The first time we visited Horseshoe Resort, it was summer 2014; Miss Q was four and The K Man had just turned seven. We were exploring different resorts in Ontario and we loved everything about Horseshoe. Not only was it an easy, 1.5-hour drive from home, but the property also had spacious condo-style lodging within walking distance to every activity.
Believe it or not, that visit is still so clearly etched in my kids’ minds that they pointed out where they went horseback riding and where they watched me zip line. Suffice it to say, we were all ecstatic to return to Horseshoe Resort.
Fast forward to winter 2022 — the kids are now 11 and 13 years old, and we’re in our sixth ski season. We’ve skied across the country, but we haven’t found too many proper ski resorts in Ontario with onsite lodging. There’s Hockley Valley, a lovely little resort with some nice lodging and an outstanding restaurant; Calabogie Peaks, about an hour west of Ottawa, which has one of the highest peaks in the province but can be quite icy (it certainly was when we visited a few years ago); and, of course, Blue Mountain, which is probably Ontario’s best-known ski resort.
And while there are plenty of other places to get your ski or snowboard fix in Ontario, there really aren’t a whole lot of options if you want to stay right onsite. That’s where a resort like Horseshoe really shines, because there’s nothing like waking up to a slope-side view and being first in line for the chairlift because you walked over from your hotel room.
Resorts in Ontario: Horseshoe Resort rooms
We stayed in Horseshoe’s Slopeside Condos (you can see all of the onsite accommodation options here), which are huge at more than 1,100 square feet. Each suite features two bedrooms — one with a king bed and one with two twins — and two bathrooms, plus a gourmet kitchen with everything you need to make three meals a day in your condo.
All of the rooms here also have dens where you can keep skiwear and gear and use as a staging room for getting ready each day, fireplaces in the living room, a large dining table and balconies that face the ski hill.
These rooms start at around $319 per night, and go up from there during weekends and holidays, and sometimes require a minimum stay. They’re incredibly popular so if you’re hoping to stay in luxury slope-side lodging, book as quickly as you can.
There are two other choices for accommodations at Horseshoe Resort: the Copeland House Condos and the Inn at Horseshoe. The condos are another newly renovated choice for families who want the convenience of a kitchen; we stayed in these many years ago during our summer visit and it was spacious and clean and we were impressed. And though I haven’t personally stayed at the Inn, which is located in the main building, we had friends staying here the weekend we visited and got to see their room, which had two queen beds and was also pet-friendly, which the condos are not. The room was basic but very clean and enough space for a family of four and their large, fluffy Goldendoodle to spread out.
Resorts in Ontario: Horseshoe Valley restaurants
There are several places to whet your whistle and grab a bite throughout the resort. Eleven01 Taphouse & Kitchen was our favourite so we went twice for dinner and once for breakfast. Although it’s a casual environment, the food is an elevated twist on pub food-meets-steakhouse and plated beautifully. Everything we tried was excellent:
- The Rickards apple butter BBQ chicken wings were so good we had them twice
- The charcuterie board was robust and we loved the addition of a fresh pretzel (it’s a giant!)
- The poutine is done with wedges instead of fries and a pale ale gravy and it can now claim to be the best poutine among all resorts in Ontario; my kids who are poutine aficionados said it was better than the poutine from Le Shack (one of the Mont-Tremblant restaurants we stalk for its poutine and, formerly, my kids’ No. 1 poutine destination)
- The Taphouse Smashburger was a huge hit
- I absolutely loved the maple & applewood pan-roasted duck breast
- The salted caramel brownie was so good the four of us fought for scraps
Breakfast at Eleven01 is buffet-style (yes, even during COVID) and not too badly priced considering this is a resort restaurant. All of the usual suspects are up for grabs, but the food quality isn’t on par with what you’ll find on the dinner menu so go in with slightly lower expectations.
Crazy Horse Sports Bar & Grill is Horseshoe Resort’s main attraction for lunch because you can walk up in your ski boots to be seated. The food is generally quite good, with the only disappointment being the French onion soup. Highly recommend the quesadillas and dessert!
Horseshoe Resort also offers Shoe Brew, a walk-in bakery and coffee shop just off the main drag. The mocha was only so-so but the hot chocolates and warm cookies made up for it!
The Alpine Cafeteria is currently closed but there’s a big outdoor patio covered in Muskoka chairs and firepits, with a few easy grab-and-go options like a soup truck, poutine hut, BeaverTails and even a licensed Tiki Hut.
Resorts in Ontario: Horseshoe Resort’s trails
Skiing at Horseshoe Resort reminded us of our beloved local hill. It’s smaller than nearby Mount St. Louis Moonstone but also much quieter and geared toward new and intermediate skiers and boarders. It has plenty of variety and lots of pretty tree-lined runs. In fact, Miss Q said skiing in the trees here (something I don’t generally do alongside her but watch from a careful distance!) was awesome and provided fun challenges that pushed her out of her comfort zone.
There’s a great learning area and the green runs are friendly, rolling trails that even the newest skier will appreciate. Blues and blacks at Horseshoe Resort offer nervous and intermediate skiers opportunities to build confidence but even the double-black diamond runs are doable for the advanced intermediates. We had no trouble navigating any of the runs — and we did every single one. Bonus? Fresh snowfall and great grooming meant conditions were quite good.
We heard time and again that Horseshoe’s chair-lift lines don’t get very busy and the longest we waited was perhaps 10 minutes but most of the time, it was only a minute or two, making this an ideal family resort since littles won’t get impatient waiting to get back to the top.
There’s also night skiing! It was drizzling the night we arrived so we didn’t get to try it out but the trails were lit well and we’d definitely go back to give it a whirl.
Resorts in Ontario: Horseshoe Resort ski lessons
I want to preface this section with the fact that my kids have had private and group lessons consistently for six seasons. They’ve been taught in weekly lessons at our local hill and private lessons at some of Canada’s finest ski resorts. They’ve been spoiled with lessons because it’s really important to me that we bring this info to my readers. After all, lessons are what set good skiers apart from great skiers.
Miss Q had Ali and The K Man had Lucas. They both wholeheartedly recommend their individual instructors, which doesn’t always happen! Ali worked with Q on using her poles more effectively and then took her into the trees, where they spent a lot of their lesson time much to Q’s delight. And Lucas was an absolute superstar with K, who continues to work through some confidence issues when it comes to taking on new challenges. Somehow, some way, Lucas managed to convince K to do a black run and we watched him teach some side-slipping techniques before K descended with gusto.
Resorts in Ontario: Horseshoe Resort’s other winter activities
There are frequently families who travel to ski resorts together where only a few members actually want to do the skiing part. That’s what I love about resorts in Ontario and elsewhere like Horseshoe — there’s more to do than just the ski trails.
It may be small, but Horseshoe Resort has a real ice skating rink! I didn’t see skate rentals, so bring your own, and get ready to be your own personal Zamboni if the ice needs some clearing. Miss Q loves to skate and happily twirled around on the ice for more than an hour all by herself after my feet gave out in skates I use once a year. There’s music playing and the rink is in the centre of the little village, putting skaters in the action hub.
We were so busy having fun barrelling down the tubing runs that I didn’t get any still photos. There is, however, a chaotic Instagram Story video in the Horseshoe Resort highlight that shows how fast and furiously fun the snow tubing is here. It’s not so steep or fast that most kids and their parents will find it anything other than exhilarating but those who get anxious about heights and speed may have their Spidy Senses tingle. It took a lot of convincing to get one of our kids down to the bottom, but the other one wanted to go again and again and again.
I’m not always a fan of snowshoeing, but when I am it’s on calm and easy terrain like this. I’ve snowshoed down a 3,000-foot mountain and that isn’t my cup of tea, but strapping on the rental snowshoes at Horseshoe Resort and meandering on mostly flat trails, with the crisp morning air, rising sunlight on our backs and the sound of snow underfoot was just what Big B and I needed after a full-on weekend with the kids.
We left them in our room to chill on their devices while we made our way to the trails just across the road from the main resort, where there’s a large network of trails for passive winter activities like hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s an entirely different, quieter vibe than the ski resort and it was a welcome respite to reconnect without the kids interrupting conversation for a snack or washroom break. Next time, the only thing I’d change is adding more time to further explore these trails.
DISCLAIMER: Horseshoe Resort hosted our stay to facilitate content. As always, opinions are my own.
Barbara Di Mambro says
Looks like lots of fun. Close to home. Maybe a family trip is warranted.