Buy, rent or build your ideal cottage retreat with the help of our handy guide.
—By Viviane Kertész
CAN BUY ME LOVE
Cottage country has remained largely unaffected by the real estate downturn in Canada’s urban centres. “Buy now! There is a great selection of available property at affordable prices,” says Jan Sargeant, a licensed broker and realtor for Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty and the president-elect for the Muskoka and Haliburton Association of Realtors. The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort and Spa located in Minett, is a 221-suite condo-hotel offering whole ownership of the suites within the property. Creature comforts include Miele appliances, a four-season pool, and an award-winning golf course near a 700-acre nature reserve. Residents can either spend time in their vacation homes or put them in the rental pool—and in return, receive a guaranteed share of rental-room revenue. Nine annual weeks range from $250,000 for studio suites of 464 square feet to $985,000 for one-bedroom-plus-den, 1,100-square-foot suites.
FUN FOR A FRACTION
If you’ll visit your cottage for only a few weeks each year, consider fractional ownership. Diamond’s Edge Muskoka features Normerica-built authentic post-and-beam standalone cottages facing Nutt Lake. Here, $89,000 buys you five weeks of fully furnished R and R next to the the Diamond “In the Ruff” golf course. Lake of Bays resort Blue Water Acres is extending an incentive for wary would-be buyers: anyone purchasing fractional ownership gets a one-year buyback guarantee by the developer if the buyer loses his or her job during that period. At this property, partial ownership of the 1,275-square-foot Meadowvale, a unit with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, costs $69,900 to $77,900 for five weeks each year.
RENT A ROOM WITH A VIEW
If you’re not ready to buy or want to sample different lakes before deciding where to purchase, renting is a sensible alternative. Properties at Ontario Cottage Rentals and Cottages on the Web sleep from two to 14, and range from $600 to $10,000 weekly. “When people call us, they pinpoint specific amenities and activities they want access to, so we can help them find the perfect cottage options for them, which saves them a lot of legwork,” says Sheila Givens, general manager of both companies. If golf is your game, stay and play at Inn at Manitou, a Relais & Châteaux resort on Manitouwabing Lake that is spitting distance from 18 world-class holes at The Ridge at Manitou. Many resorts selling fractional ownership also offer rental propositions, such as Blue Water Acres ($1,200 to $3,000 weekly), Diamond’s Edge Muskoka ($2,995 weekly; includes unlimited golf for four) and The Rosseau ($200 for a studio in low season to $1,600 for the luxury suite in prime season).
BUILD YOUR DREAM HOME
If you’ve got the lot of land but no house—or prefer a custom-built creation to purchasing a resale property—your choices are endless. For the past 59 years, Viceroy Homes Limited (1-800-265-0021, www.viceroy.com) has designed, engineered and manufactured thousands of made-to-order home packages in Muskoka. A 168-page catalogue outlines the company’s post-and-beam series, which costs about $50 to $60 per square foot for materials, plus an additional $25 to $30 per square foot for labour. Len Corby, retail sales manager for Viceroy’s Mississauga corporate office, explains its modified turnkey package: “We do 90 per cent of the home, from the shell and frame to the inside—the 10 per cent we don’t do is painting, the kitchen countertop or tile work—with prices at around $150 per square foot.” Guildcrest Homes (1-800-249-1432, www.guildcrest.com) specializes in producing Energy Star–labelled homes. Its Trailhead model, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,400-square-footer, boasts cathedral ceilings, hardwood floors, a fireplace with oak mantle, stonework on the house’s facade, a covered porch, a glassed-in garden extension, an insulated basement and two coats of a primer painted onto the walls, for about $225,000. “While we’re putting the foundation in on-site, the modular house is being built indoors at our factory, so the material is never compromised by rain or snow,” says Bob Stuart, co-owner of Barrie Build & Design Centre, which erects Guildcrest Homes exclusively.
NEED MORE INFO? Find your perfect Muskoka getaway here.
THE INN AT CHRISTIE’S MILL Port Severn getaway with Avalon Spa, Twigs restaurant, 1-800-465-9966.
THE TRILLIUM RESORT & SPA Chalet-style accommodation on a private lake in Port Sydney among 86 forest acres, 1-800-263-6600.
WATER’S EDGE VACATION RENTALS Go-to site for renters or owners and also lists cottages available for sale, 1-877-218-5370.
BIGWIN ISLAND Golf destination offering 60 Normerica timber-frame cottages on the waterfront, 1-800-840-4036.
CHESTNUT PARK REAL ESTATE Area realtor with various locatons, 705-765-6878.
LAKES OF MUSKOKA ROYAL LEPAGE Realtor with extensive cottage listings, 705-765-6855.
TOUCHSTONE ON LAKE MUSKOKA Luxurious fractional-ownership villas, 1-866-492-1888.
MAFCO HOUSE “Kit house” construction models for lovers of modern simplicity, 416-985-0597.
SHORLINE CONSTRUCTION Premier builder and renovator of cottages, boathouses, decks and docks, 705-765-7467.