Posts Tagged ‘sauna’

Voyageur Quest

Voyageur Quest

Algonquin Cottage Outpost/Voyageur Quest has been providing unique Algonquin experiences for years. This year they are proud to add to their list of experiences, the opportunity to stay on a private island in Algonquin Park. The Algonquin Island Retreat is a perfect place for you to indulge in a romantic escape for two.  

This incredible experience starts with a traditional 15 minute (1 km) canoe paddle from access point #1 at the Voyageur Quest Outpost on Kawawaymog Lake located at Algonquin’s

Voyageur Quest

Voyageur Quest

 Western boundary. As you arrive at the island, you’ll find a restored and comfortable ranger cabin. Since the renovation, the cabin now offers running hot water, solar power and of course the walk out deck from the second floor master bedroom. From the cabins two decks you are provided with a 360 degree view of water and stunning landscapes perfect for spending the day relaxing in peace and quiet. The comfortable accommodations mean you can enjoy all the sounds of nature without having to “rough it” in a tent. Also included with your stay is the opportunity to use the floating sauna which is an experience onto itself.

While this would be the perfect escape for a romantic week, artisans are also welcomed. When this cabin was still used as a ranger station it had many famous guests including famed “Group of Seven” artist Tom Thomson. There is plenty of inspiration that comes from Algonquin Park and this experience would be sure to provide some creative sparks. Stunning

Voyageur Quest

Voyageur Quest

sunrises/sunsets, the call of the loons or howl of a wolf, and nature unfolding…who wouldn’t find this artistically pleasing.

Voyageur Quest offers many other getaway experiences and excursions from photography workshops to hiking, romance to “stew and brew.” They have something for everyone and you can find out more about their unique Algonquin experiences by visiting them at http://www.voyageurquest.com/index.php.

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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.

elmhirst-resort-float-plane-on-lake

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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We’ve just come back from two glorious days at Foxwood Resort on the doorstep of Algonquin Park. The resort and the park are both over a century old and have an interesting connection. Tom Salmon, an early settler and original landowner of Foxwood Resort,  guided at Algonquin Park. The resort has a 1912 photo of Tom at Algonquin sporting a big knapsack on his back.

Dockside at Foxwood Resort on Lake of Bays in Muskoka

Dockside at Foxwood Resort on Lake of Bays in Muskoka

We arrived on Tuesday evening and it didn’t take us long to appreciate our new surroundings. Foxwood is down a quiet lakeside road about 20 minutes from the west gates of Algonquin. A young fawn caught our attention as soon as we made the turn onto Fox Point Road off of Highway 35. We saw several more deer before reaching Foxwood 9 kilometres later. The resort is on Lake of Bays. Water flows from Algonquin Park into the lake which is crystal clear. Foxwood is on Haystack Bay, one of hundreds of bays along the lake’s 500 kilometres of shoreline. Our tidy, two-bedroom cottage comes with a fully equipped kitchen, sitting area, lakeside deck and BBQ. National Post’s star cartoonist, Gary Clement rented the same cottage with his family just last week and must have had a great time ‘cuz he cartooned it. He’s not the only celeb to frequent Lake of Bays. Global TV anchor, Kevin Newman has a place on the lake and so does singing sensation, Shania Twain.

”I Swam Haystack Bay“

”I Swam Haystack Bay“

This week, we were all couples including honeymooners Troy and Julie. The families have gone home. Resort owner, Rob Wallace says that’s typical for September. Summers attracts families then school starts and the resort becomes popular with adults and fall color seekers. The resort hasn’t been open in winter but that’s about to change thanks to a new luxury solar cottage. Beautifully appointed with a central fireplace, this two-bedroom place would make a great base for cross country or downhill skiers. Algonquin Park has 100 km of trails and Hidden Valley, 20 minutes west has downhill, including night skiing. If you prefer snowshoeing, the resort’s own trails start right outside the new cottage and snake around the resort’s one hundred acres. Light weight snowshoes are supplied. I think that’s fitting given that Tom Salmon was a snowshoe maker, having learned the craft from local Ojibwa. If you’re a collector, his old snowshoes are easy to spot because of a tiny signature salmon burned into each shoe.

The main lodge at Foxwood Resort

The main lodge at Foxwood Resort

I love to swim so, I took advantage of the great swimming and twice swam across the bay to Haystack Island with co-owner Julia Wallace and daughter, Meg. Both are avid swimmers and the swim has become so popular with guests, the resort sells t-shirts which  boast “I swam Haystack Bay”. Besides swimming, there’s a lakeside sauna, kayaks, paddleboats, and canoes, water skiing and wakeboard lessons and lots of land based activities to keep kids occupied. The lounge is popular on summer evenings and rainy days and includes a ping pong table, tons of boardgames, and a flat screen tv for those who just can’t bear to be without.

The Dorset fire tower, a spectacular place for fall colours viewing

The Dorset fire tower, a spectacular place for fall colours viewing

bigwin-boatRob took us by boat around the lake. Glenn snapped pics of area highlights including the Dorset Fire Tower, Robinson’s General Store, and a Muskoka trademark, boathouses. Boats are a source of pride here and a special 44 passenger steam yacht built in the 1920s has been resurrected from the bottom of Lake of Bays and is being restored at Lake of Bays Boat Museum in Dorset. The Bigwin once ferried passengers from Port Cunnington across Lake of Bays to Bigwin Island. If you go into Dorset to shop for groceries or for a meal at Fiery Grill, be sure to check out the museum and the boat. She’s a beaut.

Foxwood Resort is one of several Resorts of Ontario in this region. For a listing of others, click here.

The Lake of Bays Marine Museum at Dorset

The Lake of Bays Marine Museum at Dorset

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