Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Golden Beach Resort in Rice Lake, Ontario

We spent the last week at the Golden Beach Resort, and I've been thinking about how to frame this review the whole time.  I'm torn.  I'll start with the facts, and then move into my feelings about the accommodations.  Rice Lake is located in Ontario, Canada, about two hours from Toronto.  The closest cities are Cobourg and Port Hope on the south side and Peterborough on the north.  Click HERE for a map of the area. 

The Location:  The Resort is easy to find, located off a single lane road and well marked from the main street. I have always enjoyed Rice Lake because the water is generally warm in the summer, the lake is shallow for a good stretch before dropping down, and the area isn't overdeveloped.

The Resort: We chose this place because the cottages are located directly on the lake, and the website was well developed and informative.  As well, bringing a 2 and 3 year old with us, we liked that the resort offers children's activities, a splash pad, wading pool and a children's centre.  They also have a pool, playground, petting zoo, family restaurant, and boat rentals.  For a full list of amenities, click HERE.

My niece at the children's music show

My son at the playground

We were originally just looking for a traditional cottage experience, but were a bit worried that the two little ones wouldn't have enough to do with just a lake and a boat.  They're too small to really go out fishing or to stay in the water all day.  We thought the variety of activities would provide us with more options.

The resort is waterfront, with a beautiful view and a small (20 ft. or so) man-made sandy beach where kids can play.  Rice lake's bottom is rocky and weedy, so the kids still had to wear water shoes to go in, but that's normal.

The resort offers cottages, trailers, and camping.

Accommodations:  We stayed in a traditional, lakefront cottage.  Click HERE for a slide show of photos of the cottage we stayed in.  Our cottage faced the water, had a small charcoal BBQ and fire pit outside, 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and living room.  The walls were wood paneled and there were ceiling fans in every room.  We payed $1349 + tax for the week, plus an extra $115 for a 7th person, which was only half the usual rate because my son is only 2 years old.  Not cheap, but we knew we were partially paying for the amenities of the resort.  Boat rental is not included in the price.

The Pros:  The Resort really does have all the amenities of a resort, including the many children's areas, a general store, fish cleaning and storing facilities, bicycle rentals, boat rentals, trails, etc.  The small beach was nice with the kids, because Rice Lake has no natural beach front.  My son and his cousin spent a lot of time filling their buckets with sand.

The view from the shore was spectacular, and we were treated to breathtaking sunsets each night.  The general store was well stocked, the restaurant food was good and the service was friendly.

Our cottage neighbours had two children aged 4 and 6, and they were about the right age to take advantage of the children's program.  There's enough variety at this resort that children really shouldn't get bored.  Our neighbours said that this was their 3rd year visiting, and they planned to return again next year.

Cons:  The cottage itself. Let me preface this by saying that I have no problems staying in a rustic cottage.  I like to camp, and I don't need a ton of amenities.  That being said, for the price we paid, the accommodations should have been better.  The windows were difficult to open and several were stuck and stayed shut, making it unbearably hot inside the cottage.
The windows at the far end of the sofa don't open at all

The only morning it was cool enough to eat breakfast inside

The fridge didn't work properly.  The first repair man told us it was because we had too much food in it so it would take a while to cool down.  24 hours later, we had to throw out a large chunk of our groceries.  The next repair man offered us free bags of ice to keep our food cool.  We refused to stay with a malfunctioning fridge for an entire week, and they eventually replaced the fridge.

The front door didn't close properly, and there was a wasp's nest above it that they kept promising to spray but never did.

The cupboards had bowls and plates, but literally only 6 bowls, six cups, six large plates, etc.  We had to wash dishes after every meal.

Again, I wouldn't have a problem with this if the price matched the state of the cottage, but it didn't. 

Verdict:  This is where I'm torn.  The price of this resort is high, but part of the price is undoubtedly the amenities.  There is a lot to do there.  Our kids were a bit too young to participate in most of the children's programming.  Besides, they really were happy just swimming and "feeding the fishies" most of the time.  I didn't use the pool once, since the water in the lake was such a nice temperature.  We fished off the pier, BBq'd. and roasted marshmallows in our little fire pit. 

Would I Stay Here Again? Although I see the appeal of this resort for many people, I don't think I would stay here again.  There are nicer cottages for a lower price in the area, with air-conditioning.  We scoped out a few other cottage rental places, many with children's playgrounds and pools.  They were all a few hundred dollars cheaper, and the cottages were more modern and the boat rentals cheaper.  None of them had the extensive amenities of Golden Beach Resort, but for the amenities that we used (BBQ, fire pit, lake and playground), we'll pay less and go somewhere else next year.


  1. Looks like a good time though! I've found that most cottage resorts are rustic...we thoroughly enjoy Snug Harbour, North of Kingston. Small cottages on the lake with a private beach area and boat rentals..great fishing!! Prices are about the same though!! Glad everyone is back safe. Good review thanks!

  2. My family and friends of the family will be traveling to Golden Beach Resorts soon for a vacation. Mostly everyone has been there for a few years in a row. Is there anywhere in the area that has great fishing but better housing accommodations that you would recommend for us to stay next year? This is mostly a fishing trip so that would be the first priority for the next year, but if there are better accommodations without giving up great fishing, I would love to know about it. Thank you for your review! Very helpful! :-)

    1. Hi,
      We really liked Tower Manor Lodge, which is where we stayed the year after going to Golden Beach Resort. They have a variety of accommodations (camping, trailers, and cottages of different sizes). They also have a pool. They rent boats and the fishing is good, even just off the docks. I wrote a review of it if you're interested. http://www.coulditbeceliac.com/2012/08/review-tower-manor-resort-rice-lake.html

      We also liked that it's close to Bewdley where you can get anything you might need. If you're looking for good fishing as well as a family friendly environment, you might want to check it out. It's not as fancy as Golden Beach Resort, but we enjoyed it with two kids under the age of 5, who didn't get bored at all!

  3. Yes, as the other reviewers indicate this is a low-end nasty resort. It is easy to see how management acts. Read the replies to the unhappy reviewer’s and see the standard sales pitch provided by the owners. The reply is one of advertizing and promotion and deflecting the facts, the truth. Shame on these owners that do not care about their campers only there profits. The sites are small and have no privacy. For less money you can camp in a provincial park and have beauty not garbage or the KOA and get quality. The only good part was the nice staff. All the facilities should be ripped down and replaced. Even at half the price you would be overcharged and that does not take into account all the extras. Pay more for air-conditioning; pay more for each additional person on your site. Who goes camping and leaves there children at home??? Then comes the next rip off. The deposit policy is very, very nasty.. Make sure you read the rules as they will come back to haunt you. Now let’s review.. If you give them the mandatory 50% deposit and have a death in your family, even if it is weeks in advance they keep your money and then they rent the site again and still keep your money.. Here is the next thieving scam. Let’s say you rent a golf cart for four days, since they have a three-day package you need two reservations, one for the three-day package and a one rental for the forth day. When you show up they process your payment for the three-day golf cart rental and at the same time with out your knowledge charge for the upcoming rental of one day or the forth day. So if you have to leave say on day two, well the three-day rental is gone and they keep your money and rent the cart to someone else. Ok, but what about the one-day rental??? Since it is in the future and their terms say; and you have paid a 50% deposit you know that, that 50% deposit is also gone.. But what about the money they took for the other 50% of the second reservation that has not come yet.. this money should be returned as there policy is you loose your 50% deposit not the full amount.. Well here is where they out right steal your money. Yes they took your payment in advance and claim they have a no refund policy so they keep all your money for something you never used and they rent again. All the people at the counter understood, but when the staff member asked the dark skinned manager, he would not even listen to the staff member’s explanation nor would he talk to me, he just shook his head and walked off, what a rude person. There are lots of nice campsites where the owners care about the campers, this is not one of them, stay away. I wonder how the management will reply and twist this review???