Have you ever had one of those weeks that you felt was never going to end? Well, for me that was last week. And, y’all…I needed a break in the worst way. By Thursday afternoon, all I wanted (needed?) was to get away and enjoy some peace and relaxation. The answer? Ship off the kids to the grandparents and spend the weekend with your partner at Elkhorn Resort, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Riding Mountain National Park in the beautiful Parkland region of our province.
Elkhorn Resort has a long Manitoban history dating back to the 1940s. Since that time, it has become a favourite getaway for visitors to enjoy the pristine outdoors while basking in all the comforts of home (and then some)! Many already know that Elkhorn caters especially well to families. You’ll see oodles of kids climbing around the outdoor play structure and spending hours in what can only be described as one of the coolest pools in Manitoba! This time, however, our mission was an adults-only retreat, so we spent the 3 days without the kids and let me tell you...we had the very best time. Here’s how we did it:
Jump in the car and set your GPS towards Riding Mountain National Park. It's an easy drive on well-marked highways, regardless of the direction you're coming from. Checking in at the resort is quick and easy, and in no time at all you’re throwing your bags in your room quickly because it’s time to EAT! There are two dining spots right at the resort: Buffalo Bar – a casual, sports bar atmosphere and directly behind it is Ten Restaurant - the sit-down, more upscale dining space. The best part is the menu is the same in both spaces so there is a wide range of options to choose from. You just want a light snack but your partner wants a complete 5-course extravaganza? Go for it. You can each get what you want without any compromise! How often can you say that in a relationship?!
On this particular evening, we opted for Buffalo Bar so we could have a drink or two and share a table full of appetizers while watching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers come from behind to win themselves not only the game, but also a record setting season for most wins at home! #FortheW. The food is well presented and delicious and the service was friendly and attentive. The bartender even switched the TVs around so we could view the Bomber game, the World Series AND a basketball game at the same time!
After the game, we headed back to the room to crash. Once again, it had been a LONG week and all I wanted was to sleep for hours (without a little one waking me up to make breakfast at the crack of dawn).
Waking up (later than usual and without an alarm) in the most comfortable bed was an indescribable delight. We felt energized and ready to take on the day of adventure ahead First up: get outside! We headed out to get acquainted with the grounds and learn about everything there was to do in the area. We didn't get far before the friendly neighbours at Elkhorn Riding Adventures moseyed up to us to say hello. Some of the beautiful horses who call this place home were away at a competition, but the ones in the fields came right over to the fences and eyed us curiously. They also didn't take offense when we helped them as they reached over to eat some of the grasses just on the other side of the fence!
From here, we walked over to check out the outdoor hot tub on the deck overlooking the property. More on this to come, but we immediately knew we'd be coming back to enjoy this space later. There are also outdoor fire pits, a 9-hole golf course (not open at this time of year, but available in more mild temperatures!) and hiking trails immediately surrounding the property. From the resort, we decided to keep walking towards Wasagaming, the townsite in Riding Mountain National Park. It was a chilly day with strong winds, so watching the waves crash on Clear Lake was quite the sight to see. We stopped to get hot chocolate from a shop in town and made our way back to the resort.
Coming back up the road to the main building, we couldn't help but notice the charming A-frame chalets that overlook the property. These are additional accommodation options that come fully equipped with a living area, kitchen, either 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms and a large deck. These can be reserved on a nightly basis and offer access to all the amenities of the resort.
After our long walk, the cozy fireplace in our deluxe room was the perfect way to warm up before heading back outside. It took just a few minutes to start up a roaring fire that heated up the room while we lounged on the comfy sofa. The resort provides fire logs and matches in the room for you. Our deluxe room also included a Keurig coffee maker, mini-fridge and microwave. There's a large deck with balcony overlooking our equine friends from earlier yesterday. After a lovely break, we stopped in at Buffalo Bar for lunch and then hopped in the car for a drive to see if we would come across any wildlife. As luck would have it, we happened upon the bison herd in the Lake Audy enclosure. Dozens of bison, large and small, were feasting on the prairie grasses surrounding them. The adults meandered their way across the field while the babies jumped and ran around bumping heads and reminding us of the little ones we had left at home (and chuckling at how much the bisons were acting just as precocious as our kids often do)! We parked for a while and watched them fondly until we noticed them making their way towards the road and didn't want to block their route. Time to get back to the resort.
We decided to dine that night at Ten Restaurant, which is a lovely space with warm lighting and fireplaces decorating the walls. Every Saturday night, prime rib is on special and this one did not disappoint. Paired with a nice merlot, it was the perfect wind-down to a full day.
Little did we know that our leisurely, quiet dinner was about to be followed up by an active and incredibly fun night by the pool. By day, the pool at Elkhorn is usually full of kids playing in the water, rushing down the slides and running across the floating logs. A little known fact about this incredible pool is that after the kiddos go to bed, the pool becomes adults only. Yes, you heard that right! From 10:30pm - midnight, the kids are banished and this entire water wonderland is devoted to the adults!! This includes the outdoor hot tub that I mentioned earlier as well as the games room with a pool table and foosball table. No line-ups, no worrying about pint-sized swimmers getting underfoot...this was free reign to act like a kid again. And man, did we ever! (Note: the kids make it look easy to run across the floating logs while holding on to the suspension ropes overhead. Plot twist: it's not easy. At all.)
Sunday Spa Day
I'd been looking forward to this day all weekend. Today was the day we were heading to Solstice Spa to fully unwind, relax and just enjoy the quiet around us. After breakfast at Buffalo Bar (I'd be remiss in not strongly suggesting you order the huevos rancheros. Admittedly, it's a bit of an unorthodox preparation, but was perfectly delightful), we made our way to the spa and checked in for our treatments. I had the seasonal Autumn Facial. This turned out to be 30 minutes of complete heaven and at the end I was left with skin so soft and dewy I thought I might have time machined back about 10 years in age. Sadly, a glance in the mirror assured me that no such miracle had taken place! ;)
Afterwards, a lengthy stop in the steam room was followed by an equally leisurely soak in the gorgeous mineral pools. The warm water of the Equinox pool is infused with natural crystals found 3000 feet below the Canadian Prairies. These minerals provide healing and regeneration of the skin and also help to relieve muscle and joint pain. The spa provides robes, slippers, towels and complimentary snacks and herbal teas. Lunch is available to be catered right to a table in the spa. You never have to leave the area, or get out of your robe!
Once we noticed our fingers were pruning from being in the water so long, we decided our lovely, relaxing weekend was coming to a close. Once we changed, we took part in a little bit of therapy before leaving the resort...and it was the best kind: retail therapy! The gift shop in the Solstice Spa is a gem. Everything from spa products, clothing, gifts and souvenirs were available to make your visit to Elkhorn just a little bit more special and memorable.
On the drive back home, we had all but forgot about the challenges from the week prior and were well rested and ready to take on the week ahead. Make Elkhorn Resort your next weekend getaway and see for yourself just how relaxing and restorative it can be.
Travel Manitoba was hosted by Elkhorn Resort, who did not review or approve the content of this story. #tmbpartner