Posts Tagged ‘Niagara Falls’

Resorts of Ontario is pleased to announce that 3 of our current resort members have been selected as readers choice winners through the Toronto Sun. Nottawasaga Resort in Alliston Ontario won the top honour with the Gold award for favourite Ontario resort. Silver went to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara falls and the bronze went to Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood. Nottawasaga Resort also secured the gold award in the category of favourite recreational hockey arena and bronze for restaurant with a view.

It’s no surprise to us that some of our resorts took this honour but if you aren’t familiar with the terrific resorting experiences Ontario has to offer, we encourage you to come on up to our place for your next getaway. With activities like a year round indoor hockey rink at Nottawasaga, fantastic activities like skiing and the new Ridge Runner roller coaster at Blue Mountain and the ever fun water park at Great Wolf Lodge; you’ll leave with new memories as a reminder of the fun you can have when you visit an Ontario Resort.

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This past weekend I had the great opportunity to stay at White Oaks Resort and Spa in Niagara on the Lake and was treated with outstanding customer service. As a gift for my in-laws, we had given them a free nights stay package so they could also stay at White Oaks. Unfortunately I forgot about this package and when I made their reservation, neglected to realize that I was supposed to mention the certificate before arriving for our stay. The women at the front desk pleasantly informed me of this but before I could even ask about making an exception, she went to see what could be done about excepting the certificate. Within a minute she was back to let us know that this would not be a problem. This may seem like a small request but you would be amazed at how many hotels would not be happy to help in similar situations. This is what makes the resort industry unique from other standard hotels. Owners and operators of resorts realize that they provide so much more than just a standard hotel room… they provide a vacation experience.

The excellent service continued from there when our bags were taken to our room. The bell hop actually gave us a tour of our room showing us where the light switches were, how to operate some of the electronics, etc. (White Oaks has small tv’s in their bathrooms.) Later this same young man, held open the car doors for my wife and mother in-law to get in. Again a small detail but not something most of us get to experience when staying at standard hotels.

At breakfast the next morning, the service again showed through, this time with our server (and in fact all the restaurant staff.) He was enthusiastic and courteous and always made sure our coffee was topped up. After giving us time to review the menu, he suggested that we go with the buffet since it had everything from the menu anyways. It was a great suggestion as the food was hot, very delicious and with the option of the buffet we were all completely satisfied.

Good customer service is not something that we as consumers always get so it was great to be treated in such a fantastic way. In fact White Oaks does so much to ensure a positive guest experience that even the garbage cans and ashtrays were cleaned – not just emptied but actually wiped down, throughout the day. The gardens were also kept well maintained and looked ready for spring flowers despite the fact that we are still in March and could easily get more snow.

My only regret about this stay was not having more time to enjoy the use of their facilities which include the pool, spa services and a state of the art fitness club. And of course would have liked to have visited some of the local wineries.

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Despite what our brand name implies, Resorts of Ontario is more than just resorts. We also partner with some attractions and adventure outfitters. You might be asking yourself “Why would be partner with non resorts?” The reason is because we believe in promoting the experience, the dream or vision, the goal or bucket list item. You’ll also find that our resorts members partner with the same companies to add to your resort experience. At the end of the day we want you to have a memorable vacation whether it be with friends, family or your spouse/partner.

Visiting an Ontario Resort is in part about experiencing the outdoors, going off on an adventure, seeing some sites. With out a doubt, one of the most popular destinations in Ontario for this is Algonquin Park and we have many resorts located in and around this beautiful area. To help ensure you have the right gear for the right outing, Algonquin Outfitters and the Portage Store should be on your must visit list. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff will ensure that you get the information and supplies/gear you need to have a safe and enjoyable time out. Whether it be hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or nature viewing. Stop in and say hi to the friendly folks at Algonquin Outfitters and the Portage Store.

Sometimes while staying at a resort, kids get a little antsy and need some increased stimulation. That is why we also partner with Santa’s Village in Bracebridge. This family entertainment park let’s kids “Be an elf for the day,” while providing the fun of rollercoaster ride and train rides, a sports land and for the adventurous person, Eaglecrest Aerial Park.

For the winter enthusiast, we have also partnered with Snow Valley in Barrie. Named as “the best Ontario hill for kids,” by Ski Canada Magazine, they have a strong focus on ensuring a day spent here is fun for the whole family. Snow Valley offers 19 trails of varying difficulties and tubing park with 9 chutes and over 600 tubes! Check out a video of their snow tubing here http://www.skisnowvalley.com/barrie-ski-area/snow-tubing/videos.aspx.

Niagara Falls is certainly a major tourist destination with no shortage of activities and attractions and while you could see the power of the Niagara River the traditional ways, we would suggest something a little less traditional. Through Niagara Helicopters, you can view the Horseshoe and American Falls from high above as you soar around the region in a Helicopter giving you unique vantage points for those special photographs and more importantly, memories that will last a lifetime. Take a look at the flight plan to get a sense of what this experience is all about.  Want to experience that awesome power of the raging Niagara River? Then we would suggest a ride up the river provided by Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. Experience the rush in either a wet or dry boat as it speeds up the mighty Niagara. Rider beware though, if you choose the wet adventure, you will get “absolutely soaked,” but to have that memory, I think a little/LOT of water is completely worth it.

After tackling whitewater in a jet boat, why not head up to Canada’s “rafting capital” in Ottawa, for some real white water adventure. We also partner with Wilderness Tours and River Run Rafting both operating on sections of the Ottawa River. Wilderness tours has been in operation since 1975 and River Run Rafting since 1980. At Wilderness Tours guests can also enjoy mountain biking and bungee jumping. River Run Rafting gives guests the option of staying on site at the London House Inn and Spa. Guests can enjoy the private pool and hot tub after a day out on the water and of course a nice cold beverage at the Riverrunners Pub. To get a sense of what white water rafting is all about check out this video from River Run Rafting.

Come on up to our place and experience true adventure and create lasting memories.

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snowshoe tracks in the winter snow

Snowshoe tracks in Algonquin Park near Algonquin Log Cabin Lodge

As promised in last week’s post, we’ve got some great ideas for New Year’s Eve this week: a family New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls, elegant dining north of Toronto and in our nation’s capital and an Algonquin Park wilderness adventure complete with a log cabin lodge stay.

The Americana Conference Resort & Spa in Niagara Falls has “Family Spectacular” – non-stop New Year’s Eve fun for the whole family. It’s a big hit every year with an all-you-can-eat buffet and lots of entertainment like The Smudge Fundaes and the Zero Gravity Circus. More info here.

Wave pool at the Americana Resort in Niagara Falls

Water bucket and wave pool at the Americana in Niagara Falls

The Americana also has one- and two-night packages with the new Rink at the Brink. The one-night package includes tickets to the Rink at the Brink which is right by the falls, passes to Americana’s Waves Indoor Waterpark as well as your accommodation. Two night packages are the same except they’ve added a $50 meal voucher for the in-house restaurant and Waves snack bar.

Check out Tourism Niagara for more news on Rink at the Brink and other things to do in the Niagara region.

Christmas decorations at the Millcroft Inn and Spa

Holiday decorations at the Millcroft Inn and Spa

In the Caledon Hills, 45 minutes northwest of Toronto, the Millcroft Inn and Spa will ring in the new year with its “New Year’s Eve Gala Getaway”. You get two nights at the inn, a welcome reception on December 30th and then a three-course dinner from their a la carte menu. On December 31st there’s a Country Continental Breakfast Buffet, an Al fresco Lunch (on the Pinnacle or wedding garden, weather permitting).  The New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner has live entertainment with the Brenda Lewis Jazz Band, festive party favours and a champagne toast at midnight. January 1st starts with a light breakfast buffet. But if you sleep in, you can catch the New Year’s Day Brunch a little later.

Gratuities on food and beverages are included. This package starts at $299 CAD per person, per night (plus taxes, based on double occupancy and a two night stay, subject to availability). Valid December 30-31, 2009.

To get in touch with the Millcroft, call them at 1-800-383-3976 or check them out on the web. Also see the post we did on them last August and some comments about their food from last week.

couple dining at Brookstreet’s Perspectives Restaurant

Brookstreet’s four-diamond Perspectives Restaurant

The elegant Brookstreet Hotel might be the way to go in Ottawa. It has a seven course New Year’s Eve dinner planned. The food at Brookstreet is exceptional (CAA four-diamond rating for both hotel and restaurant) and the place has a real contemporary feel. You can get late night seating times for dinner priced at $149.95 per person and, if you decide t0 make a night of it, they’ll throw in a room for $99/double occupancy. Taxes and gratuities are extra. Personally, I have my eye on the 850 square foot Master Suite with Jacuzzi and balcony, but I haven’t called for a price on that yet. There are a lot of package options at this time of year, so check out the website for details and pricing.

Algonquin Log Cabin in winter near Algonquin Park, Ontario

The Algonquin Log Cabin

This next New Year’s Eve idea combines a log cabin stay in the Canadian wilderness with traditional Canadian winter activities. The place is Algonquin Log Cabin near Algonquin Park. Nothing beats a jump in the snow fresh out of this lodge’s wood-fired sauna! But hey, that’s just my opinion. If you want black dresses and high-heels on New Year’s Eve, you may prefer the Brookstreet or the Millcroft.

“Snowshoeing, Torch Lit Skating and Backcountry Skiing” are planned from December 31, 2009 to January 2, 2010 at Algonquin Log Cabin. This spectacular split log lodge with its huge fieldstone fireplace is on a lake bordering Algonquin. In winter, the park is a land of frozen lakes, waist-deep snow, and lots of crisp clear air.

Accommodation at the lodge is double occupancy with shared indoor washrooms, as well as a sauna and shower cabin. Group size is limited to 12 guests and two guides who prepare all the meals. After an invigorating day on the trail, it’s the perfect place to hang out. This New Year’s Eve getaway is priced at $475 per person. Add-on activities include ice fishing and dogsledding. Return transportation from Toronto is available for $175 per person. See the website for further details.

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horse-drawn sleigh rides at Pine Vista Resort

Old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rides at Pine Vista Resort

Last week, we blogged about the Idlewlyd Inn’s Dickens Dinner, Bayview Wildwood’s family Christmas plans, a Pillar and Post’s icewine lovers’ getaway and a Shamrock Lodge snowmobile package that’s close to OFSC trails.  This week’s post brings you holiday news from five more Resorts of Ontario: Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, the Little Inn of Bayfield on Lake Huron, Pine Vista Resort in the Kawarthas, The Briars on Lake Simcoe, and the Millcroft Inn in Caledon Hills.

water slide at Great Wolf Lodge

Santa and his elves on the water slide at Great Wolf Lodge

Holiday time in Niagara Falls is the season to combine waterslides and Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights. From December 1-24 Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor waterpark resort, has tons of family things to do. There’s a gingerbread house so big you can eat in it. Santa pays a visit on December 5th. Family scavenger hunts and family dances will be held on Saturdays up to December 18th and Winter Friends Story Time is on every night at 8pm. Best of all, a one night stay gets you two days of water park play. Combine all of this with a visit to Niagara Falls’  Winter Festival of Lights and you’ve got yourself a great Niagara getaway. Great Wolf’ Lodge has a Winter Wonderland overnight that includes lunch in the Antler Shanty, one colour-you-own-craft for each child, 20 arcade tokens for each child and a 6X8 Thrill Pix photo and frame. Log on to the  Great Wolf Lodge website for rates and availability or call 1-888-878-1818.

ice hockey at Pine Vista Resort

A pickup game of hockey at Pine Vista

How about a bit of stargazing with your family in a big outdoor hot tub? You’ll find one at Pine Vista Resort. It’s on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, 90 minutes northeast of Toronto. Each of Pine Vista’s cottages and townhouses come with a fully equipped kitchen so you can cook your own Christmas turkey. They also  have jacuzzi tubs, TVs, DVD players, woodburning fireplaces and decks with BBQs. Over Christmas, a mini winter carnival is planned with face painting, movie nights, outdoor games, maple toffee-making, campfire, and crafts. There will be horse-drawn sleigh rides too, along with skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and  tobogganing. An indoor hot tub and games room are available and if a spa treatment sounds good, the resort can arrange that too. Affordable three-night Country Christmases are priced at $610 for a family of four or $505 a couple. To book, click here or call 1-800-634-2848.

Dancing Santa at The Briars Resort

Dancing Santa at The Briars

We visited The Briars earlier this year and blogged about its fascinating new history room. The resort is in Jackson’s Point,  Ontario’s first cottage country, an hour north of  Toronto. People used to travel to this little Lake Simcoe community from Toronto by radial railway (somehow that sounds incredibly civilized!). Two and three-night Christmas packages are available.  If you’re a crowd,  look into their lakeside family lodges. They sleep up to twelve comfortably. Highlights of a Briars holiday itinerary include a mulled cider welcome, an Irish Coffee party, a champagne breakfast followed by guided country walks or horse-drawn sleigh ride. They’ve even got a treat-making workshop for winter birdwatchers. On Christmas Eve, a festive buffet dinner with  live entertainment and a visit from Santa is planned. Christmas Day includes the resort’s annual snow golf tournament followed by a punch party and a Christmas feast with all the trimmings. There’s also an afternoon at the movies, and to work off all the food and drink, a fitness centre with indoor pool, sauna and  hot tub. Yoga lovers, don’t forget your mats!  There are yoga classes here too, along with a wonderful spa. To book, call 1-800-465-2376 or book online

Two more inns sent us their Christmas menus this week. Both have loyal food-loving fans:

The Little Inn of Bayfield, 45 minutes west of Stratford on Lake Huron, is Ontario’s oldest hostelry. In the 1830s it operated as a stagecoach stop. Today it caters to those with a nose for fine food and wine. Cooking class weekends and winemaker’s dinners are held every month. Positive reviews have come from a long line of respected Canadian and US food writers. Every year, the Little Inn posts its Christmas menus on its website. A quick peek by yours truly made my mouth water. All  Christmas meals will be paired with outstanding Ontario VQA wines and depending on the meal, meal prices range between $45 and $100 per person. If you and your significant other or the family want to make an overnight of it, check the Little Inn’s selection of one to four-night Christmas packages.

plate of gourmet food from Little Inn of Bayfield

Food-lovers can expect great fare at the Little Inn of Bayfield

In early September, I blogged about my visit to the Millcroft Inn & Spa with a Canwest food writer. Roberto Fracchioni is the well-loved chef here. He hosts monthly cooking sessions that always draw a crowd. This holiday season Chef Fracchioni has planned a  Christmas Day Dinner menu as well as two Christmas menus suitable for larger family gatherings.  Lots of house delicacies are on all three menus. Dinners run between $56 and $65 per person. Chef  Fracchioni and Pastry Chef Enrico Schulze will also create a customized menu experience if you want your own holiday event. Now, that would be a treatl!  The Millcroft has a spa that is one of the largest in Ontario. Its spa menu for men has received a lot of attention. A Winter Bliss getaway ties this inn’s spa and culinary together nicely. It includes a three-course dinner for two, breakfasts, a $100 spa credit, and an ovennight at the inn. Priced per person from $282, double occupancy, Sunday through Thursdays. On Saturdays, the price is slightly higher at $295 pp/do. To view this and more Millcroft getaways, click here.

More new package deals are included in a monthly Resorts of Ontario newsletter. To sign up, click here.

Next week, we’ve got  New Year’s Eve ideas  from Resorts of Ontario, so stay tuned.

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The Niagara River runs northerly for about 58 km (36 mi) between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The steelhead fishing is great, as long as you don’t get too close to the waterfall, where four to six million cubic feet of water per minute plunges straight down for 57 m (188 ft).

The Riverbend Inn on the Niagara Parkway
The Riverbend Inn on the Niagara Parkway

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a popular tourist town about one hour west of Toronto, where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario. The place has an interesting history. American forces burnt the town to the ground in 1813. In retaliation, British and “Upper Canada” (as Ontario was called back then) forces caused a little of their own destruction on the US side. In 2012, this town will be the place to be for history buffs as the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is celebrated.

Château des Charmes winery
The Château des Charmes winery is a jewel of the Niagara countryside.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is in the heart of wine country. There are dozens of wineries within ten minutes of town. You can easily get to them by car but many travelers tour them on bicycles. Several of the wineries are found on back roads with little traffic, or along the Niagara Trail, a 56 km paved cycling route that hugs the Niagara Parkway. I think it was Winston Churchill who once called it “the prettiest Sunday drive in the world”. The Shaw Festival Theatre, which is devoted to George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries is also in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and so are some wonderful inns where you can dine or overnight.

The lobby at The Pillar and Post Inn, Spa & Conference Centre
The lobby at The Pillar and Post Inn, Spa & Conference Centre

This is a great area in which to experience both the pastoral country life of rolling vineyards and the high culture of award-winning restaurants and celebrated chefs. There are also plenty of historic inns. We stopped at one, the Riverbend Inn on the Niagara Parkway. Lots of people were out on its patio enjoying a glass of vino while gazing out over the vineyard. This establishment takes advantage of the Niagara microclimate and harvests its own signature wine from its own vineyards. The chef has a “Secret Garden” here too, an impressive affair that front desk staff told me is their main source of produce during the summer months.

For inns and resorts around Niagara-on-the-Lake, check out the Niagara Falls region on the Resorts of Ontario website.

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