If true luxury is defined by exclusive experiences, then you’ll want to check out what’s cooking at JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa.
Part of what is cooking there now is the extra large bbq shrimp grilling and chilling on the Cowboy Cauldron on the resort deck overlooking Lake Rosseau. Thanks to the great Chef Ted Reader, and JW’s talented executive chef Shaun Crymble, for that.
Muskoka Ice Caves is a new initiative by the resort which offers guests a truly unique outdoor winter dining experience. Guests dine in one of the four outdoor “caves”. The night sky canopy over head, the smell of burning wood, fresh winter crisp northern air, and a truly elite culinary and wine experience (including a California Chardonnay called Hess that knocked our socks off).
We got a sneak peak of Muskoka Ice Caves over the weekend at a special launch event, but the resort wants everyone to be aware that they won’t be taking bookings until the pandemic restrictions are lifted. Fingers crossed that happens soon.
Taking us north was the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. For a full-size luxury SUV, what surprised the most was its deftness on major highways. The SUV comes equipped with a twin turbo 3.0L V6, 10-speed auto transmission (400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque), AWD.
The drive soon got a little edgy (but picturesque), taking us along the countless lakes that dot the Muskoka region, especially north of Coldwater. Our trip was days after the year’s first major snowstorm, so those windy, narrow, slick roads along Hwy. 7 north of Port Carling had their challenges. But the truck had our backs.
Long list of drive assist technologies
The Aviator comes equipped with all the standard vehicle safety features now commonplace in luxury vehicles these days. A real suite of driver assisted technologies at your finger tips – Evasive Steering Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Centering, Reverse Brake Assist, even a newly developed Traffic Sign Recognition. The 2020 version has more of a streamlined feel, when talking exterior design. Then there’s that signature grill that catches your eye. There’s plenty of curb appeal there.
It gets dicey in the winter if you don’t know the terrain up there (we relied heavily on the SUV’s navigation system to talk us into our destination).
So our journey to JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa was seamless. What about the interior? It starts with the cargo space – a third row of seating that folds flat at the touch of a button. The optional Perfect Position seats have 30-way adjustability and massage/heat capabilities.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster features satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The high-end Revel Ultima 3D audio system has 28 speakers. Even musical alerts, like when your door is ajar, courtesy the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, is a nice touch. The price of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator as tested is $87,435.
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A drive north to the JW Marriott in Muskoka is one of those unique opportunities Torontonians have to transport themselves to what feels like another world, all in just under three hours. Take the nature walk around the resort grounds if you go there, especially with the winter landscape (our guide was Leah Leslie, director of sales and marketing). Hardwood trees, oak, beech, white and red pines, juniper, lavender and the exposed granite that marks this region stand out.
Zen-like nature walks
A trip here centres you. Our host pointed out a 30-foot deadened tree where foot-high woodpeckers burrow to harvest bugs. If you look closely, sometimes you’ll see owls living there. They couldn’t cut down one of the oldest white pines on the property, at 80 years, because of the imperfections in its curves. You are taken into a new mind space, especially for those of us who live in big cities. The priority is health and wellness. No technology allowed on these walks. Keep your phone in your room.
The Ice Caves are where you go for one of those unique, winter-time experiences that you will be telling your friends and family about.
“Our purpose, because people are so hungry for a luxury dining experience, yet we all want to be safe during these times, was to come up with something completely unique,” says Leah. “These Cowboy Cauldrons, cooking over the flames, being able to engage with the chef, that’s something you don’t get anywhere. So we thought with the backdrop of Lake Rosseau, with the cold, you have to bundle up in these protective environments. It’s like combining luxury dining and adventure.”
Spacious, little pods, protecting you from the wind, with comfortable, plush seating, the scent of the fire, with space heaters – a true concierge experience with the finest cuisine in the region. In all there are two dining caves and two lounge caves. So a small number of guests has the full attention of the chef and the server.
“We will adapt with the seasons. This is such a rare experience. It means you have an opportunity to do something you have likely never done before and very few people have the opportunity to do. And it’s completely personalized, and that’s true luxury, tied to a beautiful destination.”
With the current pandemic restrictions, make sure you call the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa beforehand, to enquire about availability.