Family Travel Review: Carriage Ridge Resort In Horseshoe Valley, Ontario
Growing up and working in the Grey Bruce, Georgian Triangle and Simcoe County regions of Ontario has given me a bit of an upper hand when it comes to dishing out recommendations on accommodations and touristy spots for families. Located between 1-3 hours from Toronto, these hot spots are great for couples and families looking to discover more of what Ontario has to offer.
The winter season boasts fantastic ski locales for families looking to getaway for the weekend, and Horseshoe Valley is one of those spots. Located just 20 minutes outside of Barrie and 1 hours from Toronto, Horseshoe Valley gives you access to Mount St. Louis Moonstone, the largest ski hill in Simcoe County and a hidden gem of a resort that I recently discovered.
Carriage Ridge Resort is an all-season resort offering roomy accommodations and amenities suitable for kids, adults and multi-generational families. A couple of weeks ago, during a press preview my family and I stayed in the resort’s 2 Bedroom Suite and had a chance to check out the property.
After checking in at the Carriage Hills Resort Building, we drove over to the Ridge Resort where we parked directly in front of our condo unit. Now, having stayed in the Blue Mountain area countless times, I had envisioned a certain layout and size, so when I walked in to our suite I was blown away by the size. The 1,200 square foot Two Bedroom is actually 2 units side-by-side (the Resort suite and the 1-Bedroom Suite) as you will see in the video below. The rooms are so spacious, that our family of 5 was very comfortable in the 1-Bedroom Suite didn’t even use the second room.
The 800 square foot One-Bedroom Suite offers an open concept living room/kitchen area which is really nice for family breakfasts as the full kitchen is equipped with pots, pans, dishes and anything else you may need. There are bar stools off the kitchen counter, or you can sit at the dining room table located in the living area.
With its cozy gas fireplace, walkout balcony and overall openness, the living area in this suite really provides a home-away-from-home feel and the size and layout are ideal for traveling families looking to relax and unwind. Because the King size bedroom is located in a separate room with television, parents have their own privacy and the kids have their own space. In regards to the bathroom, it is quite large and offers a full size Jacuzzi tub and separate shower.
The 400 square foot Resort Suite is a one-room unit consisting of a King-size bed, Queen-size pull out sofa, coffee and tea station with microwave, toaster, kettle and bar fridge and a full-size bathroom. It would easily accommodate a family of four and is about the size of a standard hotel room.
Now, if you have a larger family (6-8) or have some friends that want to stay close by, I suggest opting for the 2 bedroom. There is a shared laundry room located just off the outside foyer as well as a door to the second room or Resort Suite, so those looking for their privacy will appreciate the separate spaces.
There is no restaurant on the premises of the resort, however there are a couple in the nearby vicinity. Silks Dining Lounge and Crazy Horse are located at Horseshoe Resort just a few minutes away and there are several others. Our favourite and one that has been receiving rave reviews for years from everyone who has ever been, is Abbott’s Restaurant in Craighurst. The restaurant looks like a barn from the outside, but inside it’s a whole different story.
The restaurant offers a classy lodge-like feel and has a menu that will please any palate. There are vegetarian options, gourmet choices and home-style favourites. The food here is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it! Everything is extremely fresh and cooked to order. Abbott’s even has their own wine cellar with delicious vintage choices, or you can order off their drink menu. Definitely a must-visit!
Carriage Ridge is open all year-long and provides many different activity choices for all seasons. As we have only experienced it during the cold months, I will mention the perks for winter vacations.
One of the greatest features of Carriage Ridge is its accessibility to the ski trails. You can ski-in and ski-out directly from Carriage Ridge Resort down Horseshoe Valley where you can then purchase a pass. The slopes offer 35 kilometres of double track set machine groomed powder trails, children’s programs, snow tubing, night skiing and night boarding. There are 6 lifts and the longest run is 2,200 ft.
If you are lucky enough to book a room directly across from the hills, you can watch the skiers flying down the hills or simply strap on your skis and go! So convenient! Others can just take a very short walk around the corner from their units to access the hill.
Another option is Mount St. Louis Moonstone with is a 15 minute drive north. This is another great ski spot where you can spend the day. The only thing – snow tubing, night skiing and night boarding are not available.
Another option (and favorite of mine) is to take a day trip to Snow Valley in Barrie.
Carriage Ridge has a full schedule of exciting activities to do throughout the day, whether you are looking to stay on-site or off. The Ridge Club is located in the centre of the property (a short walk) and is a great place to unwind and chill. There is an indoor heated swimming pool, hot tub, arcade and sitting area as well as a pool table for those looking to shoot a couple of rounds. A weekly schedule is posted here with activities for kids as well. During our visit, the weekly schedule listed a whole range of fun things for families and kids such as the Winter Kid’s Kraft (ages 5 and up) Edible Necklace making, Cookie decorating, family movie night, introduction to snow shoeing and Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides complete with hot chocolate.
One of the most surprising features of the resort is its affordability. The rates here are not what you would expect for what they offer. In the off season a runs at $99 while the two bedroom is around $189.
In regards to quality, Carriage Ridge Resort is in the moderate category. They aren’t a luxury resort by any means and there is no spa or restaurant on the premises. That being said, they do provide much more than most of the accommodations in the area. The resort is TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice® 2012 Winner for their 4th consecutive year in Top – CANADA category for “Bargain”accommodations.
Will I return? Most definitely! With their large condo-style accommodations, on-site amenities and family-style atmosphere as well as the convenient central access to Barrie, Orillia and Midland, this is ideal for a relaxing winter getaway for families. I look forward to returning and reporting back on their summer offerings.
*Thank you to Carriage Ridge Resort for hosting our family during this press preview!*