Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category

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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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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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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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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Resorts of Ontario is pleased to announce that we have another new member joining us – Cobble Beach “Georgian Bay’s Extraordinary Golf Resort Community.” Their golf course has received rave reviews including being recognized by Rolex, Links Magazine, Ontario Golf Magazine etc. Set on the western side of Georgian bay’s stunning blue waters, Cobble Beach offers guests 574 acres of emerald greens of outdoor bliss.

A stay at Cobble Beach’s Inn offers 10 fantastic suites, the raved about links style course, year round activities including winter fun such as snowshoeing, cross-country, dog sledding and of course for downhill enthusiasts Blue Mountain is only an hour away. When you aren’t golfing in the summer, take some time to relax at the spa, or do some exploring and head up to Tobermory and experience Bruce Peninsula National Park. (I recently visited the park and The Grotto is a must see in Canada!) Cobble Beach also offers perfect facilities to host your next meeting and a romantic location to have a wedding.

On Friday August 26th, Cobble Beach is pleased to welcome world-class celebrity Chef Mark McEwan. Working with Cobble Beach’s executive Chef Tim Johnston, Chef McEwan looks to craft a menu inspired by his summer cottage favourites. Anyone who wants to enjoy world-class cuisine would not want to miss this. This event starts at 6 p.m. with Chef McEwan doing signings of his newest cook book – Good Food at Home. Following that, there will be a cooking demo and dinner at 7. This is a great chance for you to come out and meet a very talented chef and taste his creations. Tickets are only $99 and can be ordered from Greg Gutowski, Clubhouse manager by calling 1-888-278-8112.

Resorts of Ontario is very pleased to welcome Cobble Beach to our membership. This is a beautiful resort in a stunning location that offers unique experiences for all past, present and future guests. To view a complete listing of all our amazing resorts visit www.resortsofontario.com.

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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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Resorts of Ontario is happy to welcome Port Cunnington Lodge and Resort as one of our newest members. Established in the late 1800’s, Port Cunnington has been owned and operated by family since the beginning. Over the years they have expanded from the main Victorian Lodge to add seven additional custom-built family chalets along a beach shoreline of 1,800 feet on beautiful Lake of Bays. In total the resort sits on 22 scenic acres and provides magnificent views of Bigwin Island. This truly is a water enthusiast’s paradise.

Port Cunnington is a Muskoka favourite for weddings, banquets, corporate events and team building exercises. With its luxury accommodations, scenic setting,  and stunning views;Wedding at Port Cunnington Lodge whatever your event, your group will leave with lasting memories.

This resort will take your breath away.  The atmosphere, the welcoming staff, the charming accommodations and the local “deer residents,” are just some of the features which draw you to Port Cunnington. For more information please visit their website and you can also sign up for their newsletter.

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