A leisurely two and half hours north of Toronto, beyond the chaotic noise of cars and trucks on major roadways leading out of the city, will eventually lead to the sprawling (and green) countryside and a small town, which very few have heard of: Minett, Ontario.
Where's that? Exactly. Nobody knows. But mention Muskoka, and the recognition is instant. Popping into the mind’s eye are visions of deep-blue lakes surrounded by hemlock, pine and maple trees, rustling gently through summer breezes. Cottages belonging to well-heeled owners peak from behind. And chairs. Muskoka chairs of course. In my humble opinion, you haven't lived until you've sat in Muskoka chair, on a dock, overlooking a lake, enjoying 'a cool one'. It's Ontario summer at its best.
Muskoka spans a wide area (6,475 km) and has some 1,600 lakes with granite cliffs and breathtaking views, making it a popular resort destination. This region, which, along with Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, and Peterborough County is often referred to as "cottage country", sees over 2.1 million visitors annually. It’s a scenic area speckled with picturesque villages and towns, farming communities, and lakeside vacation hotels and resorts, golf courses, country clubs, and marinas.
Muskoka has 60,000 permanent residents, but in the summer, the population almost doubles as seasonal property owners spend their summers in the region. Many of the more expensive cottages, although, who’s kidding who…these are not "cottages", but rather sprawling, lofty estates, can be found along the shores of Muskoka's three major lakes: Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph. In recent years various Hollywood and sports stars have built retreats in Muskoka, including Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Mike Weir, Martin Short, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Alex Tilley (surely you’ve heard of him).
Along with privately owned cottages, there are stunning resorts sprinkled throughout the area offering everything from deluxe accommodations to world renowned spas and five-star dining.
But what about Minett? Well, perched high on a granite bluff, overlooking Lake Rosseau, in the small hamlet of Minett, is The Rosseau Muskoka, Canada’s first JW Marriot Resort and Spa. Here, guests can enjoy Muskoka at its finest. Take a swim in the year-round pool, play a round of golf, take a guided tour or simply sit back (in a Muskoka chair) with your beverage of choice and take in your surroundings. Watch as birds soar overhead, boats putter along the lake, float-planes come and go.
The rooms are designed to give you that warm, cozy, cottage feeling with plank hardwood floors at the entrance leading onto soft green carpet in the bedroom and living room. A fireplace is standard in every room, as are galley kitchens which include a two burner stove, mini fridge and microwave. Suites come with full kitchens.
The spa is extensive, with eleven treatment rooms including a Vichy room for hydrotherapy services. The Salon at Spa Rosseau offers hair styling and makeup consultation. Spa guests enjoy the private outdoor swimming pool in summer and men's and women's relaxation lounges. The Spa Rosseau experience is complemented by the resort's private beach on Lake Rosseau, and by the many activities that are available on-site. Choose from canoeing, kayaking, swimming, biking, boat tours and so much more. In winter, enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling among others.
My visit is short, and to make it seem even shorter, torrents of rain fall on the morning of our departure, eliminating any possibility of an outdoor walk around the property before leaving. Not to let this dampen the mood, (you can’t control the weather after all), my roommate and I use the opportunity to further explore the indoors. We walk through the restaurant, where we are offered a coffee to go peek into the spa, fantasize about a swim in the indoor/outdoor pool (note to self: pack a bathing suit) and discover meeting rooms. We waste no time!
The rain keeps falling as we check out.
“Would you like an umbrella?” asks the guest service agent with a bright smile.
“Yes, that will be wonderful,” I answer, at which time a large black umbrella is produced making our upcoming journey to car just that much more comfortable.
As we exit through the front door, a tall, very pleasant doorman, with a wide smile holds the door open and says, “Have safe trip home.”
“Thank you. Can you stop the rain?” I ask.
“If I could I would,” he answers.
I believe he would, if he could. And that's customer service at its best!