When heading out on a group snow holiday, there are 2 trip bummers that can ruin your ski vacation faster than an early thaw: #1 is bad knees and #2 is rain. I’ve spent 35 years being #1 on that list of trip-bummers. So I was vert excited to be able to say “YES” when an invite came in for #LetsGoMaple, a Winter Retreat for bloggers sponsored by Ontario’s Lake Country for on a Snow Holiday. My perpetually-painful knees had me saying “no” every time I’m invited to enjoy winter adventures which inevitably includes skiing.
This was the first snow holiday I could say “yes, Yes, YES!!!” to in a long time since I’ve been pain-free for almost 6 month due to the elimination of a weird allergen – raw tomatoes – from my diet. And I couldn’t wait for the fun!
So I jumped on the bus to Casino Rama from Chinatown ($10 round trip if you have a players card) incredibly excited to enjoy all that winter has to offer just 2 hours north of Toronto in Ontario’s Lake Country.
Little did we know that Trip-bummer #2 was about to kick in full force – rain and daytime temperatures up to 9°c everyday we were on the #LetsGoMaple winter retreat. The anticipation of disappointment started to set in as we waited for updates to our event schedule.
BUT here’s the best bit: NO ONE was disappointed because one of the great things about the Ontario’s Lake Country is the flexibility and range of choices of things to do. Even if the weather works against you.
No snow? No problem!
Let’s go try some of the fun outdoors adventures that don’t require long networks of groomed paths and piles of snow. Both Horseshoe Resort and Mount St. Louis Moonstone know what winter is like and have designed their activities to handle short thaws. So we got to get out and play in the snow that was available.
This was a huge hit with almost the entire group choosing this activity when given the option. It turned out to be a perfect activity in the weather we had. What is Fat Biking? Well, it’s cycling on a bike with big fat tires. Think of being a kid on a “Fat Wheel”
While cross-country skiing does require some snow, you can still get a lot of enjoyment out of getting on the trail. Especially if you are a beginner and taking a class.
I grew up skiing cross-country, and owned my own skis. I would head out with dad into the back acreage of our farm, through woods and across the river. Doing short downhill runs on cross country skis was my favourite part, swooping down between trees, over bumps and tight turns.
I was SO up for skiing! I haven’t been on skis in a while and I was showing off, so I had a little tumble. But that’s part of the fun. Our instructor was very good and was very concerned about my tumble. Which is a great sign in an instructor. Macrae, on the other hand, laughed and says he captured my tumble on film. Love my friends!
Another great activity no matter how much snow is on the ground is snowshoeing. In fact, getting the hang of it when the snow is low on the ground is actually a great idea since it’s like walking with clown shoes on, and doing that while breaking a path through knee-deep snow is not only a workout it can be very disheartening.
I missed out on the snowshoeing because it was immediately after the cross country skiing and that aforementioned tumble was a bit more of a fall-flat-on-my-back-hard, so I needed to give myself a moment or two to recover. Everyone came back with those big smiles on their faces.
As I mentioned, ski hills in Ontario’s Lake Country know what to expect from Ontario winters. And these days that means weird swings into warm weather in February and March. They manage their hills to maximize ski days and the hills were great when we were there.
The only time I’ve really done proper downhill skiing I was 16 and it was the fateful trip when I realised my knees were not going to let me do downhill often, possibly ever, again. This trip it took multiple days and multiple cooler heads to keep me from the downhill slopes because, well, it’s just so much fun! But cooler heads did prevail, especially after my little tumble, and kept me and my knees off the downhill slopes. But I LOVED downhill skiing. The wind whipping my mind clear and filling it with the joy of freedom, movement and speed.
However, even with my bad knees I still got my speed fix in!
Bad knees? No problem!
Let’s experience the speed and fun by going tubing! There’s even a conveyor belt to save your knees from hauling the tube to the top of the hill.
See my happy face? I was super excited to get in on the downhill fun. Though once I got to the top of the hill, I was a little trepidacious about this tubing thing and that hill was steep (yes, those are people alongside the run, not ants). The people helping us get into the tube were even offering to spin us as we went down. Eeep!
but I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was literally the last person to hand in my tube. I would have spent another 2 hours going up and down that hill. I couldn’t get enough!
Rainy day? No problem!
Let’s go to the spa and get pampered, and of course enjoy the salt water pool.
The Balance in Life Spa and the pool are both on the 3rd floor of Casino Rama with a full range of services including massage, facials, and mani/pedis. I went in for a pedi. That colour is called “I forgot my czechbook” from OPI.
I took full advantage of the chairs which had built in shiatsu massage to sooth my back from that tumble. Worked like a charm.
On my last trip to Casino Rama, I feel in love with this salt water pool, and this trip was no different. I was in it every day I was there. At least once.
Spa not your thing? No problem!
Let’s go check out the art galleries and culture in Orillia.
We visited the Orillia Museum of Art & History, where we got to hear about all the local artists.
We also got to see their International Women’s Day Art Show – renewal.
when you are staying at a Casino Resort, there’s always the option to go gaming. It can be fun, but remember if you are gambling to play responsibily. Casino Rama has lessons for first-timers which are great for learning how to play without risk. I made this video at a group lessons off the gaming floor on my last visit. (This video won’t teach you a thing, but it’s fun)
Casino Rama is also committed to delivering its products and services in a socially responsible manner. Click here to view Casino Rama Resort’s Responsible Gaming Pledge. Click here to learn more about Casino Rama’s Responsible Gaming
My favourite game is roulette. I always set a limit on how much money I can afford to play with, and I never gamble any money I’m not able to lose.
But it’s fun to see all the games on the casino floor even if I’m not gambling, and to check out the restaurants.
Hungry? No problem!
But that’s the next post. [Read the other posts in my #LetsGoMaple series to find out more about this adventure. ]
Don’t let bad knees, or bad weather, keep you from exploring Ontario’s Lake Country. There is lots to do, explore and try out in Casino Rama, Orillia and the Lake Country.
Note: this experience and post was sponsored by Ontario’s Lake Country and our stay was sponsored by Casino Rama. For more information on my relationship with organisations and brands please, read my disclosure statement
Thanks to my fellow #LetsGoMaple attendees for letting me use your photos: Jenn Annis, Craig Silva, Julie Elsdon-Height, Julie Dyer, Linda Cassidy and Ann Bacciaglia (who also let me use her Olympus Tough for the underwater shots.)