1090 Sherwood Rd., Port Carling, Ont.
The Pitch Little has changed at the Sherwood Inn since this lovely Muskoka property was founded by Toronto-lawyer Harry Draper back in 1939. For years, the Sherwood was privately owned before being sold to ClubLink in 1998, who also own Rocky Crest Golf Resort, Grandview Resort and the Lake Joseph Club, all of which boast championship golf courses. The hotel’s white and green shuttered buildings are perched on 12 acres overlooking Lake Joseph, and with or without golf, the Sherwood retains an unpretentious charm and casual elegance in a scenic setting. A two-hours drive from Toronto (without traffic), this year-round property near Port Carling promises something a little different each season.
What We Love If you’re looking for a resort with mass amenities, don’t come here. But if you want a quiet romantic escape, where you can sit in your Muskoka chair and watch the mist rising from the water or and relax with a book — and an amicable companion — you’ve found your place. Accommodations are set up with couples in mind. Forty-eight of the 49 units on property are one-bedroom rooms or suites — located either in the inn, one of three low-rise buildings or cottages. (Only one cottage has two bedrooms.) Most units have views of the lake, and many have wood-burning or gas fireplaces. Accommodations are also pet-friendly. Our dog Juno was as welcome here as we were. She was even allowed to join us for the complimentary “snowga” class. (Juno is an expert at the downward dog.) So with this in mind, the yoga instructor Shanna led me and two other guests through various poses in a clearing in the woods. “Tree pose” felt different next to rows of white pine.
Food is also a big feature at the Sherwood. Enjoy a candlelit dinner in their more upscale Vintages dining room overlooking the lake. Signature dishes include executive chef Everett Bell’s house smoked salmon — during my stay it came with black current gastrique, caper berries, focaccia crouton and artisan greens. And on Saturday afternoons, the inn has complimentary food and beverage tastings around a firepit at the main entrance. Depending on the weekend, you may sample pork sliders, chili or smoked salmon foccaccio — as well as craft beer or cranberry wine from down the road.
Don’t Miss The surroundings. In the cold months, the town of Port Carling is mostly dormant, but in warmer weather, drive into town for a meal or some shopping, or head to nearby Bala, dubbed the Cranberry Capital of Ontario. At Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, you can skate on their 1.2-kilometre skating loop, or enjoy wine tastings and cheese platters throughout the year. An annual cranberry festival is held in October.
The Sherwood is open year round, though only on weekends from November to April. Rooms from $109 in off season, $199 in summer