Recently, I spent a weekend at Couples Resort in Whitney, Ontario. Imagine stepping back in time, back to a point before iPods, before cell phones, before humanity lost touch with itself. That is the experience at Couples Resort.
The resort is, as the name suggests, for couples only. No children, no group parties, just two people reconnecting and spending time together. This 5-star, luxury resort is situated on the shore of Galeairy Lake, just outside of Algonquin Provincial Park.
The feeling of immersion in a quieter, gentler time began as soon as we stepped through the doors into the reception area. Several plaques were attached to the door leading into the dining room, and they provided the guidelines for attending dinner and, as it turned out, for most of our weekend.
The staff were extremely friendly and well versed in the local attractions which were ideal for a couple seeking to reconnect. We were told about a local horseback riding stable and decided that we’d try that, although neither of us had much experience. The front desk called and made the arrangements for us to take a ride the following day. We were also able to make our dinner reservations, as all dinners are semi-formal and pre-arranged. Once we’d been officially welcomed and handed our key, we went back outside to find our suite.
Stepping into our “Junior” suite was sort of like stepping through a door to 1954. Leather, wood and the faint smell of wood smoke greeted us as we opened the door. Inside the room we found a spacious bathroom with a standard tub, typical hotel fare. Once we’d walked another 5 feet into the room, however, my spirits rose. Before me was a Jacuzzi, made for two. Beyond the Jacuzzi lay a king-size bed which faced a full-size, in-wall, wood-burning fireplace.
Walking through the French doors, we found a beautiful view of Galeairy Lake, comfortable lounge chairs and, best of all, a two-person hot tub. Over the next two days, we would spend literally hours sitting in this hot tub, watching the snow fall on the lake.
Both dinner and breakfast are included in the price for the weekend and are either served in the dining room or delivered to your room and enjoyed at the bistro table (or anywhere else you fancy). Meals are a-la-carte and offer something for everyone, regardless of taste or dietary restriction. The wine list is simply amazing. With dozens of wines available, it can quickly overwhelm a wine neophyte. Couples Resort, however, has an in-house sommelier who can ensure that your wine choice is perfectly paired with your meal.
Here at dinner, the first few minutes were, admittedly, awkward. With the dress code in effect and the strict no cell phone policy, we spent the first few minutes staring at one another as though this was our first date, rather than our 14th anniversary. The reliance on electronics was quickly overcome, however, and we had the first conversation in five years in which neither of us had a cell phone in our hands. This no cell phone policy at dinner was so ingenious that we applied it to the rest of the weekend, only using cell phones to take pictures or get directions around town.
Although we were there while the snow was flying, the resort does have many seasonal activities available for minimal fees. These activities include:
- Water Sports (Canoe, Kayak, motor-boat, paddle boat, water skiing, fishing, etc.)
- On-site pool (again, with a no cell phone policy)
- Hiking Trails
- Bike Rentals
- An on-site art gallery
- Ice Skating
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Ice Fishing
- and much more…
We had decided to test our equestrian skills at Adventure Stables, which was a five minute drive from the resort. The staff at the stables were extremely friendly and made sure that each of us there (which on that particular day consisted of us and one other couple) had time to become familiar with our horses and how to properly ride before setting out on the wooded trails. The ride we took lasted about an hour and a half in all (including the familiarization time) and, for a relative novice rider, this was perfect. This amount of time is just long enough to get to know your mount and achieve some confidence in riding. It is also, in the case of my chosen steed, long enough for him to walk me into every low-hanging tree we passed. Cheeky bugger.
Now, admittedly, for the price of two nights in the junior suite, plus drinks and outings, you could probably afford to go to a 3-Star Cuban Resort for five days. But what are you going to get at a resort like that? Loud parties, drunken tourists, a sunburn and a few knickknacks. At Couples Resort, you’ll find a calm, relaxing atmosphere reminiscent of the pre-space race days when gentlemen dressed for dinner and rode horses, hiked and adventured for entertainment. In all, Couples Resort is the ultimate homage to the bygone era of the proper gentleman.
Each night at the resort ended with a drink in the hot tub (Guinness for me, wine for the lady) while watching the sky darken and the snow fall peacefully on the lake. Couples Resort has completely floored me with their perfect balance of elegance and simplicity. For a couple looking to reconnect after a number of years together, a new couple seeking a deeper connection or any couple in between, Couples Resort has what you need.
For more information, pricing and availability, please see Couples Resort online at http://www.couplesresort.ca/.