Posts Tagged ‘Shamrock Lodge’

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.


“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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lobby of the Pillar & Post Inn, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Holiday decorations at the Pillar & Post

Every Christmas we used to be like hamsters running flat out on one of those wheels. His mother would want us to spend Christmas with his family. My mother would want the same. Our holidays were one big blur.  We’d entertain his family with a Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange, then stay up into the wee hours cleaning up before heading out at some ungodly hour to make it to my family’s Christmas gift-opening. Then one year I got smart and told my husband, “That’s it, no more. Let’s make this easy for ourselves and start to truly enjoy our families and the holidays.” Now we book dinner for everybody at a fabulous country inn. And you know what, everyone loves it. No dishes, no cooking, not even any Christmas shopping to speak of.  Just great conversation, good food and fine wine. So, if you’re the ‘old us’ trying to keep everyone happy during the holiday season, here’s some ideas to inspire you to try something new. Check back often. We’ll be posting more over the coming weeks:

book cover Beeton’s Book of Household Management

Beeton’s Book of Household Management

Calling all foodies! Isabella Mary Beeton was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and the author of “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management“. One of the famous cookery writers of the Victorian era, Mrs. Beeton’s recipes are the inspiration behind a Dickens Dinner to be held at the Idlewyld Inn in London, Ontario on Sunday, December 6th. Intriguiing dishes like Mulligatawny Soup from the days of the British Raj and Nesselrode Pudding, a frozen pudding with ground chestnuts, candied fruit and liqueur will be served at the six course dinner. There will be readings by Charles Dickens and carolers too. Two seatings are planned for 5:30pm and 8pm. $65 per person. To reserve, call the Idlewyld Inn at 519-433-2891.

If you’re looking for a storybook setting to celebrate, Niagara-on-the-Lake is about as picturesque as it gets. You won’t find the golden arches in this architecturally pleasing town. Home to the Shaw Theatre Festival, this  historic town’s buildings are beautifully decorated and strolling carolers are known to take to the streets during the holidays. At the town’s Pillar & Post inn, a former Niagara fruit cannery, they’ve put together an Icewine Lovers Getaway. Available until the end of February, it includes a three-course dinner and full breakfast in the inn’s Cannery restaurant as well as a night of accommodation. If you book mid-week, it is priced at $143 per person, double occupancy. Weekend rates run from $163 per person, double occupancy.

Since  the 1880s, the Stanton family at Bayview Wildwood Resort has been involved in the business of travel in Ontario. So you might say they’ve figured out what makes a resort family Christmas truly special. Just 90 minutes north of Toronto on Sparrow Lake, this classic lakefront resort is a picture postcard setting. In winter, skating, snowshoeing and tobogganing are all popular and it’s not unusual to see families face off in a lively game of broomball too. Traditional horse-drawn sleigh rides always draw a crowd, and for the young fry, a popular entertainer hosts a special Christmas Eve family music revue which culminates with a visitor from you-know-who. Besides an indoor pool and whirlpool, the Bayview Wildwood has its own squash courts to work off all the good food. A three-night family package running from December 24-27th includes eight full meals, supervised children’s programs, evening entertainment and all the fun you can manage. Priced from $354 to $441 per person, double occupancy. One child stays for free.

Shamrock Lodge in winter snow

The Shamrock Lodge

Finally, for all you sledders looking for a place to park your special “sleigh” Muskoka’s  Shamrock Lodge in Port Carling is an affordable choice if you’re looking for somewhere to head during Christmas week. Open from December 27th, this cozy lakeside lodge has easy access to OFSC trails. There’s also homecooked country meals, a floodlit skating rink, Hot Stove Lounge and games room with billiards, and indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. Call for rates which include most meals and box lunches for the trails.

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