Back when I was an 8-year-old Cub Scout, camping in Ontario parks and conservation areas consisted of a tiny pup tent, threadbare sleeping bag, and a battery-draining flashlight. Comfort back then was not an option or priority. Outdoor discovery, ghost stories, and roasting marshmallows were the focus.
Now in my 50s with ailing back and aching knees, comfort takes centre stage and becomes not an option but mandatory. Thankfully, Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat, located in the Northumberland County and only a 90-minute drive east of Toronto, harmoniously blends Mother Nature’s sights, sounds, and scents with modern creature comforts.
Welcome to Glamping, 2020 edition, designed for those who appreciate nature and a comfy bed.
Glamping derives from the words “glamorous” and “camping”. Whispering Springs adheres to this definition but adds a few other adjectives to the glamping lexicon: charming, alluring, and romantic.
Safe Ontario Glamping During COVID-19
I visited Whispering Springs in early June when Ontario was still in Stage 1 of its COVID-19 era restrictions. Could my partner in love and travel, Sarah, and I still enjoy a relaxing and romantic visit impacted by these restrictions?
Though secretly Sarah may sometimes seek social distance from me after almost three months in lockdown, we needed to be set free and experience travel again. Whispering Springs came to our romantic travel rescue.
Guests can have a non-contact experience from check-in to check-out. Book online and upon arrival go straight to your reserved tent. No worries about two-metre physical distancing here — you can be 50 metres (165 foot) or more from another tent or person.
Tents are fogged first with hydrogen peroxide before housekeepers go in to completely clean and sanitize all furnishings and fixtures, change the linens, and supply new cutlery and plateware. Housekeepers are provided masks, gloves and, if requested, a full protection suit. Some guest facilities were closed at the time of our visit, including Watering Hole bar, pool, hot tub, and the communal fire pit areas for groups.
Whispering Springs goes beyond the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines to ensure guests and employees are safe. Refer to Whispering Springs’ complete COVID-19 guidelines as restrictions will likely change as reopening advances.
Northumberland County’s Natural Riches
The property sits on 200 acres filled with oak, pine, and spruce trees set amongst scenic walking trails and spring-fed ponds where you can fish, paddleboard, or canoe without threat of a jet ski or motorboat shattering your peaceful relaxation. Only the faint sound of spring water bubbling up from the pond’s shallow areas or birdsong breaks the silence. It’s no coincidence this glamping retreat is called Whispering Springs.
Birdwatchers will enjoy the Northumberland county bird show featuring yellow-rumped warblers, robins, house wrens, turkey vultures and broad-winged hawks soaring high above in search of tasty meals.
Luxury Tents Await Road-trippers
Whispering Springs guests can choose between four spacious and luxuriously appointed deluxe safari tents (sleeps three), eight traditional safari tents, (sleeps two), six Bell tents (sleeps two), a 1-bedroom cozy cabin, or a 4-bedroom private chalet with large outdoor deck and hot tub. No worries about feeling cramped or crouching with the tents ranging in size from as long as 28 feet across, 16 feet wide, and 11 feet high.
Sleeping on hard ground? Forget that. Welcome to creature comfort without the creatures. Our king-sized bed was adorned with multiple plush pillows, soft sheets, and cozy duvet. They even provide an electric blanket for the cooler early summer or late fall nights.
Each deluxe and traditional tent comes with a mini-fridge, coffee-maker and cream/sugar, tableware, lamps, fan, robes, towels, solar lanterns, and chic furnishings. Best of all, indoor plumbing! Relax and wash up in a soaker tub, brush your teeth in a sink, and no midnight runs to an outhouse or communal washroom filled with bugs. When nature calls just head to your private bathroom inside the tent.
Dining Tips for Glamping Getaways
For some reason, nature always builds up an appetite — even when I’m glamping and being unabashedly lazy sitting on our private deck. Walking from our deck’s Muskoka chair to the tent’s hammock and grabbing beers from the fridge can tire a guy out.
Hungry guests can have the option of bringing their own food and drink and using the gas BBQ (with cooking utensils) and fire pit. Our tent came with a covered dining area with table and chairs. Fully embracing the “be lazy” theme we ordered the property’s delicious wood-oven Carnivore pizza (vegetarian option also available) delivered tent-side. Whispering Springs can also prepare and deliver a full cook-your-own beef tenderloin dinner with salad, vegetables, baguette, dessert, and local wine.
No need to get up and cook breakfast either. A breakfast basket can be delivered and dropped off outside your tent filled with warm croissants, homemade granola, yogurt, milk, orange juice, and berries. The outdoors never tasted this good. When COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, stroll over to The Watering Hole in the main reception and indulge in some Prince Edward County wines and craft beers.
Whispering Springs is a family-run resort that has entered its third full season of operation. The details represent the owners’ passion to cater to guests who wish to experience the great outdoors without the rougher aspects. Sarah and I were able to spend our precious alone time conversing, drinking, eating, and receiving a much-needed infusion of Mother’s Nature delights.
Whispering Springs welcome sign says: Nature speaks in whispers … come listen.
We listened, we observed, we relaxed. You might want to do the same.
MORE ABOUT WHISPERING SPRINGS
Address: 141 Mercer Lane, Grafton, Ontario (see map below)