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Ontario Getaway: A Review of the JW Marriott Rosseau Resort & Spa in Muskoka

Kathy is a freelance writer from Canada who is always on the lookout for fun things to do with her family.

View of the JW Marriott at Lake Rosseau, Muskoka from the lakeside.

View of the JW Marriott at Lake Rosseau, Muskoka from the lakeside.

Our Stay at the Rosseau Marriott

Near the end of March 2012, my husband was scheduled to attend a conference at the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, Ontario. Since Muskoka is one of our favourite family vacation destinations, we decided we would book a weekend getaway for the kids and me to spend some time with him at the resort before the conference started.

The JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa is located near the town of Minnet, about 20 minutes from Port Carling, in the heart of the Muskoka lakes. It is perched atop a granite bluff, overlooking beautiful Lake Rosseau. Lake Rosseau is a prime location in Ontario's cottage country, with stunning cottages worth millions of dollars owned by professional hockey players, financiers, entrepreneurs and Hollywood celebrities such as Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Martin Short.

The resort, formerly known as Red Leaves Muskoka, is the first JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Canada. It offers guests a luxurious stay in a breathtaking, tranquil setting. It is about a two-hour drive north of Toronto.

A view of Lake Rosseau from the balcony of a suite at the Rosseau Marriott in Muskoka, Ontario.

A view of Lake Rosseau from the balcony of a suite at the Rosseau Marriott in Muskoka, Ontario.

Our Suite and Experience

When we first booked our stay at the resort, we expected to be doing winter activities like snowshoeing, skating and maybe some hiking. Winter officially ends in Canada on March 21st, and typically areas such as Muskoka would still have snow at that time of year. However, this past winter was unseasonably mild, and spring temperatures arrived much earlier than usual. As a result, the snow was long gone by the time we arrived at the resort, and instead of wearing winter jackets we just required light sweaters most of the time.

The warmer weather meant we were able to spend a lot of time swimming in the outdoor portion of the heated indoor/outdoor pool, which we all really enjoyed. Being off season, the pool was not busy at all, and we even had it all to ourselves a few times. We particularly enjoyed our evening swim under the stars.

The resort has four types of guest rooms to choose from:

  • Studio King with King bed, queen sofabed and galley kitchen
  • Studio Queen/Queen with two Queen beds and a galley kitchen
  • One-Bedroom Suite with French doors separating parlour from king bedroom and bath. Kitchen includes breakfast bar, refrigerator, four-burner range, microwave, dishwasher. Queen sofabed in parlour.
  • Two-Bedroom Suite with spacious parlour and wrap-around balcony. Two bedrooms, two full baths and complete kitchen including range, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave.

Because we were only staying for two days, we splurged and booked a two-bedroom suite for our stay. The suite was very large and comfortable, and had a huge wraparound balcony with beautiful views of the resort and Lake Rosseau. One bedroom had a king bed and full ensuite bath, with a walkout to the balcony, and the other had two queen beds. Both bedrooms had large TVs in the room, in addition to the TV in the living room, so there was certainly no arguing over which program to watch if anyone wanted to watch TV!

What We Loved About the Rosseau Marriott

There were many things we enjoyed at this resort. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to visit the spa, so I can't comment on those facilities.

The pros:

  • beautiful views
  • indoor-outdoor pool
  • luxurious, comfortable and spacious guest rooms
  • large well-equipped kitchen
  • comfortable beds and furniture
  • luxurious robes: the kids loved these for after swimming.
  • games room: especially the ping pong table
Our family loved the indoor/outdoor pool at the Marriott Rousseau resort!

Our family loved the indoor/outdoor pool at the Marriott Rousseau resort!

While the setting of the resort is very conducive to doing nothing but relaxing, there are many activities available for families looking for things to keep them busy.

Below is a chart highlighting many of the available amenities and activities at this resort.

Amenities and Activities

Hotel amenitiesDiningSummer activitiesWinter activitiesYear-round activities

Fitness centre

Cottages continental restaurant - open for breakfast, lunch & dinner

Canoeing & kayaking

Snowshoeing

Nature presentations

Spa

Teca Italian restaurant - open for dinner

Swimming

Cross country skiing

Kids arts & crafts

Private sand beach & on-site boat docking facilities

Country Market resort shop & cafe: coffee house & souvenirs

Hiking

Dog sledding

Scavenger hunts

Indoor/outdoor pool

Lakes, The Gathering Place: cozy bar and lounge, open for lunch & dinner

Waterskiing & wakeboarding

Skating

Guided nature walks

Outdoor hot tub

The Deck seasonal poolside bistro: outdoor patio next to Paignton House Pool

Mountain biking

Ice fishing

Evening bonfire

Seasonal outdoor pool, hot tub and wading pool

Room service

Golf

Snowmobiling

Arts programs

Games room with Wii, air hockey & table tennis

Bubble soccer

Night sky astronomy

Toddler playroom

Board games & movies

The Downside

There were a couple of things we weren't crazy about at the resort. If you're considering a stay at the Rosseau Marriott, you should be aware of these.

The cons:

  • long walk up a steep hill from parking lot to hotel
  • food is expensive

The main parking lot is located a fair distance from the reception area and main building of the resort, and involves a fairly steep hill. If you're travelling with young children, have mobility issues or are arriving in inclement weather, this could be quite a challenging walk from your vehicle—especially if you're lugging along your luggage! The resort does offer valet parking, at a cost of $30 a day, which would certainly add up quickly. You can pull up to the main entrance and quickly unload your luggage or drop off passengers though, so as long as one of you doesn't mind the hike from the parking lot, you won't have to pay for parking.

Since our son does not often do well eating in restaurants, we booked a suite with a full kitchen and brought food and drinks for all of our meals and snacks to prepare in our room. We were very glad we did! The kitchen was very well-equipped, with full size, top-of-the-line appliances, lots of counter space, a breakfast bar and large dining table. A quick scan of the restaurant menus showed us how much money we saved by bringing our own food. Prices in the Cottages restaurant ranged from $9 for a bowl of chicken noodle soup to $17 for fish and chips, $26 to $39 for entrees and $9 for desserts. In the Italian restaurant, flatbread pizzas were $16 to $18, pastas were about $20 and entrees of chicken, lamb or beef ranged from $35 to $46. For a family of four, this would have been quite the food bill.

Video of Pictures From Our Trip

Overall Impressions of the Rosseau

Overall, we were very pleased with our stay at the resort, and I would definitely love to return again some day. Participating in all of the water activities in the summer would be fun, and fall would be a beautiful time of year to visit, with the gorgeous autumn colours of Muskoka's forests. Of course, snowshoeing and skating on a sunny winter day would be lovely too!

If you're looking for a relaxing and enjoyable place to get away with your family, Muskoka's JW Marriott The Rosseau may be the ideal place for your escape. The rooms are very well equipped and comfortable, there's a good range of activities for everyone, and the resort is conducive to both relaxation and spending quality time with your family. The resort's location is beautiful and tranquil, and removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

A vacation at the Rosseau is definitely pricey though. I'd definitely recommend bringing some food with you to help keep your hotel bill down—even just bringing snacks and drinks will save you quite a bit of money.

My other recommendation is to book a lakeview room. The views from your balcony will be stunning any time of year, and I'm sure you won't regret it!

© 2012 Kathy Sima