Posts Tagged ‘ontario’

5hi-res dock girl Resize Wizard-1

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 to find your perfect romantic retreat.

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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 or call 1-800-363-7227 to order your free resort guide.

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Resorts of Ontario celebrated the tradition of resorting at a special Past President’s Tribute Dinner in September at Nottawasaga Inn Resort.  Fifteen (15) Past Presidents were in attendance at this special dinner.  The tribute was organized to honour the contribution of the Past Presidents over their terms of leadership.  Resorts of Ontario’s roots began in 1942 during WW2, when rations were instituted, and vacationers still needed to be accommodated.  The industry came together as a lobbying force to advocate for the resort sector of Ontario’s tourism industry.  Through the years, each President has left their leadership stamp on the organization, taking the association on paths which facilitated growth for the industry.   This celebration was also an opportunity to celebrate the tradition of resorting in Ontario.  Today the association continues to represent resort hotels, resort lodges, country inns and cottage resorts.  These properties provide a rich experience for families, couples and groups.   


Marketing has always been a key mandate for the organization, with quality, service and dependability being at the core of hospitality. 

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Home Page

The new homepage


Resorts of Ontario has been working hard the last few months on preparing a new website to be launched. While it has been a lot of work getting the website ready, we are pleased to announce that our new website launched successfully on July 10. If you haven’t already visited this site please do at   

The goal of launching this new website was to make searching and visitor navigation easier and more robust, give our resort members more exposure to showcase their unique experiences and to have a more dynamic updated feel. We hope that you will notice the difference and appreciate the efforts that went into building this website.   

We appreciate hearing from you with comments on the look and usability. To share your thoughts feel free to comment on this post or email

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If you live in Ontario, no doubt you heard about the massive snowstorm that hit Ontario’s cottage country late last week. It dumped well over a metre of snow! Ontario ski resorts are delighted with snow conditions which are expected to be excellent right through the holiday season. 

We corresponded with many ski resorts last month. All are offering competitive rates. Check here for overnight getaways that include skiing or snowboarding at Hockley Valley, Sir Sam’s, Blue Mountain, Hidden Valley, Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone and Calabogie Peaks. 

New Year's Eve party at Great Wolf Lodge

New Year's Eve party at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls


Many other Resorts of Ontario members sent us their Christmas and New Year’s Eve plans and we included these on previous posts. On a November 13th post,  you’ll find Christmas ideas and deals. On November 18th, we posted about resort family, food and spa ideas for the holidays. On the November 26th post, we turned our attention to what some of the resorts have planned for New Year’s Eve. And then last week’s post, we added more deals for New Year’s. You can also scroll down and find other resort getaways suitable for a holiday break on earlier posts. The holidays at the resorts include elaborate chef menus for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve dinners, some great food and spa getaways for couples and lots of Christmas and New Year’s deals for families and couples at hotels, lodges, inns and cottage resorts across the province. 

outdoor ice hockey

The Taylor Cup competition – outdoor hockey at Bayview Wildwood Resort


Further ski, Christmas and New Year’s getaway deals can be found on the Resorts of Ontario website. Over one hundred resort members are linked to this site. They’re listed alphabetically. There’s also a search engine that will help you narrow down your resort choices by type, by Ontario region, by season and by activity. Click on winter, for example, and you’ll see you get more options to further narrow your search. Even pet owners can check which resorts are pet-friendly. A monthly resort newsletter is also on the site and it lists package deals too. To view or to sign up for it, check here

Safe and happy holidays everyone! 

small plane on skis at Elmhirst Resort, Ontario

Pontoons get changed for skis in winter at Elmhirst Resort

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We’ve got more New Year’s Eve ideas this week from Resorts of Ontario– dining and dancing at three beautiful  country inns and lots of fun filled activities at two lakeside resorts.

winter at the Westover Inn

The Westover Inn – an 1867 limestone mansion in St. Marys, Ontario

The Westover Inn is a limestone mansion in St. Marys, a town twenty minutes west of Stratford,Ontario. New Year’s Eve begins at 8pm here this year with a New World, Old World wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres party. That’s followed by a five course dinner that includes house specialities like the pork rib loin. Dinner and the wine-tasting reception are $85 per person. If you want to stay overnight, it’s $129 a person, double occupancy with dinner and reception included. Taxes and gratuities are extra.

I’m taking this space to announce the Westover’s annual holiday bake sale. I first heard about it years ago. Lots of Christmas baking is sold and the prices are terrific considering everything is made from scratch. Cookies and tarts are $4.50 a dozen. Squares are $7 a dozen and  homemade candy starts at $7.50 a pound. Advance orders are required. Call the inn for further details: 519-284-2977.

If you’ve never been to St. Marys, go! It has several limestone buildings and lots of rolling hills which make it interesting. A massive trestle bridge that once had the Grand Trunk railway running across it is now part of the Grand Trunk recreational trail, and in the centre of town is a former quarry. The town bought it years ago and every summer it becomes Canada’s largest outdoor swimming pool. The Westover was built in 1867 as a private home then it served as a Jesuit seminary before becoming the Westover. I’ve brought food writers here for a meal and a couple of years ago, Glenn and I had dinner and stayed overnight. I remember playing hooky the next morning. It was a Monday and instead of heading to the office, we hung out in big terry robes, sipping hot coffee and reading the Globe and Mail.

cottages on the shore of Lake Couchiching at Fern Resort

Fern Resort cottages on Lake Couchiching

Fern Resort is on Lake Couchiching near Orillia, Ontario, two hours north of Toronto. Four generations of the same family have operated this resort since 1918 and when we visited last March, we found out they’re still using the resort’s original tagline: “the home of rolls and honey”. Jim Pettapiece, a successful Ottawa baker bought the property in 1918 to run as an inn. Jim’s bakeries were famous for their buns so, Jim made sure his new inn served them too, along with his favourite honey, Crerar’s from eastern Ontario. Ninety-one years later, both bun and honey are still served.

On New Year’s Eve, all ages are welcome at Fern Fesort, even babes in arms. Check out the Fern website and a PDf on the site and you’ll see what I mean. It lists everything from a DJ-led kids dance to dogsledding to 2010 tea leaf readings. Some activities are free with accommodation. Others have a fee. Flexible two and three-day packages include three meals daily and start at $360 per adult. Reduced children’s rates are available.

bedroom at the Inn at Christie's Mill

Luxury at The Inn at Christie's Mill

If you’ve driven Highway 400 north of Toronto, you’ve likely passed the exit for Port Severn. This pretty community two hours northwest of Toronto is on the Trent Severn Waterway near Georgian Bay. Port Severn began as a lumber town in the mid 1800s. The Inn at Christie’s Mill stands on what was once a mill owned by the Christie family. It has a nice spa, superb dining, and large suites with fireplaces. New Year’s Eve dinner will be a sumptious seven course affair with party hats, favours, and a glass of sparkling wine to ring in the New Year. A full breakfast is planned for New Year’s Day. The price for dinner, room and breakfast is $164.50 per person, double occupancy. Taxes and gratuities are extra.

Pond hockey rink at Viamede Resort, Ontario

Viamede Resort & Spa is on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, two hours north east of Toronto. It has all you would expect from an Ontario resort in winter: pond skating, great cross- country skiing, snowtubing , tobogganing and wildlife viewing. A New Year’s Eve dinner and dance is $129 per couple. Add an overnight in one of the main lodge’s rooms for $285 a couple. Applicable taxes and service charges are extra. Stay two nights and the resort will throw in a $25 spa coupon that can be used towards a spa treatment of your choice. For couples traveling together or even a family of four, Viamede has cottages rentals. I looked into what a deluxe two bedroom would cost. These are equipped with a full kitchen, electric fireplace, and two baths, including a jacuzzi. A New Year’s Eve package in a deluxe two bedroom includes two nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, the New Year’s dinner and dance, and a New Year’s Day brunch. It is priced at $770 a cottage.  Gratuities and taxes are extra and a two night minimum is required.

Gananoque Inn from the St. Lawrence River

View of the Gananoque Inn from the St. Lawrence River

The Thousand Islands are in the St. Lawrence River which straddles the international border between Canada and the United States. On the south side of the St. Lawrence is New York State and on the north side is the Province of Ontario. Picturesque and close to New York City, Montreal and Toronto, the Thousand Islands have attracted travelers for over a century. In the heart of the islands, you’ll find the resort town of Gananoque, Ontario, and the Gananoque Inn. The inn first opened in 1896. I stayed here with a BBC film crew and blogged about it. Muskie Jake’s, the inn pub, has a great atmosphere and while I haven’t eaten at Watermark, the inn’s fine dining restaurant, I hear it’s good and I know it has a fabulous river view. There’s also a nice spa. A one night New Year’s package here includes sparkling wine, chocolates, a four-course gourmet dinner at Watermark, breakfast, and a late check out. Rates are per couple and start at $275. Taxes and gratuities are extra.

winter view of the St. Lawrence River from a balcony at the Gananoque Inn

View of the St. Lawrence River from a balcony at the Gananoque Inn

More New Year’s Eve ideas are found on last week’s post. You can also sign up to receive the Resorts of Ontario monthly newsletter. It always has good mid week and weekend deals too. Have a safe holiday and Happy New Year everyone!

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Elmhirst Resort's snow kite weekend will be held January 29-31, 2010.

Elmhirst Resort's snow kite weekend will be held January 29-31, 2010.

I’ve had a fascination with Rice Lake since moving to Ontario. An hour and a half drive northeast from Toronto, it’s a big, shallow lake known for its fishing, historic resorts and cottage communities. The lake got its name for wild rice that once grew here. It was a major food source for local Ojibwa who harvested it every year. The Trent Severn Waterway, a one hundred year old system of locks stretching from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe, raised the water levels on the lake and what little remains of the wild rice today gets eaten by birds. Elmhirst’s Resort is on the north side of the Lake, 1/2 hour from the Ontario city of Peterborough.  Every time I’ve visited this resort, I’ve come away with a good story.


ski-plane-elmhirstMy first visit was years ago. I was with an Irish tv producer. He was scouting Ontario locations for a popular Irish travel show. I still remember the two of us strapping ourselves into the backseat of an Elmhirst float plane. The pilot started the plane’s engine and eventually shifted the joystick into full throttle. It was a windy day and we bounced across the waves and then suddenly we were airborne, flying just above the treetops. I remember having my elbow out the plane window just like in a car and counting all the osprey nests . The Irish tv producer and I were like two kids in a candy store. His one wish for Canada had been a ride in a float plane and here we were chasing his dream. It was fantastic fun. Just before beginning this post, I checked the Elmhirst blog and sure enough, float plane rides are as popular as ever. In winter, the floats are replaced with skis. Now, that would be something to try- taking off and landing in a plane fitted with skis.  Elmhirst also has a private airstrip that attracts pilots from all over, including Swiss pilot Hansreudi Aeschbach who flew in for his 68th visit this past summer.

Fishing off the dock

Fishing off the dock

On another trip to Elmhirst’s Resort, I was with my husband. We arrived on a beautiful June evening. The late day sun had cast a golden glow over the shoreline and I remember seeing all this movement on the water’s surface in front of our cottage. I had no idea what could make such a commotion, so when we were later dining at the main lodge, I asked. They’re massive Carp I was told. And what’s more, they’re a popular catch with the UK sportfishing crowd. Many come with their families to try their luck at snagging a big one. But it’s not the only fish you’ll find in Rice Lake. Bass fishing is big here too, so is Walleye (pickerel) and check out this Muskie caught by an Elmhirst visitor just last week.

The million-dollar wine cellar

The million-dollar wine cellar

Last winter, I was back at Elmhirst with a food writer and an event planner from a big Canadian travel media association. I’d never been to the resort in winter and I was impressed with the amount of snow they had. It was a beautiful, crisp evening. The stars were out as we made our way from the main lodge to the resort’s million dollar all-Canadian wine cellar. There we enjoyed some great vintages paired with tasty hors d’oeuvres made by chef de cuisine, Michael Sterpin. They’re serious about their food here and as local as you can get. Much of the menu is produced at the Elmhirst farm on site, including fresh eggs, Elmhirst’s Own corn-finished Black Angus beef, turkey, vegetables and herbs. Preserving is big too. I noticed jars of preserves lining the wall of the dining room entrance as we went in for dinner. All eight of us couldn’t resist ordering the house specialty; steak and frites. And when it came to dessert most of us couldn’t pass up the chance to try the wild rice pudding first concocted by the Elmhirst family’s 91 year old matriarch.

Morning walk up to the farm at Elmhirst Resort

Morning walk up to the farm at Elmhirst Resort

There’s also an intriguing story that ties the resort and the area to Lord Nelson. In 1818, long before Canada was a country, King George IV of England awarded 1000 acres on the north shore of Rice Lake to Phillip James Elmhirst. Elmhirst had been a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and had fought for Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. Fast forward to 1906 when the grandfather of present owner, Peter Elmhirst, acquired the “Walker Farm”, a 340 acre parcel of land on the north shore with a mile of scenic shoreline. This is the present day site of  Elmhirst’s Resort.

There’s plenty to do here. Riding stables and trails are on site. In winter, old-fashioned sleigh rides are popular. Elmhirst also hosts an annual snow kite festival out on the frozen lake. Picture surfboards attached to massive kites skidding across the ice. There’s also cross country skiing and tobogganing and the resort hopes to offer icefishing this winter.  And to soothe tired muscles after a day of outdoor fun, there’s always the hot tub, sauna and indoor pool. Modern cottage accommodation ranges from one to five bedrooms and all the cottages have fully equipped kitchens, woodburning fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs, television, internet and VCRs.

The cottages are much cozier in winter.

The cottages are cozy in winter.

Watch for great winter deals here. A popular package with Elmhirst guests is the Couch Potato getaway . Priced at $399 per couple mid week, breakfasts and dinners are included. The weekend version has Saturday breakfast and dinner and Sunday Brunch and is $429 per couple. Taxes are not included with either rate.

Many of the more than one hundred Resorts of Ontario across the province are open all winter and offer seasonal mid week and weekend deals for couples, families and small groups of friends.

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