Have you ever had those vacations where you never want to leave? The vacations where you could totally see yourself moving there? The ones that you literally start looking up real estate and quickly realize your dreams have been crushed because it’s way too expensive? Ya, me either. Totally kidding. That was 100% me on our dream vacation to the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka in Canada over Christmas! I’ve been so excited to write this post and share where we stayed, all of the activities we did and best of all, I can’t wait to share the gorgeous photos! Plus, you’ll have your very own travel guide if you are planning to visit this particular JW Marriott!
Grayson and I had been browsing cold weather vacations back in September/October. We had initially planned on heading somewhere to see the fall foliage but we were obviously way behind on planning that. Nothing like waiting til the last minute! We then changed course and decided we should try and plan something where there’s snow so we could have a white Christmas. Y’all know it doesn’t snow down in Austin and this girl LOVES snow!
I’ve always wanted to visit Banff but every time we would start looking every single place would be sold out. I guess looking at super touristy destinations a couple weeks before you want to leave is a bad idea! Lesson learned 2 years in a row. As much as I hate to admit, I feel like Banff might be a little overrated at this point. We switched gears and started looking up different areas in Canada that were easier to get to from the Austin airport. I don’t know about y’all but I hate spending my entire day hopping on plane after plane.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that Austin flew direct into Toronto so we started our search looking for beautiful spots semi-close by. Of course, I’m all over Instagram searching fall foliage or snow in Canada near Toronto. And then there it was… All the stars had aligned and I knew I had found the most beautiful place for us to spend the holidays. JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka.
Right when I saw this place I knew it was the one. It’s like when people ask you what you’re looking for and you have absolutely no idea but you’ll know when you see it. This was that moment for me. I immediately sent Grayson the link and he was hooked. We started planning that night and voila! The trip was booked!
The Rosseau Muskoka:
How to get there –
I definitely suggest renting a car that is either 4×4 or all-wheel-drive. Depending on what time of the year will depend on the conditions of the roads. Since we were getting there mid-December they highly recommended us drive something that would handle well on slick and icy roads. Thankfully it wasn’t snowing when we got there but the day we left was another story!
The drive itself takes a couple of hours. For us, it took about 3.5-4 hours because of the Toronto traffic. Neither of us wanted to turn on our roaming to get map us there so we used some janky app that took us a really long way. OR, that could have been the usual way… We would have never known the difference. The main road was only one lane the entire way to the free way and we hit every single stop light imaginable. We had anticipated arriving midday but ended up getting there right as the sun was setting.
I want to add that the drive into Muskoka was absolutely beautiful. There are breathtaking lakes everywhere that have the most beautiful cottages lining the water. It was picture perfect.
When you arrive to the JW Marriott –
When we arrived we were in awe of how picture perfect the entire property was. It was as if we were transported right into a postcard. A layer of fresh, glistening snow was on the ground and we were greeted with hot apple cider. The staff was immediately so helpful and accommodating.
Check in was a breeze and we were handed our room keys and a packet of things to do around the property. First things first, let’s get settled in and check out our home for the next 5 days!
FYI – There is valet but we ended up self parking since we wouldn’t be leaving the resort often.
The Rooms –
We chose the One-Bedroom Suite for our 5 day stay because of the stunning view and best of all; the fireplace. Every single room on the property is filled with amazing amenities. Each room comes with a fireplace, a kitchen, the comfiest bed, TVs, WiFi, a beautiful marble bathroom, and the coziest bathrobes. Every room feels like a Muskoka cottage, painted in pale greens and yellows with white bead-board ceilings.
Keep in mind, if you visit after November each balcony is locked for guest safety. The icicles were pretty gnarly when we were there!
Things to do at the The Rosseau –
The best part about The Rosseau is that they are essentially a full resort. They are equipped with everything you need so you can plan on full relaxation.
During the holiday season they have a full schedule of activities. Literally from sunup to sundown there is always something going on. It was almost overwhelming because we wanted to experience practically everything on the itinerary but picked a few key activities to try out.
Fat Bikes – Ok, this was probably the most extreme and funnest excursion we did. The resort has a ton of the fat tire bikes and we were so excited to take them out and see what we could do on them. Little did we know they are a lot harder to ride in the snow than we had initially anticipated! Staying on the road was a breeze but I really wanted to see how they worked in the actual snow and ice. Grayson and I both struggled with this one but had an absolute blast. Helmets are provided.
The Spa – First word of advice. Do not schedule anything during the day you make your spa appointments. I decided to book our massages in the morning so we would have time to do out other scheduled activities for the day. Little did I know you can use the spa amenities the entire day as long as you have a service scheduled. We literally had to rush out of there to get ready for the rest of our daily plans.
We did have the best couple’s massages though. It was exactly what we needed after all of that travel and it was actually a great start to a busy day.
S’mores – The The Rosseau always has a camp fire going at the front of the property where you can either relax or make s’mores. Just ask the front desk for s’mores supplies and they give you the cutest bag filled with goodies!! Funny Story – A lot of people who visit have never made s’mores before!!
Nature Walks – The Rosseau is literally surrounded by nature so it’s not hard to find your self on a self-guided nature walk. Grayson and I got so lucky we had a guided tour from the amazing Robin Tapley. I learned so many tools and tricks about nature in a 45 minute period. It was honestly pretty amazing and I highly recommend attending one of his activities if you can.
One of the most amazing parts of this trip was the fact that we were visiting on the The Rosseau’s 10th Anniversary. We were invited to attend the most amazing gala in the most beautifully decorated ballroom. It gave Grayson and I an excuse to dress up and mingle with some fabulous Muskokans. Is that a word? It is now! They had the best surprise for us after all of the Gala festivities.
Fire Dancers – This was amazing. I was in awe the entire time I was watching the 2 girls flip and swing fire hula hoops around their bodies. I kept telling Grayson that I would have already burned all of my hair off by now. I’m not sure how often The Rosseau has these fire dancers perform but if they happen to be performing when you visit, it’s a must see.
It was also fun to just hang out around the resort. They have a full bar and multiple restaurants all within a short walking distance of each other inside the resort. We found ourselves playing pool and chess the first evening while drinking the tastiest hot chocolate. If you saw on my Instagram Stories The Rosseau had a full ice bar one of the days in celebration of their 10th anniversary!
We obviously shot a slew of photos while we were here too. That’s the best part of traveling for me. Well maybe not the best but one of the best. I absolutely love being in places that I can document with absolutely breathtaking photos.
The Restaurants –
We can’t forget about eating, now can we?! The Rosseau is packed full of amazing restaurants and room service.
Breakfast – Every morning we had the tastiest buffet breakfast in the hotel. If you aren’t a huge fan of buffets they also have a full menu as well.
Muskoka Room – This isn’t a restaurant but I had to add it in here. It is the most magnificent room in the entire hotel. I mean, it has to be if it has such a prestigious name! We enjoyed a peaceful dinner in this room the very first evening we were staying. The room is decorated so beautifully and there was even a stunning Christmas tree that filled the space with so much holiday cheer.
Sorry for the overload of photos from this room but the interior design was just out of this world! I wish this could be my house!
Teca – This was another beautiful restaurant with amazing food. Grayson and I started out with the cured Italian Meat and Cheese and bread. We then shared the Atlantic Lobster Ravioli. I probably could have eaten 10 of those dishes, they were so good! We had a Prosecco cheers for Christmas that night and it was absolutely perfect.
Muskoka Chophouse – This was one of our favorite dining experiences. Being from Texas we were anxious to see what the Chophouse was all about. It met and exceeded our expectations. We had scallops and pork belly, broccolini, crab cakes and the best bacon Mac n’ cheese you’ve ever tasted. To top off that amazing meal they brought us 2 yummy desserts. A fruit and sorbet topped cremé brûlée and s’mores in a jar. Y’all, it literally had campfire smoke in the jar when you opened it up! (Check out my Instagram Story highlight to see it in action.)
Exploring outside of the The Rosseau –
We decided to venture out of the resort on our second to last day in Muskoka.
Johnson’s Cranberry Marsh – Depending on the month they have wine tastings, the cutest cranberry shop and snowshoe trails on site.
Head into Bala – We really wanted to see the waterfall in Bala but it was under construction at the time. We were still able to drive over it and check it out but would love to take a closer look next time when the project is completed.
Cottage Cravings – This was my absolute favorite excursion! Cottage Cravings is known for their tasty hot chocolate. They have over 30 kinds and they all sounded amazing. I ended up trying the S’Mores Hot Chocolate and it was to die for.
There are also quite a few breweries in town as well. Clear Lake Brewery, Sawdust Brewery and Muskoka Lakes Brewery are all great for a craft beer experience.
If you are looking for a wilder, outdoorsy adventure be sure to check out Oxtongue Rapid Waterfalls and/or Algonquin Park. We weren’t able to make it to either of these places but are definitely adding it to the list when we come back during the summer!
The Weather –
The weather in Muskoka is absolutely beautiful. If you love the cold and snow then you will love it here. One of the things we noticed was how early the sun sets; around 4:30pm each day. The first couple of days had pretty light snow and drizzle. A couple of the other days we were there were completely sunny and clear. It really all depends on when you are coming. I feel like the dates we were there the weather was pretty mild.
The very last day we were leaving was a massive snow storm. I had woken up in the middle of the night and noticed it was just dumping snow. That worried me a little since we had to get up so early to make the trek back to Toronto. Would the roads be plowed or icy?? Would it take us hours to get back?
Thankfully, the drive back was even quicker than getting there, even though we were in a full blown snow storm driving back. Snow plows were out before the sun came up and had part of the highway cleared for drivers.
Overall, I would highly recommend The Rosseau to anyone looking to get away. Grayson and I are already planning a trip back next year during the summer months. If you were following our Canadian travels on Instagram Stories I have created a highlight called Canada if any of y’all want to revert back and see what we did.