Forget the bed… Let’s go straight to the breakfast room at these local B&Bs
I love everything about the "Bed & Breakfast" culture. Beautifully appointed homes with every detail provided for. Fine linens and bedding, fireplaces, gazebos with great views and, of course, fantastic food. B&B owners are consummate hosts and hostesses. They take great pride in all they do and in my experience are always improving on their properties, adding decadent amenities such as saunas and swimming pools, stone gardens, outdoor fireplaces…luxury defined!
You might be surprised at the number of B&Bs that we can enjoy around our lake! Here you’ll find a curated selection of some of the better B&Bs in the Lake Simcoe area. We will periodically include others, and always welcome your recommendations.
Three Wishes Bed & Breakfast
Owner: Elisabeth Ashe
48 Steel St., Barrie
With a blended family of seven children all grown and living on their own, Elisabeth and Jim Ashe found themselves empty nesters. Instead of moving or downsizing their big home, they became B&B owners. Sadly, Jim died in October 2013, but Elisabeth is keeping Three Wishes open.
The design is modern with clean lines and just a hint of retro in the decor. Old and new furnishings were mixed with personal furnishings, but things were kept to an uncluttered minimum to enhance the feeling of a spa-like spaciousness.
In luxurious quarters, guests will appreciate the thought and detail that has gone into making them feel pampered, comfortable and at home. The beds here are out of this world! The sheets are bamboo and the duvet covers are Egyptian cotton. Private bathrooms are yet another pleasure. Enjoy fluffy robes and slippers or flip-flops and can take the slippers with you when you leave.
The food here is simple yet delicious. Elisabeth knows that we eat with our eyes first and that reflects in the beauty of the platters she prepares. But it also has to taste good, too! Typical breakfasts here may consist of:
Baked goods such as muffins or scones
Fruit and yogurt muesli
Eggs benedict over English muffins with back bacon
Baked French toast with farmer's sausages and local maple syrup
Fruit platter and juice
Blueberry pancakes with apple topping and whipped cream
Spinach and brie omelette
Juice, coffee and tea
Elisabeth also makes vegan and vegetarian dishes; all of the dishes are made fresh using as much locally grown food as possible. Elisabeth even grows her own herbs!
There’s always a seasonal and special event menu, such as a huge buffet at Christmas for guests staying during the holidays.
Stay for two nights or more and receive a complimentary basket that includes a split of wine (or other beverage), cheese, crackers and fruit. Coffee, tea and home baked goodies are always available.
Forks in the Trail Bed & Breakfast
Owners: Tricia and Doug Frost
478 Bass Lake Side Road West, Oro Station
Doug, an avid skier and cyclist, has recently retired after 30 years with an accounting firm in Toronto. Congratulations, Doug!
Tricia is a registered holistic nutritionist, a certified yoga instructor and together they are dedicated innkeepers.
Tricia says the name Forks in the Trail, was carefully chosen to reflect a lifestyle change focused on nutrition, fitness and a love of the outdoors. Their goal is to tempt our guests with a mix of gastronomy and adventure. Guests can swim in a salt water pool, enjoy the hot tub and outdoor sauna, hike, bike or ski on the 100 acres of trails or take in some yoga in the studio. It’s all here!
There is downhill and cross-country skiing nearby, road cycling on the paved Oro-Medonte township roads, mountain biking on the local trails and thousands of acres of forest to enjoy at Copeland Forest. Within an easy drive are: Hardwood Hills, Ganaraska hiking trails, seven golf courses, tree-treking and other adventures at the Horseshoe Valley Resort.
But if a B&B stay conjures up images of leisure, a slower pace, curling up with a good book and eating great food, there’s plenty of that here, too!
Forks in the Trail wants to create what they call an “experience based destination.” They offer nutritional cooking and maple syrup-making (in season). Guests can spend time with a nutritionist, prepare food and exchange ideas regarding healthy eating, meal planning and preparation, recipes that include maple syrup and in April and May, there are “Wild Leek” classes that include a hike in the bush to harvest leeks and bring them back to prepare in class. (Participants are encouraged to bring cameras because the forest floor is a bed of trilliums. What a treat!)
Of course, classes end in the best way possible…eating! You’ll also be sent home armed with all the recipes! Classes are open to the public as well.
With Doug now retired, he plans on doubling the maple syrup production this spring!
The food here is nutritious and delicious! Breakfast choices include:
Medley of fresh fruit
Yogurt or kefir
Ganaraska Trail mix of toasted grains, chewy fruits and crunchy nuts.
Home-made muffins and breads
Banana flax pancakes with house maple syrup
French toast and crispy Belgian waffles with house maple syrup
Morning berry strata
Creamy rolled oats
Farmer's omelette with fresh herbs and vegetables
Forks in the Trail Wild Leek Dip Recipe
2 cups of low-fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup of chopped wild leeks (more or fewer leeks can be added depending on how much garlic taste you want. Cultivated leeks will not provide the same pungent flavour).
Place two layers of damp cheesecloth in a fine mesh sieve or colander. Place the colander over a bowl.
Mix the yogurt and the chopped leeks in a bowl.
Lay the yogurt mixture on the damp cheesecloth and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.
The next morning you will have a soft creamy cheese-like product that is lower in lactose, higher in protein, and lower in sodium than cream cheese. The wild leeks add a garlic flavour, making the mixture ideal as a dip for vegetables. It also is delicious with lamb.
Creighton Manor Inn Bed & Breakfast
Owners: Levada and Doug Thurlbeck
74 Creighton St., Atherley, Orillia
Leveda Thurlbeck tells the story about starting Creighton Manor:
"We moved to Orillia with the Ontario Provincial Police move about 19 years ago. Doug was the helicopter engineer there. We have two daughters who have gone through school in Orillia.
"We were driving by our home with the real estate salesperson and I said I would like to see inside this house. He tried to talk us out of it because it needed so much work. Once inside, I loved it. Doug can see through walls and knew how much work was needed. But, for the next 10 years, until late at night and on the weekends we would tear apart each wall. The house needed everything: windows, wiring, plumbing, insulation — you name it and it got it. Ten years it took us to try to reproduce what we thought the house should look like.
"We didn't do it with the intention of opening a B&B, but with six bathrooms and five bedrooms, what else do you do when the kids get married and move out?
"After 10 years of hard labour, we opened our bed & breakfast. The first day we had about 450 people through when we hosted a University Women's Club open house.
"We started off slow like every other new business, but have picked up very well over the seven years. We have many repeat guests and a lot of B&B virgins (first timers at a B&B). We love it. We have a rating of 9.7 on Booking.com and have three Tripadvisor awards with 115 excellent reviews.
"This spring, Doug is building a beautiful courtyard out back with a water feature and a fireplace where guests can sit and enjoy some wine. In the warmer months, the front porch offers brilliant sunsets from the gazebo overlooking Lake Simcoe."Each meal starts with a fruit parfait of some type: mixed fruit, French vanilla yogurt (all fat) and granola on the bottom.
Choose from eggs benedict, quiche, stuffed French toast, New Orleans potato casserole, or pancake medallions.
Dessert is a family affair. Daughter Rita is a chef and has a bakery in Coldwater. This is very handy! She supplies all the baked goods and fantastic breakfast desserts.
Creighton Manor is open year round, with the exception of two or three weeks in October.
Gypsy by the Lake
Owner: Monica Resch
33 Albert St., Jackson’s Point
Monica Resch takes great pride in her home and is the consummate hostess. The rooms are beautifully arranged, bright and comfortable. There are king-size and twin beds available, fresh cut flowers in each room, luxurious bath towels and soaps. There is a spacious living room/dining room area where you can relax, enjoy a meal and have great conversation. Perhaps you’d like to enjoy your morning coffee in the sunroom.
The garden is exquisite, overlooking Lake Simcoe. Enjoy your meals here under the grapevine growing over the patio and listen to the waves. Take a stroll along the shoreline after breakfast and enjoy the sunset in the evening. There are also wonderful beaches within walking distance. You can also barbecue!
Breakfast items here include bacon and eggs, Debreceni sausage, fresh fruit, fresh bread and yogurt. But you’d be foolish to not request her omelettes, potatoes with onion, peppers and paprika and her home-made jam.
Monica also offers a delicious “Gypsy Platter” for guests requesting lunch or dinner.
She’ll even pack up a picnic for you to enjoy lakeside, at the beach.
In the winter, Monica caters to anglers who come to Lake Simcoe for the ice fishing, offering a special package.
Trail of the Woods
Owner: Elizabeth Johnston
8 Blue Ridge Trail, Newmarket
With six children having flown the coop, Elizabeth and her husband recently became empty nesters. So — I see a trend here — they became B&B owners!
Open year round, Trail of the Woods is next to the Vivian Forest, which has wonderful walking trails. There are also many golf courses a short drive away, the closest being the executive golf course, Pheasant Run. Trail of the Woods is 10 minutes to great shopping areas in the surrounding towns of Newmarket, Aurora, Whitchurch-Stouffville and Markham. In the winter months, you may have the pleasure of watching deer wandering around on the property. Or perhaps, they’ll be watching YOU, as some guests have suddenly turned around, while having breakfast, to find the deer looking in at them!
Elizabeth is the daughter of an apprentice chef at the Royal York Hotel, and a chef at St. Andrew-by-the-Sea, N.B. When she was ready to open her B&B, you can bet that Dad had some input in the food choices here! If you want five-star, you need crumpets!
Guests wake up in the morning to a five-star place setting for breakfast, and Elizabeth loves to make her guests feel like a king or queen during their stay.
Elizabeth is a true foodie in her own right. She and her husband own an organic vegetable farm on Thorah Island, and you can bet that they use the freshest ingredients right from their farm. They grow tomatoes, garlic, squash, beans, corn, beets, potatoes, peppers, patty pan zucchini, and more. Elizabeth is a canning maniac and will pickle and jar just about anything, including homemade huckleberry jam, red tomato jam and green tomato jam.
The breakfast menu includes lots of healthy options but Elizabeth’s father taught her to cook the bacon in the oven (a great restaurant trick), which produces super-crispy bacon every time.
Full breakfast is offered, including bacon, peameal, T-bone steak, hash browns, egg puffs with onions, peppers and mushrooms that are cooked in muffin tins (a specialty!), fresh fruit salad, house-made maple syrup, fresh bread, nuts, granola and yogurt.
There are gluten-free, organic and vegetarian options; food allergies and food omission requests are accommodated provided that you inform her at check-in.
In the New Year, a free bottle of locally made wine is offered to guests with each night’s stay.
Next time you’re considering a little getaway, think about a B&B. They offer luxury, pampering, fine dining, activities, experiences and wonderful rest and relaxation. I can’t think of a better way to spend a couple of days away, especially around our gorgeous Lake Simcoe.