Wander the Resort

Wander the Resort

Milo & Dexter is proud to be partnered with Wander the Resort. This feature was originally written by Alyssa Schwartz for Condé Nest Traveler and Alicia Miller for Decanter. 

Once a rural pocket of fruit farmers, hobby fishermen and cottage-goers, Ontario’s Prince Edward County has undergone a radical reinvention over the past decade. The vast crumbling barns and sleepy towns – perched enticingly by beach-fronted lakes or rolling fields – have been spruced up and hipster-ified. Weekending couples from Toronto, two hours west, come to raid its cute antique shops, sip sours at its breweries and feast on wood-fired pizzas in its glut of cool restaurants.

They also come to drink wine. Elegant, Burgundian-inspired Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Quirkier Baco Noir and Marechal Foch. Trendy pét-nat, piquette and orange bottles. All these, and more, are now produced by roughly 40 small scale Prince Edward County wineries. Some are only a few years old and most have an experimental mindset.

After all, a pioneering spirit is what’s needed when you’re growing at the cusp of the viticultural world. In the County winters are so cold that vines must be buried below earth each autumn, just to survive.

A place to stay

Credit: Patrick Biller

It was only a matter of time until the region’s accommodation scene caught up with the winemaking. The opening of Wander the Resort in 2020 on the banks of scenic West Lake signalled new levels of sophistication. A step above the surrounding friendly mom-and-pop B&Bs and the funky renovated motels, this stay does glam to a global standard.

That’s not to say that Wander the Resort doesn’t feel local. In many ways, it’s as Canadian as resorts come. The 10 stand-alone cabins, each sleeping up to five, come with cosy wood burners and kitchens so you can self-cater.

In summer, there are marshmallow bonfires, canoe rides on the lake and family barbecues in view of a communal pool. In winter, under a blanket of snow, there are steams in barrel saunas and poaches in a hot tub.

Credit: Tara McMullen

What’s different about Wander, however, is that the typical Canadiana kitsch has been ditched. So there are no red plaid sofas, dull brown woods or stuffed deer heads here. Instead, expect Nordic-style sleek interiors, earthy handmade pottery from nearby Ye11ow Studio, rattan pendant lights and premium soy candles from County Candle Co.

The attention to detail doesn’t stop there. Your cabin’s deck has a personal bonfire, lit automatically each morning for you to enjoy alongside breakfast. Rooms come stocked with Polaroid cameras and film so you can capture your memories romantically, in analogue.

Service is personalised and discreet, with most communications carried out by text. Even check-in takes place in the comfort of your cabin via a few taps of your phone. The first (and, should you wish, only) interaction with a staff member will be when they turn up at your floor-to-ceiling glass door with a welcome glass of local fizz or beer.

Eat and drink local

Credit: Tara McMullen

Speaking of food and drink: Prince Edward County fare is, of course, championed. Staff can help stock cabins to bursting with wine from Closson Chase, locally sourced charcuterie boards and Cherry Bomb coffee, which is roasted down the road.

A new series of vinous dinners will bring the best of the region’s winemakers to the hotel for guided tastings. Most are located just a short drive away, if you want to visit.

There is much else in the pipeline. A new communal clubhouse area, opening this year, will host a bar, spa treatment rooms, film screenings, live music and cookery classes. Meditation, self-massage and yoga classes will form the basis of a complimentary wellness programme.

Finally a gift store lets you shop your cabin, so you can take home the fabulous own-brand smellies and other County goodies.

With so much to look forward to, the future of Wander the Resort is certainly looking bright. Much like that of Prince Edward County itself.

Set the scene: 

As a years-long migration of urban residents to the region will attest, the best way to experience Prince Edward County isn’t so much to visit as to inhabit it. That’s hard to do when you’re not a local and don’t want to trade hotel service for a vacation rental stay—until now. As the name suggests, Wander positions guests for exploring the best of PEC: It’s a few minutes’ drive to Hillier, home to Hinterland Wine Company’s limited-release sparklers and Closson Chase, a County wine pioneer; Sandbanks Provincial Park, known for dunes that tower over Lake Ontario, is 20 minutes in the other direction, while charming towns like Picton and Bloomfield, full of local shops and restaurants, are also close by. Wander’s 10 cabins—four lakeside, six by the pool—are a home base in the center of it all. Each standalone cottage is a private retreat with everything you need to enjoy this rural escape. Think luxe over rustic: private cedar decks with fire pits; spacious, kitted-out dining and living areas; and comfortable bedrooms. With its lakeside location—and both private family and adult-only beaches—two pools, hot tub, outdoor yoga and other activities, there’s just as much to recommend staying in.

The backstory:

Wander founder Shannon Hunter’s story is the old Prince Edward County cliché—like many visitors, she fell in love with the region as a weekend tripper from Toronto and decided to lay her own roots in the rural community. An interior designer, Hunter bought and renovated several vacation homes in the area, which she’s been running since 2015. When a 40-year-old cottage resort on West Lake went up for sale in 2019, Hunter and her husband snapped it up. They spent the last two years building modern digs on the bones of the old accommodations and scouring the region for décor.

The rooms:

It’s tricky to design a beach resort that also strikes the right note when the weather is well below freezing—one of the coldest wine regions in the world, PEC gets so frigid that most wineries bury their vines in winter to protect them from the temperature extremes—but Wander’s sleek Nordic aesthetic feels congruous for all seasons. Beamed ceilings and white-washed pine planking, wall-to-wall windows and sandy colors are accessibly elegant, and bathe each cabin in lots of warm natural light. Handpicked items and local art bring the outside in: pottery and mugs from the Ye11ow Studio, landscapes by County-based mixed-media photographer Christine Flynn, and bath products by Sunday’s Company—Wander’s custom scent is redolent of cedar, campfire smoke and vanilla—are County-based Easter eggs you could practically use to chart a course for exploring. A few things to note: lakeside cabins are slightly larger, while the units located around Wander’s pool and hot tub area are pet friendly. For maximum privacy, book the lakeside Waterleaf cabin, which fronts a private stretch of sand.

Food and drink:

There’s no onsite restaurant (yet—Hunter has plans to introduce full-scale dining in 2022), but cabins have fully equipped kitchens, including Miele appliances, plateware from Montreal’s Young Lux and locally sourced staples from Pluck Tea and Kingston Olive Oil Co., just up the road in Picton. Call ahead and staff can stock your kitchen with local cheeses, meats, fresh breads and ready-to-heat meals from Piccolina Mercatto, Agrarian Market and other beloved County provisioners. There’s also an onsite clubhouse and bar selling coffee, pastries, and local wine, beer, cider and cocktails.

The spa:

Plans are in the works for a full-service spa and indoor-outdoor Scandinavian-style circuit spa for Summer 2022.

The neighborhood/area: 

Situated along Loyalist Parkway, Prince Edward County’s main thoroughfare, Wander manages to feel both tucked away and totally central. The region is more spread out than many realize before visiting, but Wander is a short drive to towns like Picton and Bloomfield, as well as PEC’s many wineries, cideries and breweries (Kinsip, the County’s only distillery, is also nearby).

The service: 

Starting from private check-in in your cabin, service is attentive but low touch. Like intuitive hosts, staff at Wander are thoughtfully attuned to guests’ needs—dropping off a pair of snowshoes on your deck for a trek out on the lake in the winter or invisibly lighting your private bonfire for nighttime stargazing and s’mores—but stay fairly discreet.

For families:

As a mother of two young children, Hunter wanted to build a resort that would provide a sense of tranquility that had proven elusive on her own family vacations, with a vibe more in keeping of the County’s adult-centric hotels—and she pulls it off well. Each cabin has two bedrooms, connected by a bathroom, and sleeps up to six. The second bedroom has a queen bed and loft-style twin, so there’s ample room for parents and kids. Bamboo dishes are stylish but not breakable, and the resort offers complimentary pack-and-plays and other baby gear.

Eco effort: 

Housewares and bedding, including mattresses, are largely Canadian/locally made and sustainable; cabins have composting bins and refillable natural toiletry products.


It's several steps to get up to the cabins and bathrooms have large soaker tubs that are not fully accessible for those with mobility issues.

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