You might hate me for saying this: I really miss winter.
Sure, we’ve had our bouts of it over the past four months, but it hasn’t been the classic Canadian experience that we’re so used to… at least in Toronto, that is.
For anyone who shares my feelings, the solution may be hopping in your car and driving two hours north of where Highway 401 meets the 400. You’ll eventually find yourself in the Muskoka region, which offers a great winter escape (not to be confused with a place to escape winter, because that’s not at all what I mean).
I had the opportunity to visit Deerhurst Resort last month, where I spent a weekend breathing in the crisp winter air and really making the most of the seasonal temperatures.
Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find there, especially in the case you’re up for considering a trip north instead of south over the upcoming March Break.
1. Outdoor activities
I started Saturday off with a hike up to the property’s lookout point, led by a resort guide, to enjoy stunning views of the area. While I opted not to, snowshoes are available to guests who are interested, both adults and children. It was then over to the Deerhurst Stables for a sleigh ride, followed by my first experience dog-sledding – which, by the way, is not as easy as they make it look on TV. Visitors can also opt for downhill skiing at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, next door to Deerhurst. A 1.5 skating trail is open seasonally (typically until mid-March) at nearby Arrowhead National Park, which is an incredibly unique experience not to be missed, though outdoor rinks are open on-property as well.
For those looking for a bit more of an adrenaline rush, Deerhurst considers itself a snowmobiler's paradise, with 2,000 km of trail right outside its doors. Specific programs have been designed especially for kids, such as the quirky-named Kids’n Ponies and Chili-Doggin activities.
2. Indoor activities
When you or your kids have enough of the outdoors, an indoor playzone is available for children’s entertainment during the March Break, while a climbing wall and game room are open year-round. Deerhurst also hosts regular entertainment, including HIT LIST, a nightly live performance that takes audiences on a journey through music’s most popular genres. The resort has designed a special March Break program for its young guests this year.
3. The accomodations
Whether you’re travelling with two or five, Deerhurst can accommodate. One-bedroom suites offer a two-burner stovetop, microwave, mini-fridge, dishwasher, toaster, kettle, coffee maker, pots, pans, dishes and cutlery, so guests can settle in and feel at home, as with the fully-equipped condos, which range from one- to three-bedroom. Modern, comfortable amenities extend into the Pavillion rooms (two queen beds or one king) and Pavillion junior suites, located in the resort’s main building.
Two dining options are available on site, including Eclipse Dining Room, whereby guests can soak in a beautiful view while enjoying a la carte meals, or Compass Grill & Bar, which is a more laid back experience. Guests who are up for going further afield for a bite to eat can drive to downtown Huntsville in less than 10 minutes.
Aside from being in close proximity to Toronto, Deerhurst’s location in the midst of a winter wonderland where guests can also spend their time at the nearby Algonquin Provincial Park or the aforementioned Arrowhead Provincial Park. Travellers have total control over how much or little they do during their visit, from venturing out or opting to spend time cozying-up by the fireplace.