MINETT, ONTARIO – Gorgeous lake views from a beautiful lodge high on a hill. Boating and swimming activities galore. And first-rate food.
Muskoka might be the best place on earth to spend a summer’s day. And JW Marriott The Rosseau is one of the best places to enjoy Ontario’s Muskoka region.
You’ll find a lovely, breezy lobby upon your arrival at the resort, located north of Port Carling near the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hamlet of Minett. There are tons of spaces to sit and sink into a comfy sofa and enjoy the warm summer air, or you can walk out onto the patio for killer views of Lake Rosseau shimmering in the sun.
Our room had a nice balcony with a partial view of the lake, as well as a sitting room with a full kitchen, plus a sofa, big-screen TV and a fireplace. There was a huge bathroom with a separate tub and shower and plenty of room to spread out. The room was done in tasteful shades of peaceful, mossy green; a nice change from the bronze and brown decor so many hotels seem to feature these days.
One of the big changes at the property is the recent opening of Chophouse. It’s a fantastic steak and chops place featuring local meats such as Northern Ontario venison, Ontario beef and organic Ontario chicken. There are no steroids, no hormones and no additives in the meat and the Ahi tuna is sushi grade, line caught and sustainable.
I was lucky enough to try the Chophouse Wedge salad with heirloom tomatoes, a light helping of blue cheese, thinly sliced onion and crumbled bacon. I’m not a big blue cheese guy but it was a hugely tasty salad, as was the Caesar.
They also make truly magnificent crab cakes, with zero filler: just packed bits of crab seared nicely with just enough crispy bits to set off the soft meat inside. The veal chop was perhaps the best I’ve ever tried; succulent and sweet and cooked perfectly. The steaks also were great as were the sautéed mushrooms. Whatever you order as your main, DO NOT MISS the Truffle Boursin scalloped potatoes, which are creamy and crispy and gooey and go down far too easily.
Try the crème brulee or pistachio cheesecake or go wild with the Baked Alaska for dessert, and be sure to ask the knowledgeable sommelier for wine advice. They have some lovely offerings.
There’s no kids menu, but children can of course dine at the Chophouse. More child-friendly would be their Italian dining spot, Teca, which features a wood-burning pizza oven. The Deck is a great spot near one of the swimming pools with fish tacos and other treats, while Lakes is a casual dining spot with a wonderful breakfast buffet that includes various types of salami and cheeses, as well as French Toast with bananas and raisins, a nice fruit selection, granola, gluten free breads and regular breads.
The dining is great. But most folks come up this way for a taste of the great Ontario outdoors. The hotel has tons of that on offer. You’ll find a couple small beaches on Lake Rosseau, one that’s meant for reading or quiet contemplation and the other with an inflatable slide and plenty of shallow water for the kids to play in or to build sand castles between bouts with the latest video game. You can rent kayaks or canoes or also pick up a stand-up paddleboard if you want to exercise your abs. They also have bikes you can tour around on, volleyball and lovely waterfront walking/hiking trails. You also can wander across the road and check out The Rock, a fun and challenging and beautiful Nick Faldo golf course.
On top of all that, there’s also a small touring ship you can take if you want to learn more about the lake and about Muskoka in general.
The property has several pools, including a kids’ pool and a larger one that’s better for laps. There’s also a hot tub, which is especially nice for early or later in the season. Be sure to check out the spa for lovely treatments, as well as a steam room and plunge pools.
They do weddings, of course, and it’s hard to think of a more romantic spot than this; with views of the lake and the sun glancing off the water and thick forests of trees all around.
If you’re the sort of person who loves the outdoors but also craves fine dining and a sleek, comfortable hotel with all the amenities, you simply can’t go wrong here.
On top of that, it’s less than three hours from downtown Toronto.