Saturday, February 10, 2018

Travel: A Romantic Getaway at the Oakwood Resort in Grand Bend, ON

A Valentine's Escape for Two

February is one of my favourite months of the year.  I love all the pink and red displays and the feeling of romance in the air.


While I get that Valentine's can be a commercial holiday, I appreciate the sentiment and think it's always nice to celebrate those you love. My favourite gift to share is the gift of quality time spent together...which is why I think the best way to celebrate love during the coldest month of the year is with a romantic getaway for two!

My hubby and I headed to The Oakwood Resort on Ontario's Blue Coast last weekend and it was the perfect blend of relaxation and fun. We ended up booking for my birthday weekend, but I think it would make a great romantic escape for Valentine's or anytime.

Where to Stay


Oakwood Resort

Only 2.5 hours from Toronto, The Oakwood is a beautiful log cabin inspired resort right on the shores of Lake Huron. It's also surrounded by huge trees, which means this property would be just stunning in all seasons. It looked so pretty when we visited with all the snow blanketing everything!

History

What I especially loved about staying here is that the resort is celebrating it's 95th anniversary and it's family-owned. There's so much history here!

A little about the owner - Dave Scatcherd has a fascinating story, which I've linked but the short version is that he was the grandson of Catherine Labatt (daughter of Labatt Breweries founder John Labatt) and was adopted into the family.


Scatcherd did some incredible things - he hosted a show on the CBC and acted in some films. He met his wife Valorie in Hawaii while he was on a golf vacation and the couple lived in the islands and later in Calgary, before moving back to Toronto to help with Labatt's aquisition of the Toronto Blue Jays.

What does this mean for someone visiting the Oakwood? You will see glimpses of the couple's love for Hawaii around the property - like the golf statue of Dave off of the main path of the resort (you'd see lots of statues like this in the islands), or the iconic tiki torches that are lit every evening, creating a very special (and I think, romantic) ambience.




If you're a sports fan, you'll also love all the baseball history here! My husband and I were shocked that the actual bases from the 1992-1993 World Series were turned into stools that you can find in the resort's pub. We loved checking out all the other sports memorabilia too.




Accommodations  

This is definitely not your average golf resort!

The rooms are incredibly spacious. We stayed in a suite and loved that there were two washrooms, a newly renovated rain shower and soak in jacuzzi tub. For a closer look at the rooms, check out my Instastory highlights.



I also loved the two fireplaces in our room which made it the perfect place for a little winter escape!

On site, you will also find a great restaurant, spa, saltwater pool, hot tub and lots of winter activities if you're interested in exploring the outdoors!

Where to Eat


Dave's Pub and Grill

I loved the food and the ambience at Dave's at the Oakwood. You will get all the chalet feels with the oak beams, stone fireplace and large windows with views to the snowy outdoors. Grab a plaid blanket to keep your legs warm (I know- so cute!) and order some of their specialities.



We tried the Caprese salad (so fresh!), delicious hot-honey chicken wings and heard great things about the salt and vinegar chip crusted fish and chips.

I also tasted some dishes off of the Chef's tasting menu- mussels in a thai curry and coconut broth - delicious! For dinner, I went with the pork chops with a wild blueberry jus -  which was the perfect blend of savoury and sweet.

Stop in for lunch or dinner. They also have live music on Saturdays.


Note - check out the main dining room at the Oakwood too for a great hot breakfast with a beautiful view of the snow covered golf course.





Highway Girl

This is such a cute spot with a lovely ambience. I wish I could pick up Highway Girl and place it down the street from where I live. I'd probably visit once a week. They specialize in fresh gourmet sandwiches which are truly unbelievable.



I tried their vegan "Healing Soup" made of sweet potato and coconut milk and paired it with an incredible sandwich of portobello, zucchini, spinach, goat cheese and roasted red pepper jelly all on rosemary foccacia.

We also tried turkey, brie, arugula, pesto mayo and balsamic glaze on sourdough and my other favourite: tuna, grapes, apricot, green onion, spinach and mayo on classic white toast.


Highway girl is known for it's vegan and gluten-free baked goods as well as their "bagel bombs"- a round tea biscuit stuffed with meats, cheeses and other ingredients.

Before you go, check out their shop for one of a kind jewellery and health conscious spices, jams and
teas.



Maison St. Aubin

A fancy French dinner may be just the thing if you're celebrating a special occasion or a romantic weekend for two. If so, save some time for a drive to Sarnia to visit Marcelle and Eva's Maison St- Aubin. 

You will be transported instantly to a dining room in Paris as you listen to beautiful French music on live piano.





My husband and I shared some delicious butterflied coconut shrimp (made perfectly) with a house salad to start.

For our mains, I went with a rack of lamb with red wine sauce and my husband had the stuffed chicken. Both the dishes were plated so beautifully and you could tell the chef paid close attention to the colours and garnishes. I loved the side dish of a classic french vegetable ratatouille.


If you love art, take a look around. The owner's wife is a stained glass artist. Her work is featured around the restaurant. I especially loved her version of the famous Van Gogh painting - Cafe Terrace at Night.

Things to Do

There are so many things to do in Grand Bend in the summer, and winter is no different. Whether you're into relaxing and taking it easy or if you're more of an adventure-sport type person, there is definitely something for everyone.


Spa

Check out the Lakeside Spa at the Oakwood for a little R and R. They offer RMT massages, facials, manis/pedis and other beauty services. They also have a fitness studio on location as well as a heated saltwater pool and a jacuzzi hot tub with views to the snowscape outdoors.


Snowshoeing and Ice Skating

The Oakwood offers lots of different things to do. Get some snowshoes from the front desk and explore the beautiful grounds and trails on the property. You can even walk over to the lake and see if you can catch a magical Grand Bend sunset.



The resort also has an ice rink on site which you can enjoy if you bring your own skates. In the evening, it's lit by pretty vintage string lights. Surrounded by those beautiful trees, covered in snow- you may want to bring some hot chocolate out here even if you don't skate!



Cross-Country Skiing and Hiking

If you're a nature lover like me, you cannot miss the trails at Pinery Provincial Park. When I'm in Grand Bend, I always come here, no matter what the season is, to take in some of Ontario's natural beauty.


The scenery is just spectacular and the drive in alone is enough to make your jaw drop.

Rent some cross-country skis (about $12 per hour, less for children) or snowshoes and explore the great outdoors. There are 10 walking trails,  a 14 km bike trail and over 38 kms of ski trails that would suit all levels of expertise.






Sit by the Fireplace

Hot cocoa and a good book are a must. Take advantage of the peaceful ambience and curl up in a comfy spot for a few hours. I loved the fireplace in the Oakwood's main dining room for this.



Outside of Dave's pub you will also find an outdoor firepit which is another great place to sit and watch the snow fall.





Wine Tasting

What's a romantic getaway without a little vin, n'est ce pas? Ontario's Southwest is an emerging wine region, so getting a great taste (or some bottles to take home), should be on your to do list.




Stop at Darkhorse Winery for picture perfect views of the vineyard and a special experience in their stunning tasting room. Take a look around - this would be an incredible venue for a wedding or other special event.


Personally, I also love to visit family-run wineries too. If you pull up a stool at the tasting bar at Alton Farms Winery, owners Marc and Ann may just tell you a few stories about what starting a winery is all about.

From growing the grapes, to labelling, to serving - they are completely hands-on. I  loved learning about the wine making process from them. Their passion for what they do is clear. They've even added an outdoor patio and pizza oven which is open during the summer.


During the winter, bring some snowshoes and check out the trails behind the winery, the views would be incredible.


When you get back to the wine shop, try their unique Valentine experience, a chocolate truffle and wine tasting. You may also be able to get your hands on their special release for February 14th their Arberarder Wine on Valentine's Day 2018.





Hope you get a chance to visit Grand Bend soon for a magical and romantic winter escape. If you have any favourite spots in the area, I'd love to hear about them! Leave me a comment below or let me know on Instagram @angeliesood

A special thanks to my friends at Ontario Southwest and Ontario's Blue Coast for sponsoring this blog post. As always, all views and opinions are my own. 

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