of September, Algonquin usually starts changing the last week of September and with the Kawarthas and Eastern Ontario getting colour peaks into October.
  • Wildlife viewing and hearing. Have you ever heard a moose during the rutting season? A loon call during a fall morning canoe ride? A wolf howling? Once labour day passes, resort country tends to be quieter allowing for opportunities to hear the natural surroundings. And as the leaves drop, the forest is more exposed allowing for more viewing opportunities.
  • The smell. Fall has that unique smell (caused by decomposing leaves and plants,) but combined with the cooler air it provides a fresh scent.
  • Fishing. With fewer people out on the lakes, that means less pressure on the fish meaning more opportunities to catch the big one. The less boat traffic also makes casting more enjoyable without the constant up and down motion.
  • Hikes become even more enjoyable. It is a lot easier to hike in the fall when you aren’t drenched in sweat from the extremely hot humid days. Again because of fewer people traveling to get away, the trails are less busy providing more wildlife viewing possibilities.

While the summer has been great, with lots of fun had; the fall season opens up new opportunities. With summer’s end unofficially only 4 weekends away it might be time to start planning your great fall escape. We are here to help; give us a call, visit our website or send us an email.

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School’s out for another summer and that means you are likely trying to figure out what to do with the kids. In an earlier post I mentioned some of the resorts that offer children’s programs but there are also resorts that let you plan your own days events. Our cottage resorts are a great option for reconnecting with your family, with the natural surroundings and are conducive to having fun. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and realize this could be the start of an annual tradition.

Bondi Village Cottage Resort

Kayaking on Lake of Bays at Bondi

At Bondi Resort in Dwight they are welcoming guests back this week for their 50th summer! Over the years the family has grown and they are now at the point of taking over the resort when they come. Bondi offers a little bit of everything from swimming in the lake, a frisbee golf course, several kilometers of hiking trails, wolf calling, star-gazing and so much more. The team at Bondi knows what it takes to make a vacation memorable and keeping their guests coming back year after year.

Looking to catch the “big one?” They look no further than Beauview Cottage Resort. In owner Gord’s latest blog post, he shares a picture of some young gentlemen showing off their catch. Speaking from experience, the first bass a young boy catches is the one he will remember for the rest of his life… not to mention it’ll have them hooked on fishing. Beauview also added to their water toys this year with a “Moonwalk” connecting the “Iceberg” to the Water trampoline. At the end of the day, you can soak in a private hot tub or sit under the stars next to a campfire.

The 4 season Sandy Lane Resort in Haliburton is another great option for those looking for a kid friendly atmosphere. The cottages surround a beautiful park like setting on the shore of Halls Lake. Sandy Lane is ideal for all types of activities and your kids will love playing on their playground equipment, swimming in the lake, or just going out for a relaxing and calm paddle on the water.

Heading east towards Ottawa? Then you’ll want to stay Perth’s “Ultimate Family Resort on the Lake,” McCreary’s Beach, which is only 10 minutes out-of-town and only 45 minutes to the nation’s capital city, Ottawa. Pick between staying in one of their charming cottages or condos and enjoy the tranquil setting as you look out onto Mississippi Lake. During your stay, you’ll enjoy use of their Fun Zone, entertainment complex, arcade, tennis courts and so much more.

Whether you are looking to go to the near north, towards Lake Huron in the west, or east of Toronto, there are spectacular cottage resorts available. Visit the cottage resort section of our website and start planning your new summer tradition of experience cottage resorts in Ontario.

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A look at some of the downhill ski runs at HorseshoeSkiing/Snowboarding in resort country is a fantastic way to escape the winter blahs and feel the rush of setting off down hill through groomed trails and fresh powder. Being a fairly new snowboarder, I have certainly been excited with the early and massive accumulations of fresh snow this winter at the different  Ontario ski resorts. Depending on the area you are looking to travel to there are many options to get out and try this activity.

For central Ontario, Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood is an excellent choice for those looking to get that Ski Village feel offered out west. The village offers a variety of restaurants and nightlife opportunities to keep your energy pumping long after you have left the hills for the day. The resort offers an outdoor heated pool which is always fun on a winter’s day. Horseshoe Resort outside of Barrie and Orillia has been working hard at updating their Terrain Park and is a great place with options of staying at Horseshoe or Carriage Ridge Resort. Further down the road is Mount. St. Louis Moonstone which is just a quick drive from Christie’s Mill Inn and Spa and Muskey’s Landing.

 

In the Haliburton Region Sir Sam’s Skiing offers 12 trails of great fun and with Sir Sam’s Inn and WaterSpa located near the base of the hill, you can stay in comfort and give your muscles some much-needed relaxation through hydro therapy. Also nearby is Pinestone Resort, Sandy Lane Resort, Bonnie View Inn and Halimar Resort all offering their own comfortable accommodations and winter fun activities.

 

For those visiting the Ottawa area Calabogie Peaks Resort offers the convenience of 23 runs at the resort. For those looking to take in the Capital, you can also book ski packages through Brookstreet Hotel and have the best of skiing and history while staying at a great hotel.

 

Muskoka is often thought of as a summer destination for the pristine lakes but those that have visited the area in winter know that Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area is a great place to get out an enjoy some downhill fun. With it’s longest run being 580 meters (1902 ft.) there is a great opportunity to explore and have fun on the slopes for a day. There are many resorts to stay at in Muskoka that are just a short drive to the ski hill including Deerhurst Resort, Beauview Cottages, Cedar Grove Lodge, Bondi Cottage Resort plus many others.

 

If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and don’t want to venture far, Hockley Valley Resort is just a quick 45 minute drive north. With 15 runs, both an upper and lower level terrain park and state of the art snow making, there is a long season ahead for those looking to take advantage of the convenience Hockley Valley offers.

 

Regardless of which part of Ontario you are looking to visit, skiing and snowboarding gives you a great way to get out and experience an adrenaline packed sport that is fun for first timers and lifetime skiers. While you might be intimidated to try this out, each of the ski areas mentioned offers lessons to help you get the hang of it, which at the end of the day makes the hills that much more enjoyable. Come on up to our place for great skiing.

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