Friday, May 24, 2013

A Cottage Getaway to Muskoka Soul

The Great Room at Muskoka Soul
I never had a cottage growing up. The idea of cottaging was really foreign to me, as I grew up in an urban neighbourhood filled with new immigrant families like mine that didn't own a cottage either. I actually never went camping until I was in grade 12 and once spent a week at Camp Tawingo in grade 6 - no wonder I have such bad seasonal allergies.

So what does one do when you don't own a cottage? You rent one! I rallied my closest high school friends earlier this month and we started looking at properties for rent online that would sleep at least three couples. The one cottage that stuck out that I kept coming back to was a gorgeous property called Muskoka Soul that actually sleeps 10.

A huge kitchen + BBQ for all our group dinners
After running the numbers and checking availability, we settled on a two-night mid-week getaway for the six of us. If you're just getting into the cottage rental game now - you're out of luck for most weeks and weekends for July and August. Those tend to book out a year in advance. A better move is to burn a few vacation days and take the cost-savings of booking mid-week. Most of us worked a half day from home on Monday and left at Noon for the 2.5 hour drive to Muskoka Soul, a luxury lakeside retreat on the shores of Lake Muskoka, just 10 minutes past the town of Gravenhurst.

The Bedrooms
When we arrived we ooohhh'd and ahhhh'd our way through this custom-built five bedroom, three bathroom lake house with luxury finishes and a chef's kitchen. Owner Sandra Crossman is always thinking one-step ahead of her guests which is so appreciated when you're away to relax.

Oh it's chilly in the screened-in Muskoka room? Look, there's a blanket at arms reach to wrap around you. The cottage is fully stocked with spices, dishes, beach towels, cooking utensils, shampoo, soap and thorough instructions if you had any questions. 

We even caught up on some work with the wireless internet and watched the Leafs lose (!) thanks to the satellite TV in the games room (above). The cottage was filled with countless DVDs and board games as well.

So what did we get up to during our visit? The first thing on our agenda was a proper lobster boil with mussels, clams, chorizo sausage and corn on the cob. Our masterpiece above! Besides doing some work and getting up to a whole lot of nothing, cottage time also meant free time to cook up a gourmet meal with friends while drinking lots of wine.

Since my job doesn't always stop when I decide to pick up and go away during the week, we used our mornings to catch up on email and online stuff. The great room had a gas fireplace and lots of seating that we had lots of room to just spread out.

The scenery and lakefront views were also a great source of creative inspiration and a nice way to relax. It felt like the lake was wrapped around us because of the way the cottage is positioned. 

After our morning reads + work, we decided a group workout was in order and went for a run and did a Crossfit workout next to the lake. If we had a week, I would definitely have booked a private yoga instructor (from $185) to come to the cottage and teach a class to us. The concierge at Muskoka Soul can book anything from a registered massage therapist to come by the cottage or a private chef to teach a cooking class for your group.

Mimosas for breakfast of course.
Roasting marshmallows and making s'mores - a cottage tradition.
Time to go home...
So I guess the point of my story is, if you don't own cottage - you don't have to feel left out of this fun tradition! Make it a getaway with friends and rent a beautiful cottage like Muskoka Soul. None of us wanted to leave after two nights, that we decided to make our group getaway an annual tradition. Availability is still open for September/October and this could be cozy girlfriends getaway in the winter too. To learn more visit:

Muskoka Soul

Photos also by: Louise Bongers for Muskoka Soul

This trip was subsidized in part by our friends at Muskoka Soul, but the opinions expressed in this post remain our own.

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