The early morning Muskoka mist hangs like a thin veil in the trees, shrouding the distant horizon in mystery. Rising through the haze, brilliant sunshine illuminates the treetops, leaves rustling in the breeze as night retreats grudgingly with the first sign of daylight. The scene is one of absolute tranquility.
In the parking lot of the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa a few hundred metres down the road, the majestic 2017 Range Rover Autobiography glistens in Santorini Black, still glowing from our previous day’s journey. There are few things more enjoyable than driving a thoroughbred such as this in near north Ontario on a sunny summer day. The feeling is simply electric.
The Autobiography designation adds an extra layer of elegance and sophistication to a vehicle that is already the benchmark of SUV’s. If it is suitable for her Majesty the Queen, it is more than appropriate for one, two or more of her subjects here on the west side of the pond.
Coffee is one sure way to wake up in the morning, but nothing beats the sound of a high-output engine exhaust note bouncing across the surface of a mirror-flat lake.
Power comes in the form of a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine. Performance numbers are outstanding; 510 horsepower at and 461 lb-ft of torque at 2,500-5,500 rpm. Matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission, shifts are butter smooth as I toggle between gears with steering wheel mounted shift paddles. Zero-100 km/h breezes past in 5.4 seconds.
Muskoka, Ontario is a haven for backcountry driving on taut, twisty two-lanes. The 30 km drive from the resort to Highway 169 and Port Carling takes a mere 22 minutes, but the feeling of exhilaration is certain to last well into the late afternoon. By then, it will be time to create more memories, watching the sunset over Lakes Rosseau and the multi-million dollar castles known to their owners as a quaint place to get away from it all.
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa is situated in the Red Leaves resort area of the lake, a scant 2.5 hours north of Toronto. A total of 221 suites and studios define this immense property in what is arguably one of the most sought after destinations in all of Canada.
Highlights include a fireplace, plug-in technology, flat-panel satellite TV and full kitchen in every room. Carpeting is lush, walls are painted in muted tones of cream with white and red accented bedding. Many guest rooms feature a king-size bed and enough pillows for a family of four plus two. A large deck overlooks the lake, with two Adirondack chairs resting comfortably against the wall. It offers a can’t miss invitation to sit down and escape for a while.
Dining options include Teca, serving fine Italian food, Cottages, for all-day dining and the award-winning Muskoka Chophouse. Casual fare is served at Lakes, The Gathering Place in the lobby lounge or poolside during the warmer months at The Deck.
Recreational activities abound with tennis, horseback riding, canoeing, jet-skiing and The Rock, a Nick Faldo golf course nearby. A par 71, 6,649 yard layout, it winds through the lush Muskoka landscape, benefiting from the unique undulations and rock formations so renowned in the lower Canadian Shield district.
Relaxation takes place in several heated pools, including one with a swim-through to the outdoors. Spa Rosseau offers a full menu of services specifically designed to remove any lingering stress from a hard day of driving the roads in your favorite sport utility vehicle or the challenging Faldo golf course.
The sun sets in front of me as we chart a winding track northeast on Hwy 3, passing Tomelin Bluffs and Skeleton Lake on our way to Huntsville. Looping south through Port Sydney, we catch Hwy 141 and find ourselves back at the resort a few hours later. The wilds of Muskoka remain untamed for now, but the Range Rover Autobiography is more than a match for any supposed hardship. Glamping is so overrated.
2017 Range Rover
Trim level: Autobiography
Price as tested (before taxes): $162,350.00
Configuration: front engine/ four wheel drive
Engine/transmission: Supercharged 8-cylinder/8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 510 hp/ 461 lb-ft
Towing capacity: 3,500 kg
Fuel economy ratings: 17.1 L/100km city; 12.5 L/100km hwy
Warranties: 4 years/ 80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Bentley Bentayga, Mercedes-Benz AMG G65, Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
Range Rover Canada
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa