Over the past year B&B operators throughout the Kawartha Lakes and the Haliburton Highlands have joined the reservation system called Ontario Town and Country Home Hospitality Ltd. Reservations can be made for accommodation nearHaliburton, Minden, Fenelon Falls, Bobcaygeon, Apsley, Havelock, Norwood, Bethany, Bridgenorth and Lindsay. Each week new properties apply, are inspected and added to the registry as the idea grows.
Although most of the B&Bs operate year round, winter offers a great getaway, for cross-country skiers in particular. The Haliburton Nordic Trails make up Ontario's biggest system with 200 kilometres of groomed double-track trails. Many of the B&Bs are located on or near this ski system. Parts of the trail are even lit for night skiing.
Between Peterborough and Apsley, the Kawartha Nordic Ski Club has 40 kilometres of wilderness trail through thick woods. Silent Lake Provincial Park near Apsley also offers groomed and marked trails.
Each B&B is different, of course, but a visit to a couple gives an idea of the quality and amenities one can expect from this reservation network.
South of Apsley, a two-storey blue Cape Cod-style house is nestled in the woods. A small creek that runs through the property attracts wildlife. Warm country charm is reflected in every detail of the colonial decor. Guests are accommodated in either an upper level studio with a queen-size bed or a bright and cheery bedroom with a double brass bed full of pillows and quilts. Both have four-piece bathrooms. The extra-large-screen television is a favourite with guests. After a day of cross-country skiing, the glow from the brick fireplace and a mug of hot cider is most welcome.
However, it is the meals that are memorable. The hostess is a chef who used to operate her own restaurant. If you enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread or the taste of homemade soup on a frosty winter day, this is a B&B you are certain to enjoy.
Another property is located a few kilometres north of the town of Cloyne and has easy access to the cross-country skiing in Bon Echo Provincial Park. This five-level house is perched on an escarpment by Lake Skootamatta. The view from five-metre-tall windows in the sitting room and extended dining area is breathtaking. Off the games room is a romantic private suite with its own living room and balcony. The four-piece bathroom extends into a separate room with a gigantic hot tub that feels great after a day in the snow.
Curled up with a good book or a glass of wine in front of one of the two floor-to-ceiling fireplaces is an equally cosy way to end the day.
For more information on Ontario Town and Country Home Hospitality, write to P.O. Box 212, Peterborough, Ont. K9J 6Y8, or telephone and fax (705) 876-8787. B&B prices vary, depending on the amenities and meals. A three-night stay at the Bon Echo house is $324 per couple which includes a hearty breakfast each morning, afternoon tea and a candlelight dinner with wine. Gift certificates are available.