The majesty of the tree-lined road that leads to Hockley Valley Resort, welcomes you to the rejuvenating wilderness oasis located one hour north of Toronto. As we pulled up to the resort, Elowyn happily exclaimed, “Mommy, look a castle!”
We checked into our bi-level regal suite and excitedly opened the door to our home away from home.
A fantastic feature we discovered, not typically found in hotel rooms, was a spacious walk in closet with a seating area for getting your shoes on and off.
I loved how we could tuck all our belongings there, out of the way, and relax in the spacious living area, free from clutter. The main floor also had an executive desk, washroom, fireplace, living room, and balcony.
The rolling hills were beautifully dressed in the final encore of fall colours. Elowyn spotted a trumpeter swan gallivanting through the golf course and then made her way up the stairs to explore the second floor.
The tall vaulted ceilings above the King bed really make you feel like you’re staying in a luxury loft rather than a resort room.
The upstairs master bath had a rain shower, with two additional body jets, which left me feeling refreshed and ready to seize the day. There’s also an upstairs balcony with a seating area to take in the beautiful daytime views and star-speckled night sky.
Elowyn’s favorite part of any hotel stay is the pool. The moment we checked into Hockley, she asked reception where the swimming pool was and said, “Let’s go!” Had we come in the summer, Elowyn would have had her choice of an indoor or an outdoor pool, but the colder weather meant we enjoyed the indoor amenities. The best part of the pool, was one end being shallow enough for Elowyn to walk around on her own.
You rarely see this in hotel pools, but she was ecstatic, “swimming” from one end of the shallow area to the other.
We also enjoyed the dry spa and hot-tub and appreciated that while the hot-tub did feature jets, they weren’t overpowering and the water temperature was perfect, warm and soothing but not so hot that we had trouble settling into the tub.
Hockley Valley offers a range of restaurants. We were looking forward to our reservations at Cabin, their fine-dining option. Seated in front of the kitchen, we had a spectacular view of the team hard at work bringing the a-la-carte menu to fruition. We also had the chance to chat with Chef Joseph and Chef Iniyan throughout our memorable dining experience.
We learned about how Hockley’s fruit and vegetable farm spans four acres, and accounts for 80 percent of all restaurant menu ingredients.
The chefs visit the farm daily for the fresh produce and herbs that help shape their signature dishes.
Our five course meal showcased the farm-to-table philosophy of Hockley’s restaurants and the creativity and skill of their chefs. We started with an appetizer plater featuring house cured meats, preserves, and honey from Hockley’s own apiary. The spicy tomato jelly was a stand out and the honey was so tasty, I made sure to purchase some from Adamo Estate Winery on our way out. The fresh baked breads paired well with the selection of cheeses and charcuterie.
Our first appetizer, the Grilled Lamb Chops, was served with a refreshing salad of aqua greens and radish with a citrus vinaigrette. The lamb was perfectly cooked with a nice charbroiled exterior and a tender, juicy, interior. Flavour wise, there was no gamey taste to speak of and the distinctively rich and savoury lamb was well-balanced with the zesty salad.
From there, we moved on to Pan Seared Scallops, featuring a parsnip and vanilla crema, citrus salsa, crushed hazelnut and dehydrated prosciutto. Now this dish, literally was the perfect bite. It had it all: a journey of seasonal flavours, the best combination of textures, and stunning presentation. I’ve never experienced a tastier scallop and if I could go back to Cabin only for one dish, it would be this one.
Our pasta course, featured hand-made Agnolotti stuffed with Braised Lamb and was topped with a light tomato sauce, basil and parmesan cheese. I’ve never had braised lamb as a pasta filling before and after trying this dish, I now know I’ve been missing out!
The filling was tender and perfectly seasoned, reminding me of the hearty lamb stews I grew up on and the subtle sweetness of the sauce elevated the flavour profile of the dish.
I enjoyed a mocktail with hints of lemon, ginger and wildflower honey and we had a watermelon sorbet palate cleanser before our main course. Elowyn asked for seconds of the sorbet and then thirds. Suffice to say, she enjoyed her favorite fruit and the little taste of summer the sorbet provided.
The Prime Rib Roast, featured weekly on Cabin’s menu, was our main. It was served with Yorkshire pudding, heirloom carrots, sautéed local mushrooms, smashed fingerling potatoes, horseradish crema and porcini jus. To say it was expertly crafted, isn’t doing the dish justice. The crispy heirloom carrots and the earthiness of the mushrooms, enriched the succulent prime rib roast. The horseradish crema was delightful, flavourful and tame, without overpowering the other elements on the plate.
With little room to spare, we finished our meal with a lovely dessert platter featuring fresh made churros, peanut butter cheesecake and chocolate mousse. Each bite was delectable. The crispiness of the churros was perfect for dipping, the peanut butter cheesecake was light and velvety smooth and the chocolate mousse paired best with our coffees. A fantastic end to an incredible meal.
After dinner, we enjoyed the evening as a family. We spent time reading to Elowyn and snuggling in for a movie.
Getting away, even just for a night, makes a world of difference.
I find the relaxation carries over into the week ahead. Our sleep was restful in the comfortable and quiet room and it was easy to wake up to gorgeous balcony views.
The following morning, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast at Restaurant 85. Buffet breakfast doesn’t usually get me excited, but having dined at Hockley before, I knew we were in for a treat. The selection is diverse and includes gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Elowyn couldn’t get enough of the pancakes, that had a delightful vanilla flavour.
I enjoyed my home fries, chive scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit, while Dave indulged in the smoked salmon by creating a scrumptious breakfast bagel.
Our visit included one more adventure after check-out, a trip to Adamo Estate Winery for a wine-tasting and tour. Adamo is an award winning small-batch boutique winery that practices organic and biodynamic farming. Our tour-guide, Joselle, enriched our visit with an educational tour that focused on the history of the estate as well as the unique wine-making techniques utilized at Adamo.
An interesting tidbit from our tour: the original owner of the winery found a five-leaf clover in the vineyard. It’s rumoured that he hid the good luck charm within the walls of the winery. The five-leaf clover has yet to be found!
My wine-tasting included two dessert wines and a lovely Riesling. The 2016 Muscat dessert wine is exceptional, floral and sweet with notes of orange blossom, honeysuckle, citrus and tropical fruits.
We ended up also purchasing a red-wine blend that we thought would be perfect for holiday entertaining.
The Whip’d red wine is fragrant with notes of cherry, black raspberries, and cocoa. I like the rounded and bold flavour of blends and I’m looking forward to trying this one.
Our stay at Hockley Valley Resort was exactly what we needed to rejuvenate us before a busy season of packed shopping malls, cold weather and holiday prep.
The secluded and scenic grounds offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life without the deterrent of a long drive.
It’s a fantastic spot for both couples and families, with romantic fine-dining options, family friendly amenities, and luxurious suites. I’m already looking forward to our next visit.
Review by: Sofia Martimianakis