6 hidden gem getaways across Canada that you can still get into this summer
We found dream retreats that are available at this very moment and that's all we can promise you
Summer's here and the living is easy — even easier if you can get away for a few nights of romance or family adventure. But what if, like so many of us, you've been too busy to plan a summer vacation?
Luckily, there are some hidden gems across Canada that still have plenty of availability this summer. From a luxury fly-in resort in British Columbia's Discovery Islands, to a group of brightly painted cottages on the Atlantic Coast, there may still be an escape waiting for you this season.
Inn at Bay Fortune, Fortune, Prince Edward Island
Guests at this inn near Souris, Prince Edward Island are given priority at Chef Michael Smith's nightly feast — a 12-course dining experience that begins with a farm tour, follows with "oyster hour" and continues with an elaborate sit-down meal. The experience has earned the Inn at Bay Fortune the title of Best Farm to Table Restaurant in 2018, and the 62nd best restaurant in Canada in 2019, according to Canada's Best 100. Better yet, the 80-acre property has secret paths and trails. A few minutes' walk brings you to Fortune Back Beach — a white sand paradise so special you won't find it on Google maps.
With only 21 rooms, the Inn at Bay Fortune is busy throughout the summer season, especially on Friday nights, but at the time of writing, there were plenty of rooms available mid-week, and one or two each Saturday. Even if the Inn at Bay Fortune is fully booked, you're more than likely to find a spot at their brand new sister property, which opened on June 30th. The Inn Fortune Bridge is an opulent six-room boutique inn, housed in the former Johnston General Store.
Rosewood on the Cove Cottages, Hubbards Nova Scotia
Rosewood on the Cove is a group of seven cottages on Hubbards Cove — one of the most picturesque communities on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, only 45 minutes from Halifax. Nearby attractions include white sand beaches like Hubbards, Queensland and Bayswater, and the world-famous lobster supper restaurant and dance hall, the Shore Club. With a heated outdoor pool and a gorgeous sundeck, featuring out-of-this-world Atlantic sunsets, Rosewood's cottages are in fact, large family-friendly summer homes, decorated to a high standard with modern kitchens and living areas. Each unit is individually owned under a condominium corporation, which means that dates can become available at the last minute, if the owners decide to release the rooms.
Rosewood has a five-night minimum during the summer, but in true Maritime fashion, there is usually some flexibility on this rule. Rosewood has some availability throughout July, including cheerful Hyacinth cottage, which has an opening for 10 days from the 21st until the 31st. There are several chunks of time available in August, including some weekends, and there are four cottages available for the Labour Day weekend.
Motelluxe, La Pêche, Québec
The shiny, new Airstream trailer at Motelluxe (her name is Bella) is parked amongst the bucolic fields and farms of the Gatinueau hills. The outdoor shower, infinity deck and plunge pool add to the experience of a relaxing getaway. For supper, walk to the local general store, Magasin Général La Pêche, where you can buy local farm products, cheeses and wine. Save some room for the next morning's beautiful continental breakfast, provided by your hosts. Combine your stay with a day at the nearby Nordik Spa-Nature. There are no kids, no pets at Motelluxe, making it the perfect couples getaway.
Because Bella is a one-woman show (there is no other accommodation on the property), weekends get booked out quickly. There are only mid-week slots left in July, but throughout August, there is plenty of availability on both weekdays and weekends.
Cabinscape's Mica Cabin, Rideau Valley, Ontario
Cabinscape is an outdoor adventure company that builds modern off-grid cabins in the backwoods of the Ontario Highlands. Each of the seven cozy, solar-powered cabins is located in a unique wilderness area, and many offer bike or hiking trails as part of the experience. The cabins generally sell out within hours of being made available, in part because of Cabinscape's strong Instagram presence (of forty-thousand nature-loving followers).
Good news for you, the brand new Mica Cabin, set on a private lake in the Rideau Valley conservation area, has just been completed, and is ready to be released for bookings this Friday July 5th, with 100% availability through July and August… if you act quickly!
Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort, Parksville, British Columbia
On the east coast of Vancouver Island, the Tigh-Na-Mara resort and spa is nestled in 22 acres of woodland, adjacent to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. Only minutes away, the city of Parksville holds one of the world's best Sand Sculpting competitions from July 12th - August 18th. For grown-ups, there is the Grotto spa, which is considered one of the best in Canada, and for families, there's a full recreation program, so you can relax while the kids have fun.
For last-minute vacationers, big is beautiful. With 192 rooms, and 19 different room types, there's plenty of space at Tigh-Na-Mara for last-minute guests. Even this weekend, there are still a handful of rooms available on both Friday and Saturday night, and the remainder of July looks good too. According to staff, August is the busiest month, but there are no sold-out dates…yet.
Homfray Lodge, Desolation Sound, British Columbia
Even if you haven't planned ahead, it's not too late to book a once-in-a-lifetime experience like the 4-day Homfray Explorer Cruise, which will see you staying in the luxurious 7-room Homfray Lodge for 3 nights, while taking day excursions, accompanied by a naturalist, on your group's private vessel, The Pacific Bear, a former fishing boat converted into a comfortable day-cruiser. Be wined and dined at the lodge, swim, kayak or SUP in the warmest waters north of Mexico, while Orca and Humpback whales frolic in Desolation Sound — a marine paradise that you can only access by boat or plane.
The exclusive Homfray Lodge has a maximum capacity of 14 people, but there is still availability on all tours throughout July and August. The best way to get there is by propeller plane from Vancouver to Powell River airport — a 35-minute flight. You can also drive to Lund, British Columbia, where your hosts will pick you up. A new cruise departs each Friday morning. What are you waiting for?
Helen Earley is a Halifax-based food and travel writer. Follow her at @hfxhelen