All-inclusive: Spending some quality family time at Fern Resort.
16 Jun 2017
Fern Resort is perfect for your vacation and getaway needs
Conversation with another guest on our first night:
Jennifer: Have you been here before?
Me: No, this is our first time.
Jennifer: It won’t be your last. We have been coming twice a year for the past 20 or so years. Before I was married, I used to come up with my family. Then when I got married and had kids, we started bringing them up with my parents, and other extended family. We all love it here.
Me: Wow, that’s a heck of a testimonial!
“With over 120 years of experience, we have designed our lakeside resort, our programs and our packages to provide you with an experience that will leave you with so many fond memories you will be looking forward to a return visit.” You’ll find that statement right on Fern Resort’s homepage.
As you follow through my review of this all-inclusive resort, you’ll see how this getaway gave us the quality family time and relaxation we needed on the Victoria Day long weekend.
We got to Fern Resort just after 7pm on the Friday night of Victoria Day long weekend. Due to the long weekend and everyone wanting to escape north to their cottages, campgrounds, or vacation spots, the drive north on the 400 and Highway 11 was quite busy. I haven’t travelled up that way on a Friday in quite some time. I highly recommend taking a half day vacation and leaving early. There is so much to do in the Orillia area to keep you busy until check-in at 4pm.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the front desk staff. We received our keys, and were guided through the activities for the weekend, meal times, and where everything is on the resort. Very helpful, as there is a lot of ground to cover at Fern Resort.
We stayed in the Hearthside building in a poolview room, which is close to the Main Inn.
Our room had two comfy double beds, night stand with lamp, dresser, large closet, 4-piece bathroom, sitting area with a pullout love seat (single bed), coffee table, arm chair, mini fridge, flat screen TV and DVD, table with chairs, woodburning fireplace, air conditioner, and a balcony that overlooked the pool and the lake. The room size was perfect for our family. We usually don’t spend much time in our hotel rooms, so as long as the bed is comfy, the washroom is fictional, and the air conditioning / heat works, we are good.
The bedside lamp had a power outlet, so I was able to plug my CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) unit directly into the base of the lamp. I know it may not be important to a lot of people to have a bedside outlet, but because I use a CPAP machine, it is important to me that there is an outlet close to the bed.
Walking around Fern Resort is a must. There are many trails, a lakeside path, and chairs or benches scattered throughout the resort. No shortage of places to relax and enjoy the fresh air.
The grounds are well manicured, with lots of beautiful flowers in the gardens.
Fern Resort is an all-inclusive resort. All of your meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included. Wine and spirits are available at reasonable prices.
The meal plan for a long weekend starts on the Saturday morning, and goes to lunch on the Monday (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners). In talking to other guests, the dinner on the Friday night was changed to lunch on Monday because of long weekend traffic, and how people weren’t able to make the seating time on Friday night.
This was perfect for us, as we didn’t arrive until after dinner anyway. We stopped on the way for a quick and light dinner.
The food offerings at Fern are quite nice, and fit everyone’s dietary needs. We don’t have any food allergies in our family, but we do have picky eaters. The selections on the menu, and the availability of a buffet at breakfast and lunch, made it an enjoyable experience for us. There was always something either on the menu or on the buffet that we enjoyed, and the selections were fantastic!
You also get the same table for each meal in the Heritage Dining Room, so no having to rush to get a seat… your table is always waiting for you, as is your server, who will remain your server for the duration of your stay.
Here is a run-down of some (not all) of their menu offerings.
Lots of options at breakfast, including Double Eggs Benedict, French Toast, and Omelettes.
For those not wanting to order a-la-carte, there is a full breakfast buffet. Bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, French Toast, blueberry and regular pancakes, fresh fruit, cereals, muffins, bread, bagels, English muffins, croissants, and pastries.
Lunch can be eaten in the dining room, or out on the patio. There are lots of options at lunch, including the Fern Honey Ham with Swiss Cheese sandwich, Falafel Wrap, and Prime Rib and cartelized onions on twelve-grain Artisan Bread, and Smoked Chicken with Mac and Cheese.
There is a kids buffet which included hot dogs, hamburgers, mac and cheese, chicken fingers, fries and gravy, fish sticks, and soup.
When weather permits, there is an outdoor barbecue, where you can get barbecued hamburgers, chicken breast, sausage, veggie burgers, hot dogs, pizza, tacos, corn on the cob (in season), and a full salad bar.
There are options to tempt all types of appetites, including vegan, vegetarian, spicy, and gluten free. There are dishes marked as “can be made gluten free” and “contains nuts or peanuts” for those with allergies.
Here’s a sample of their dinner menu:
Vegetables in a light but flavour-packed tomato, herb and garlic broth.
Korean Prime Rib Sliders
Shaved beef in a spicy Korean barbeque sauce. Topped with cilantro and pickled onion.
Chicken Satay with Mango Slaw and Peanut Sauce
Asian marinated chicken skewers served over a mango slaw with peanut sauce.
Grilled Flatbread of the Day
Grilled pizza deal with a daily vegetable toppings
A selection of cured meats, breads and cheese accompanied with a house-made pickled vegetable.
Crisp Romain leaf tossed with bacon, grated Parmesan and seasoned croutons in a creamy garlic dressing.
Cous Cous on Baby Kale
Baby kale tossed with lemon vinaigrette and cous cous.
Arugula Walnut Brie
Baby arugula tossed with toasted walnuts, sliced pear, Brie cheese and topped with a lemon vinaigrette.
Fern House Salad
Mix romaine iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots, red cabbage, tomato and cucumber. Served with your choice of dressing.
Sauce: Tomato, Alfredo, Pesto or Barbecue
Cheese: Mozzarella, Goat, Feta or Blue Cheese
Meats: Pepperoni, Chicken, Bacon or Ham
Vegetables: Peppers, Pineapple, Onion, Mushroom, tomato, Hot Peppers, Olives or Spinach
Panko breaded chicken breast with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Served on linguine with vegetables.
Veal Osso Buco
Braised veal shank with red wine, garlic and herbs. Top with demi-glace and served with potato and vegetables.
Served with signature au jus, Yorkshire putting, potato and vegetables.
Potato cakes filled with shrimp, salmon and dill. Garnished with herb salad and served over rice.
Sweet Potato and Bean Chili
Slow-stewed sweet potato with pepper, onion, cumin and garlic. Accompanied with three types of beans.
Classic spaghetti noodles with meat sauce, bell pepper and onion. Served with Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.
Honey Glazed Pork Chop
Ontario 10 oz. pork chop glazed with Fern honey and soy sauce. Served with potato and vegetables.
Shrimp and Lobster Fettucine
Shrimp cooked in white wine and garlic. Served over pasta with a rich lobster cream sauce.
Roast Turkey Breast
Slow-roasted turkey breast served with traditional stuffing, pan gravy, potato and vegetables.
Chicken Souvlaki with Saffron Rice
House-made souvlaki marinated in olive oil, garlic and oregano. Served over saffron rice with tzatziki sauce and a herb salad.
Tilapia with Citrus Butter
Pan-seared tilapia finished with lemon and herb butter, served over rice with vegetables.
Slow stewed zucchini, peppers, onion and tomato with garlic, basil and mint. Served over rice with vegetables.
* Note: Not all dishes are available at the each dinner. Sample menus can be found on Fern Resort’s website.
Beer Battered Haddock with Fries and Coleslaw
Local craft beer-battered haddock with a side of tartar sauce. Served with French fries and coleslaw.
Fern Surf and Turf
Steak frites topped with garlic and shrimp. Served with French fries and vegetables.
Braised Lamb Shank
Red wine slow-braised lamb shank rubbed with garlic and thyme. Served with demi-glace, potato and vegetables.
Charbroiled Chicken with Lemon, Herb and Olive Oil
Lemon and herb-rubbed chicken breast served with rice and vegetables.
The kids dinner buffet had tacos, fries, soup, hamburgers, meatballs, macaroni with alfredo or meat sauce, fresh buns, and salad.
Milk, chocolate milk, iced tea, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, 7-Up, Ginger Ale, Dr. Pepper, lemonade, coffee (regular and decaffeinated), orange pekoe tea (regular and decaffeinated), assorted herbal teas.
There is also a coffee closet in The Main Inn right off the lobby, where you can get coffee and tea at any time.
Rolls and Honey
“The Home of Rolls & Honey” was a slogan coined by the original owners Jim & Mimi Pettapiece in 1918. Jim’s recipe for the rolls he made back then is still being used today. You can order those rolls the day before you leave, and they will be ready for you at the front desk by 11am on the day of departure. You will find these rolls on your table at dinner time, accompanied by Fern’s famous honey.
The honey is still sourced from eh same apiary as it was in 1918. You can purchase the honey to take home as well.
Not to be outdone by the rest of the courses, Fern Resort’s dessert offerings are sure to please. I really enjoyed the peanut butter pie. It was decadent!
Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
A spiced banana sponge cake with chocolate chips and icing.
Pina Colada Cupcake
Moist cupcake with a pina colada icing.
A select assortment of delicious fresh fruits.
Old-Fashion Ice Cream Sundae
Can be made tree nuts and peanut free upon request
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream topped with rich whipped cream and a cherry. Your choice of chocolate, butterscotch, or strawberry sauce.
Sugar-free diet cake, calorie-reduced diet moose
Every Day Favourites
Fruit and cheese plate, Jell-O and cookies, freezies, cream pudding, orange sherbet, strawberry frozen yogourt.
There is always something happening at Bergwen’s Theatre, Fern Resort’s auditorium. The shows are very fun and interactive for the whole family. Some of the entertainment put on in the past include: magic shows, puppet shows, singing performances, dueling pianos, Fern’s Got Talent, Ojibway Native Telling. As well, there are outdoor entertainment shows such as: Wildlife shows, poolside parties, and extreme wakesports water shows on Lake Couchiching.
On the Sunday evening of our getaway, we attended The Sentimentalists magic show. It was pretty amazing! The highlight for us was when Dr. Mysterion called Lauren up on stage. She had a fun time having her mind read.
There is so much to do at Fern Resort. Some of the indoor activities include: hanging out at Mary Lou’s (a recreation hall), shooting some pool, playing vintage video games, ping pong, shuffleboard, evening dance parties, karaoke, silent dance parties, trivia challenges, and other organize games by the front resort activity staff.
I had a great time playing trivia with some of the other adults, while Wendy and the girls played video games and pool.
Rachel had a school assignment she needed to work on. She was able to grab a seat by the window overlooking Lake Couchiching, and plug in her laptop to do what she needed to do.
Lauren loved playing pool with Wendy and I while Rachel did her homework, and playing Pac-Man. Mary Lou’s is a fun place to hang out, whether it is raining or not.
There is so much to do outdoors at Fern Resort. The activities staff run a great program, with activities for the whole family.
Unique Outdoor Adventures
Wetland walking nature trail, honeybee biking and hiking trail, and a jogging track.
The Sporting Life
Equipment at the sports cottage (bikes, 4-wheel pedal go-carts), batting cage, archery, extreme sports challenge course, low ropes challenge course, zip line, trampolines, tennis courts, frisbee golf, golf on site, street hockey, bocce ball, giant chess and checkers, and miniature golf.
On The Waterfront
Pool deck pavilion, terrace bar, poolside DJ, sports director’s pool party, professional water ski show, non-motorized boats, small boats (row boats, kayaks, and paddleboats), Coochiching cooler cruises, and catch and release fishing.
Our girls spent hours outside, enjoying lots of activities. They bounced on the trampolines, caught many fish, went on the zip-line, cruised around the bay in a paddleboat, navigated the trails on the 4-wheel pedal go-carts, and spent many hours in the pool – both indoors and out.
The Pools and Hot Tub
Of the 3 pools at Fern Resort, 2 are outdoor. One of the pools has a diving board, and a lifeguard is on duty. There is a hot tub on the deck overlooking Lake Couchiching.
Pool, Hot Tub, Spa, and Fitness Area
One of the pools at Fern Resort is indoor. The pool is small and one depth throughout. There is no lifeguard on duty. In the pool room, there is a hot tub, sauna, and steam room. There is also a fitness room, and a spa. Anautica Spa that offers: Reflexology, Reiki Treatment, Chakra Treatment, Aroma Massage, Stess Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Heavenly Honey Massage, Lymphatic Drainage Massage… all for a reasonable cost.
Fern Resort Staff
Customer service is top notch at Fern Resort. Everyone we came in contact with appeared to thoroughly enjoy working there, and it showed in their actions. Our waiter for the weekend was fantastic. He tended to all of our needs, and was a pleasure to be around.
The front desk staff was very helpful, as was the activity staff. Adult activities coordinator, Mike, ran a fantastic trivia time with some of the adults. It was a great turnout, and a fantastic way to keep the guests busy in Mary Lou’s on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The sports staff by the fishing dock were also fantastic. Rachel and Lauren love fishing, but are not fans of removing the fish from the hook to release them back into the water. The staff encouraged them to fish, and when one of the girls caught a fish, they came over and removed the fish. This made for a fun time for our girls. It was a treat to sit back and watch them have fun!
Fern Resort is a family resort, with a very laid back atmosphere. Dress is casual, meaning jackets for men and dresses for ladies are not necessary. They do ask that appropriate cover-ups are worn. No bare feet, bathing suits, hats or muscle shirts are worn in dining rooms. In other words – general public etiquette applies.
Book your stay at Fern Resort!
If you would like to spend some time unwinding, relaxing, and bonding with your family, check out Fern Resort on Attractions Ontario. A big thank you to Attractions Ontario, who helped organize my trip, and can help you with any excursions you are planning in Ontario. Check them out!
4432 Fern Resort Road
Ramara, ON L3V 0Z1
Make some memories, and enjoy the rolls and honey!
Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary stay at Fern Resort for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.