Laid-back luxury in Muskoka

A view of The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa. (Nicole Feenstra/QMI Agency)

A view of The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa. (Nicole Feenstra/QMI Agency)

NICOLE FEENSTRA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:50 PM ET

The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Muskoka, promises a soothing retreat in Ontario's cottage country. The modern comforts of spacious rooms, in-suite kitchens and lush spa treatments compliment the outdoor activities Muskoka is known for, from nature hikes to cross-country skiing.

In short, a trip to The Rosseau was just what my friend Lauren and I needed. I was tired from battling a cold before our visit. She was stressed from losing her car keys near Kitchener during a stop while en route to pick me up for our getaway. Luckily, her parents were willing to drive the two hours from Sarnia to deliver her spare keys and we arrived safely, though a little frazzled, on the shores of Lake Rosseau around midnight on the first night of our visit.

Staff had left boxed lunches, wine and a cheese platter in our deluxe two-bedroom suite with a note encouraging us to enjoy the snacks as our car troubles had likely caused us to miss dinner.

Knowing what guests need even before they do is exactly what makes The Rosseau, JW Marriott's first resort and spa in Canada, an authentic, intuitive destination, said sales and marketing director Leah Leslie.

A stay is all about guests "using their time well," Leslie said over a sumptuous dinner of carpaccio, lamb and homemade banana-pecan gelato at the resort's Italian restaurant, Teca. "We are the stewards of time and we have to give our guests the best possible use of that time."

The exterior of The Rosseau mirrors elements seen in the most majestic Muskoka cottages and lodges. Muskoka chairs and a continuously burning wood-fire beckon just outside the main entrance. The lobby, which provides a view of the back terrace and Lake Rosseau, is filled with cozy plaid chairs and fireplace screens adorned with metal leaves. Our room also reflected the Muskoka landscape, with pictures of trees, rustic wooden furniture and more metal leaves hugging the light fixtures.

We enjoyed the Girlfriends' Getaway in Muskoka package during our stay. Prices range from $770 to $1,020 for two people and include two nights' accommodation, daily breakfast and dinner, unlimited resort activities and a treatment at the exquisite Spa Rosseau.

The in-house spa offers an impressive variety of relaxation options, including manicures and pedicures, facials, body wraps and couples treatments. Lauren and I were treated to Spa Rosseau's signature massages. After securing our clothes in the ladies locker room -- where showers are stocked with toiletries and a eucalyptus steam room waits post-treatment -- we were each ushered into one of the 11 treatment rooms.

My massage started with a eucalyptus foot bath and a cup of soothing tea. Though considered a "signature" massage, the treatment can be customized.

My masseuse, Kayleigh, let me choose the blooming flower that would flavour my tea and sample four different organic oils. After smelling the oil and choosing one, Kayleigh explained I had picked the revitalizing oil filled with citrus notes -- the perfect choice for someone recovering from a cold.

What impressed me most were the comfy massage tables, which are fully adjustable and can be raised to support the legs and head. Covered in a heated blanket, I was quite snug during my full body massage.

After, we were free to enjoy the views while replenishing ourselves with loose-leaf tea and snacks in the relaxation lounges, and lazing by the hot tub with our cups of orange-flavoured water.

We left the spa in a blissful state ready to join one of the interesting activities offered by the resort, namely an astronomy lesson on the back terrace. Though some light clouds lingered in the sky, thousands of stars winked at us from high above. Thanks to a powerful telescope and good visibility, Lauren and I spotted Saturn and its rings clearly in the night sky.

"We have a variety of indoor and outdoor activities," Leslie said. "People can come here and do something inspiring no matter what their preference is," whether that be canoeing, biking, hiking, yoga, chocolate making or literary workshops.

"Experience nature on your own terms," she added. "Even if you just want to look out the window at it."

-- The Girlfriends' Getaway in Muskoka package is available through April 30, 2011. Visit marriott.com or redleavesmuskoka.com or call 705-765-1900 for details.

For more images of JW Marriott Rosseau, see canoe.ca/rosseau


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