On Nov 11 to 13, Melissa and I had a mini-vacation in Collingwood, Ontario. We stayed gratis at the Blue Mountain Inn Ski-Resort thanks to a generous wedding gift from her brother. Although, we were married back in May it is just now that we are taking advantage of his gift. He also included a bottle of sparkling wine and a one hour massage for each of us. As someone who spends a lot of time motorcycling across North America, in all weather, staying in budget motels and eating at local diners, this weekend was one of luxury and comfort. So, it was different twist to be pampered and lazy. This has never been my thing. That said, I am still grateful for this weekend getaway.
Collingwood is a nice area and it is one of the few locations in Southern Ontario that is not flat as a board. Well, mostly because of the Blue Mountains, which are just tall enough for winter sports. As such it is a popular ski resort which features the aptly Blue Mountain Village. This little quaint enclave is a tourist trap designed to quickly separate you from your money. They charge Toronto prices for everything but the food quality, although decent, is not quite there. The village is also peppered with various high end boutique clothiers and gift shops.
The weekend was unexpectedly cold and we forgot our hats, so we had to buy new ones and there were plenty of clothiers carrying a number of boutique brands. We each bought toques for top dollar, but they are much better quality that you’d get at Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart. I also bought a nifty pair of thinsulate gloves with special fingertip pads to operate touch screens. These are good gloves for operating a camera as well.
Blue Mountain Village is a corporate designed resort that tries to emulate a little Swiss town that one might find near a ski resort. It seems to have been constructed in a short time and is bereft of a slow organic development — All façade, little substance or real history. It is a fake as a Darth Vader costume on Halloween. Although that’s not to say you can’t get a nice photo and the buildings have their own retro charm. I’ll take this simulacra any day over uninspired rectangular edifices in the city.
Finding a decent restaurant for dinner proved to be a challenge. The village was crowded and we had a frustrating time finding a restaurant that did not require reservations or was not full of loud drunk patrons and lulu-lemon wearing Torontonians on a yoga retreat. Our first attempt at dinner was the well-reviewed Cooper Blues restaurant and bar and it was packed solid. Moreover, the only mantras being chanted here were those of inebriation. We walked out of Copper Blues as the noise from other people was overwhelming. Other places required reservations or were packed to capacity. Eventually, we settled for the Kaytoo Restaurant & Bar, mainly because there were open tables and one could actually carry on a conversation. The food was good, but not great. However, the serenity and pleasant service in rustic Canadian styled ambiance was priceless.
On Saturday, we decided to explore downtown Collingwood, which is quaint late 19th century style main street. A popular spot for well-moneyed Toronto area residents on their weekend getaways. Saturday parking is at a premium and we had to drive around a few times to get a spot. We explored a few shops and it’s not much different than many other small towns in Southern Ontario. One can get a similar “old timey” feeling downtown Cobourg, where there is ample free parking and far less pretense.
For our last night, we decided to stay in the room, warm up near the fireplace, drink wine, watch movies and order a pizza. Nice, simple, relaxing and fun. We were also treated to a beautiful sunset.
So all in all, a nice weekend and more so as our accommodations were a gift. Would I go again and pay for a weekend stay? Probably not as I am not a skier and that is the raison d’être for Blue Mountain Village. The nearby roads, mountain and countryside are perfect for a motorcycle ride so, I would definitely go back on a day trip. Once one is about 25kms outside of Collingwood, the crowds are gone and there are budget roadside motels. Just the sort of thing to entice this old biker for a weekend getaway.