Northern Ontario resort, business travelers, ice fishing and train buffs

[caption id="attachment_322" align="aligncenter" caption="Lobby at the Clarion Resort Pinewood Park, North Bay, Ontario"]Lobby at the Clarion Resort Pinewood Park[/caption] The first thing that struck us when we walked into the Clarion Pinewood Park Resort Hotel was its beautiful lobby. The stone walls and stone floor are fitting for a hotel that is in North Bay , the gateway to northern Ontario. This is Canadian Shield country, a rugged land of rock and water. North Bay (pop. 54.000) is at the strategic center of Ontario geographically  where Highway 11 and the TransCanada Highway meet. That makes it a major crossroad in Ontario and a place where business deals are struck. The city is also a big destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially fishermen. That's because it's on Lake Nipissing which some refer to as the sixth Great Lake. The lake covers over 800 square kilometres and is relatively shallow so the fishing is excellent, even in winter.  Ice fishermen come every year from all over North America to fish for trophy-sized Pickerel (Walleye), Aurora trout and Brook trout. [caption id="attachment_323" align="aligncenter" caption="Model trains at Pinewood Park"]Model trains at Pinewood Park[/caption] We arrived at the Clarion Pinewood on a week night when the place was busy with business travelers. Its standard rooms were all full so, we chose one of the hotel's mini suites with in-room jacuzzi bath. Hardly mini though. The generous suite dwarfed our king size bed and the in-room jacuzzi easily accommodated the two of us. It was a nice treat after a long day of travel. We chose to eat dinner at the hotel and on our way to the restaurant,  discovered an amazing model train display. It's the pride of the North Bay Model Railway Club and comes complete with Rocky Mountains, a prairie scene including a Farmers Cooperative grain elevator, railroad tunnels and bridges, and a roundhouse. Now, I don't know my train sets but I am willing to bet this collection has some rare engines and cars. My favourite was a silver American Flyer that had a sleek art deco look to it. Other cars and engines included Lionel, Sante Fe, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Canadian Northern, and Ontario Northland.  North Bay has always been a railroad town and is the south terminus for the Ontario Northland Railway so it was a nice surprise to come across the display in the Clarion Parkwood. [caption id="attachment_324" align="aligncenter" caption="Part of Lake Nipissing from the beach at North Bay"]Part of Lake Nipissing from the beach at North Bay[/caption] At Explore Your Senses,  I chose the grilled Northern Pickerel. This sweet-tasting fish is a northern Ontario delicacy. It was delicious. The next morning on a tour of the property, I learned that "Senses"is a common theme here. Not only can you explore your senses while you dine, you can "Revive Your Senses" at the hotel spa and the Executive Par 3 right behind the hotel is "Fore Your Senses". Pinewood Park also packages with Osprey Links, an 18 hole, par 71, just five minutes away. [caption id="attachment_325" align="aligncenter" caption="Downtown North Bay Ontario streetscape"]Downtown North Bay Ontario streetscape[/caption] Winter is truly celebrated in this part of Ontario where they get lots of snow. Cross country, downhill, snowtubing, snowmobile and blading packages are offered at Pinewood Park. All include accommodation, breakfast and dinner for two. Prices start at $199 per night, based on double occupancy. [caption id="attachment_326" align="aligncenter" caption="We had a hot tub in our room at the Clarion Resort Pinewood Park"]We had a hot tub in our room at the Clarion Resort Pinewood Park[/caption]