Muskoka is always a fabulous idea during our Canadian Summers, and we’ve just returned from a really fantastic lakefront family resort in the region – Severn Lodge – we’re excited to give you all the deets about. Here are 4 reasons you should add this one to your family getaway list if you’re looking for classic family fun in Muskoka!
*Disclosure: Two-nights’ accommodation & meals were provided complimentary to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own*
Just 90 minutes north of Toronto, Severn Lodge is just far enough to feel like you’re escaping, while close enough to not put much road-tripping stress on your family travel plans. Despite a bit of HWY 400 backup, the drive was easy breezy. The resort spans 100 acres and is nestled on the northern shores of Glouster Pool – part of the historic Trent Severn Waterway in the prestigious Muskoka-Georgian Bay lake district. We did a big, collective family exhale upon arrival. You’ll just feel like you’re in a special, serene place, and want to breath all that time off the grid in.
If you like adventuring off-resort, you’ll appreciate its close proximity to many popular tourist attractions nearby including movie theaters, boat cruises, museums, dining/shows/gambling at Casino Rama & more.
2. Accommodations for All Family Sizes
The resort offers quaint, cottagey quarters for families big & small in the form of hotel rooms, cottages and suites. We’re always happy when resorts can accommodate large groups. Families will appreciate the Summer Package (all-inclusive) deal we enjoyed. With 2-7 night bookings, the Summer package includes accommodation in a lake view room or suite, all meals, and use of the resorts recreation facilities (all non-motor watercraft, heated pool, family activities, kids club & nightly entertainment). Need a couples’ retreat? There were many duos there without kids and they have packages for couples too!
We stayed in Room #133 – a ground level, single bedroom in the “Lakeshore” section. Our room included 2 Queen beds & a double pull-out sofa which was enough to accommodate our crew of 6 just fine, even if we tripped over each other a bit for the minimal time we actually spent in our room. The beds were comfy and the room well maintained for a historic resort with tasteful decor. Amenities included: air conditioning, TV, telephone, alarm clock radio, coffee maker, small fridge, hair dryer, housekeeping, WiFi, lakeside patio with chairs to take in the views or dry towels. We LOVED our location on the property because it was just steps away from all the kids favourite amenities – the pool, beach & water trampoline park, and the Main Lodge/Dining Room.
There are 2-bedroom standard rooms available for the Summer package, just not when our reservation was arranged.
Suites & cottages are another option if you like more spacious accommodations, but since guests of those enjoy the benefit of kitchens, meal packages aren’t included like the hotel/single room units (though can be purchased separately). We liked the all-inclusivity of the Summer package, while did see lots of multigenerational family groups preferring the cottage-style quarters.
3. Atmosphere & Family Amenities
Severn Lodge is one of the few remaining classic, family-owned resorts in the Muskoka region. While we love modern resort luxuries, we also loved the timeless beauty & heritage of this resort, which was not at all lacking in fun and fabulous family-focused amenities. With activities to appease all ages of our crew, dare I say…us parents actually felt relaxed here.
All the staff were very friendly & accommodating – notable mention to Main Lodge clerk Rachel, Dining Room Manager Tyler, and Assistant Resort Manager Gary.
One of the things we loved most was the layout of the resort & waterfront amenities. The kid-friendly beach, heated outdoor pool, water trampoline park, and old skool playground (holy 80’s kid nostalgia!) were all in super close proximity to each other. With two of our kids under 5 years old, we liked that the kids could all be doing something different, but could see them all from one vantage point.
There are supervised kids’ clubs included with your package – a Toddler program for ages 2 to 4, junior programs for ages 5 to 8, youth programs for 9 to 12 and teen programs. Given our short stay, we didn’t take advantage of this. The kids were happy as can be bopping around at leisure from pool to lake to games room and back again. We did take a peek at the Kids’ Club facilities. The toddler room had lots of fun options to keep the wee ones active (balls, scooters, climbing apparatus’), and another cabin had a craft-themed vibe for the juniors. I will say a quick family visit was enough and I’d likely not leave my kids there all day. If you fancy a private dinner with your partner, babysitting service can be arranged for an added fee.
In addition to amenities mentioned above, the resort features hiking trails, fishing (kids loved the family fishing derby!), canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, water skiing lessons, tennis courts, organized volleyball games, a basketball court & games room (table tennis, air hockey & table shuffleboard).
A family whirl on Big Dog 6 was such a blast. It cost extra for hubs & I (under $15 CAD each), but all kids under 17 years old get (1) complimentary water-ski or banana boat ride during your stay, so the kids were FREE. Sign up is on the lower level of the main lodge and Banana-boating, Wakeboarding & Waterskiing rides are only available Tuesday, Thursday & Saturdays at 1p.m. You can also sign out Outboard Boats & Jet Skis at the front desk or with the Waterfront Director on the dock at an extra cost.
**VERY COOL UNIQUE EXPERIENCE ALERT**
The Islands of Gloucester Pool Cruise! You’ll enjoy a nostalgic 1-hour cruise around the beautiful islands and summer homes of Gloucester Pool aboard the Lodge’s recently restored 1922 classic 37’ mahogany motor launch – a vessel that was originally custom-built for Lady Eaton (Yes…THAT iconic Canadian family & owners of the Eaton’s Department store!). Tour only happens Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays at 11 a.m.
During the summer season, there’s evening entertainment in the lakeside Regatta Room featuring different entertainers. We stuck to the water activities at night, but were told shows last for about 1 1/2 hours and are suitable for families.
4. Food Options*
Have a fussy foodie in your family? No problem. There were options that suited all of our tastes at Severn Lodge. And with award-winning Executive Chef Hubert Obermeier overseeing the selections that go into their alternating menu, you’re in for a real treat. Think fine country dining, with a family-friendly vibe and beautiful lakeside views from the array of dining room windows.
With the Summer Package, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner was included starting with dinner on our day of arrival, and ending with breakfast on departure day. Alcoholic beverages are extra, and they had a nice variety of mixed cocktails, spirits & local + international vinos. Dining room dress is resort casual (shoes & non-swimsuit clothing expected).
Breakfast is from 8 – 9:30 a.m. in the Main Dining room, with seat-yourself arrangement, which as a family of six, we found a bit tricky. Breakfast was a basic hot/cold continental buffet, including cereals, oatmeal, muffins/danish, eggs, bacon, sausage & fruit, and juice, milk and coffee/tea for drinks. It was just enough to start our mornings off right.
Lunch is usually offered in the Main Dining Room around noon, with salads, wraps/sandwiches and desserts, but Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays outdoors lakeside with a BBQ buffet. We all really enjoyed this experience on the Saturday, and the variety, including: hot dogs, Oktoberfest sausages, chicken burgers, veggie patties and a variety of salads. There’s lots of outdoor seating, and while the kids scarfed there lunch down, Dad and I took our time to enjoy & could watch them entertain themselves at the beach & playground. You can also place an order with the dining room to have a picnic lunch prepared for your family to enjoy at your leisure.
Dinners are in the Main Dining Room with assigned family seating from 5:40 – 7:40 p.m. which made meals unfold a lot smoother. Adults get to choose from a couple of appetizers and 4-5 entrees made by Chef Obermeier using local ingredients (like the resort’s on-site gardens). We had two dinners during our 2-night stay, and there was a nice variety of fish, meat, pasta & vegetarian dishes to select from.
I really enjoyed the Jumbo Shrimp & Muskoka Rainbow Trout w/ Lobster, and DadChef devoured the Chicken Cordon Bleu & – his fave meal on earth – Prime Rib Roast.
For the kiddos, a dinner buffet with all their favourite things (also ones Mom & Dad will appreciate) – an alternating mix of spaghetti, fish sticks, grilled fish, chicken fingers, steamed & chopped garden veggies, fries, pizza & more.
Dessert is buffet style for all, and includes fresh baked pies, a variety of cakes (Tiramisu, chocolate, cheesecake, etc.), mousse + berries, fruit & cheese platters. You can also order one of their popular Severn Ice Cream Sundaes made with Kawartha Dairy – Butterscotch ripple or peanut butter & chocolate.
A lot of you had questions about food allergy/sensitivity accommodations and I’m happy to share that they are more than happy to ensure an inclusive dining experience for families. During the reservation process, you’ll be asked to communicate dietary restrictions with the team, and upon check-in, those specs will be shared with the Dining Room Manager. As an added precaution, you’re asked to share the allergy/sensitivity with your server at every meal, as staff rotates.
To Know Before You Go:
- Cost: The same 2-night Summer Package we enjoyed will cost between $1900-2100 (for a family of SIX). For a family of 4, between $1500-$1800 (depending on ages of kids – some will be free during some weeks in Summer)…more about this below.
- There is no lifeguard on duty at the pool. Bring your own family towels. Life jackets are available where you rent out watercraft, but we did like having our own straight from our lakefront room for the littles.
- The WiFi was hit & miss around the resort. Had this not been a working holiday, it wouldn’t have mattered, though, and the time unplugged in-sync with the laid-back resort vibe.
- If you’re staying longer and want to scale back on the amount of clothes you pack, there are coin-operated laundry facilities on premises beside the Georgian Room. Bring your own detergent or purchase from the Gift Shop in the main lodge.
- Bring a lanyard/keychain to carry your room keys (which are the metal variety we almost lost more than a few times!)
- Outside liquor is allowed, but must be consumed inside your room. Only bevvies purchased from the outdoor bar or dining room may be enjoyed around the outdoor property.
- The Rec Schedule alternates for each day of the week and gets posted each morning on the outside, lower level of the Main Lodge. Check early to ensure you sign up for the family activities you wish, as some fill quickly.
- If a whirl on Lady Eaton’s restored 37’ Mahogany beauty is on your “must-do” at the resort, book your tour during check-in. With only 12 passengers allowed per tour, it books up super quick.
- There are tons of repeat visitors who take advantage of the resorts pre-booking option for the following season – a testament to how much the resort is enjoyed by families/couples year-after-year. You can even specify the cabin/room you’d like. Deposits are taken in February of the proceeding year.
- Check-in is after 4 p.m., and check-out 10 a.m. You’ll still have access to on-site facilities if you choose to linger a little longer on departure day.
- In order to guarantee guests a comfortable, safe, and allergy-free environment, Severn Lodge has a no-pet policy, with the exception of service animals, which they always welcome.
Room For Improvement
While our overall experience was a wonderful one, there are a few questions that came up from you guys on our social channels during our stay and I want to address them honestly:
- What some may find this resort lacking in 5-star luxuries, is probably going to be overridden by your overall family experience. The resort maintains a cottage-like feel and could maybe use some updates to minor things like wallpaper & décor, but the grounds are well-maintained and the natural surroundings are lovely. The resort is best described as having rustic, historic charm.
- The service for breakfast was a bit scattered (in part from the seat-yourself arrangement), and line-ups to get to the brekkie buffet were a bit long (sometimes with no food left in some serveries resulting in more of a wait until replenished). Our server on our last morning seemed quite overwhelmed and short with us (totally understand), and definitely not representative of the great service we had for the rest of our meals.
- the cost is pricey – no denying that. Had we paid out of pocket for this experience, we would have shelled out $2K+ for 2 nights as a family of six. They do have a bit of savings with their mid-end of Summer specials, but I know the expense may deter some inquiring families. However, something to ponder before you dismiss this resort visit solely based on cost: factor in what you’d pay to rent a cottage for a weekend in peak Summer season (plus groceries & the time you’ll spend cooking/cleaning/entertaining your family), what you’d pay to have the kids attend camp and what you might pay for entertainment expenses like amusement & water parks and you’ll find that the all-inclusivity factor of this place can substantiate most of the cost.
From the spectacular lakefront views, serene grounds, tasty cuisine, and lots family-focused fun, Severn Lodge was an adventure for our senses. Hubs and I especially loved the break from all things domestic duties for a few days, and the kids haven’t stopped talking about the fun they had. Vacations with kids can be more like “cray-cations”, but this one was a nice mix of action & chill. We would love to return next Summer, and think your family will enjoy some classic fun in our beautiful Canadian cottage country with a visit to Severn Lodge too! Check out video highlights on our Severn Lodge feature over on Instagram.
If there is anything we haven’t addressed here, please do ask in the comments below and I’d be more than happy to answer!