Sometimes all it takes is a weekend away to hit ‘Reset’ on romance. Sure, Toronto has the glitz, the glam and the ‘no reservations — please wait outside in the cold’ seating policies. But when all you need is each other’s company (and body warmth), a short weekend trip outside of the city will definitely do the trick.
Whisk your boo away to these Southern Ontario stays in our Ultimate “Never Have I Ever…” travel list, that shows that life’s box of chocolate should be full of surprises and affectionate moments. Time to pencil in some quality time, a handful of enduring memories, and some of that sought-after sensuality. Welcome to the land of “Yours to Discover”
Never Have I Ever… Gone Ice Fishing
199 km away in Prince Edward County
The Experience: Your Winter Warrior Ice Fishing excursion will see you and your fishing partner setting off by snowmobile to a Drake Ice Hut on Wellers Bay. There, your heated cabin is equipped with all of the bait and tackle needed to dip your lines right in. If you’re lucky enough to snag some Walleye, the Drake is happy to clean it and send your trophy catch home with you.
The Sell: The ease in diving right into the scrumptious Drake Hotel brunch the following morning without having to wait outside on Queen. Additionally, around the property the Drake Devonshire’s current exhibition “About-Face” presents portraiture across mediums – hedonistic selfies excluded.
The Stay: Rooms at the Drake Devonshire work the cottage chic look so perfectly while unabashedly bringing in sparks of Canadiana (like dolls by Toronto artist Jane Boyd and brown-bagged liquor) that they’ve already popularized in their General Store locations.
Photos courtesy of the Drake Devonshire, captured by Nikolas Koenig
Never Have I Ever… Completely Unplugged
Ste. Anne’s Spa
134 km away in Grafton
The Experience: If you’re the kind of person who suffers from ringxiety (you know, those phantom phone vibrations), a digital unplug to let you focus that energy on your loved one is long overdue. What better way to break your plugged-in habit than physically removing yourselves from the ‘grind’ and easing your mind and body at Ste. Anne’s Spa. With an unpretentious take on hospitality, soak in all of the facilities by floating between the Eucalyptus Steam Room, the swimmable Fieldstone Grotto and the Maison Santé fitness area.
The Sell: Ste. Anne’s Spa’s full schedule of wellness activities, with different levels of yoga, guided meditation and snowshoeing, will keep you detoxed. On the Spa side, end the day with a surprise Couple’s Swedish Massage which uses special blends of plant- and flower-infused massage oils. Clean eats abound on the Ste. Anne’s menu including favourites like the almond & heirloom carrot tart and the saffron poached pickerel.
The Stay: For absolute privacy, there are seven spa cottages removed from the Main Inn giving you the sense of tranquility only ever achieved while surrounded by sound-insulating, crunchable snow. Many of the rooms come with their own gas fireplace, the perfect reason to hole yourselves up for the evening and snuggle in!
Never Have I Ever… Walked Home in Ski Boots
The Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain
152 km away in Blue Mountains
The Experience: So you’ve spent the day carving the double-blacks and perfected your box game – or maybe you’re just feeling the accomplishment of getting down the Bunny Hills. Regardless, it’s been an exhausting day on the slopes at Blue and as the sun goes down, all you can think is a fat bowl of mushroom soup and defrosting those toes with a hot tub session. With seven accommodation options making up the Blue Mountain Village, jumping out of your bindings and strolling into the hotel lobby are simply a matter of minutes apart.
The Sell: If it takes a village to win your darling’s love, staying at the Westin Trillium House that keeps you close to all of Blue Mountain’s winter buzz. Shopping, dining, horse & wagon rides and skating on the Mill Pond are all at the resort’s doorstep. There is also the undeniable temptation of Mile High Poutine within easy walking distance (and no, we are not sorry to have planted that idea in your head so early).
The Stay: Spacious guestrooms accommodate between four and ten sleepers (there you’d be looking at the 1400 square foot Three Bedroom and Den Suite) with a choice of Village- or Mountain-facing views. Westin Heavenly Beds® promise to hug your ski-weary bod while suites make room for kitchenettes (the fridge will come in handy to keep that après-ski bubbly at optimal chill). As for the bowl of mushroom soup, you can find it in-house at Oliver & Bonacini.
Never Have I Ever… Sampled my way through 20 Chocolate & Wine pairings
129 km away in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Left photo courtesy of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, right photo courtesy of the Oban Inn
The Experience: Why not take that Valentine’s chocolate gift on the road, multiply it by twenty, and then throw in some regional wine pairings for good measure. The “Days of Wine & Chocolate” runs every weekend of February in the Niagara wine region assigning “passports” to sample at 20 VQA wineries each offering a different chocolate to wine pairing. Big name labels like Peller Estates are joining in (their 2014 Private Reserve Merlot is enjoyed accompanied by a Chocolate Hazelnut Macaron) as well as small batch wineries like Pondview Estate (whose 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon gets married to chocolate-smothered ribs).
The Sell: Decadence on a budget. Not only is the $45 touring pass a steal when you consider the absolute coverage of Niagara wineries but it also offers the flexibility of using it any weekend in February. For wiser oenophiles, a Designated Driver Touring Pass is marked down to $25 for nibbles with non-alcoholic pairings. What’s more? Niagara-on-the-Lake placed first in trivago’s Best Value Canadian Cities for 2017!
The Stay: Perched at the mouth of the Niagara River, the Oban Inn sits across the street from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club in view of Old Fort Niagara across the border. Two blocks over from Queen Street, the Inn’s rooms are easily reached at the end of the day and tastefully decorated with sleek bathrooms to match. Complete your indulgent weekend with the Oban Suite: the private library and a standalone soak tub in the bathroom will be all yours.
Never Have I Ever… Mushed my way through the Ontario Wilderness
Sir Sam’s Inn
228 km away in Eagle Lake
The Experience: A practice passed from Canada’s indigenous people to the European colonials of centuries past, transport by dog sled has played an integral role in the early history of Eastern Canada… and can be added to your romantic weekend away too. Link yourselves up to a team of Huskies at Winterdance Dogsled Tours (home to 150 purebred Siberian Huskies that you’re invited to “love and cuddle with” according to their website).
The Sell: You and your sweetheart get tucked into a 5-foot long sled along with fleece blankets to trap in all of that body heat. The folks at Winterdance will give you a masterclass in mushing and introduce you to the foundations of driving to allow each of you the chance to lead. Could there be any dreamier way of seeing over 5000 acres of forest and lake chains than behind a pack of friendly pups? Answer: Not a chance.
The Stay: Sir Sam’s Inn (not to be mistaken for the family ski hill at the Inn’s doorstep) caters to adult indulgences – after all, what kid longs for a Mango Enzyme Body Wrap? A quintessential Cottage Country feel prevails over accommodations options at Sir Sam’s from charming rooms in the Main Inn up to the two-story Lakeside Suites. After spending the day out on the trails, plan for a full unwind thanks to some hydrotherapy in your room’s Thermomasseur™ or Whirlpool tub. For the full experience, pay a visit to the Inn’s WaterSpa which includes its own Champagne Grotto offering”the unique sensation of being surrounded by thousands of tiny bubbles”.
Never Have I Ever… Learned to cook in a Relais & Châteaux establishment
103 km away in Cambridge
The Experience: A destination farm-to-table restaurant in and of itself, the restaurant at Langdon Hall has carved out a name for itself in Southwestern Ontario. Chef Jason Bangerter and his team maintain close relations with farmers and purveyors in the Waterloo Region to guarantee a dependable ingredient base for building their seasonal menus. The Chef’s Tasting Menu, served in the hotel’s formal dining room, guides diners through ten courses that may include duck feet, truffle purée and a leak of “oh my god, that’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted!”
The Sell: Taking some star-studded culinary know-how home. Make sure to book your spot in the Sunday morning Cooking Demonstration led by one of Langdon Hall’s award-winning chefs. Offered with the property’s compliments to their overnight guests, the interactive demo promises to impart some new culinary tricks and a chance to taste the dish for yourself at the end of the session. Nourish your inner foodie further at the weekly Wine Tasting, another free activity for guests, hosted on Saturdays at 4 p.m.
The Stay: As you pull into the Federal Revival-style portico of Langdon Hall, the English countryside presents itself in the flesh. Tennis courts, croquet lawns and a chef’s garden out back foster a self-contained “country house” ambiance. Each of the hotel’s rooms has its own cachet, be it the wood-burning fireplaces in the House Rooms, the daybed in the Pine & Orchard Suite or the sweeping front-facing view from the Original Master bedrooms. After you, m’love!