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On the map: “The perfect escape from the city”

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A handful of classic vacation resorts in Ontario, some operating for more than 50 years, have long been in need of a facelift. Enter Freed Hotels & Resorts, the corporate behemoth, a subset of Freed Corp., which has scooped up a slew of them, including Horseshoe Resorts, Deerhurst, Blue Mountain Resort and Muskoka Bay.

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Now the newly expanded Horseshoe Resorts is launching the 8-storey, 200-suite Horseshoe Residences. “This is a gorgeous part of the Barrie area,” says Freed’s founder and CEO Peter Freed. “The topography is really wild for Ontario, and Horseshoe occupies almost 300 acres of that. It sits just across from the Copeland Forest.” The 4,400-acre forest criss-crossed with bike trails is a conservation area, under the auspices of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

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Beyond the surplus of activities in the area, like tree-trekking, snow tubing and skiing, Freed’s excitement stems from its recent architectural upgrades, designed by the Toronto-based Rafael + Bigauskas Architects.

“The biggest feature is the lobby,” says Freed, “with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Standing on the inside looking out, you feel like you’re outside, with panoramic views to the mountains, the chairlifts, the outdoor volleyball courts, the trails and a huge man-made lake just outside of the building.”

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With 29 downhill ski runs, 31 kilometres of trails, 14 downhill bike trails, a 12-hole golf course and mini-putt course for kids and 10 lanes for snow tubing, Horseshoe Resort appeals to people wanting a break from city living. “Our primary business is active families with kids,” says Jonathan Reid, general manager at Horseshoe Resort. “You don’t even need your own gear. We’ve got the mountain bike rental program and ski programs with instructors there as well, so you can be a complete novice.”

Ski culture inspired the resort’s design. “We really saw it as a communal hub with different gathering spaces,” says Johnson Chou, whose Toronto firm Johnson Chou Inc. oversaw the interiors.
Ski culture inspired the resort’s design. “We really saw it as a communal hub with different gathering spaces,” says Johnson Chou, whose Toronto firm Johnson Chou Inc. oversaw the interiors. Photo by Photo courtesy of Freed Corp.

But the property will also be a lure for investors. “The advantage here is that it can work like a time share,” says Freed. “You can buy a condo and a basic furniture package, then rent it out during the weeks or months you are away.” Horseshoe’s full rental management program takes care of securing renters and simply mails owners a cheque. Suites start at $400,000 for a small bachelor condo at around 450 square feet and go as high as $1.3 million for a 1,200-square-foot unit. Occupancy is slated for 2025.

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While winter and summer are the peak seasons, a new zipline and elaborate tree trekking course are designed to draw visitors in the spring and fall months. “During COVID, a lot of people just stayed at their condo here rather than be in the city,” says Reid. “There’s unlimited activities to do, and you’re in a gorgeous swatch of nature.” For the kids, there’s an inflatable playground on the lake, a climbing wall built into the mountain, and child-friendly instructors for outdoor activities.

For the interiors, Johnson Chou, president and owner of the Toronto-based Johnson Chou Inc., says the concept was to be a hybrid of two design styles. “On the one hand, we wanted it to reference that archetypal aprèsski culture,” he says. “But on the other, we also sought to update the look with a modern, floor-to-ceiling-windows open space.”

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To envision the interiors, Chou researched the rituals of ski culture. “It’s really about understanding the lifestyle and what happens after a long day of skiing,” he says. This informed his design for the large two-storey lobby that overlooks the ski hills and the restaurant below. “We really saw it as a communal hub with different gathering spaces within it.”

Beyond the concierge desk, there is seating for pickups and drop-offs, as well as a large fireplace with a long curved sofa that encourages conversation – as well as hot chocolate and coffee servicing areas, communal tables and moveable chairs.” There’s also a bar with raised seating just adjacent to the café. All of it is meant to complement the views outside. A two-storey ledgestone wall echoes the lines of the ski hills outside, while wood floors and ceilings evoke a traditional ski chalet.

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“Our primary business is active families with kids,” says Jonathan Reid, general manager at Horseshoe Resort, which has 29 downhill ski runs and 31 kilometres of trails.
“Our primary business is active families with kids,” says Jonathan Reid, general manager at Horseshoe Resort, which has 29 downhill ski runs and 31 kilometres of trails. Photo by Photo courtesy of Freed Corp.

The suites are similar to hotel rooms but have workable eight-foot kitchens that include an oven, a microwave, fridge, dishes and cooktops as well as a breakfast counter for people to eat or work at. “The suites are modern with a colour scheme of grey woods but are also very comfortable,” says Chou. Hints of a ski theme continue in the large wooden frames surrounding doorways and textured wallpaper along the corridors. Floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies maximize natural light and access to the great outdoors.

“This really is the perfect escape from the city,” says Freed. “And it’s hard to believe it’s an hour away.”

Suites begin in the low $400,000 for 450 square feet. For more information, visit www.horseshoeresidences.com.

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 Three things

If you like heights: Treetop Trekking Barrie has extensive labyrinths of suspension bridges and ziplines high up in the tree canopy, perfect for kids and adventurous adults. 1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., Barrie

Grab a pint at HQ Restaurant and Tap House. Their Italian-inflected pub fare includes flatbread pizzas, antipasto platters ($28) and a penne mac and cheese. 3239 Penetanguishene Rd., Barrie

The four-seasons Vettä Nordic Spa has a range of outdoor pools (hot and cold), plus steam rooms, saunas, and massage therapy options to take relaxation over the top. 3210 3 Line N., Oro-Medonte 

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A handful of classic vacation resorts in Ontario, some operating for more than 50 years, have long been in need of a facelift. Enter Freed Hotels & Resorts, the corporate behemoth, a subset of Freed Corp., which has scooped up a slew of them, including Horseshoe Resorts, Deerhurst, Blue Mountain Resort and Muskoka Bay.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Now the newly expanded Horseshoe Resorts is launching the 8-storey, 200-suite Horseshoe Residences. “This is a gorgeous part of the Barrie area,” says Freed’s founder and CEO Peter Freed. “The topography is really wild for Ontario, and Horseshoe occupies almost 300 acres of that. It sits just across from the Copeland Forest.” The 4,400-acre forest criss-crossed with bike trails is a conservation area, under the auspices of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Article content

Beyond the surplus of activities in the area, like tree-trekking, snow tubing and skiing, Freed’s excitement stems from its recent architectural upgrades, designed by the Toronto-based Rafael + Bigauskas Architects.

“The biggest feature is the lobby,” says Freed, “with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Standing on the inside looking out, you feel like you’re outside, with panoramic views to the mountains, the chairlifts, the outdoor volleyball courts, the trails and a huge man-made lake just outside of the building.”

Advertisement 3

Article content

With 29 downhill ski runs, 31 kilometres of trails, 14 downhill bike trails, a 12-hole golf course and mini-putt course for kids and 10 lanes for snow tubing, Horseshoe Resort appeals to people wanting a break from city living. “Our primary business is active families with kids,” says Jonathan Reid, general manager at Horseshoe Resort. “You don’t even need your own gear. We’ve got the mountain bike rental program and ski programs with instructors there as well, so you can be a complete novice.”

Ski culture inspired the resort’s design. “We really saw it as a communal hub with different gathering spaces,” says Johnson Chou, whose Toronto firm Johnson Chou Inc. oversaw the interiors.
Ski culture inspired the resort’s design. “We really saw it as a communal hub with different gathering spaces,” says Johnson Chou, whose Toronto firm Johnson Chou Inc. oversaw the interiors. Photo by Photo courtesy of Freed Corp.

But the property will also be a lure for investors. “The advantage here is that it can work like a time share,” says Freed. “You can buy a condo and a basic furniture package, then rent it out during the weeks or months you are away.” Horseshoe’s full rental management program takes care of securing renters and simply mails owners a cheque. Suites start at $400,000 for a small bachelor condo at around 450 square feet and go as high as $1.3 million for a 1,200-square-foot unit. Occupancy is slated for 2025.

Advertisement 4

Article content

While winter and summer are the peak seasons, a new zipline and elaborate tree trekking course are designed to draw visitors in the spring and fall months. “During COVID, a lot of people just stayed at their condo here rather than be in the city,” says Reid. “There’s unlimited activities to do, and you’re in a gorgeous swatch of nature.” For the kids, there’s an inflatable playground on the lake, a climbing wall built into the mountain, and child-friendly instructors for outdoor activities.

For the interiors, Johnson Chou, president and owner of the Toronto-based Johnson Chou Inc., says the concept was to be a hybrid of two design styles. “On the one hand, we wanted it to reference that archetypal aprèsski culture,” he says. “But on the other, we also sought to update the look with a modern, floor-to-ceiling-windows open space.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

To envision the interiors, Chou researched the rituals of ski culture. “It’s really about understanding the lifestyle and what happens after a long day of skiing,” he says. This informed his design for the large two-storey lobby that overlooks the ski hills and the restaurant below. “We really saw it as a communal hub with different gathering spaces within it.”

Beyond the concierge desk, there is seating for pickups and drop-offs, as well as a large fireplace with a long curved sofa that encourages conversation – as well as hot chocolate and coffee servicing areas, communal tables and moveable chairs.” There’s also a bar with raised seating just adjacent to the café. All of it is meant to complement the views outside. A two-storey ledgestone wall echoes the lines of the ski hills outside, while wood floors and ceilings evoke a traditional ski chalet.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“Our primary business is active families with kids,” says Jonathan Reid, general manager at Horseshoe Resort, which has 29 downhill ski runs and 31 kilometres of trails.
“Our primary business is active families with kids,” says Jonathan Reid, general manager at Horseshoe Resort, which has 29 downhill ski runs and 31 kilometres of trails. Photo by Photo courtesy of Freed Corp.

The suites are similar to hotel rooms but have workable eight-foot kitchens that include an oven, a microwave, fridge, dishes and cooktops as well as a breakfast counter for people to eat or work at. “The suites are modern with a colour scheme of grey woods but are also very comfortable,” says Chou. Hints of a ski theme continue in the large wooden frames surrounding doorways and textured wallpaper along the corridors. Floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies maximize natural light and access to the great outdoors.

“This really is the perfect escape from the city,” says Freed. “And it’s hard to believe it’s an hour away.”

Suites begin in the low $400,000 for 450 square feet. For more information, visit www.horseshoeresidences.com.

Advertisement 7

Article content

 Three things

If you like heights: Treetop Trekking Barrie has extensive labyrinths of suspension bridges and ziplines high up in the tree canopy, perfect for kids and adventurous adults. 1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., Barrie

Grab a pint at HQ Restaurant and Tap House. Their Italian-inflected pub fare includes flatbread pizzas, antipasto platters ($28) and a penne mac and cheese. 3239 Penetanguishene Rd., Barrie

The four-seasons Vettä Nordic Spa has a range of outdoor pools (hot and cold), plus steam rooms, saunas, and massage therapy options to take relaxation over the top. 3210 3 Line N., Oro-Medonte 

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

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