The snow is crispy under my feet as I make my way through the trees and down the path. I am clutching my camera with my mitts, taking careful steps so not to slip on the ice patches underneath, all while looking to the trees trying to spot something. It is -5°C outside and normally I’m home hiding in my house escaping this very scenario, but this weekend it was different. This weekend I decided to step out and embrace our cold Ontario winter with an amazing girls getaway at the Briars Resort and Spa. What I experienced was so much more than a fun weekend with the girls… it was a cozy cottage getaway, a taste of fine dining, a pampering at the spa, a photography excursion and nature walk and the first of what I hope will be many more winter escapes at one of Ontario’s Finest Resorts and Inns.
The Briars Resort and Spa
I have to confess I have never been much of an outdoorsy kind of girl (especially in the winter) but staring at the trees around me, breathing all the fresh air and snapping picture after picture I feel like I am home. I am completely bundled up and not feeling the cold temperatures at all as I walk with the group learning about the best places to take photographs at The Briars. At the time I didn’t know it, but I was about to snap this amazing and iconic image you may have seen from the Briars Resort.
The Briars Resort and Spa – Winter Activities
It is impossible to do a review about the Briars in any season without discussing the amazing nature surrounding it. Located on the south shore of Lake Simcoe near Jackson’s Point, Ontario, The Briars is a short one and half hour drive from Toronto. Just some of the activities available at the resort in the winter include: walking the hiking trails (guided walks are available), cross-country ski trials, snowshoeing, skating, tobogganing, ice fishing and even a horse drawn winter sleigh ride!
The Briars Resort
The Briars Resort and Spa has a rich history and has been named an Ontario Heritage site. The history of the resort is all around as you walk through the main building which is an extension of the original home of Dr. Frank Sibbald. The resort has a 170 year history spanning from the days its location was a working farm into the magnificent resort and spa it is today.
Inside the main building is a feeling of that original home. There are many small rooms and hideaways filled with antique furniture which guests take advantage of to find a quiet spot to read, play board games or finish a puzzle. Fireplaces are lit in some of these rooms and antique paintings and photos line the wall.
The Briars also had a few surprises outside the resort, even in winter. Including this popular gathering spot by the fire where you could sit and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
The main building is quite large and surrounded by many little buildings that have been preserved including the Briars Peacock House which is one of Ontario’s famous historical places. There was also a wonderful old stable outside and some other amazing additions to the main house that I could not stop photographing!
Our Little Cottage on the Lake
We stayed in a cozy two bedroom cottage on Lake Simcoe during our weekend at the Briars. The view of the sunset was just breathtaking.
Inside to start off our amazing girls weekend, we were treated to an amazing cheese platter with all sorts of yummy snacks and a few bottle of wine which we drank in front of the fireplace.
Each room in the cottage had two beds and a bathroom, so there was plenty of bathroom time for each of us 4 girls. There were also a number of dressers and closets to hang clothes in. We had a lovely little writing desk and complimentary wi-fi throughout the entire resort – including at the cottage. Mostly we all gathered on the comfy sofa and chaise lounge chairs in front of the fire as we gabbed and munched on cheese and crackers.
Dining at The Briars Resort
We had a tiny kitchen inside our cottage which included a microwave, small fridge, sink and dishes but chose to enjoy the many dining options provided to us by the Briars. We enjoyed a full buffet breakfast at the main building each morning which included eggs, sauseges, cereal, pastries, fruit and yogurt.
The Briars also had a lovely lounge called Drinkwater’s where you can enjoy a drink or bite to eat throughout the day. Complimentary hot chocolate was also available in the lounge throughout our stay.
For dinner we dined at the Main Dining room which was actually the dining area in Frank Sibbald’s original home, with a few minor modifications and extensions. It is a bright room with antique paintings on the wall and features an impressive menu that changes with the season.
Just writing this post, I am wishing that I’m back at The Briars walking those trails again. It is a beautiful resort which I could not possibly see and do everything at in one weekend. It changes with each season (check out this awesome review from Will at Going Awesome Places who enjoyed Summer at The Briars).
The Briars will impress nature lovers, history buffs, food and wine lovers or those just looking for a cozy spot to relax for a getaway. For us girls it was manicures at the spa, lots of fun at the cottage and opportunity to get out and enjoy Ontario for a winter escape. You can see my guest post 4 Girls, an Ice Fishing Hut and a Luxury Resort. A Girls’ Winter Weekend in Central Counties at the Central Counties blog for details on our ice fishing and snow tubing adventure!
Have you been to the Briars? Want to know more? Share your experiences or ask questions in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!