There are few things better than a weekend in Muskoka.
The water, the rocks, the trees, the clean air. A good book down by the water and maybe a swim. And, of course, a beverage of choice.
I arrived up at Taboo Resort on Saturday and had a nice lunch at the Boathouse restaurant, where you can get anything from a chicken taco to pulled pork on a Panini and watch the boats come into the dock or the birds swoop past offshore islands. It looked like rain but things cleared up nicely in the afternoon and I took advantage of the free kayaks; paddling my way down to Muskoka Beach and then down the oh-so-quiet Hoc Roc River. There are a couple of fine homes right near Lake Muskoka.
After that, the homes become more modest among the thick, green reeds and purple flowers. The river was still as can be Saturday afternoon, and I could see puffy white clouds and evergreens and birch trees reflected in the water as I paddled my way down. I passed a father and a couple kids, but that was about it.
It’s completely different, of course, but it almost felt like I was Huckleberry Finn or something as it was so quiet and such a world away from the resort.
I’d forgotten how nice the grounds are at Taboo, where they have both hotel rooms and cottages; some of them steps from a good-sized beach with lawn chairs and a beach volleyball court. There’s also swimming pools and tennis and water sports - the canoes and kayaks are free but motor boats cost a pretty penny given gasoline costs these days.
I’m not sure I’d have designed the restaurant, Elements, the same way as they did. The views of Lake Muskoka through the floor-to-ceiling glass are tremendous, but I find the fireplace and the décor a little too slick. I would personally prefer a slightly more woodsy tone, but that’s just me.
I’m happy to report that the food, which of course is the main thing, is tremendous. I tried a seared bluefin tuna appetizer that was rolled in crispy sesame seeds that was wonderful and a lobster risotto that was out of this world. I took a flyer on some ostrich that was about as tender and flavourful a cut of meat as I’ve ever had; more like beef than I had expected.
Absolutely one of the best meals I’ve had anywhere in the world.
Breakfast was good, although it took an awful long time to get a bowl of oatmeal and they were out of bananas. The frittata with egg whites, peppers, onions, spinach and goat cheese was first-rate, however, and the coffee was rich and just shy of too strong.
I had a suite on the fifth floor, with a good-sized bedroom and a huge bathroom upstairs, plus another bedroom, then a full kitchen and living area on the main floor. There was a small balcony off the living room with nice views of the lake, but the paint was flaking and peeling badly. Not the sort of thing one would expect from a top-notch resort. There were no signs of wear and tear anywhere else, so perhaps they’re close to fixing things up. And it didn’t really detract from a great experience. But, still...
Sunday morning I took advantage of good weather to play most of a round at Taboo’s 18-hole golf
course across the road. It’s in fabulous shape and it’s a beauty of a course; with plenty of nice vistas and exposed rock and a good variety of shapes to the holes; some big, sweeping shots ideal for the Arnold Palmer-type draw players of the world and a few that fade us Jack Nicklaus-style faders. Some great par-three holes, as well.
There were only a dozen or so folks with starting times on Sunday, which is pretty shocking. But the resort looked reasonably full and there was a good crowd at Elements on Saturday night, so they must be doing okay.
All in all, a great spot in my favourite part of the world.
More later this week, but I'm on holidays and not checking in as regularly as I usually do....