With less than six weeks until Christmas, you’ve probably already decided what you’re doing for the festive season. But, if you’re looking for something different this year, why not rent a cottage to enjoy some relaxing time with family and friends?
There are still plenty of cottages available for Christmas/New Years and you can often rent a cottage for three or four days instead of a week. This makes your mini vacation more flexible with all the other festival traditions each family has. So what should you look for in a festive vacation? Here’s a few tips and questions to ask the owner or agency:
- Is the cottage decoration for the season? If the owner has spent time on making the place look festive, that is wonderful, particularly if you’re arriving on Christmas Eve. All you have to do is turn on the tree lights and enjoy. If not, it could feel a bit stark and uninviting so you’ll want to take your favourite ornaments and accent
- Does the cottage have an open fireplace or a wood burning stove? It’s a real treat for Christmas morning to light the fire and enjoy the crackle of flames and the smell of wood smoke outside. Just find out ahead of time if wood is supplied for your stay.
- Find out where the nearest ski hills or trails are. There are many small ski hills and trails throughout Ontario, where you can enjoy a great half-day out with the family.
- If you’re planning on a big meal, check out the kitchen facilities at the cottage. Does it have a full size oven? What pots and pans are provided? Is there a potato masher? I add in the last one because I have been to more than one vacation rental property where this kitchen staple was missing. Make a list of all the kitchen items you must have and send it to the owner. At least then you’ll know what to bring and what can be left at home.
- Expect to pay a premium rate for a Christmas or New Year’s stay in a cottage as it is a high season week. In addition, most properties are heated by electric baseboard heaters alongside woodstoves. Maintaining heat is very costly, both in hydro and wood. This often surprises non-cottage owners how expensive it is to run wood burning heat.
- Will it be a white Christmas? Although nothing can be guaranteed, between the ice storm of December 2013 and the crazy amount of snow we’ve already received in mid-November, we can be sure it will be another white Christmas! However, until last year, Southern Ontario hadn’t seen a white Christmas in over three years. The best chances you have to guarantee snow are to travel in the Muskoka, Haliburton or Georgian Bay areas where lake-effect snow may occur when it’s still dry and mild in the city. If we have some really cold weather in early December, the smaller lakes should be frozen but take care and ask the locals whether you should walk on them or not. A moonlit walk on a frozen lake is one of those really fun activities, but this shouldn’t be attempted unless you’re fully confident it’s safe to do so. Local cottage owners will know this, but remember, do this as your own risk.
Cottage pictured here: Granite Point Falls