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I love living in the city but sometimes it’s nice to head to the cottage. Unlike most people we know, neither side of our family owns a cottage and it can be such an expensive investment at this stage, or so I thought. Great Blue Resorts offers an affordable way for families like mine to own their own getaway in Ontario’s cottage country.

Of course you can rent a cottage, and we’ve done this a few times in the past, but the gear you have to pack for a quick getaway can be daunting and perhaps a little discouraging. I like the idea of just packing some clothes, jumping in the car and pulling up beside our little cabin near the lake.

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AFFORDABLE

Every time we get into the cottage mindset the prices of available properties are out of reach when you’re talking a part-time home. I was surprised to discover the three-bedroom cottage we stayed at in Great Blue Resort’s Cherry Beach location cost less than $75,000 (excluding the deck and other custom features). Plus each cottage includes the heating and air conditioning system, light fixtures and decorations, wood skirting and staircasing (outside), window treatments, appliances (fridge, stove & microwave) plus the furniture for the living, dining, and bedrooms. Yes, furniture AND appliances. The only major element not found in your cottage is laundry facilities but they are provided onsite in the resort. No need to shop around for items designed to fit within the compact space and it is compact.

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When all five of us plus one resort staff member were moving things into the cottage for our weekend stay it did feel a little snug but once we were all settled, the space was perfect. I mean we are talking about a cottage. In my mind it should just provide basics with least amount of space to tidy. Our 480 square foot cottage actually felt a little bigger than the 600 square food apartment my husband and I once lived in years ago. I especially loved the layout of The Spruce. Having the main bedroom at one end and the kid’s bedrooms at the other didn’t have us feel like we were living on top of one another. Our cottage was just one option. When we visited there were seven different build models you could choose from ranging from a 432 square foot two-bedroom up to a 720 square foot three-bedroom.

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I put together a quick video of our three-bedroom cottage to give you an idea of what’s included in the space plus some of the resort features offered to guests:

Similar to a condo you do have an annual Resort Management fee, about $4,000 a year, covering your utilities (hydro, water, garbage disposal), organized events, the maintenance and use of the facilities like the pool, unlimited guest passes and parking.

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If Cherry Beach isn’t your ideal cottage country, Great Blue Resorts has six other family-friendly locations such as Bellmere Winds Resort (Kawarthas – Rice Lake), Lantern Bay Resort (Muskoka – Gravenhurst), McCreary’s Beach Resort (Ottawa – Perth), Shamrock Bay Resort (Muskoka), Vine Ridge Resort (Queenston), and Woodland Estate Resort (Kawarthas – Cambellford).

COMMUNITY

Besides the affordability of the Great Blue Resort cottages at Cherry Beach, I was also impressed with the community feel. We had access to a maintained sandy beach with a shallow entry where you could find a water trampoline and slide that the kids loved. You could also reserve a number of non-motorized water crafts like paddle boats and canoes.

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Beyond the beach we enjoyed a heated saltwater pool and splash area for younger kids, plus a playground (though in an unshaded area) and even a multi-use court for basketball, tennis and badminton. If you don’t have the gear, the resort has some on hand you can borrow. We also discovered a little store in the resort to buy treats or a scoop of fresh local ice cream. I love that the resort offers cash cards. Load a card with a fixed amount and give the kids the freedom to spend it during your visit.

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You may have noticed from the video that the cottages are pretty close together. I was worried about trying to enjoy myself outside with my neighbours right next door but it wasn’t like that at all. I found the area was a community of friends that you could either insert yourself into if you desired or just enjoy moments on your own.

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Additional Reading: Kids Outdoor Scavenger Hunt (printable)

In the community everyone did seem to know each other, with kids riding bikes around meeting up with friends they made last year and neighbours hosting other neighbours for a barbecue. The staff even organize a number of weekly events for residents and guests like an outdoor movie screening or the Halloween trick-or-treat night when we arrived. Plus the “Kidz Klub” on the weekend keeps kids entertained with organized activities like scavenger hunts and crafts. All these activities and events are all covered in your maintenance fee so there’s no surprise costs to participate.

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ADDED INCOME

Yes, you read that right. As a cottage owner you can earn an added income by joining the Great Blue Resort’s cottage rental program. This means you allocate the times your cottage is available and the resort does the rest. They handle the booking, payment, issues (if any), and getting it ready before and after guests. You just earn an income on your property when it’s not in use without having to handle the rental workload. Plus with all the added amenities the cottage is bound to attract vacationers.

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As someone who doesn’t own a cottage but has toyed with the idea, there are many things about the Great Blue Resort ownership program that I find appealing:

  • Affordable cost with payment plans
  • Move-in ready since the furnishings and appliances are included
  • Ability to customize based on my needs but using a prefab design to keep cost and delivery times down. You can be in your cottage in about 3-weeks!
  • Access to facilities beyond just using my cottage, like the pool and canoes
  • A community makes you feel included
  • The Resort Management team offer cottage summerization and winterization services (all are three-season cottages) which means more time enjoying your getaway instead of getting the cottage ready.

So if you’ve been dreaming about a little place of your own in Ontario’s cottage country, perhaps Great Blue Resorts is something worth investigating. Hey, and if you are interested in one of the seven family-friendly cottage resorts, you can always try renting for a weekend to get a feel for the place. That’s what we did. It’s the perfect test drive.

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Thanks to the folks at Great Blue Resorts and Cherry Beach Resorts for the opportunity to experience cottage life for the purpose of this post.

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