Resorts of Ontario | Winter vs. Summer Loving Vacations

21 Apr

I was super excited to write another travel article for the Resorts of Ontario magazine ‘Go Resorting.’ This time the challenge was to find a winter get-a-way that can live up to a hot summer beach chair and Corona romance-fest. You can click HERE to read the PDF of the article, or just scroll down for the transcript including pictures! Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 4.13.38 PM

The morning of the great Toronto ice storm of 2013, I got a call asking to take a last minute gig doing improv comedy on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. 

The warm, warm Caribbean. 



Meaning I wouldn’t be able to spend Christmas with The Fella’s family in Minneapolis. 

Cold, cold Minneapolis.

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 4.29.27 PM

Not Caribbean

I fantasized about whisking The Fella away to open presents under a Corona bottle on the beach, but quickly realized I wasn’t allowed to bring a guest. Plus, I really like his family. 

But it did get me thinking. The Fella and I could use a couple of days together decompressing from the holiday madness before returning to work. But could a quick winter get-a-way be as romantic as the summer-like trip I just turned down?

I learned that Ontario has amazing resorts when we moved to Toronto last year and spent a weekend bonding with our new province at The Millcroft Inn & Spa. So why not see what other sexy options ‘The Heartland Province’ had to offer?

With only two nights to squeeze into the busy schedule, I wanted to find a mix of outdoor activities that got the blood flowing and relaxing ambience to crank up the romance.


Hockley Valley Resort

Our first stop was Hockley Valley Resort, in Orangeville, Ontario. Usually this is an easy one hour drive from Toronto, but thanks to the recent storm, the ice-ladened trees had gone Sharon Stone. Gorgeous, but trying to kill us.

Killer Icicle!

I stab you with killer icicle!

I chose Hockley Valley for two reasons. #1: They have ski hills. #2: The Fella loves skiing. 

I instantly fell in love with the decor. It was like Restoration Hardware mated with Anthropologie and gave birth to the hotel lobby of my dreams. Layered textures of wood, steel, velvet wallpaper, stuffed fake ducks, and staff in fitted, plaid shirts made my eye-balls explode with modern design happiness. 

The sexy, sexy lobby

The sexy, sexy lobby

We dropped the bags off in our large room and hit the slopes.

FELLA SAYS: I’ve skied on hundreds of hills, and this was the fastest and friendliest rental equipment experience ever. Thanks boys!

The 15 different ski runs at Hockley offer options for all levels, which was perfect because The Fella used to be an instructor and I hadn’t skied since high-school. 

Image 2

Skiing on the flat parts is easy!

Each time we swooshed down to the base of the mountain, our noses were greeted with the smell of wood smoke from the warming fire-pit. Fresh air and wood smoke is hands down, the sexiest smell in nature. Take THAT, fishy ocean.

The smell of that woman's burning coat was DELICIOUS

The smell of that woman’s burning coat was DELICIOUS

So far, the winter romance trip was kicking summer’s sun-screened butt. Ruddy cheeks from outdoor exercise are much more attractive than sunburnt shoulders. Unlike being in my bikini, there was no need to feel self-conscious, since everyone looks like an idiot walking in ski-boots. Plus, there is no better feeling in the world than actually taking OFF ski-boots. I’ll kiss anything at that point.

Dinner at Cabin Restaurant was beyond excellent. We enjoyed steamed East Coast mussels, fresh tuna & salmon belly tartar, oven roasted cornish hen and a beef tenderloin who grew up a mere 30 km away. This last nugget of knowledge was thanks to our whip-smart waiter, Anthony who made the entire dining experience a comfortable delight.

Hockley Interior

More sexy decor from Cabin restaurant

The next morning we rolled our tired muscles into the spa, and indulged in a pumpkin-spice couples massage. We rolled out feeling as relaxed as a Starbuck’s late on a Sunday morning. The only tension we felt was debating who had the energy to drive to the next resort.

For our second and last night on this winter wonder trip, I picked The Briar’s Resort on Lake Simcoe. I chose this place for 2 reasons. #1: It had the warmth and comfort of an old Scottish Inn. #2: The Fella is Scottish. 

The Briars Resort & Spa

The Briars Resort & Spa

FELLA SAYS: Great call having cool historical maps on the walls of the lobby. Kept me occupied while The GF over-functioned at the check-in desk.

The lovingly restored and expanded Briar’s Resort has been in The Sibbald family since 1878. A golf course, conference centre, spa, and peacock house are just some of the unique features this resort offers.

I’m a sucker for the nooks and crannies of a big old heritage house and loved poking around the various sitting rooms, look-outs and occasional hobbit-sized doorways. 

In the winter months, the grounds offer snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, in which we totally planned to partake. However, that got shelved when we got to our room and saw the king sized bed and a real fireplace. You do the math on what we did for the rest of the afternoon. (Napped.)

I clearly have a thing for fire

I clearly have a thing for fire

Dinner in the former coach house was cozy and delicious. The seafood chowder, Ontario pork chops, Angus strip steak and apricot creme brule´ went down perfectly.

FELLA SAYS: Anytime I can enjoy a tumbler of Dewar’s and good hearty steak, my inner Scotsman is as happy as a tossed caber. 

There are set dinner seating times and we chose the earliest so we could take a post-meal walk around the grounds and get our daily exercise. But that plan was quickly shelved once we realized it was -18 outside and our room had a king sized bed and a real fireplace. You do the math on what exercise we did. (Not napping.)

The next morning we enjoyed both the breakfast and lunch buffet, but for me the true highlight of The Briar’s was the old-fashioned sleigh ride.

Horse snot!

Horse snot!

Being wrapped up in a blanket next to The Fella while two majestic horses jingle their way through snow covered trees was the cherry on top of a perfect romantic winter get-away.

Sorry summer holidays, with your overly air-conditioned rooms, heat rashes and sweaty thighs rubbing together…you just got beat by Old Man Winter making a snow angel. 

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