Archive for the ‘Resort Hotel’ Category

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

 

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Christie's Mill Inn & Spa

Ontario provides such a stunning array of varied landscapes that lends itself perfectly to those seeking a romantic getaway. Regardless of the season, there is a charm when visiting Ontario Resorts that is unmatchable. Scattered throughout the province these hidden treasures provide serenity and a mysticism that will help your love blossom. Resorts of Ontario offers 100 unique resort hotels, lodges, cottages and inns, each with their own unique qualities. From sunrise to sunset, our goal is to make every moment of your stay worth sharing with your loved one to create lasting memories and romance that will carry on past your vacation.

Our resorts are the ideal location for a picture perfect wedding. Imagine saying your vows surrounded by lush and beautiful forests or overlooking a calm lake. Your guests will love sharing in the scenic ceremony and reception as much as you. They will thank you for providing them the perfect reason for their own romantic escapes.

Couples Massage at The Pillar and Post at Niagara on the Lake

When you stay at an Ontario Resort, you control the days events. So whether you’re the type that wants to go for a morning stroll with coffee in hand to watch the sunrise across the lake or if you prefer to sleep in and have breakfast in bed; we work with you to make sure your day starts off right.

After any vacation, people always talk about the food. Our resorts recognize the importance of providing exceptional meals. It’s not often that people can feel pampered when dining but that is what you can expect from these culinary teams. Each course is prepared to the highest quality. The aromas from the kitchen will cause your mouth to water. The visual presentation is a photographic delight and the flavours are to die for.

What could be more romantic than treating yourselves to a couples massage, letting your muscles loosen while soaking in a hot tub and detoxifying in the sauna. Of course that is just a taste of the treatments and relaxing experiences available through our resort spas and you can add to and customize your relaxation with things like a mud wrap, facial, manicures and pedicures.

As your day winds down, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the silence of the surrounding nature in each others arms. One those cooler nights, a crackling fire adds to the perfect ambiance of your romantic getaway. Next time the two of you need to getaway, come on up to our place and visit www.resortsofontario.com to find your perfect romantic retreat.

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