Ontario resorts and Ontario Inns are great vacation
destinations. This article will introduce you to some of the best
Ontario spas, Ontario ski resorts, water park resorts.
It’s easy to get carried away when you imagine a rejuvenating week at a resort.
Above: Briars Resort and Spa,photo by Peter Sibbald - petersibbald.com
The clear blue lake dotted with sailboats, the call of the loons, the scent of pine-forested walking trails.
The freedom from cooking and household chores.
The delicious meals prepared with fresh Ontario produce.
The cozy evenings by the fireplace.
And that’s not ALL that resorts offer. Depending on where you go, you’ll find some or all of these features too:
Sports – Looking for a round of golf? Check out my story on the most scenic golf courses in Ontario. How about hang-gliding, boating, canoeing, jet skis, horseback riding, etc? Or for you winter sports fans, don't miss out on Ontario ski resorts. And how about snow-shoeing, snow boarding and snow tubing? You can find Ontario resorts offering all of these and more.
Kids' activities – Time for some family fun? Many resorts offer supervised
programs for children. And Mom and Dad will love the babysitting
services (so Mom and Dad can have some fun of their own).
Water Park Resorts - The kids will also love the Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and the Waves Indoor Pool at the American Conference Resort and Spa. Check out this page on waterparks in Ontario.
Delicious gourmet dining – You have permission to ditch the diet (unless you're at a health spa, in which case you might be starting your diet). This week is all about indulgence. More and more resorts are specializing in fresh local food with a gourmet flair, coupled with the best international and Ontario wines. How about the Inn on the Twenty in Jordon, with an estate wine restaurant that’s rated one of the best in Canada?
Live entertainment – Can’t decide between a resort and Las Vegas? No need to choose! Simply pick Ontario resorts with live concerts or comedy shows, like Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.
Gaming – Ontario has four casino resorts: two in
Niagara Falls Canada (Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort & Casino
Niagara – very confusing!), one near Orillia (Casino Rama) and one in
Windsor (Caesars Windsor). Maybe you’ll win the price of your stay!
Although you’ll find some properties in urban areas, the majority are located up north in cottage country on the shores of some spectacular lake. To the average resident of southern Ontario, “Cottage Country” or “Up North” usually means two or three hours north of Toronto. This isn’t exactly Northern Ontario, but southerners feel it is!
Transportation Alert: For most Ontario resorts, you'll need a car, as public transportation in non-urban areas is very rare.
Some popular areas where you'll find Ontario resorts:
Muskoka resorts. This region, also known as Muskoka-Haliburton, is a one-to-two hour drive due north of Toronto. Popular with lake-lovers, especially during the summer
Algonquin Park, another destination for travellers seeking an escape from the city and an encounter with nature. North-east of Toronto.
Collingwood & Blue Mountain, famous for its ski resorts in winter and golf in summer. North-west of Toronto.Niagara Falls,
with its popular water park resorts and casino resorts, right in the heart of the city and steps away from the famous Niagara Falls.
Some resorts only open in summer but a great number are also open year-round.
Spring and summer are busy vacation times. This is the ideal season to enjoy nature and water sports like swimming, water skiing, seadoos, sailing, and so on.
Fall is a gorgeous time of year, and a favourite with city residents who want to take in the Fall Colour season, when the leaves of the trees change to brilliant reds and oranges and yellows. This is a brief brilliant period around the end of September and the early part of October. A few years ago my sister and I spent a lovely weekend at Bonnieview Inn in the Haliburton Highlands, where we also took in the local Haliburton County Studio Tour. If you’ve never been on one of these, they’re great fun! Local artists and artisans open up their studios for the weekend and you can stop by and meet them and learn about the fine creativity and skill that goes into making masterpieces. (It’s also a great time to shop for that unique Christmas gift.)
Winter is more than the season of Christmas --- it’s also skiing season in Ontario! Some of the top ski resorts in Ontario are Blue Mountain Ski Resort near Collingwood, and Snow Valley Ski Resort near Barrie.
According to the Ontario tourism bureau, the average price for a resort one-night stay is around $184, but it really varies. For example, a one-night stay at the popular upscale Fern Resort in Orillia will cost 2 persons around $400 a night.
Plus, remember that many resorts have minimum stays of 2 days or they rent by the week. On the other hand, a night at the Carriage Ridge Resort in Barrie will cost you around $200, depending on the dates and packages available. Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville in the Muskoka Region comes in somewhere in between.
Advertisements for resorts may show a great price ... until you look at the extra costs involved. Don't forget things like tax, tips, and equipment rental.
Some resorts include equipment rental in the cost but be sure to double check before you book.
Also check about the costs of telephone calls from your room, and high speed internet. Those aren't always included and I've seen resorts that charge an extra $16 for that. Valet parking can also add on another $30 or so.
Many resorts also offer spa services, which is wonderful .... but watch out for the cost. And don't forget the fee for a facial or other indulgence doesn't include tax and tip.
All-inclusive resorts provide a meal plan – usually three meals a day – but there are some resorts that give you the option to purchase your meals separately. Again, ask about this when you're booking; don't just assume meals are included.
I like this idea of purchasing meals separately because it gives me more flexibility if I’m out during the day and will miss several meals. You may prefer just to have all meals onsite. The resorts that offer “accommodation only” as an option usually have a few different dining facilities on site that offer different price points. They can work out cheaper than the all-inclusive resorts.
If anything goes wrong and you have to cancel your trip (either before you leave or after you've arrived), you may be charged a cancellation fee by the resort. Check to see how much notice you have to give and how much of your deposit the resort will bill you if you cancel.
How to choose and book Ontario resorts
Resorts of Ontario represents over 100 resorts and they publish a catalogue with lots of good pictures and important details about their resorts – perfect for leafing through. You can ask for a copy at their web site: http://www.resorts-ontario.com. Note though that their site only lists their own members.
Do you want to consider more options? Maybe more than 400? Then try a bigger site like Resorts and Lodging. I really like this site because you can search their database by type, amenity, price range, activity and accommodation type. It’s a little tricky to use (you have to click on the map to narrow down your region after you’ve made your choices of amenities etc) but it's a great tool once you get used to it.
Ontario Travel Secrets > Ontario Resorts