Two Nova Scotia resorts show how extreme hospitality can warm up the chilliest days
IT’S THE MIDDLE OF WINDER. Today’s daytime high is a crisp minus 10 and blowing snow is an unfortunate given. It’s not a scene you’ll find in any tourism promotional video, but despite the type of weather that discourages all but the hardiest from stepping outside, two Nova Scotia resorts are booming with business.
The secrets to their success? A healthy appetite for risk and innovation, combined with the natural beauty of the Atlantic Coast, and a warmth of welcome that could thaw the polar ice caps.
Get to the Point
For White Point Beach Resort near Liverpool, N.S., it’s all about keeping things fresh. With 50 per cent repeat guests, the 88-year-strong resort says creativity and innovation keep people coming back year after year. Whether it’s workshops with local artists, nightly beach hikes led by an astronomer, bonfires, or haunting stories of Nova Scotia’s south shore, the staff at White Point are constantly creating memorable experiences for their guests.
While some experiences are more popular than others, the Resort takes pride in its ability to offer an ever-changing line-up for guests. “We are a year-round business. When you look at the collection of experiences we offer, especially in the winter months, they demonstrate how innovative our team is in our approach, offering a full range of possibilities,” says general manager Joanne Veinotte. “For us, it’s about creating engaging opportunities for our guests that tempt them to try something new and be excited about what’s happening next here at White Point.”
White Point Beach Resort’s power of attraction was especially evident following a horrible fire in November 2011. The lodge was destroyed, but guest allegiance flamed higher. Management and staff had always felt a personal connection to their clients (often referring to them as extended family), but they hadn’t realized just how much they were valued in return.
“We didn’t realize just how strong that bond was. Through their memories, we were an extension of their family, just as they are part of ours,” says Donna Hatt, the resort’s marketing development manager.
When a hospitality business closes for an extended period, a slowdown is usually the norm as it works to rebuild its clientele. White Point Beach Resort, however, saw a spike in visitors following the opening of their reconstructed lodge in 2012 — an esthetically charming celebration of Nova Scotia culture and heritage — and guest numbers have been climbing steadily ever since.
“Now we’re into our fourth season since the reopening and each year we’re growing stronger,” says Hatt. “We are so proud to be delivering innovative and exceptional experiences and services… proud to share our natural oasis here along the Atlantic Ocean… proud of our legendary heritage, reaching back to 1928. Our guests share that pride — they are our most enthusiastic champions.”
We have to start meeting like this
Oceanstone Seaside Resort is tapping into the conference scene, drawing people away from the busy city centre to a more serene setting on the coast. “A lot of times, people look within the big city centres for places to host meetings and retreats. They don’t reach outside,” says Susan Wilson, president and partner at the resort. She notes that both third-party research and anecdotal evidence from past clients show that “teams can be much more productive in an environment like this.”
Minutes down the road from the iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, Oceanstone Seaside Resort offers fine dining, excellent customer service and stunning coastal views. “We’re 40 minutes from Halifax, but sometimes it can feel like you’re a world away when you’re here,” says Wilson. “People can actually put down their cell phones and get down to business. We really try to do a mix of business and pleasure while they’re here, so they can get things done but then they also have time to relax and get together as a team.” Wilson says most of the groups they’ve hosted in the past year have rebooked for the following year before leaving.
The resort is also thriving in the wedding venue market. They’re sold out for all weekends in 2016 and have started booking midweek weddings. The resort has been ranked as one of the top five places to get married in Canada by Elle Magazine and the Canadian Wedding Industry awards.
For the team at Oceanstone Seaside Resort, it’s all about understanding the goals of the guest and what they want to get out of the experience. “We’re focused on our meetings but also the individual traveller who wants to come and stay in one of our cottages,” says Wilson. “Once people come, they’re blown away by what we have to offer.”
Wilson says each of the resort staff act like owners, which makes every guest experience special. “We take care of them from the moment they walk in. When a customer leaves, it’s not a handshake, it’s a hug.”