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Your Summer Bucket List

Deerhurst Resort Is Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Spot This Summer 

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Andrew Buwalda

General Manager, Deerhurst Resort

Deerhurst Resort remains a top vacation spot for families looking to spend some “we time” together in Muskoka.

Many of us have visions of an idyllic summer vacation modelled after the legendary resort set in the Catskills in the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing. With a remake of the famed flick expected to come out next year, a whole new generation of film goers will discover the joys of a family vacation spent in an all-encompassing family-friendly resort. A property full of activities, entertainment, outdoor pursuits and culinary offerings that every family member can enjoy promises to be the best summer vacation ever.

Luckily, Canada has its own iconic family vacation destination in Ontario’s Muskoka region, and the number one spot for families to stay is the venerable Deerhurst Resort, located along the longest lakefront in the area.

Deerhurst Resort has been a Canadian landmark for over 125 years, purpose-built as a luxury lodge, and has weathered the 1918 Spanish flu, the great depression, two world wars, numerous recessions and other world pandemics. Now, as it was then, it holds a place of honour among Canada’s oldest properties, staying relevant with bountiful guest offerings that will mark its ongoing status as one of the best family-stay vacays in the country.

Since 1896, this welcoming property has been hosting families and couples throughout Ontario and beyond, offering planned programming, outdoor adventures and plenty of indoor activities for when days are grey.

We asked Andrew Buwalda, Deerhurst Resort’s general manager, what’s on tap this summer and how the resort ticks all the boxes when it comes to enjoying a great family vacation in Muskoka.

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Why is Deerhurst such a Canadian icon?

Deerhurst Resort has been part of Canadian vacations for well over 100 years. As one of Ontario’s oldest continually operating resorts, it has continuously changed and evolved while embracing its roots as a legendary Canadian destination in the heart of Muskoka. With historic milestones such as witnessing the rise of Shania Twain from resort show performer to superstar, and playing host to the 2010 G8 Summit, Deerhurst has had many unique opportunities to be showcased on both the national and the world stages.

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How would you define the Muskoka experience and how does Deerhurst exhibit that ethos?

We recognize that the Muskoka experience is different for everyone. Deerhurst aims to facilitate whichever experience our guests are seeking in their version of Muskoka. Steeped in the roots of our northern landscape, experiences are built upon the lakes, forests and natural beauty around us. It could be rugged hiking in the neighbouring Algonquin Provincial Park or shorter trips out to maintained trails around the resort grounds. It’s the opportunity to conquer adrenaline-pumping activities such as wakeboarding or water skiing one day, to quietly paddling a canoe on one of our guided morning paddles the next. Our goal is to help guests find their version of Muskoka by showing them how we Muskoka.

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What makes the resort such a great playground for families?

Deerhurst is comprised of over 760 acres of outdoor adventure and Muskoka wilderness. The list of amenities and inclusions is long with pools, beaches, activities, programming and adventure, but what really sets us apart is our team’s ability to help families build core memories together and provide the space for people to spend quality time together. A lot of connection can be found learning to paddle together or just by taking a much-needed digital detox beachside. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, or for breaks in sunshine, we have endless indoor fun such as an arcade, treehouse play space, indoor pool, golf and multi-sport simulator and more to keep everyone entertained.

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What sort of activities can a family do together?

Almost all our activities can be done solo or as a family. We’ve got it all, from more leisurely outdoor pursuits like hiking, paddling, swimming or gathering around a campfire, to adrenaline charged watersports, mountain biking, treetop trekking and paintball. For the family who likes to stir up some competition, families can play a round of golf, a game of tennis, pickleball, basketball or a tournament of lawn games. And that’s not even all of it. There is also escape cabins, axe throwing, family programming like arts, crafts and games—there really is never a dull moment at Deerhurst. 

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Culinary options are such a big part of travel. What types of dining experiences should families expect to have at Deerhurst?

Deerhurst serves hundreds of thousands of meals every year and we take great care to provide an engaging and thoughtfully curated culinary experience every single time. With multiple onsite restaurants there are options for every traveller. From bountiful buffets at Eclipse Restaurant, to relaxed bites with a great view at Maple Pub & Patio, shareables and premium cocktails at Compass Grill, and an elevated evening at Antler Steakhouse. Our team are experts at catering to a diverse set of culinary interests and needs, taking care to make sure we have something for everyone. Our culinary team provides seasonally updated menus that will delight our guests and showcase local flavours. We suggest everyone bring their appetite when they visit Deerhurst! This spring we have even launched a new resort coffee shop, Row & Roast Coffee Co., as we continue to strive to fulfill each and every culinary wish our guests may have.

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If mom and dad want to escape for a bit of couple time, what do you suggest?

In addition to being known as a family-friendly resort, Deerhurst makes for a great getaway for couples. With an onsite spa (Amba Spa) and endless activities, couples can take on as much or as little adventure as they choose. Quality time can be taken to the golf course, the lake, the beach, the trails or any number of excursions. After a day of fun, we have several elevated culinary experiences for couples to enjoy, such as a tapas-style sharing menu, excellent cocktail and zero-proof offerings at Compass or Antler Steakhouse makes for a great date night with an amazing menu and an equally amazing wine list. We are big proponents of guests choosing to set their own pace during their stay and we offer full on adventure, quiet relaxation or anything in between. Most importantly, Deerhurst offers the opportunity and the place to disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with each other. 

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