ONTARIO RESORTS MAKE OTHER VACATIONS PALE
In a world that seems to move at warp speed, discovering and exploring new destinations has become all about the experience. Activities are much more hands-on with learning opportunities built in. Tradition is still appreciated but, combined with modern day sensibilities, the resort experience has moved up a notch. These pursuits could be blurring the lines between kitchen and dining space, or pedalling a mountain bike through the forest ... in the snow!
As the song goes, “For the times they are a-changin’” and Ontario’s resorts are riding the wave.
FOR THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER
YOU ARE ... looking for a holiday experience where the family plays together. BECAUSE ... Ontario resorts are steeped in traditional family values, but with a twist; these days, mom and dad want to have fun sharing activities with their kids.
MIX IT UP ... Killarney Mountain Lodge offers a blend of traditional and updated activities such as group-sized sea kayaks
where the whole family can paddle together and experience the spectacular vistas on Georgian Bay (www.killarney.com). In 2018, kiteboarding is huge for all ages! Elmhirst’s Resort specializes in kiteboarding yearround, on Rice Lake or on a span of frozen ice (www.elmhirst.ca). Water activities used to mean swimming and canoeing but these days it is everything from water bikes to jetpacks and water playgrounds in the middle of the lake. Family-friendly Fern Resort has added banana boat cruises and wakeboarding to its water lineup and zorbing (rolling downhill in a huge plastic orb), paintball, archery and a climbing wall to its menu of extreme sports (www. fernresort.com). Parents want to set the electronics aside and have the family engage in a hands-on, educational moment to learn something new. At Bayview Wildwood Resort, 90 minutes north of Toronto in Muskoka, guests can rent a boat and explore the historic Trent-Severn Waterway or have a direct encounter with some of nature’s more exotic animals (www.bayviewwildwood.com). Severn Lodge’s award-winning kids’ program can help organize a family picnic and canoe outing or a horseback riding adventure (www.severnlodge.com).
A PLACE WHERE NATURE MEETS ADVENTURE
YOU LOVE ... the wilderness, but appreciate the comforts of a good bed at day’s end. BECAUSE ... Ontario is rich with parklands, lakes and rivers just waiting to be explored. TIME TO TRY ... Being engaged with nature and active in the outdoors has risen to new levels. Biking has evolved from simple mountain bikes to mountain bikes with fat balloon tires that can be used on a sandy beach and, sometimes, on the snow. Blue Mountain Resort has created a network of dedicated mountain bike trails that have been cut through the bush, including technical downhill descents for more advanced riders (www.bluemountain.ca). Beachwood Resort’s location is perfect for group training sessions in an intimate atmosphere where it is quiet and serene. There are great places for breakout groups— on a dock, around a campfire or in a meeting room (www.beachwoodresort.com). Authentic, rustic experiences like dogsledding, wildlife watching and hiking through the spectacular Canadian Shield with the Algonquin Canoe or Log Cabin Adventure are perfect for guests with a passion for the outdoors (www.voyageurquest.com). And experiential travel can mean having fun and learning at the same time. Near Deerhurst Resort, soft adventure can include stargazing at a local observatory or an evening Owl Prowl. More active choices include treetop trekking, paintball, hiking or a guided ATV tour (www.deerhurstresort.com). The familyowned Killarney Lodge makes a perfect base
camp for exploring Algonquin Provincial Park’s lakes, trails and primeval forests. Close to the roadway corridor that passes through the park, a stay at Killarney Lodge makes for easy access to the trailheads, visitor centre and nature centre programs. The lodge is a quiet refuge of private, lakeside log cabins (each with its canoe) tucked into the woods and craggy rocks of the Canadian Shield landscape (www. killarneylodge.com).
EMBRACE YOUR EATS!
YOU ... are itching to get into the garden and the kitchen for a practical experience. BECAUSE ... the interest in culinary courses at vacation spots has become increasingly popular. Being well-grounded in the basics has become a way to enjoy your culinary holiday time and bring the kitchen magic home.
HEAD TO ...The Waring House Cookery School in Prince Edward County for an overnight stay combined with a culinary class where the chef opens the door to new and creative blends of fresh ingredients (www.waringhouse.com). Hockley Valley Resort, one of six Resorts of Ontario properties connected with Feast On—a certification program that recognizes businesses committed to serving Ontariogrown and made food and drink—has a learning garden with an outdoor pizza oven. Guests pick their own toppings and create custom pizzas (www.hockley.com). Elmhirst’s Resort raises their own cows and guests head into gardens and pick veggies for the dining room. At White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake the kitchen is 100 percent organic (www.whiteoaksresort. com). The Westwind Inn has put the chef front and centre, creating a working dining room by bringing the kitchen to the people, instead of the people into the kitchen (www. westwindinn.net).
WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT KIND OF ROMANTIC GETAWAY
YOU ARE ... looking to embrace an enjoyable couples’ experience, at a getaway with attention to detail.
BECAUSE ... the demand for tailored, one-onone romantic getaways has sky-rocketed. ESCAPE TO ...The wish list has gone a step beyond in-room fireplaces—although they are still desired. Spots like Couples Resort have individual hot tubs in each unit. Their “in-room experience” includes breakfast served in the room while the guests lounge in thick terry cloth robes (www.couples resort.ca). Many Ontario resorts catering to adults may have a dinnertime dress code to create the air of a special occasion. The classic Sherwood Inn on Lake Joseph is focused on romantic getaways and has a smaller, but excellent, spa. The inspired cuisine in Vintages, the inn’s fine dining restaurant, is part of Romantic Muskoka Retreats and Honeymoon packages (www. sherwoodinn.ca). The Westwind Inn caters primarily to adults in an inviting rustic lodge-style setting. The all-inclusive country inn will serve breakfast in the room or even in bed. A stop at the spa has become a popular part of couples’ time. The classic Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in southwest Ontario has a staff-to-guest ratio that allows them to take service one step further and offer personalized attention. The inn’s Stay & Spa package is designed for partners looking to unwind, reconnect and practice a little relationship care (www. elmhurstinn.com). The spa at Hockley Valley Resort has an airy, free-flowing feel with every imaginable treatment available. The White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagaraon-the-Lake offers a luxury experience— fine dining at their award-winning LIV Restaurant and blissful treatments at the Spa at White Oaks.
Resorts of Ontario members include more than 100 resort hotels, resort lodges, cottage resorts and intimate country inns. Check the Resorts of Ontario website for information and an on-line reservations service (www.resortsofontario.com).
LAKE MUSKOKA • SHUTTERSTOCK/LES PALENIK
BANANA BOAT, FERN RESORT
WALTER’S PUB, BAYVIEW WILDWOOD RESORT
THE WARING HOUSE COOKERY SCHOOL
WESTWIND INN, DINING ROOM