HUNTSVILLE, Ont. — It’s busy times at Deerhurst Resort as the Muskoka, Ont., cottage country property dramatically revamps its food and beverage operations and plans to add a swim dock and outdoor event space, along with an indoor children’s playground.
On the f&b side, the Deerhurst team, on Jan. 1, reopened Maple Pub & Patio for winter service (lunch only). Typically, Maple Pub had operated May to October, serving lunch and dinner, and this was the first winter, in five years, in which it had opened for business, said general manager Jesse Hamilton, who joined the resort in June, 2016.
Going forward, the pub will serve lunch and dinner mid-May to mid-October and will offer lunch only, November to April.
Also on Jan. 1, Compass Grill & Bar changed from serving lunch and dinner, to offering dinner only. The team refocused the menu, deleting casual items in favour of a higher-end food offering.
The changes at Maple Pub and Compass Grill have paid early dividends. “Guests like having more experiences,” said Hamilton, who added that the pub has “substantially captured lunch covers.”
Changes are also afoot at the property’s steakhouse, Steamers, which operates seasonally. On the May long weekend, the restaurant will rebrand as Antler, serving dinner. To cater to golfers playing the two neighbouring courses — Highlands, a championship track, and Lakeside, a par 3/executive track — Steamers, at the beginning of golf season, began serving lunch. The menu will remain unchanged even after Steamers rebrands, said Hamilton.
In the winter months, when the steakhouse is closed, Compass Grill answers guests’ need for higher-end food, said Hamilton. Plans call for Compass to test tapas items in summer, once Antler opens. The tapas menu will continue until Antler closes in autumn.
A fourth restaurant, Eclipse, which offers panoramic views of the wooded landscape surrounding the resort, is the only onsite eatery offering breakfast. Year-round, Eclipse serves buffet dinner Friday and Saturday nights, and in July and August, offers the buffet seven nights a week.
Renovations, to the tune of $150,000, are also in the works for the four restaurants, with the lion’s share of the refurbishments devoted to Antler, in the form of a new bar/lounge and new lighting. Noting that “50 per cent of Steamers’ guests are locals,” Hamilton said the renovation aims to “reinvigorate locals’ experience at the restaurant.” Plans also call for a summer renovation to Maple Pub’s patio.
Furthermore, retooling the property’s eateries “ensures that there are enough onsite experiences so that f&b becomes integral to guests’ experience and stay,” said Hamilton.
Opening June 15 is Sunset Bay Park & Swim Dock. Made possible by the reconfiguring of Lakeside golf course’s 18th hole, which doubled the useable waterfront, the new amenity will feature a 60 ft. floating swim dock; beach volleyball court; inland sand beach; and 5,000-square-foot lawn ceremony site designed for weddings, but also suitable for outdoor events, dinners, cocktail receptions, etc.
Elsewhere, plans called for the launch, on April 26, of a children’s playground, located in a former squash court and designed like a Muskoka tree fort.
Designed to operate year round, the playground “gives families a breadth of experience when the weather’s not good,” said Hamilton.
For its part, Skyline Investments, which bought the resort in 2011, has doubled its capital investment, for 2017, to the tune of $1.5 million, with the aim of generating new guests and improving the overall experience at the property, said Hamilton.
Part of that investment will go towards a soft renovation, to the 102 guestrooms in the Pavilion Building, which will “make the rooms feel like a Muskoka cottage.” The soft reno is expected to be completed July 1.