We are so lucky in Toronto to have so many options available to get away. We are definitely die-hard Fern Resort fans – and the (relatively – at 90min) short drive to Orillia is a definite plus. And while the Muskokas are for many the place to be, when I grew up it was all about The Kawarthas. And that’s where we just spent a lovely weekend – at The Irwin Inn on Stoney Lake.
Depending on where you’re going in the Kawartha Lakes district, and also the state of the 401 Eastbound on a Friday, the drive can be a little longer. For us hitting a bit of traffic we made it to The Irwin Inn in just under three hours. The ride home was much quicker – 2 hours and 20 minutes. The Irwin Inn is about 20 minutes East of Lakefield, or 20 minutes North of Norwood. Either way, it takes a while if you need to hit a town, so keep that in mind when packing and preparing for your trip.
Not that you’ll need to bring much, however. A stay at the Irwin Inn includes a full buffet breakfast, and a lovely a-la-carte dinner each night. We really did not need much more than snacks to get us through the day between meals, but since I knew we had a full kitchen in our cottage, I brought up a few lunch fixins that satisfied the kids during the day with minimal fuss (and dishes).
The Irwin Inn is set on over 200 acres of land, but the prime cottages and suites are located directly on the shore of Stoney Lake. Our Cedarwood cottage is the creme de la creme, with an upstairs loft that has a Queen bed, a double futon, and a washroom with shower. Downstairs is an open concept living room and kitchen, with a lovely stone fireplace, a large bathroom with a shower and separate jacuzzi tub, and a bedroom with a large, comfortable King-sized bed. Our large deck overlooked the lake, and had a table and chairs and its very own private plunge pool. We were delighted with the pool, but we soon realized that swimming in the lake is WAY more fun – there’s a great couple of stretches of sand, a slide, and a water trampoline. Stoney Lake is nice and clear, with very few weeds. Kawartha lakes can sometimes be weedy, but Stoney Lake is just great. No wonder The Irwin Inn’s inground pool is largely ignored!
What’s so great about The Irwin Inn is that you really get the best of both worlds. The cottage feels just like that – a cottage. But you don’t have the work involved in cottage rental like the laundry and most of the cooking. Housekeeping comes in daily, and you’re really only looking after your own lunch and snacks. Their wine list and drink selection is good (and reasonable) but aside from a glass of wine with dinner we just brought up our own. The food was great. My apologies to the kitchen for the “Baconator” – I swear Bub ate a pound of bacon at each breakfast.
Of course there are some nice touches that make The Irwin Inn baby-friendly. They do offer high chairs, cribs, playpens and bed rails at no extra fee to their guests, so long as the request is made in advance. You barely need a stroller with how the grounds are set up, but a jogger with big wheels would go nicely along their trail which is not terribly steep and really well-maintained. Beach/Pool towels are supplied, as are staples in the cottages like sugar, tea towels, and dish soap. The smaller rooms don’t have full kitchens, but do have fridges as well as kettles and coffee makers. A funny word on their coffee… We raved about it. Turns out it was Folgers!
If you did forget something, either Lakefield or Norwood is a 20 minute drive away. Both towns have supermarkets, banks, and drug stores, but there is greater variety (and a Tim Horton’s!) in Lakefield.
Included in your stay is the use of the non-motorized boats and canoes (use the one with the ridge on the bottom – don’t ask me why this is important but it is!) and you can rent some more fancy-schmancy boats and water crafts at nominal fees. They do have a bunch of children’s and toddler’s life jackets available, but I only spotted one infant one in the storage room. If you’re at all concerned, bring your own. The TVs are not hooked up to cable or satellite, but they have an excellent selection of “rental” movies available in the office at no cost. There is a 9-hole golf course on-site, as well as the option of horseback riding. In cooler months, they do horse-drawn sleigh rides and snowmobile rentals.
The beach is gently sloped and nice and sandy, and shaded for part of the day. My kids loved the slide and water trampoline, but younger toddlers can have a great time with the plenty of water and beach toys available and free to use. There is a schedule of supervised activities and crafts – nothing as extensive as say Fern Resort‘s or Delawana’s – but enough to satiate my craft-mad daughter. The playground is great and well-maintained, and the staff is just lovely. We thoroughly enjoyed our campfire and smores – it was a lovely way to cap off our mini-break.
But perhaps the best indicator of a great time? Our kids cried as it was time to leave and we headed for home. It’s safe to say we loved our stay at The Irwin Inn, and we hope to return one day soon.