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Spa Weekends in Ontario

The Briars Resort & Spa, Jackson's Point, Ontario

Reminiscent of a time when guests escaped the heat of the city for a summer retreat with steamer trunks and parasols, The Briars embodies genteel travel at its finest. It's perched on the shore of Lake Simcoe and has been a focal point of the surrounding community for more than 150 years.

Briars SpaBriars SpaWhat's their secret? They embody the essence of Southern Hospitality without the stuffiness. Families are as welcome as couples looking for a romantic getaway, and while numbers swell in the summer months it's hard to imagine feeling cramped or ignored here.

Spa Overview

While the spa isn't the primary focus of the Briars, it's a sweet retreat when your world spins a little too fast. Year-round, it's inviting, relaxing and committed to delivering on the promise of its graceful reputation. There's no shortage of outside activities, but a visit here is really about perfecting your own art of doing absolutely nothing.

You'll smell the spa long before you wind your way through the century-old corridors. It's a boutique spa and was added in 2000 by remodeling one wing of the inn. It services both resort guests and locals, but day spa guests are limited to Sunday to Friday appointment times and have use of the pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness facilities, tennis courts and walking trails with a minimum treatment purchase. Only resort guests are permitted Saturday appointments.

Because it's a small spa, the swimming pool, sauna and whirlpool and exercise studio are a bit of a hike. Wearing your robe from spa to room to pool is encouraged though, so enjoy the stroll in your flip-flops. If you can't sit still and just enjoy the scenery, feel free to indulge in a game of billiards, ping-pong, darts or foosball between treatments.

Facilities & Activities

Whether your reason for escaping is the spa, the golf club or the myriad outdoor options, The Briars is best enjoyed for an entire weekend rather than by a la carte treatments. Meals are included in overnight package pricing. Elegant dinners are served in the main inn throughout the year, but summer guests can also enjoy meals in the historic garden court dining room. Outdoor treats include an 18-hole golf course designed by Stanley Thompson and Robbie Robinson, ski and hiking trails and a majestic spruce and pine-lined avenue.

The Briars focuses on healthy pursuits that you canThe Briars ResortThe Briars Resort enjoy indoors and out, with your group or alone. If you need yoga to get you through the weekend, sign up for a class in the tower and enjoy the view while centering yourself.

If you visit during the summer months, there's tennis, volleyball, badminton, boating, mountain biking, horseshoes, guided nature walks and, of course swimming in Lake Simcoe. During the winter it's skating, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Regardless of what time of year though, a visit on the weekend means a dinner and dance on Saturday evening.

Spa and Inn Details

The Briars Spa specializes in customizing spa experiences for each guest or groups of guests. They offer a variety of packages that range from half-day day mini retreats to full-weekend private spa parties. Depending on your treatment choices and times, you can order wine and hors d'oervers to be served in a private room.

The number of treatment rooms makes juggling appointments tricky, but the menu is robust with a healthy choice of body therapies, hydrotherapies and holistic treatments, such as reiki, hatha yoga and chakra balancing. And if spaing with your better half tops your list of priorities, the 60-minute, side-by-side massage of your choice is divine.

If you're planning a getaway, book your spa appointments when you book your room to avoid disappointment. It's busy on weekends throughout the year and every day during the summer months.

Accommodations & Dining

You may think a visit to The Briars is all about the spa, but we beg to disagree. It's really all about the food. If you're an overnight guest, you can choose between a 2 or 3 meal per-day plans. Individual meals are not available unless you're a day spa guest.

Executive chef, Trevor Leslie, focuses on seasonal and local favorites and offers a wide range of choice for both meat-eaters and vegetarians (and will cater to food allergies as well). At each meal, it's up to you whether you go with healthy or sinfully decadent. Either way, you'll be satisfied. We recommend the mushroom risotto and chocolate banana bread pudding.

Meals are served at set times, which vary from weekday to weekend and you'll be assigned a table at check in. If you're not happy with your seating, be sure to ask for a change early.

At breakfast and dinner, choose between the buffet or off the menu. And during the summer months and spring break, your kids can enjoy a special kid's buffet.

Much like Ste. Anne's Spa in Haldimand Hills, The Briars offers rooms in the inn as well as cottages close enough to walk to but far enough away if solitude is your priority. Many of the inn rooms have fireplaces and some have a Jacuzzi. If you're traveling with a group, some of the cottages have two bedrooms, while some inn rooms are interconnecting.

The Briars has an unforgiving 3-week cancellation policy, so if you foresee a challenge with your visit let them know as soon as possible.

Travel Info

The Briars is on the south shore of Lake Simcoe, approximately 45 miles/72 kilometers north of Toronto, Canada.

  • From Toronto: In the summer, it's picturesque hour-long drive on Highway 404/Davis Drive/Markham Road. In the winter, the scenery's just as nice but it's a longer drive.
  • From Toronto Airport: Depending on the time of year, it's a 1 ½ hr to 2 hr drive.

Visit the Briars online or read through similar GoGirlfriend Spa Reviews.

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What a lovely retreat. I especially like that you can enjoy a group experience. What an excellent way to form a deeper bond with your friends. Plus, it's simply a great experience is calming the body, mind, and spirit which is often hard to find at times.

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