Archive for the ‘Kawartha’ 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.

Fern-IMG_9949

“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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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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Westwind Inn

Westwind Inn

Summer is here and that means it’s time to plan your escape(s) to resort country. There are few things that feel as nice as a cool breeze on a hot summers day and with the beautiful views overlooking Buckhorn Lake Westwind Inn is a great place to escape to on your next vacation.

Nestled among 65 acres of forest on the shores of Buckhorn Lake, this country inn on the lake, provides stunning views of open water and terrific Canadian Landscapes. Throughout the day, you can relax on the shores in a hammock, take in the sights of some of the nearby attractions include Petrogylphs Provincial Park (a place I recommend everyone see at least once in their life,) or tour Gallery on the Lake, located next door to Westwind and also provides art classes. Then finish your day with a fantastic meal provided by Westwind  (an excellent compliment to your days activities.) As your day winds down, relax at the water’s edge and enjoy the stunning sunsets that present themselves.

Buckhorn Lake is also a known hotspot for fishing and there are a variety of species available to be caught. To make your fishing experience one to remember, Westwind has partnered with local operators and guides which you can rent a boat from (and have it delivered to the Inn,) and to show you some of the local hot spots.

Westwind Inn and the Jensen Family are celebrating 20 years of owning and operating this Kawartha gem. Their clientele has traditionally been couples but they also welcome solo travelers, groups and children (although no kids programs are offered.) With the beautiful lake scenery, nearby attractions and shops, excellent fishing and more, Westwind Inn is a great spot for you to take your next vacation.

For even more great resorts, visit www.resortsofontario.com or call 1-800-363-7227 to order your free resort guide.

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Ontario Resorts are heralding the arrival of winter and with it, the tremendous offerings of outdoor activities. While everyone might have a favourite season, there is something truly magical about the arrival of snow which makes Ontario a winter wonderland. The way the ice forms on the granite of the Canadian Shield, the evergreen boughs hanging lower with branches full of snow, the ice forming out on the lakes; it all gives the beautiful Ontario Landscape a whole new look and feel. The white gold as we call it, has blanketed Resort Country. To help welcome the winter season back, Resorts of Ontario has added some special winter packages from a select few resorts and wanted to provide you with a little more information on what makes these resorts so great for winter getaways.

Bondi Village DeerRight on the edge of Algonquin Park and just outside of Huntsville in the Muskoka Region, sits Bondi Village Resort. Set on 600 acres of land on the shores of Lake of Bays, this cottage resort specializes in offering the perfect winter wonderland getaways. While staying at Bondi, you have access to 20km of groomed cross-country ski trails, hike or snowshoe in the park or on the trails through their property, or arrange a dog sledding or sleigh ride. There is skiing right down the road at Hidden Valley ski hill or winter tubing at Rock Ride hill in Huntsville. Plus once the lake freezes over you can strap on your skates to make use of the natural ice rink. Of course another great activity available at Bondi Village is the opportunities for wildlife viewing and they frequently report seeing deer spending time at their property, have stop overs from the many species of birds and occasionally hear the call of the wild from owls and wolves. With 13 cottages to choose from, you can be sure that your vacation will be everything you wanted and more. Bondi Village has two special offers that you can view here.

Welcoming guests for 110 years is Bayview Wildwood Family Resort in the village of Port Stanton (just a quick 15 minutes north ofSnow Shoeing at Bayview Wildwood Orillia.) Most of its rooms provide stunning views of Sparrow Lake in South Muskoka. Bayview Wildwood certainly offers something for everyone whether it be a family vacations, romantic getaways, a wedding or corporate retreat. Some of their incredible winter activities include the free ice skating on the lake, Cross Country Skiing, snowshoeing and Tobogganing.  For the adrenaline junkie, they also offer the chance to head out for an hour snowmobile safari tour with one of their guides. Being only an hour and a half from Toronto, Bayview is easily accessible to travelers from all over and for those looking to head out on the slopes as part of your vacation, consider skiing at nearby Horseshoe Resort.  Bayview Wildwood has a couple special promotions on now that you can view here.

For a luxury 4 star cottage experience; look no further than Pine Vista Resort in the Kawarthas. Overlooking beautiful Stoney Lake, Pine Vista offers traditional cottages, as well as deluxe and superior accommodations. Winter at Pine Vista offers unique pristine white landscapes and a wide array of recreational activities. For the romantic in you, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride followed by a warming cup of hot chocolate while you sit next to your wood burning fireplace. There is also the tradition of skating on the lake. Whether vacationing as a couple of with the kids, you can also enjoy the use of their toboggans and hill. Strap on a pair of skis or snowshoes and head out on their 8km nature trail. Or just take the time to truly unwind while soaking in the hot tub. Pine Vista has different packages which will provide you with exactly the vacation you need and you can view a sample of those packages here. Ice Skating at Pine Vista Resort

With the recent snowfalls for much of Ontario, now is the perfect time to start planning your winter getaway. Resorts of Ontario is here to help and you can view resorts open this winter by clicking here or give us a call at 1-800-363-7227 and we can help you pick a resort that will match the vacation experience you are looking for. Come on up to Romance the Snow.

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7lbs 2 oz Lage Mouth BassThe 2010 edition of the Resorts of Ontario Big Fish Competition has come to a close and we wanted to send out special congratulations to all the winners. This year’s competition resulted in some really nice catches including a monster large mouth bass weighing in at over 7lbs. This fish was caught by a very skilled young fisherman named Kody. Another lucky catch and big fish was for a 27 lbs Muskie.

Here is a list of all our winners and some pictures of the big catches as well as what resorts and lakes the fish were caught on.

Catch and release

31 inch Pickeral/Walleye: Caught by Jerry Martin on Buckhorn Lake while staying at Scotsman Point Resort.Walleye Caught on Buckhorn Lake

7lbs 2 oz monster Large Mouth Bass: Caught by Kody Williams on Kasshabog Lake while staying at Blue Mountain Lodge in the Kawarthas.

5 lbs 5oz Small Mouth Bass: Caught by Harry Hipkiss on Georgian Bay while staying at Pleasant Cove Resort.

52.5 inch Muskie Scotsman Point27lbs 7 oz Muskie: Caught by Mark MacFarlane on Buckhorn Lake while staying at Scotsman Point Resort.

Catch and Keep

3lbs 15oz Large Mouth Bass: Caught by Mike Matthew on Rice Lake while staying at Southview Cottages.

3lbs 14oz Small Mouth Bass: Caught by Stan Hullah on Rice Lake while staying at Southview Cottages.

Pan Fish

14oz Perch: Caught by Heidi Sielicki on Rice Lake while staying at Southview Cottages.

1lb 6oz Crappe: Caught by Norman Weaver on Rice Lake while staying at Southview Cottages.

Southview Cottages Rice LakeCongratulations again to our winners. For details on how you can participate in the Big Fish Competition visit our website.

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As you drive through the beautiful towns of Fenelon Falls, and beautiful Bobcaygeon, you enter such dramatic scenery of the Kawarthas – raw beauty in some wExteriorays, reminiscent somewhat of some of the beauty captured in the Group of Seven’s paintings — tall pines, landscapes crafted by pink granite rock, and the feeling that you are in Resort Country.  Resorts of Ontario recently held a board of directors meeting at Viamede and as you arrive at the resort you feel an instant calm washing over you.  The Lake is absolutely spectacular and the waterscape is dotted with a few islands.  The food at Viamede is incredible!!!  Dining on the patio is such a lovely experience with the sunset over the lake…. Food which is not only pleasing to the eye, but incredibly delicious. 

Weddings are a specialty of Viamede’s and they have a church right on site which is a delight for first time brides or a repeat wedding.  Viamede, in typical resort fashion, caters to the needs and wants of their clients …. So if evening buffets are of interest, Viamede serves up some wonderfully creative buffets for your special day.

Whether you are looking for a place to hold your next meeting, a wedding, family getaway or  just a quiet escape for two, Viamede Conference Resort and Spa is a place to consider.

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