Getaway to Ontario Cottage Country without the Expense and Work of Owning a Cottage Property

November 30, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
For more information on activities in the Almaguin Highlands and Huntsville region visit and to book a cottage with Sand Lake Cottages & Inn Cottage Resort visit .

Kearney, Ontario, Canada - Gordon grimaces as he watches his tee shot on the 14th hole of Deerhurst Resort's Ontario Highland course go off track, heading towards the water that skirts the left fairway adjacent to the green. But the breeze pushes it back into relative safety — in the still challenging second cut. He salvages a bogie, which based on his 14 handicap, is acceptable on this gorgeous fall day.

Gordon, a marketing specialist who lives in Brampton, Ontario with his wife Rosalie Rees and their kids, has been enjoying more time this year at course's like the Highland, not because he is a guest at the Tony resort, but because like many residents of the GTA, he rents a cottage property in the Huntsville area that allows him to enjoy the trappings that come with the striking geography and event filled calendar.

Unlike the classic grind that sees the weekend summer mad dash that cottagers undertake from May to September, Gordon and his family carefully create a mix of weekend and weekly rentals arrangements with Sand Lake Cottages & Inn near Muskoka — creating a satisfying set of mini and full breaks without the financial burden of maintaining a second property.

"I just didn't fancy the concept of having to make a three hour drive each way every weekend, then worry about cutting the lawn, and all the other maintenance," explains the 37-year-old, who was born and raised in the Ottawa area before moving to Toronto in the 1990s. He has been renting his summer Cottage Getaway for about three years now, and insists he is not getting tempted to dip his toe into the recreational real estate market.

"We decided that the challenge of being homeowners in the GTA and trying to duplicate that stress somewhere else, is just not worth the grey hair," says his wife Rosalie, who then laughs as she tousles the salt and pepper hair on her husband's head.

Gordon and Rosalie are part of a growing trend that recognize that they may have a disposable income that could handle a second mortgage, but perhaps not the lifestyle to warrant the commitment to the weekend property. By going to Sand Lake Cottages & Inn, (a two and half hour drive north of Toronto near Huntsville) they can plan their times away and keep the busy sports and social schedule of their children. Renting from a Cottage Resort seems to be the ideal choice.

"If we went to the cottage every weekend, because we felt compelled to, it would mean no soccer, no gymnastics, a lot of things the kids like to do," says Gordon. "Now we check their schedules and since we are pre-booked, we get the prime weekends, like the long weekend holidays, but also in the fall. Thanksgiving up hear is amazing."

The Huntsville Ontario area has been getting on the social calendar a lot in the past few years, due, in no small part, to the drawing power of the Deerhurst Resort. Events such as Family Wakeboard weekend, big money golf events, and fishing derbies, have in recent years seen other events such as dog sled races, and starting in 2008 a triathlon.

The website in the Almaguin Highlands highlights the year round attractions in the region, pointing the diverse tourism opportunities that have developed over the past ten years or so. A quick tour of the site shows ATV tours, boating, fishing and horseback riding through the spring and summer, while the autumn display of foliage is a huge draw. In the winter the pursuits stay out of doors with ice fishing, dog sled races and extensive snowmobile trails along with snow tubing and snowshoeing.

Steve and Danette Fernandez have operated the Sand Lake Cottages & Inn Cottage Resort, located just outside Kearney, Ontario for the past seven years and they have seen a real change in the type of client, and also that client's expectations in recent years. Gone are the days that you could put up four walls, some faux paneling and a wood stove and get $500 a week for the chance to enjoy a lake view. Now modern furnishings, hot tubs, satellite TV and wireless Internet are just some of the minimums vacationers are looking for.

"We get a lot of people coming here where three quarters of the family are on vacation, but dad or mom is working a couple of hours a day, so having internet access relieves that anxiety of not being in communication with the office," says Danette, who moved to Ontario from Newfoundland in the 1990's and now has three kids with husband Steve, who is a school teacher.

"When we took over the Cottage Rental Property it was nice, but basic, and we have slowly added things every year, and we notice other properties in the area are doing the same thing," says Steve.

The big change has been the occupancy rate of their properties in the fall and winter. A decade a go that number would have hovered around 50 per cent, but now numbers in the mid 80 per cent range most months.

"The increase in off season tourism is essentially a misnomer in itself, as people are looking to get away winter and summer," explains Danette, who takes care of the dozens of bookings inquiries she gets each month from people as far away as Europe and throughout the border states such as New York, Michigan and Ohio. "People want to get away, but they will not put up with ultra rustic, and they don't want the kids to be bored."

Boredom is not a problem at the Sand Lake Cottages as ATV tours, water trampolines, fishing and all the comforts of home make for a great mix to keep the family smiling. Within a thirty minute drive is a whole host of activities that set the table for good times year round for the weekend tourist, regardless of age.