This is a great chance to enjoy a little cottage "of your own" on a large and beautiful lake in the countryside of Ontario! My Mum and I had cottage #8 which is right beside the main lodge and was very convenient for her to get to and from meals. Most (if not all?) of the cottages are on the water. I could have thrown a ball from the deck to the lake easily, and I'm a terrible shot :) We had a BBQ and a full stove and microwave to use. Lovely views of the sunrise right from the front bedroom and the living/dining area. It would be splendid to enjoy a BBQ on the deck and eat at the picnic table, right there at the water's edge; we were at the lodge in October, however, and my Mum didn't want to cook. We made use of the fire a lot, although the wood was not seasoned; I trust they will fix this by winter. We used a lot of fire starters and newspaper, so that was a bit frustrating, albeit very nice to have a fire in any event. The cottage is not luxury, but it's very comfortable and clean. Mum enjoyed the jacuzzi a lot.
Meals were gourmet! I would give them 4 stars easily I've travelled all over the world, and lived the high life so to speak, and I found the food to be top quality. Very tasty... We were on the meal plan for all 3 days, and one issue though is the menu is not large (although the Sunday brunch was very varied and wonderful!). I might recommend being on the plan for only a day or two, then cooking for yourself, then maybe going back onto the plan if one is staying for several days. Or perhaps cooking breakfasts and lunches, then dinner at the lodge. We found ourselves quite stuffed on the breakfast/dinner meal plan and unable to eat lunch! As other reviewers note, it may be essential to book a table at the dining room if you want to eat there...on the Saturday night the host seemed quite surprised that we had not booked a table, but we were able to get in, so in the busy time of the year, do book ahead! (unsure why we were not told this when we checked in as meal plan customers...it would be disappointing to have to eat in the (nicely decorated ) pub if one were coming for an elegant dining experience.
The wine list is principally or entirely Canadian wines; the house wines are excellent and stood up well to the hearty food I had (venison osso bucco and steak tartare).
During the Ontario growing season, some or much (I am not sure) of the produce is grown at Elmhirst; I believe it is organic. I devoured the fried kale on the wild mushroom pasta with absolute delight! The place also raises its own Angus beef: best sausages I've ever had! Since I had encountered some sad cattle on my hike...I think they were anxious about the strange disappearances of their brethren (they were in the pre-slaughter paddock)...I felt badly and could not eat a steak, but I was silly enough to have some of fab breakfast sausages and as mentioned, the tasty tartare though. I was told that steak can be purchased at the resort and so one can have one's own BBQ; the resort makes its own bread and can provide that and other groceries if booked in the a.m. (double check on that!)
We also enjoyed a couple of treatments at the Spa; the manager is a very friendly, healthy vegan German-Canadian...she is part of the family and very keen to help her clients improve their health and wellbeing. It would be wise to book ahead on weekends...espec in the busy season.
For exercise I walked around a lot trying to find some trails which were actually not open, so that was another small "off" note to the stay. The trail map doesn't show distances and is apparently inaccurate. Glad I did not end up in a bull paddock...I did discover a field of soybeans, I think, and a white-tailed deer. I am a real big walker though...most people would be happy with the short trails just north of the airfield; lovely woods!!! The view of Rice Lake from the road beside the golf course is stunning!, and the climb up that road is quite aerobic. The pools are not large, but they are nice and wonderfully located. The gym is quite small though, relative to say a pro gym.
It was fun to feed apples to the horses and cluck at the happy hens in the coop; children would love both.
Several small planes flew in for the Sunday brunch; there is an airfield and docks for seaplanes...it was fun to see them take off and land; I expect there might be access to aerial sightseeing?
The staff were gracious and helpful throughout. We also enjoyed a wine tasting on the Saturday...focussed on the house wines in the resto, all of which are good.
I would come back and would recommend the place. It's not high falutin' accommodation like some places in Muskoka, but the meals are top knotch and the staff are great.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lakeside cottage resort open year round. Fully equipped cottages with fireplace, kitchen, TV & DVD, wifi in cottage; BBQ deck & dock. Dining room & Pub on site; indoor & outdoor pools; boat & motor rentals; fishing guides; golf next door; tennis; sightseeing flights; horseback riding; walking & biking trails. Massages & Spa services. Guided ATV & snowmobile safaris; wine tasting & farm visits. Ideal for family vacations, getaways, weddings, groups & corporate meetings. Family owned & operated. Catering to international guests. Pet friendly. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Elmhirst`s Hotel Keene
- Elmhirsts Hotel Keene
- Elmhirst's Resort Canada/Keene, Ontario