New Year's Eve celebrations at Ontario resorts
We've got more New Year's Eve ideas this week from Resorts of Ontario- dining and dancing at three beautiful country inns and lots of fun filled activities at two lakeside resorts. [caption id="attachment_530" align="aligncenter" caption="The Westover Inn – an 1867 limestone mansion in St. Marys, Ontario"][/caption] The Westover Inn is a limestone mansion in St. Marys, a town twenty minutes west of Stratford,Ontario. New Year's Eve begins at 8pm here this year with a New World, Old World wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres party. That's followed by a five course dinner that includes house specialities like the pork rib loin. Dinner and the wine-tasting reception are $85 per person. If you want to stay overnight, it's $129 a person, double occupancy with dinner and reception included. Taxes and gratuities are extra. I'm taking this space to announce the Westover's annual holiday bake sale. I first heard about it years ago. Lots of Christmas baking is sold and the prices are terrific considering everything is made from scratch. Cookies and tarts are $4.50 a dozen. Squares are $7 a dozen and homemade candy starts at $7.50 a pound. Advance orders are required. Call the inn for further details: 519-284-2977. If you've never been to St. Marys, go! It has several limestone buildings and lots of rolling hills which make it interesting. A massive trestle bridge that once had the Grand Trunk railway running across it is now part of the Grand Trunk recreational trail, and in the centre of town is a former quarry. The town bought it years ago and every summer it becomes Canada's largest outdoor swimming pool. The Westover was built in 1867 as a private home then it served as a Jesuit seminary before becoming the Westover. I've brought food writers here for a meal and a couple of years ago, Glenn and I had dinner and stayed overnight. I remember playing hooky the next morning. It was a Monday and instead of heading to the office, we hung out in big terry robes, sipping hot coffee and reading the Globe and Mail. [caption id="attachment_525" align="aligncenter" caption="Fern Resort cottages on Lake Couchiching"][/caption] Fern Resort is on Lake Couchiching near Orillia, Ontario, two hours north of Toronto. Four generations of the same family have operated this resort since 1918 and when we visited last March, we found out they're still using the resort's original tagline: "the home of rolls and honey". Jim Pettapiece, a successful Ottawa baker bought the property in 1918 to run as an inn. Jim's bakeries were famous for their buns so, Jim made sure his new inn served them too, along with his favourite honey, Crerar's from eastern Ontario. Ninety-one years later, both bun and honey are still served. On New Year's Eve, all ages are welcome at Fern Fesort, even babes in arms. Check out the Fern website and a PDf on the site and you'll see what I mean. It lists everything from a DJ-led kids dance to dogsledding to 2010 tea leaf readings. Some activities are free with accommodation. Others have a fee. Flexible two and three-day packages include three meals daily and start at $360 per adult. Reduced children's rates are available. [caption id="attachment_526" align="alignright" caption="Luxury at The Inn at Christie's Mill"][/caption] If you've driven Highway 400 north of Toronto, you've likely passed the exit for Port Severn. This pretty community two hours northwest of Toronto is on the Trent Severn Waterway near Georgian Bay. Port Severn began as a lumber town in the mid 1800s. The Inn at Christie's Mill stands on what was once a mill owned by the Christie family. It has a nice spa, superb dining, and large suites with fireplaces. New Year's Eve dinner will be a sumptious seven course affair with party hats, favours, and a glass of sparkling wine to ring in the New Year. A full breakfast is planned for New Year's Day. The price for dinner, room and breakfast is $164.50 per person, double occupancy. Taxes and gratuities are extra. [caption id="attachment_527" align="aligncenter" caption="Pond hockey rink at Viamede Resort, Ontario"][/caption] Viamede Resort & Spa is on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, two hours north east of Toronto. It has all you would expect from an Ontario resort in winter: pond skating, great cross- country skiing, snowtubing , tobogganing and wildlife viewing. A New Year's Eve dinner and dance is $129 per couple. Add an overnight in one of the main lodge's rooms for $285 a couple. Applicable taxes and service charges are extra. Stay two nights and the resort will throw in a $25 spa coupon that can be used towards a spa treatment of your choice. For couples traveling together or even a family of four, Viamede has cottages rentals. I looked into what a deluxe two bedroom would cost. These are equipped with a full kitchen, electric fireplace, and two baths, including a jacuzzi. A New Year's Eve package in a deluxe two bedroom includes two nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, the New Year's dinner and dance, and a New Year's Day brunch. It is priced at $770 a cottage. Gratuities and taxes are extra and a two night minimum is required. [caption id="attachment_528" align="aligncenter" caption="View of the Gananoque Inn from the St. Lawrence River"][/caption] The Thousand Islands are in the St. Lawrence River which straddles the international border between Canada and the United States. On the south side of the St. Lawrence is New York State and on the north side is the Province of Ontario. Picturesque and close to New York City, Montreal and Toronto, the Thousand Islands have attracted travelers for over a century. In the heart of the islands, you'll find the resort town of Gananoque, Ontario, and the Gananoque Inn. The inn first opened in 1896. I stayed here with a BBC film crew and blogged about it. Muskie Jake's, the inn pub, has a great atmosphere and while I haven't eaten at Watermark, the inn's fine dining restaurant, I hear it's good and I know it has a fabulous river view. There's also a nice spa. A one night New Year's package here includes sparkling wine, chocolates, a four-course gourmet dinner at Watermark, breakfast, and a late check out. Rates are per couple and start at $275. Taxes and gratuities are extra. [caption id="attachment_529" align="aligncenter" caption="View of the St. Lawrence River from a balcony at the Gananoque Inn"][/caption] More New Year's Eve ideas are found on last week's post. You can also sign up to receive the Resorts of Ontario monthly newsletter. It always has good mid week and weekend deals too. Have a safe holiday and Happy New Year everyone!