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Couples Resort
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All reviewssteam showerjunior suitedining roomdress codemy husband and iwood burning fireplaceroom servicegames roomspa villaalgonquin parkdining experiencehorseback ridingprivate hot tubour honeymooncourse mealbear trailk cups
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Reviewed November 22, 2008

We have stayed at Bear Trail several times. We keep going back because we LOVE the private hot tubs and very few resorts in Ontario offer this. Everytime we go, we say that our stay was OKAY, but not fabulous. The rooms are very nice and the private hot tubs are great, but the service is definitely NOT 5 star if you have ever been to true 5 star resorts. First of all, no one is at the front desk after 10 pm. You have to call the emergency 'on call' person and wake him up if you need something in the middle of the night. That alone does not equal five star service. The staff are pleasant enough, but do not go out of their way to help you. They definitely have 'small town' attitude and we are used to 'big city' service, I guess.
Now, the food issue. First of all, let me say that I am a trained chef. The menu is very restricted, to say the least. Also, it does not change during the course of your stay. I understand that they have limited access to certain food items and therefore need to keep a consistent main menu, however, they should at least offer nightly specials EACH evening, not the same specials for an entire week.
Now two technical mistakes, which should not be made by even culinary school students, not to mention 5 star resort chefs:
Number 1: I ordered Winter Squash soup, which was tasty enough, however, they garnished it with RAW squash seeds, which were for decoration only and not to be eaten. You should never serve something that should not be eaten on a plate! Especially not in a soup, where it cannot easily be removed.
Number 2: They garnished a dish with an herb that did not exist in that dish. Garnishes should be functional as well as pretty. Do not use a rosemary garnish on a dish made without it.
I know these seem petty (and I have MANY more that I could mention), however, they are an indication of lack of training and/or knowledge, both of which do not show five star service.
One member of our party could not eat meat, but she could eat fish. This was noted MONTHS before when the trip was booked. However, when we got to the resort, only one main dish was fish and that dish was salmon (boring!). Was this person supposed to eat salmon each evening??? When we inquired about what vegetarian and/or other fish dishes they could offer, we were told that any dish could be made vegetarian by adding more veggies. Well, how do you make pork tenderloin, rack of lamb, steak or chicken vegetarian??? Easy, remove the meat and add grilled veggies. RIDICULOUS!!! They should have actual vegetarian options when someone visits who makes them aware of this months in advance. We were told that because this was their last weekend before closing for a month, they had limited options. This is NOT five star service. You should tell the guest that this will be the case when they book if you are going to use this excuse. It is just an excuse, however, because having vegetarian meals at this resort has been an issue on every visit. So, why do we return??? The hot tubs mainly, the proximity to Algonquin Park and the seclusion. But I think that even those things are getting old now. They need to pull up their socks and shape up in these hard economic times if they want return customers.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
4  Thank ChefMD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2008

We spent 6 nights at Bear Trail for our honeymoon in late September. The setting was beautiful!

FOOD
Despite some other comments, we found the food amazing! After the stress of planning a wedding, there's nothing better than sitting down to four courses, with helpful and friendly servers paired with great wine. The dining room was relaxed, and we were never rushed - even after 2.5 hours. While there were some oldstandbys (i.e. spinach salad and cheese cake), there were amazing flavours and nice presentation. We took advantage of room service a few times - it came on time, was hot, and was a nice touch!

ACTIVITIES
The honeymoon package includes discounts and freebees to help us make the most of our stay. As a result, we did one activity a day: hiking, canoeing, horseback riding (a short drive away), boat trip, mountain biking. My only complaint was that the women's mountain bikes were not in good enough shape for the Lobster Lake trail, so if you want to hit the trails it's worth bringing your own bikes. They would be fine for a flatter, less sandy route.

ROOM
We chose the Exotic Grand Master because we liked the dark woodand, well, exotic look of the images online. It suited our tastes perfectly! The front desk let us take a look at a few other room types and were were very happy with the Exotics. Many of the rooms are a bit dated still, so if you want modern, make sure you ask the Resort and check out photos to pick a room that's best for you.

SERVICES
The spa treatments were very relaxing, and the spa rooms were clean and comfortable. The staff were very friendly too - from the spa, to the front desk, to the dining room. They were very good at making sure we had privacy when we wanted it, and ensured that we were relaxed and pampered when we left.

GENERAL
The dining and games rooms decor are outdated, however, they seem to spend money on things that I consider more important: organic cotton towels, organic spa products, and on-balcony hot tubs (they require daily servicing). If you're looking for ritz and glam, this won't be for you... it's charm and appeal is that it's an Algonquin Park resort, not the Four Season's. With that in mind, Bear Trail does not disappoint.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank TravelJunky86
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 14, 2008

Having stayed at many different types of resorts. Bear Trial is 5 star allmost all the way. But it would all depend of how you would personally rate five stars. I have been to this resort twice once last month, and once 3 years ago.

This is what I think:
-Ground are beautiful. This resort can be visited all four seasons.
-Pool is small but clean.
-Accomodation: different kinds of room available. This time I stayed in Master Junior Suite. Which is great clean. Check out the picture. It has a hot tub on the deck, lots of privacy, and view of the lake. All room are superb.
-Staff all very friendly. Maybe a little slow but good. Would I say they are superb. Not really. But what do you expect. It is all locals that work there.
-Food ; this is were they loose 5 star in my eyes. For some ppl this might be five star dining, but not for me. If I can cook it at home, I dont want to eat it on vacation. I am picky, and according to my husband, a little spoiled with fantastic food.
Menu is kinda boring. Its a four course meal every night. App, salad or soup, main course, and dessert. Okay I'll start with app. You have a choice between brie, bruchetta, and sea scallops. So we stayed there long enough. I tried them all. Brie looked like something I would buy at MM meat shop. Bruchetta was cold small and piece of garlic toast. Sea scallop was one served on a plate with red pepper sauce. Boring. I don't call that 5 star dining. The keg has way better food. Five star should be way better than that. Salad boring regular ceasar, house, or spinach. Come on. For 500plus a night. Maybe expect a little better selection of food and quality. Main course well dont expect lobster or fresh fish. And No veg options at all. Every entree seemed to be served with mashed pot. Entree choice porck chop, steak, pasta, and lamb. Bread served with the meal wasnt even warm. Well dont get me started on dessert. Just your choice of regular old boring dessert (cheesecake, ice cream, gelato, choc cake etc). My dessert was served on a warm plate serveral times.

Okay well breakfast was good. But nothing special. Like I said earlier. Regular old boring french toast, egg benedict, pancakes, and eggs. Fruit salad wasnt even fresh fruit. No herbal teas available. Juices served are the cheaps one. And no fresh breads available.

Other than the food part. This resort is great. Clean perfect location, a little pricey. But if you dont have to many expectations regarding food. Go have a great time. Me on the other hand. Wont go back wasnt worth the money. I tried it twice not for me.

Any questions pls ask.
I will post pictures soon.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Gea22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2008

During our stay last year and this year we have noticed a huge decline in service. We decided to come back this year just in case things changed for the better (we heard that some changes were made). In short - It's not consistent and not 5 star. It's really all the little things that used to make a difference but is now lacking from the resort.

It's still a very beautiful and tranquil place to escape too, however, the service provided to customers is no more than maybe 3 Star, especially the dining room. It's a hit and miss. It all depends on where you sit, who serves you and who is in the kitchen/bar. There were a lot of little mishaps but I included just a few of them below...

- We rented a motor boat for 1/2 day and it was about a half hour later that our boat was not working. My husband is very familiar with motor boats so he tried everything that he could to get it started. The gentleman that works with the boat rentals saw that we were having difficulty and was kind enough to sail on over and find out if we were okay. It was then that we found out that the boat was just serviced and we were the first customer to test it out. You would think that it should be tested prior to the customer using it. Thank goodness we were not very far away from the Resort and was able to finally get it started after about 20 min. of trying.

- I asked a very young waitress (student) to let me know about a special particularly the sauce on the steak. She went to ask the chef and came back with "it's mushroom grown behind a log". I have no idea what that means. I guess some kind of mushroom sauce. A professional server would have questioned that herself/himself before going back to the customer with an answer like that.

Since I was not happy with "grown behind the log" steak, I decided to order the steak on your regular menu. It was cooked to perfection the first night I ordered it but overcooked this time.
(different chef). I sent it back and according to the server the chef said, "he does not usually do this but he will cook another steak for me....this time". I couldn't believe my ears. I have had better service from the KEG, which is not a 5 star restaurant. If the steak is not to your liking, the chef at the KEG will come out with a new steak and personally apologise.

- Breakfast in the dining room reminds me of a diner as apposed to eating in a 5 star resort. We were there for 3 mornings all of which I ordered hot chocolate and orange juice. The third morning I was there I was asked if I would like whip cream with my hot chocolate and if I would like a large orange juice or small. This was never an option the first 2 mornings....like I said...the 5 star service all depends on who you get.

-Last year my husband and I ordered nachos' for lunch in the dining room. We waited and waited and waited. We were the only ones in the dining room. Your staff forgot all about us. They remembered as we (frustrated by now) were walking out of the dining room. They quickly micro waved the nacho's for us and said that it was on the house. The nachos were terrible and ended up in the garbage. We went across the street to the Mad Masher for lunch instead.


If gratuities were up to us , we would not be generous. My husband and I were loyal customers and it saddens us that we feel it would be a waste of our time and money to return all because of poor service.

I sent a note with details of the poor service to the owner of the Couples Resort and I have yet to hear back from him.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
11  Thank Pieces3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2008

Overall Impression - Great!
The Couples Resort is great for couples who enjoy a peaceful retreat away from the city in rustic-yet-chic accommodations. Very close to the east entrance of Algonquin Park, you can relax by the water's edge with great food, comfortable beds, and luxurious spa ammenities. Everything here has been taken care of for you, and all you have to do is figure out if you want to use the kayaks, go for a hike, or relax all day in your jaccuzzi tub before your sumptuous dinner. There is no towel card to carry around, and no resort bracelet to wear while you're here. Because the resort holds only 48 couples and is so secluded from other lodgings, the nightlife is absolutely quiet. My preference is to wake up early to a large breakfast rather than to stay up late partying, so The Couples Resort suited my style perfectly. Food-wise, the only restaurant onsite was great. Service was high-end for such a small town, and I really enjoyed speaking to the staff. I would definitely return to The Couples Resort for another long weekend.

Why I chose this resort
In recent years we have vacationed to other 5-star resorts in Mexico and Jamaica, but we needed something closer to home this time. The cost to stay in this resort was a little more expensive than what you would pay for a Caribbean vacation, but we chose to stay for only 3 nights and brought the cost down that way. I chose this resort because of the high-end food, and because you can get a private cabin on the water's edge with a jaccuzzi.

Check-in
Once you arrive at the Couples Resort, you can stow your cash as tipping is not permitted on premises. The friendly staff at the front desk were very personable and addressed our immediate questions with knowledgeable answers. They gave us a small map and reviewed it with us. We were told to book a dinner reservation right after check-in, as dinner reservations are mandatory. Then we went to our room to unpack and get ready for our first meal.

Rooms
We stayed in one of the six Spa Villas, which have a steam shower, sauna, jaccuzzi, fireplace, and private deck looking onto the lake. The deck had a screened-in area where you could sit and read while it was raining or if you found the bugs excessive. The interior was quite large, and felt even bigger with the high vaulted ceiling. The King-sized bed had a comfortable mattress and a great set of pillows. We had requested feather-free pillows and comforter at reservation time due to allergies, and had no problems with the sheets provided. The carved wooden posts of the bed were quite impressive, and had me mesmerized for a few minutes each morning. The TV is decent and gets several channels, although we brought our own DVDs to watch while we were there. The fireplace was grand and the wood, matches, and starter logs were all provided. The sofas and chairs were soft and large, but were not great for posture, and may have been the cause of some back pain during our stay.

The room fridge was stocked with a variety of pop and juices (coke, diet coke, ginerale, five alive), and also had ice and bottles of water. The kitchen area had a small microwave and coffee maker, along with 2 wine glasses, 2 regular glasses, and 2 coffee mugs. Complementary coffee (both regular and decaf) was provided with sweetner, sugar and creamer. They also provided a corkscrew and bottle opener. The room safe was on a shelf in the front hall closet, and was sufficiently large; I'd guess the interior dimensions to be 14" x 12" x 10". There were two large umbrellas in the closet, which we carried with us to dinner and breakfast on stormy days. There was a standard ironing board and iron hanging in the closet next to the fly swatter.

The deck itself was about 30 feet from the lake edge. The part of the lake where the Spa Villas sit is almost river-like in that you can see right across to the opposite shore. On the Chalet room side of the resort property, the lake opens up into choppy water. Right across from our Villa was a boat launch, which provided lots of activity to watch, and some nice waves on our shore. Many of the small boats launched were motorized and were a little noisy, so if that bothers you during the day then I recommend you investigate the chalet properties instead. The deck was a decent size, with both covered and open sections. There were two wrought-iron recliner chairs with a small wrought-iron table between them on the uncovered part. Inside the shingled screened-in part was a wicker sofa, wicker chair, and large glass table where we sat to read while the weather was stormy.

The bathroom was so magnificent that we wished they had included instructions on how to use everything. We figured out the European shower (with two pairs of shower heads - one for each person, each with 4 control knobs), how to turn on the steam shower, the sauna, the bidet, the exhaust timer - by the time our stay was over, there was still one timer we could not figure out, although we suspect it may have been a heat lamp. The water pressure and temperature was always good. The bathroom fan seemed to keep up with the high humidity caused by the steam shower, as was the room air conditioning. The single sink was set in the middle of a large counter, and the mirrors were large, but oddly not flat - I had the distinct impression they were slightly convex such that my reflection was distorted. There were small bottles of moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner (we had trouble getting the conditioner out of the small neck, so I recommend you bring your own), and small extras like shower cap, shoe polish, nail file, q-tips, and cotton balls. They did a good job of placing enough towels around the room that you never ran out, even if you used all the spa ammenities before your next room change.

Housekeeping makes one visit to your room each day, which can be inconvenient as it will be somewhere between 9am and 2pm. You are given two signs to indicate whether you want cleaning or not.

The Beach
There isn't one - there are beaches nearby according to the website, but the shores here are grassy and somewhat rocky.

The Pool
There is one small pool lined with comfy deck chairs that never seems to be in high demand - even on the hottest day there was only one couple in the pool and two couples on chairs.

Food
The single restaurant onsite is definitely high-end. Dinner reservations are required; breakfast is come-as-you-please. You get breakfast and dinner included (although not the coffee or drinks at dinner), and lunch is on your own bill - we chose to bring chips and guacamole to snack on between the two large meals. Breakfast is a la carte and has the typical breakfast stuff: coffee, tea, juice, yoghurt, fruit, cereal, eggs, french toast, pancakes, etc. I highly recommend the Eggs Benedict as the ham and holandaise sauce are both light and tasty. We enjoyed splitting one order of Eggs Benedict with one order of french toast. The fruit salad looked like it came out of a can, but otherwise the breakfast fare was excellent. The A/C was a bit cold for my taste so early in the morning, but the views from the restaurant were great. For dinner, be aware that any drink costs extra, including coffee. There is a wine steward each night to assist you with choosing a good wine for your meals. The menu choices at dinner were impressive, and while the overall service was good, it was hit and miss. With some servers, it was a pleasure to experience the restaurant and the food, but others had a forced friendliness that can only be described as awkward. We simply smiled and tried to be sincerely friendly.

The decor of the main restaurant was not up to par for a 5-star resort. There were at least 3 distinct decorative styles at play, all of which were outdated and together quite ugly. The view of the water and the grounds was excellent, and took our eyes away from the frayed arm rests and stained curtains, but the room is in need of a serious makeover. The games room was just as outdated, but also seemed musty and stale. The lighting in the restaurant was dim, and the excellent food made us forget the decor.

The Grounds
The layout of this resort optimizes the room views, as each room has a lake view. The property is small, but has a wide selection of rooms types. The restaurant is in the middle, and the walk to meals took at most 1 minute. There is a short hiking path nearby to a lookout that we took one sunny afternoon, only to find the lookout unimpressive and overgrown with trees. We signed the guest book at the top of the lookout, and headed back to the resort. There are many water activities onsite, but be aware that not all are included: kayaks, canoes, water skiing, etc. The flowers that lined the walkways were pretty and in bloom while we were there, but they were not stunning.

There was one small gift store onsite, but we didn't buy anything.

Check-out
Check-out was quick and efficient.

You can find photos from my trip at [--]

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank OttawaTraveller_Jen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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