March Break in Muskoka

Over the past few days, I have received a few emails asking about the JW Marriott Muskoka and other similarly priced hotels particularly with respect to March Break in Ontario. For a direct link to my recent JW Marriott Muskoka review click here.

I thought it would be best to contact the hotels directly and prepare a blog post for anyone asking the age old question of “what am I going to do with these kids over March Break”.  For consistency, I checked the rates with the hotels beginning Sunday March 9th through Sunday March 16th, 2014.

JW Marriott Muskoka (The Rosseau)

the rosseau
The Rosseau, A JW Marriott hotel

Since I most recently visited the JW Marriott, I felt it would be a good place to start. As I recently described the hotel is large, quite secluded and has three restaurants open in the winter. It also has an indoor/outdoor heated pool and hot tub as well as a dedicated skating rink. Below the skating rink, there is a hill that leads to the lake that many people use for sledding although it is not an activity sanctioned by the hotel.

the rosseau
The main hotel

By contacting the hotel, you can currently book a studio room with a King Bed, sofa bed and fireplace for $199 per night. If you pay through the advance booking, the rate drops to $159 per night but there are no refunds and you must pay at the time of booking. A room with 2 queen beds is currently $219 per night which drops to $175 per night when choosing the advance booking. None of the room prices above include tax and all are subject to a daily resort fee of $29 a day.

the rosseau
A room with 2 queen beds

The Marriott is also currently offering a winter escape package which includes accommodations, breakfast for two adults and two children at the breakfast buffet, dinner for two adults and two children at Cottages or Teca and in-room cookies. The winter package saves you up to 30% on the room and to be clear, you are going to end up eating in those restaurants while on site. Both the breakfast and dinner offered through this package will be a buffet but having tried the buffet, I can reassure you its quite delicious and fresh.

My favourite on-site restaurant, Teca

As for March Break specific activities, the schedule I have received from the hotel is very similar to the one that was posted when we recently visited. Muskoka Recreation will be onsite providing ice fishing and snowmobiling tours. There will also be a magic show Wednesday night and a Hula Hoop workshop during the day on Friday. Both are additional costs and both require parental supervision. There will be onsite cooking demonstrations and maple syrup making demonstrations.

maple syrup
Maple Syrup Demonstration at the hotel

The Westin Trillium House, Blue Mountain

The Westin Blue Mountain is a gorgeous hotel that sits at the bottom of Blue Mountain, a popular ski hill in Collingwood, Ontario. Not technically Muskoka but this hotel should seriously be considered by anyone looking for a great Ontario hotel for March Break.  The obvious advantage to staying here is that you have the option to downhill ski. The disadvantage is that there is no lake on the property thus activities such as snowmobiling and ice fishing must be done off site. That being said there is a giant skating rink right outside of the hotel, just don’t drill holes in it looking for fish.  There are many other hotels on the property but as I have not stayed at them, I decided to focus on the Westin.

ice skating
The Westin and skating rink (Photo courtesy of the Westin)

Similarly to the JW Marriott, the Westin is an upscale resort but with more modern decor. The resort has just completed a year long renovation to update the hotel even further. I can tell you the bed I slept in at the Westin was so comfortable that I actually bought it the next morning and sleep on it every night at home. In addition, management at the Westin is incredible and when we visited the managers were accessible and professional. I also spoke to management in order to complete this blog and Tyler, one of the managers, immediately picked up the phone and was courteous and a joy to talk to.  The Westin has an outdoor heated pool and two gorgeous hot tubs. It also has a kids play area on the main floor and a kitchenette in every room.

One of the outdoor hot tubs (Photo courtesy of the Westin)

Rates at the Westin over March Break begin at $223 plus tax a night for a deluxe guest room with a kitchenette. There are also packages available that include ski lift tickets. There is no resort fee.

hotel room
Deluxe guest room (Photo courtesy of the Westin)

Although these hotel differ a little in price, there is a lot more to do at the Westin and due to the sheer size of the Blue Mountain Village, much more varied activities available at no or very minimal extra cost. These include a concert featuring Fefe Dobson, firework shows, dance parties, movie nights and spending time at Plunge an indoor aquatic centre. Plunge, located next to the Westin, has indoor-outdoor pools, an indoor water playground, hot tubs, rope swings and slides. Best of all parents can watch all the action from a Muskoka chair on an indoor dock. Although the activities are spread throughout the village, the Westin is specifically hosting twice-daily kids movies are well as Peter Mennie’s Abra-Kid-Abra magic show.

If you do chose to visit the Westin, make sure to try out the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant in the hotel which serves kids meals at the perfect temperature for immediate consumption by children and stop by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

blue mountain
Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill (Photo courtesy of the Westin)

Deerhurst Resort

I must fully admit before you read on that I have never been to Deerhurst Resort located in Hunstville, Ontario but I do know quite a few people who have visited and loved it. From what I can gleam from my research, Deerhurst is a good mix of the ambiance of the JW Marriott Muskoka with snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross country skiing alongside one of the benefits of the Westin being that it is also next to a downhill ski hill. In addition, Deerhurst offers dog sledding with a smaller loop and a single dog pulling a small sled for young children to try as well as Mukluk Fat Tire winter cycling, horse riding and children’s stables.

sleigh rides
Sleigh Rides at Deerhurst Resorts (Photo courtesy of Deerhurst Resort)
horseback riding
Horseback Riding for children (Photo courtesy of Deerhurst Resort)

Rates at Deerhurst Resort begin at $189 a night for a room in the main hotel. There is a cheaper rate of $169 a night but that requires a stay in the lake side property which is a five minute walk to the main building. There are also a variety of different packages available such as the bed and breakfast package which includes breakfast for two adults and two children. None of the room prices above include tax and all are subject to a daily resort fee of $25 a day.

Deerhurst in Winter  (Photo courtesy of Deerhurst Resort)

Like the other hotels listed, Deerhurst has an indoor swimming pool. During March Break, the property also features an arcade and indoor play zone featuring 11,000 square feet of inflatables, slides, Xbox Kinnect stations, a toddler area, a mini-putt and most importantly a lounge area for parents. Admission to both these activities is free for registered guests. Finally Deerhurst offers a family-friendly live stage show featuring music from the 50’s to today.

Children’s Snowmobiling at Deerhurst Resort (Photo courtesy of Deerhurst Resort)

If you are feeling adventurous, Deerhurst is only a 10 minute drive from Arrowhead Provincial Park which has a groomed 1.5 Km skating path through the local woods.

No matter which of these hotels you choose, they are all of great quality and a wonderful way to truly discover Ontario in the winter. If you do book over March Break, make sure to let me know how your stay was.

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