Rawley Resort: The draw
It’s a gloomy, grey day when we arrive at Rawley Resort Marina & Spa in Port Severn, but even with storm clouds obscuring the view, the property and its sweeping water vistas are gorgeous. Boats putter past on the Trent Severn Waterway, heading to and from the nearby Lock 45 — the last lock on the journey from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay.
Climb the spiral staircase in the lobby, up past the gift shop and the cozy lounge full of books and board games, and step out onto the Lighthouse Observation Deck to see it all: the lake house-style resort, its cute cottage accommodations and the lawns peppered with flower beds and sitting chairs primed for lazy days gazing at the lake.
Rawley Resort: The rooms
Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Rawley Resort has changed hands a few times over its history, but has always been a family-owned property. The rooms have recently been refreshed, but still maintain that quaint and cozy cottage charm.
Our stay in the Executive Waterside Loft is a secluded escape in a cottage-like building, apart from the main resort. Spanning over two levels, it's larger than our Toronto apartment with a full living room, a kitchenette, a beautiful bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and two bathrooms. Sitting in the chairs on the balcony of our charming abode for the weekend, watching birds and boats float over the water, all the stress of city life seems like a distant memory.
On the other side of the resort, The Terraces are perfect for family stays with two bedrooms and the option to bring fur babies along. Next to the pool, The Lakehouse Cottage is another family-friendly (or bachelor/bachelorette party) option with four bedrooms and six beds.
Even with all 20 rooms booked during our stay, it felt like we had the spacious resort all to ourselves.
Rawley Resort: The menu
After Marben Restaurant closed down, chef Chris Locke brought his culinary expertise and farm-to-table ethos to Rawley’s recently redesigned Lighthouse45 restaurant. Locke overhauled the kitchen, creating a dining program rooted in seasonality, sustainability and local ingredients. Their chickens are pasture raised at a nearby farm, their produce comes from Georgina’s ClearWater Farm, eggs arrive from Howards Farm in East Gwillimbury and their honey travels just 10 minutes from Adam’s. Walking around the grounds that afternoon, we spy Chris Locke knee-deep in the brush on a foraging expedition plucking wild mint.
In Lighthouse45's contemporary-chic dining room, the melodies of a live pianist float through the warm, beige and cream coloured space that's outfitted with gold fixtures, pops of vibrant red and a glass-encased wine shelf that acts as the bar's eye-catching backdrop. Outside, the patio is just as inviting, surrounded by the serenity of the large green lawn stretching to the water's edge. Both settings offer the perfect atmosphere for tucking into a meal that tastes like taking a delicious bite out of the season itself.
Incredibly fresh tomatoes come with chunks of beautiful stracciatella, drizzled with vinaigrette and rounded out with the earthy flavour of chive moss. Potatoes are poached in whey for an extra fluffy texture and doused in a rich and savoury cultured cream with locally foraged wild onion oil. I've never thought of rhubarb season as something to look forward to until a creamy custard with poached rhubarb and lemon balm crumble makes its way to our table.
Craft cocktails like the refreshing cucumber smash and spicy rhubarb margarita (rhubarb again!) warm us up for the meal, which we pair with a delicious red wine from their short, but well-curated list.
Lighthouse45 also serves breakfast and lunch, and in the morning we feast on one of the best breakfast sandwiches I've ever tasted. A free-run pork and bacon patty is topped with aged cheddar, tomato, lettuce, an egg and tangy mustard mayo, and served on a soft brioche bun.
For a more casual experience, the property is also home to waterfront restaurant, The Grill and an adorable floating ice cream shop, The Icebreaker. But you'd be remiss not to take at least one meal at Lighthouse45 during your visit.
Rawley Resort: What else
Rawley has all the warmth, homeyness and incredibly friendly staff of a small, boutique bed and breakfast, but set on sprawling grounds with excellent amenities. Swim off the dock or take a dip in the outdoor pool, then turn up the heat in the year-round hot tub and the barrel sauna.
At the recently refreshed spa, they take a holistic approach to wellness, infusing aromatherapy, reiki energy and crystals into their treatments. A massage left my body feeling like butter and my spirit as light as air.
You don't have to stay overnight to book a treatment at the spa or have dinner at Lighthouse45 — but we'd highly recommend it. Guests can arrive by car or by boat, and Rawley Resort offers the option to enjoy all the amenities of the hotel during the day, and sleep on your boat at night. There are even designated showers, and a barbecue area with picnic tables. While only the restaurant and patio areas are licensed right now, they're hoping to extend it to the whole property in the future (please, AGCO gods!). And more updates are on the horizon for Rawley Resort. Twist our arm — I guess we'll just have to keep coming back to visit.
Rooms from $314 a night
Rawley Resort Marina & Spa, 2900 Kellys Rd., Port Severn, ON; rawleyresort.com