Ontario Trip Reports

August 2009
Corinne & Family (baby 5mos)

We stayed at the Delawana Inn for the first weekend of August with our 3-year-old daughter and 5 month old son. Unfortunately it was a tad on the chilly side, but it was sunny and bright and we were able to enjoy most of the activities.

We stayed in a suite that was 2 bedrooms separated by a bathroom and dressing area. It was incredibly spacious and more than enough room for our family. The bathroom was quite large and featured a tub and separate shower. I requested a cot for the baby and within 10 minutes a friendly chap was at our door with a new-looking, and very clean playpen. The air conditioning worked well enough, but since it was quite cool we would have liked to leave some windows open for some fresh air. Unfortunately the windows and screens weren’t very solid, and I was afraid of letting in bugs. While the accommodation was very clean, the decor went past “cottage-y” and bordered on tattered. The bathroom, while big, didn’t feel very sturdy, and I didn’t really love that it was lake water that you bathed in, but I’m not into roughing it at all.

The location and grounds were really great. It’s not a long drive from Toronto and the beach area with all the water toys was a blast. Even though it was chilly outside, the lake water was warm enough for a swim so long as you bundled up in towels straight away as soon as you got out. They have lots of sand toys to borrow, and plenty of life jackets in small sizes if you want to go out for a little paddleboat or canoe ride. The pool area was nice but it was kind of separated from the rest of the grounds. It wasn’t heated so we weren’t able to use the pool while we were there.

My daughter loved scampering around the grounds and up and down the rocks, but unless you stuck to the paths, it wasn’t very accessible. Our stroller managed ok, but a smaller one would not be able to manage over the rocks.

The food was decent, although I was a bit surprised that they offered tinned fruit at breakfast. This is summer in Ontario – surely they could source fresh fruit to serve at breakfast. The dining room is at the top of a very large staircase. Someone with mobility issues would definitely have a tough time getting around. There was no difficulty getting a high chair or bringing our stroller into the dining room (once you made it up the stairs). Frankly, everything in the dining area and main hall could’ve used a good scrubbing. The dining room overlooked the lake, but the windows were quite dirty and there were a number of old cobwebs hanging about.

All the staff was wonderfully friendly, and my daughter enjoyed chatting with everyone and playing in the playgrounds – the giant swings hold a particularly fond place in her memory. The beach and swimming in the lake are big standouts for us as well. It’s nice that you can walk to the liquor store (careful – it closes early!) and the nearby grocery store is incredibly handy and serves up deliciously greasy french fries and burgers that are incredibly cheap. The nearby ice cream and candy shop wraps up an evening stroll quite nicely.

Overall we really enjoyed our stay at the Delawana Inn. It was like being at the cottage, but not having to cook or do dishes!

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April 2007
Chris & Sharon & Family (baby 10mos)

My husband, our three children 5,3, and 10 month old and I stayed for the Easter weekend. We had a great family trip! We had booked a package called Kids love Niagara. . It’s a two night package. It was well worth the money. A buffet breakfast is included both mornings, a dinner voucher for one night. and a few other surprises with this package. We also had the pleasure of seeing The Greg Frewin Magic Show. The kids loved it. The parents liked it too. This was included with this package.

The room was very nice,clean and comfortable. The bathroom was clean. We had a great time.

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September 2007
Julie & family (baby 11mos)

My husband, My mother, daughter (11months) and myself visited Niagara Falls Ontario on Sept 24-26, 2007. We stayed at Embassy Suites in room 2316. Our room was a 2-room whirlpool suite overlooking the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and was a wonderful view. The first room was a sitting room with TV, Dining set and a pull out sofa bed which veered off into the hall – which on one side had a mini fridge, sink, microwave, coffeemaker, etc and on the other side, the door to the bathroom. The whirlpool tub was in the first part of the bathroom and the toilet and shower in a separate room (very convenient). At the end of the hall was the master king suite which looked out over the falls, the bed was very comfy and the room quite large. I had requested a crib for my daughter, which fit nicely in either room – out of main traffic.

We used the valet parking because we did not intend on gambling (free parking at casino if you have a players card) and would much prefer the “special” treatment of a valet rather than venturing to another very large lot down the street. Besides we got a wonderful rate on the room – a special I heard at check in but great nonetheless – $135/night including buffet breakfast. Breakfast buffet was great, very good selection but ended early at 9AM!! Fine for us cause our daughter is an early riser.

The walk to the falls is a nice one but there is only ONE way from the hotel (unless you use the incline railway that lowers you directly in front of the Falls! We did not try with daughter and stroller!) If you venture off you could be walking forever!! Remember that the stores and museums are at Clifton Hill which is at the other end of the falls so from this hotel was a good 15 minute walk…but well worth it. Louis Tousard’s wax museum was very good as was Ripley’s – both were very accommodating to our daughter, and she loved every minute of it! As always the falls are beautiful and everyone around seemed to be enjoying themselves, lots of benches and shaded areas, that help for snack time and crawl /walk sessions.

We did a day trip to Marineland, a place that I have never been and looked very forward to going, despite my apprehension fueled with thoughts of my daughter being overwhelmed and wanting to be carried. Well it was a GOOD time. We watched the sea lion and dolphin show upon arrival and my daughter was fixated on the entire show. The staff did a good job and the sea lion and dolphins I think sort of speak for themselves. There was much to see including a variety of whales, bears, a deer park. There are many rides for all ages of children (and adults!). Be prepared to walk a lot because the complex is large. The prices for food and souvenirs were reasonable, and again there were many shaded areas and a park for picnics (can bring your own food in coolers). To my surprise there were many children around my daughters age and the park was not busy at all.

The last night my husband and I indulged in a dinner for two at The Keg restaurant at the hotel on the 9th floor. I did call for reservations and requested a window view, which we did end up getting. It was the best dinner I have ever had, the food was great, the view was romantic and the staff were very attentive. It was a great end to a great mini vacation. Highly recommended!!

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May 2007
Tash & family (baby 2.5yrs)

My husband, daughter (2.5 years old) and I went for three nights, four days in May of 2007. It was EXCELLENT and we booked to return while we were there. In fact, we’ll be in three weeks again when my niece comes to pay a visit from the UK.

Lobby/Check-In & Out: Check-in was quick and without issue. Staff was very friendly and well-trained. I loved the wristband to get into the room, lockers, etc and the fact I could link my credit card to it which meant I could also purchase anything I needed with my wrist band. No room key or wallet to carry around and potentially get stolen. If you don’t want to link all the bands to a CC – you can link only the adults. You can even load cash to your children’s card for them to spend in the arcade, etc.

The Lobby was very well organized and had so much for the children in it. Story time is in the lobby every night at 8pm. Arrive early – it crowds up fast. It opens with the robotic animals doing a story for 20 minutes and then Wylie the Wolf arrives and the storyteller reads two books. My daughter LOVED it.

During the day the kids can press hand prints on the animals and they will talk to them. The lobby also has very comfortable seats and huge fireplace great for relaxing.

We checked out through the TV which was simple and accurate to avoid the lines at check out time.

Room: We stayed in a family suite, the most basic room available, and it was far from basic. It contained two Queen size beds, a pull, out, TV, Mini-fridge with freezer, microwave, etc. All the amenities we need and a good deal of room. Also had a desk which we placed the laptop on and free Wi-Fi in every suite. The room was great, kept clean by the staff and we were very happy with it.

Food/Restaurants: We did not have breakfast in the restaurant but heard from other guests it was excellent. Instead we brought up food for breakfast and stored it on the counter and in the fridge. We also brought up snacks with us, etc to reduce on the costs of buying food on site. Kids 3 and under eat free.

One night we had Pizza Hut, and the other two nights we ate the dinner buffet which was a really good value. The children’s area is at a height they can help themselves and contained peas, corns, mac/cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries, etc – even the pickiest child can find something to eat. The adult buffet was impressive, roast sweet potatoes, stuffed peppers, striploin, blackened catfish, salmon, stirfries, soup, salad bar, desserts – there was NOTHING deep-fried on the adult buffet which is such a refreshing change to the usual crappy fried buffet fare. The meals change every night on the buffet – so it’s not the same two nights in a row.

Waterpark: No need to bring your own towels – they had plenty to supply you with. If you needed a locker – you could activate one for free with your wristband. There is a shop that sells anything water related you may have forgotten that seemed to have prices comparable to the mall – aka they were not ripping you off. They also have a limited number of free life jackets for use.

I loved the water park – there were more life guards present then I think were needed but that made it very safe. Older children were not permitted in the toddler area – no running around as a result. I could sit in the water area which is only 18″ deep and watch my daughter exit, climb the stairs, come down slides on her own, land on her own, and repeat without the need to chase behind her and hold her hand for safety. To me, this speaks volumes as to how safe the waterpark is. It also made it a very enjoyable and relaxing vacation for my husband and I.

There was plenty for a child of 2.5 years old to do – our daughter even went on a large water slide with us in which you sit in a orange round raft and come spiraling down a massive tube from the top of the resort that winds outside and then back in the resort. She loved it and we went on it a lot.

The wave pool was nice. The swimming pool was great with these docked floating animals for the kids to climb on. The lazy river was a lot of fun also. And the tree fort with splash areas, etc was a hoot.

Other Activities: We did not go to the arcade but it was always full of people and seemed to have so much to do.

The Cub Club was awesome and we spent a fair amount of down time there. Our daughter loved getting her face painted every day – for FREE. And there are plenty of free activities, painting, drawing, stickering, etc to do. As well as, foam blocks, tree house, and some paid arts and crafts which were again fairly priced IMHO.

The Spa: Mom went to the Aveda spa for a lovely hot stone massage whilst Daddy and baby napped. It was heaven 🙂

In conclusion, I highly recommend a vacation at GWL Niagara – and we’re going back in three weeks time!

Honestly, it was the most relaxing vacation we have had as a family – more relaxing than going to Cuba and the Dominican Republic. There was just so much to entertain our daughter that she never acted up, never got bored, was always safe, that we could just sit back an enjoy being together in such a great setting.

We’re going to make GWL at least a once a year visit for our family – maybe we will see you there!

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April 2007
TKS & family

My husband, our three children ages 3, 5 and our 10 month old and I just got back from a one night stay. It was a spur of the moment trip. We didn’t make reservations we just showed up. It was a really nice place. The room was clean, very cozy, the bathrooms were clean too. The best things were the beds. The beds are soooo nice. You felt like you were floating on clouds. We were all well rested. The continental breakfast was very good. There were lots of choice – eggs, sausage, pastries, and etc. The staff was really great. We asked for a crib for the baby and received one no problem. We had a great time. We will definitely be returning again very soon.

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November 2007
Tova & Family (baby 1yr)

We took a one-night family vacation to Niagara Falls with my one-year-old daughter, husband, and teenage sisters. We were lucky enough to check in early, so we dropped off my husband and daughter first and my sisters and I went across the border for some shopping! My husband and daughter had a great time, as this hotel is connected to a number of attractions.

They had a great lunch at the Raintree Cafe (very cool fish tanks and animals!) and went on the ferris wheel. They had dinner at the buffet restaurant with a view of the falls. It was absolutely worth it to book a room with a view of the falls, but the dinner and breakfast package was not worth it (very expensive restaurant- recommend eating elsewhere in Niagara Falls, unless you don’t have a room with a view- it is the view that makes the restaurant worth the cost!). Breakfast was over $100 and we only had a $27 credit for breakfast with our package.

We’ll stay at this hotel again (debated staying at the Sheraton Fallsview, but picked the Sheraton-on-the-falls for its location next to Clifton Hill). Next time we’ll book the waterpark package!

Our room was AWESOME and well worth the cost (stayed in Nov. so the cost wasn’t crazy). Make sure you upgrade to a room with a view of the falls!

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August 2010
Corinne & Family (baby 16mos)

For the 3rd weekend in August my husband, 4-year-old daughter, and 16-month-old son stayed at Fern Resort for 3 days/2 nights. Having stayed at the Delawana Inn the previous year, we thought we knew what to expect for our stay. We were really surprised at how our expectations were not only met – they were exceeded by far!

We stayed in a Bayshore cottage, which had a wonderful view of the lake and more than enough space for our brood and all of our stuff. The baby’s crib was one of the portable metal ones, but it was very clean with soft baby bedding. We put the crib in the bedroom and gave it to the kids, and we slept out in the main room in one of the double beds (it was a squeeze, but it was nice!). The decor is quite cottage-y, but everything is new, clean, and in excellent repair. Seeing as I am not one for roughing it, I liked that the windows had proper screens to let the fresh air in, and that the water in the bathroom was well water that we could drink with no issue and didn’t have a lake smell for bathing.

The room was spotless and all the main areas were as well. The gardens and grounds were very well-manicured, and all the paths were very easy to navigate with a stroller.

The food is fantastic, and there is a lot of it. I always pack snacks and extra food in case the kids get hungry, but here it wasn’t necessary. I liked that you could order off the menu or decide to eat from the buffet. The buffet is set up early and mostly for the kids, but we decided just to have it for breakfast as it was faster and easier and pretty much what you could order off the menu anyway. There was always lots of fresh fruit and vegetables available, and the chocolate chip cookies were delish. You sit at the same table for each meal, and the high chair was always clean and set up for us.

All the activities were good fun and we were delighted to notice that they were in good repair as well. My daughter especially enjoyed the zipline and the trampoline pavillion. The only thing that was a bit disappointing is the beach is quite small and Lake Couchiching is very shallow, so the water is weedy and you can’t really swim out from the beach. It was fine for my daughter, though, and once the kids were done playing in the sand they’d shower off and head for the pools anyway (which were great). It was a bit on the chilly side when we were there, but the pools were heated so nicely it was tough to get out!

The PlayVillage is only open in the summer, but it was really fun for my daughter as she loved the crafts and got to do a pony ride. The caregivers in the baby/toddler room were very sweet with the kids. We brought our son in to play for a while and check things out (ie – spy a little) and I loved how they spoke with the little ones and gave lots of hugs and praise. The PlayVillage is definitely a bonus for parents if they want a little time to themselves. They open it up again in the evenings if you want to give your kids dinner early and then you can have an adult meal together while the adults play. Our daughter went to the movie one night and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We were thoroughly, thoroughly impressed with Fern Resort and everything it had to offer. My husband wants to go again next summer for a full week.

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October 2006
Ian & family (baby 9mos.)

Stayed at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel over for 3 nights.

Pros: The size and layout of the suite (we stayed in a one bedroom with 2 kings) was absolutely perfect for my small family (wife and 9 month old). We were able to put our son down for the evening, and then relax in the living room without disturbing him. This took quite a bit of stress out of our evenings. As there were two TVs in the suite (one in the bedroom and one in the living room), a family with older children might find this useful as well.

The kitchen was complete with fridge, stove, microwave, and dishwasher. We were able to mix up his rice cereal in the kitchen sink (instead of using the bathroom sink) and also refrigerate unused portions of his jarred baby food. It genuinely felt like we were at home.

The bathroom was very well appointed and quite large. We had forgotten our toothpaste and shaving cream/razor. A call to housekeeping at 12.30am quickly resolved the problem as they were up to the suite within minutes (at no additional charge).

The size of the suite we were in was approximately 750-800 square feet.

Since we booked the room thru their website directly, we were able to get the CAA rate ($119 per night + taxes CDN) — this included free parking.

The hotel is attached to a 24 hour convenient store which was quite handy.

The lobby had a “business centre” which consisted of 2 computers with free internet access, a few software applications, and a printer.

Cons: The view was nothing to rave about (although the view wasn’t important to us) — note: we were located at the back of the hotel.

It was slightly tricky getting the temperature right in the suite (the bedroom and living area had separate heating systems) — after one night, we were able to get it right.

One of our cards had to be reprogrammed as it was not working properly – this was only a small annoyance.

The hotel is located about 4-6 blocks from most tourist attractions. While we quite enjoyed walking around the city, it might be a problem for those who can’t walk long distances.

While wireless high speed internet was free (the entire hotel is equipped for wireless) — the signal in my room was not very strong — I ended up not using my laptop and running down to the lobby to use the internet.

Advice: If you do not get the CAA special,,, you will be charged $13.95 + tax for parking. On several occasions, I saw people who had gotten a package through a separate website that found out that parking was not included.

Go to Cora’s for breakfast! – 179 Rideau St. (it lines up quick so go early)

All in All – The Albert at Bay Suite provided a fantastic experience. I would highly recommend to anyone with a family. It doesn’t necessarily have the glitz and glamour of a 4 star hotel, but it certainly makes up for it in terms of its usefulness.

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July 2010
Darcy & family (baby 15mos.)

*note – submitted by founder Corinne McDermott’s husband!*

My name is darcy and here is my trip report for a recent family trip to Ottawa – please note child’s negligent mother is not in story. (Joke)

My wife and daughter recently went on trip to a very exotic tropical location for my wife’s work so, not to be outdone, I thought I would take our 15-month-old son, mother, and sister to Ottawa from Toronto for a little driving mini-break over a long weekend.

I was actually fairly excited to be staying at the Crowne Plaza in Ottawa – steps from Parliament and city center. I travel a great deal for work and, though I have never stayed in a Crowne Plaza property, was quite sure that the quality of the accommodations would rival most of the hotels I typically stay at. I was wrong. I am not sure if it is just this specific hotel but it was… ummm… junky. Junky is the word that works best. The lobby was generally neat but once you entered the elevator this hotel really starts to show it’s age. The wallpaper is peeling in the hallway, the carpet looks old, and there is a general dinginess to everything. In the room the walls were scuffed with same said peeling wallpaper, the grate was missing from the air conditioning unit by the window (the handle was also broken on the window), the bathroom was beat-up and the shower a trickle, and everything looked well beyond its expiration date. To top it off they delivered a crib for our son that, much to my surprise, rivaled the ricketiness of a crib we recently had in a 3 star (beautiful but threadbare) tiny resort in Cuba. Cuba is a developing nation that deals with an embargo so I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Now don’t get me wrong, it was clean and I am not a prig, I was just genuinely surprised by the reality of what I thought was a fairly prestigious chain. It looked junky and I don’t think the price allows for junky – i have stayed in Motel 6s that were better put together. It in no way ruined my stay – it just irritated me and I would not recommend it on that reasoning alone. I am not sure if they are planning to renovate or families get the “about to be renovated” floors but if that is the case then they should be ashamed.

The grounds of the Parliament are beautiful and full of staircases everywhere – something my tireless toddler fully appreciated (going up stairs and playing with remote controls are his “things” right now). We spent a lot of time just walking around and exploring and it was really wonderful. The last morning of our trip we were treated to an honor guard parade and marching band on the grounds and it was a big hit with both my wee man and mother and sister. Ottawa is a beautiful city.

Our main outing was the Canadian War Museum and it was really impressive. I timed it so my toddler slept in the stroller for most of the visit (it is an easy walk from the parliament area) not because I was afraid he would not like it but quite the opposite. Think of the museum this way: it was filled with amazing and interesting things that you are not allowed to touch – a bit of a problem for my boy whom i calll “spider baby” and whose sole interest is to climb on interesting things. Not much in the way for kids at this museum at this age but he did appreciate wandering around the armoured vehicles display in the main gallery. We were only there for a couple of hours and certainly older children would find the displays fascinating.

We picked up snacky bits here and there and only attempted 2 sit down meals during our long weekend – one being in a fairly generic diner-style chinese food restaurant called Yang Sheng on Bronson street which, and this seems to always be the case when it comes to chinese or greek food, had amazing food my family loved. It was great but if you order the soups keep in mind they are HUGE – like mixing bowl big – i thought it was fairly pricey until i realized how much food we ordered. We kind of looked like pigs – they must have thought “how much can these people eat?

Our other dining trip was down Elgin street in a more trendy area. We fancied mexican food and decided to try Pancho Villa. To be honest it makes me a bit mad when you are in a more trendy area and you get the eye rolls when you walk in with a toddler ask for a high chair. I don’t know why it is acceptable to treat these little human beings with such contempt. Would they do the same if someone came in with a wheelchair? I think not. I know some kids can be unruly some times in restaurants – but so can idiot drunken adults and it was 5:30 in the afternoon to boot. Needless to say at Pancho Villa it was clear we were not welcome (i called about high chairs and they said they had 2, and when i asked to reserve one they said it wasn’t possible) as the “2” high chairs they had were not available when i could see no one with children in the restaurant. Hey, if they don’t want my money that is fine with me but i will certainly never recommend or return to that restaurant with my adult friends.

Our second stop was to Big Daddy’s and their reception was the opposite of Pancho Villa’s front end staff – they were super helpful and accommodating – and the food, while it certainly won’t win any healthy choice awards (at least the dishes we ordered – why must bad taste so good) was excellent and my little man filled his face (as did we all). A big thumbs up for Big Daddy’s – cool and kid friendly.

I recommend Ottawa as a great family destination and look forward to exploring more of my country’s capital city in the future.

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March 2007
Anna & family (baby 9mos.)

I had to travel for business with my husband and baby (9 months old), and was looking for a hotel that would be family-friendly. I booked this hotel based on recommendations I had read, and I was very happy with our stay!

We had a one bedroom suite (all of the rooms are suites). The full kitchen had pots and pans, a dishwasher, utensils (even a cutting board, vegetable peeler, and a colander). The refrigerator had an automatic icemaker.

We reserved a crib for our baby, which fit into the bedroom. The room was clean and everything looked very new. There were two televisions: one in the living room, and one in the bedroom. The TV channel selection was good (we don’t have cable, so it was great for us). High-speed internet was INCLUDED with the room (very nice!).

The breakfast buffet was fabulous! Eggs, sausage, potatoes, make your own waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, croissants, coffee, and tea.

Some of the evenings they offer light meals – we had lasagna and soup one evening. You can buy drinks (beer and wine), and the hotel has a small “market” where you can buy things like ice cream, frozen dinners, and snacks.

The hotel staff were very friendly. The shuttle to and from the airport was convenient and easy to use.

We had food delivered for dinner. My one wish was that more places delivered! We didn’t rent a car, so if you stay here for more than a day or two, I’d recommend having a car so you can get out.

All in all, I would definitely stay here again, and would highly recommend this place to business travelers and to families.

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