Since it’s freezing outside, let’s reminisce about things that happened back in the summer!
Okay, I’ve been meaning to write about this for months and just kept putting it off for whatever reason. But here I am. Back in July, Evan and I went on a mini honeymoon to celebrate that whole wedding thing we did in the spring (twice).
We initially wanted to go to Greece for our honeymoon (neither of us have been), but the timing wasn’t right for us to take an additional 1-2 weeks off after the 10 days we spent in Cuba for the wedding. And I can’t even say that Cuba was a wedding and a honeymoon all in one since we had 35 people with us and didn’t really spend any time just the two of us. So, we’ve decided to do Greece this May (I am so excited and basically spend all my free time right now planning that!) and instead we did a minimoon, a romantic three night vacay at the Couples Resort in Algonquin Park (not to be confused with a couples retreat!).
Ugh, summer. Come back to me.
The Couples Resort came highly recommended by several friends of ours so we figured we would give it a try. Even though it sounds sort of cheesy to me — actually the whole couples concept is sort of cheesy, but we just embraced it. It’s like a cottage resort, on the shore of Galeairy Lake in Whitney, Ontario, just outside of Algonquin Park (the biggest provincial park in Ontario if you are not familiar), right in the wilderness. And right up our alley! Give me all the swimming and hiking and leisuring. We had such a fun weekend. And thankfully weather-wise it was one of the best weekends of the entire summer.
The Couples Resort is technically a five star resort but it’s definitely on the rustic side and I can’t lie, it’s slightly past its glory years. We had read a bunch of reviews so we knew this going in. Truthfully it just added to the charm for us. We got the most basic room, the junior suite, which still had a king-sized bed, a huge double jacuzzi, a wood burning fireplace, and a full hot tub on the private balcony that overlooked the lake.
Yes, yes and yes. That’s pretty much all I need in life so I was a happy camper. Er, resorter.
Let’s break it down by all the things they have going on.
First of all, the food. This is what sold us on the resort. It has an on-site restaurant in the main lodge, and breakfast AND dinner are actually included in your booking price. It’s very handy, and the food is SO, SO good. Especially dinner. A five course meal with so many different options, and everything I tried was amazing. You can also bring in your own bottle of wine with no corkage fee (*when we went but I hear they’re implementing this), or you can buy drinks extra. We brought wine with us but we were honeymooning and I wanted cocktails!
I should also mention that dinner is fancy. They require cocktail attire in the dining room, and men have to wear ties (when we were there, I think recently they changed it to a dress shirt with a jacket). I actually loved this because it gave us a reason to dress up.
Dinner is a full two to three hour affair, you choose an amuse bouche, a soup or salad, an appetizer, a main and a dessert…each! Normally Evan and I speed right through eating, so it was nice to take our time and enjoy. And people watch (this resort was overall fantastic for people-watching — some of the best I’ve seen, but that’s a whole other story).
There is a staple menu and then Chef’s specials that change daily. They also have a huge garden on site where they grow their own fresh vegetables and herbs. Oh it was all so good. Here’s a sample of what we ordered.
Melted smoked gorgonzola and dried fig in a wafer cup.
Red beets, fennel, watercress with crumbled goat cheese and chive oil.
Tomato garden vegetable soup.
Oven roasted chicken supreme with a curry sauce, creamy coconut risotto, baked tomato.
Carrot cake. Maybe the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten.
I also realllllly enjoyed their blueberry creme brulee.
On our second night Evan and I decided to stay in and order room service, so we could eat in our fluffy hotel robes. You order off the same menu, you just put your order in earlier in the day and let them know what time you want your meal delivered. We chose 7:30 and at 7:29 this deliciousness came knocking on our door:
Poached shrimp for our amuse; pork belly; watermelon salad with cress, cucumber, goat cheese cherry tomatoes, creamy cassis dressing; chicken supreme with basil dijon sauce; steak with a dark ale sauce, double smoked bacon confit potato, steamed broccolini; and for dessert citrus pie with blood orange cream in a graham tartlet and a mocha raspberry cheesecake. Again, amazing.
We ate sooo well and it was so nice that it was included because you could just go to town on whatever you wanted. I felt spoiled. Breakfast was great too, but the typical breakfast foods. Lunch was not included (though you could pay for lunch in the dining room) but I found I was never really hungry for lunch anyway. We brought good snacks (room had a fridge) and one day we went hiking so we brought a picnic lunch.
One thing I should mention… Before we left I read reviews on TripAdvisor and many mentioned the inexperience of the servers — that they were just high school kids who also did other jobs around the resort during the day, that they weren’t trained on fine dining and at a five star resort you should have higher calibre servers. This was true (I saw our server loaning out kayaks the next day), but didn’t bother us. I thought it was great that the resort had teenagers working there, because as someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere, I remember how hard it was to find a job near me! I thought our server was really sweet. Then at the end of our meal when I said I was full she nodded sympathetically and said “oh yeah, food baby?” and uhh, well, that kind of comment would probably really irritate the people who are writing about the servers being untrained on fine dining.
I did have a food baby though, thanks for sympathizing.
So many activities! These are all included in your booking price, you don’t have to pay extra. There are tons of bikes to borrow so we got our adventure on and took out a tandem bike.
Oh romaaaaaantic. There are many trails in the area and we took this puppy down an old railway trail for a couple hours. Things got a little hairy when we encountered deep sand we needed to ride through, but it was a good time. I just repeatedly sang “It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage, but you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two!” Evan liked.
As far as watersports go, they had all the things. Stand up paddle boards, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats. etc. We took a kayak out and explored the lake for a few hours.
It really is a beautiful lake.
Equally fun was sitting on our balcony and watching some guy try to stand up on a paddle board for the first time.
They also have horseback riding (costs extra, we didn’t go for it), and in the winter snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
We of course spent a lot of time on our balcony, in that amazing hot tub, with a few drinks.
And leisuring by the pool, also with a few drinks.
The water was over my head at the end of the dock, which meant much diving.
There are also firepits by the lake, so we spent some time around those in the evening.
There’s also a big games room with shuffleboard, pool, foosball, etc. that we hit up a few times after dinner. Evan is a natural at shuffleboard, because of course he is.
One night we just sat in our in-room jacuzzi and watched The Great Outdoors on Netflix from there. It was great.
I should also mention there is an on-site museum, mostly filled with past hotel guestbooks and photos, but it’s been open since like the 50s or something, so it was interesting. There’s also an onsite gallery, where one of the owners, Gertrud Sorensen, does her landscape paintings. We wandered over there one day and Gertrud was actually in her gallery painting! We chatted with her for a bit while we looked at all her amazing work. She’s in her 80s and was so cute. She was saying that she was waiting for inspiration to strike her. Afterwards we went outside and the gallery happens to be located near the private villas and we could clearly hear a couple uh, loudly enjoying each other, so we were like “OH okay, this is where she gets her inspiration.” 😉 If you’re inspired by love I guess you can’t pick a better setting!
There are hiking trails right on the grounds of the Couples Resort, but your booking also includes passes to Algonquin Park, the creme de la creme of hiking! We took advantage of that and had a big hiking day. We started with the Lookout Trail.
Evan is all about the guidebooks.
He picked one up and read it aloud to me in his tour guide voice as we walked the trail.
It’s fairly easy but mostly uphill until you get up to what the trail is named for, the lookout!
It was quite the lookout, and maaaan this would be pretty in the fall.
After that hike we had our picnic lunch at Opeongo Lake before heading to the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail.
Pretty, pretty. I liked. Very easy and flat hike.
Overall we really enjoyed the Couples Resort. It is expensive but I think it’s pretty good value for money when you consider all the things that are included.
I would definitely recommend. And it would be fun in the winter with the fireplace, hot tub, and cross country skiing and snowshoeing included!