Find some 'us time' in Collingwood
One of the three hot pools at the Scandinave Spa is a perfect place to relax in. (JILL ELLIS/Special to QMI Agency)
Swishing down the slopes of Blue Mountain or Beaver Valley ski areas has made this area a legendary central Ontario destination for snow enthusiasts.
It's also an ideal spring or fall getaway for couples seeking some "us time."
Beautiful scenery, quality accommodations and abundant activities make Collingwood a natural choice for quick overnight escapes or a wonderful way to spend a long weekend, especially when the world changes its colour palette in the autumn or spring.
Taking in all this intense colour and natural beauty while surrounded by warm, swirling waters, makes the trip all that more enjoyable.
At Scandinave Spa, you get a northern European experience without the time or financial investment of air travel.
Hot pools heated to 38.3, 38.9 and 40 C are partnered with plunge pools, at approximately 10, 11 and 13 C. There's also a Norwegian steam bath and a Finnish sauna.
During a late fall visit, Mylisa Henderson, one of the spa's owners and director of marketing, advised my husband and me to first visit the steam room, which is 46-50 C. So steamy it impairs vision, we gingerly made our way to the three-tiered bench to relax. The eucalyptus steam cleared nasal passages and provided a cleansing effect on the mind and body.
We took a plunge in the nearby cool pool and moved on to the Forest Hot Bath, a lovely, romantic setting.
Henderson said visiting the Scandinave is popular with couples and groups of women friends year-round.
Letting the forceful water stream over my head in the Thermal Waterfall and Bath was very relaxing, as was sitting by the outdoor fireplaces.
Bring a robe or rent one from the spa ($12) to enjoy some quiet time reflecting in a Muskoka chair outdoors or lying on one of the benches in the relaxation solariums. There are also inviting wide hammocks by the forest pool.
Visitors are given two towels upon entering the spa and a locker is provided to store street clothes. Bring your own bathing suit, flip-flops and water bottle. Bottles can be refilled at water fountains around the property.
The entrance fee for the Scandinave Spa is $48 a day. Henderson recommends allowing at least four hours.
You can stay all day, but this practice is discouraged on busy weekends. Because weekends are peak times, be prepared to wait, cautions Henderson, as capacity is 150 people.
A bistro on site offers healthy snacks, wine and beverages.
You can book a massage ($121 for a 60-minute Swedish massage), and will be guaranteed entry.
Later we enjoyed an evening's rest at Pretty River Valley Country Inn, 10 minutes outside of Collingwood. Owned by Linda Proudfoot and Paul Bilewicz, it's nestled in the hills around Blue Mountain on a country road.
A small inn, it has just 11 rooms . The original building (the Main Inn) is where you'll enjoy breakfast prepared by the staff. Our room was in the adjacent annex, called the Home Farm. It has three suites (crofts) and can be rented as a unit to three couples or families or to a group of girlfriends.
Our spacious room featured a wood-burning fireplace, a Jacuzzi tub and a king-sized bed with a pair of twin beds in the loft. Our balcony overlooked the woods and barn. Other rooms overlook the densely wooded river valley and the back of the ski hills. A breathtaking view at any time of year.
There is an indoor hot tub in the main building and an outdoor one at the annex, as well as a seasonal outdoor pool and sitting area. The couple keeps five reindeer, 15 horses and a menagerie of other farm animals.
It's adjacent to the Bruce Trail. According to Proudfoot, hikers love to stay at the inn and enjoy many scenic trails in the area.
From casual fine dining to pub grub, we've enjoyed several great eateries in Collingwood.
At Azzura, Italian fare is more than fair. The seafood risotto is delicious and you'll enjoy the gentle ambiance of white linen table cloths and twinkling white lights. The excellent wine list offers area, Canadian and international choices.
Next door, the Huron Club offers excellent lunch and dinner specials in a relaxed atmosphere. If you're there for lunch, try the pulled pork tacos - excellent. In the evenings, music is often available late in the week and on weekends.
Across the street, on the quaintly named School House Lane, Admiral's Post Pub has great pub grub. We enjoyed the Dickensian decor while making our way through a couple of big burgers with cold beer on the side. They have an extensive selection on tap.
On busy First St., most of the usual chain restaurants are represented. One that stands out is the Beaver and Bulldog. This place is wing-erific. Big, juicy with a plethora of flavours - try several. As an appetizer, we gobbled up curry poutine - one of tastiest dishes we've enjoyed.
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