Archive for the ‘Tobeatic Wilderness Area’ Category

Kayaking the Tusket and Napier Rivers, relaxing in the outdoor cedar sauna, and tasting acclaimed cuisine have satisfied guests of Trout Point Lodge since in opened in 2000. This year, however, a bevy of new experiences and activities await those who travel to stay at this haute rustic log building on the edge of Atlantic Canada’s largest pristine wilderness area, the Tobeatic at some 103,780 hectares.

In addition to guided fishing, kayaking, and hiking, Trout Point will have two staff astronomers for star gazing tours. The Tobeatic’s near total lack of light pollution means some of the best night skies for astronomical observation in the world. The Milky Way and meteor showers become simply captivating in such environs. Special astronomical binoculars, laser pointers, and a powerful Meade 10″ telescope will help bring into focus wonders from out of this world. A star-gazing tower that will bring you above the treeline for unobstructed views of the full night sky is also in the works.

There will be new geo-excursions to explain and interpret the unique geological and glacial features of the surrounding landscape, which was sculpted by the last Ice Age. Another topic will be the unique history of the area explaining why gold, tin, rare metal, and quartz mines dot the nearby landscape. A solar telescope will provide for daytime observation of the sun and sun spots.

Registered Massage Therapist Brendon Smith will provide in-room massage and advice on wellness when not offering guided walks on edible wild plants and mushrooms. This compliments the already rejuvenating aspects of staying at Trout Point, including spring-fed mineral water from the main lodge taps, soaking in the tannin-rich antioxidant waters of the Tusket River (that’s where the river’s distinct whisky colour comes from), enjoying a wood-fired hot tub, and the natural benefits of Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing.” Biologists have exclaimed at the Lodge’s air quality, testified to by the rate lichens that drape the trees & landscape. Lichens are some of the most sensitive beings to air pollution. The point is that just being at Trout Point, deep in the pristine Acadian Forest (part of the northern boreal forest) has real benefits, besides just getting away from the “madding crowds” of daily life. Acclaimed research from Japan has zeroed in on the numerous benefits of forest bathing. These include enhanced fitness, accelerated healing, increased mental focus, and improved biological responses to reducing stress, and fighting disease. Nearly every guided excursion or self-motivated activity at Trout Point will involve forest bathing and more.

2014 will also see the Lodge’s alpacas put in charge of carrying lunch, snacks, and water for guests on hikes in the wilderness area. Trout Point acquired three breeding age animals in 2013, and welcomed two babies last fall. The alpaca manure is combined with kitchen waste and composted to fertilize the extensive on-site gardens, while that blanket or throw in your guest room may just come from Trout Point’s own fleece. The gardens expand every year, producing an astounding variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers that see their way onto the daily menus. Those participating in a cooking experience may find themselves picking ingredients for the class as well.

The tradition of nightly live music before and after dinner will continue, with at least three lodge staff members contributing their talents at different times. Local Acadian French musician Gerard LeBlanc will play each Thursday during the summer as part of the regional Musique de la baie series. Thematic cooking classes five days a week will round out the offerings.

About Trout Point Lodge

Atlantic Canada’s sole member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Trout Point offers 5-star accommodations, dining, and outdoor experiences for up to about 34 guests. Located at the confluence of the Tusket and Napier Rivers, the Lodge touches the southwestern border of the vast Tobeatic Wilderness Area, about 3 hours from Halifax and 45 minutes from Yarmouth, NS. In 2014, Yarmouth is home to the Nova Star, a daily cruise ferry operating between Maine and Nova Scotia.

Trout Point consists of the handcrafted, log & stone main lodge with eight guest units, Beaver Hall with four guest rooms in a shingle-clad chalet, and 2 lakeside cottages. The main lodge boasts a Great Room, 8 stone fireplaces, library, and various dining venues.

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Trout Point Lodge proudly announces that it appears on the top 10 list of eco lodges published today by USAToday Travel. The worldwide list of accommodations that “adhere to green values, offering nature adventures in a sustainable setting” was compiled by veteran travel journalist Larry Bleiberg and green vacation expert Irene Lane of greenloons.com. The article forms part of the popular national newspaper’s “10 great places” series.

“You’re not sleeping on a straw mat on a dirt floor. There are opportunities to stay in very comfortable accommodations” says Lane in the article. While emphasizing Trout Point’s outdoor activities such as star gazing, fishing, kayaking and mountain-bike safaris, the article also pointed to the Lodge’s emphasis on local foods. “You have local delicacies, which, from an eco standpoint, is great,” states Lane.

Other hotels on the top 10 list were as far flung as Ecuador, Kenya, the Czech Republic, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Trout Point was the only Canadian property. Earlier this year, Where magazine placed the Lodge on its list of “15 Deluxe Wilderness Retreats for All Seasons.”

USA Today remains number one in total daily print circulation in the United States. It also has one of the largest average-issue print audience of any national newspaper, with 3.2 million readers daily.

Trout Point Lodge opened in 2000 next to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Secluded at the junction of 2 river, Trout Point offers the “darkest night skies in eastern North America,” as noted by USAToday. The 2012 season starts May 1.

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Trout Point Lodge, Relais & Chateaux is pleased to announce that it is the only Canadian property featured an article on “tackling the backcounty in luxury” in the May, 2011 edition of the widely circulated magazine Men’s Journal.

The Lodge is among 7 hotels & resorts chosen for the article, which distinguishes each property for the range of activities offered along with a rugged, natural location. The distance of each hotel or resort from a Starbuck’s is also taken as an indicating of pristine remoteness. Trout Point leads in this criterion, being 162 miles from the nearest of these popular coffee outlets.

“The real charms of this cozy, 100-acre forest retreat are earthbound” notes the article, after mentioning Trout Point’s new staff astronomer. “The white spruce log and chiseled granite main lodge, surrounded by water on three sides, where a Celtic guitarist and fiddler jam beside a roaring stone fireplace; renowned Cajun & Acadian cooking classes; and naturalist-led kayak and hiking trips . . .”

Other properties mentioned include Lake Placid Lodge, also a member of Relais & Chateaux, in the Adirondack Region of New York (3 miles from a Starbuck’s), and Tordillo Mountain Lodge in Alaska (70 miles).

Men’s Journal has a circulation of over 722,000 and is the “sister” publication of Rolling Stone magazine.

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Nova Scotia’s only member of Relais & Chateaux announces a new 1800 square foot suite along the Tusket River and the advent of guided astronomy excursions for its 2011 season. The Lodge will also open May 1 for its first year of year-round operations after 11 years.

Dubbed simply The Forest Suite, Atlantic Canada’s largest hotel suite will boast 2 wood-burning fireplaces, decks overlooking the flowing Tusket River, 28′ cathedral ceilings, a full kitchen dressed in green slate, and a spacious bathroom with separate tub & show plus double sinks. The suite will be available May 7 if not earlier.

Trout Point also offers 1 standard room, 7 junior suites and 1 full suite in the main log & stone lodge, as well as a 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom cottage.

The exclusive Nova Scotia wilderness resort has also hired a staff astronomer—graduate of St. Mary’s University’s Astronomy & Physics program—to lead experiential outings into the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. Trout Point & The Tobeatic have the darkest night time skies in eastern North America, even darker than Kejimkujik National Park, a Dark Sky Preserve. The astronomer will offer interpretive outings on themes such as: Constellations and their Greek Mythological Origins: Laser-guided Tour of the Night Sky; Meteor Showers: Night Sky Tour with Emphasis on the Observing and Understanding of Meteors; and the Summer Milky Way. Guests can combine a romantic candle-lit dinner with a postprandial learning experience unmatched almost anywhere else on earth.

As in recent years past, the Lodge will also have guides for kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.

Trout Point employs about 15 people during its peak operating season from May to late October. This year, the Lodge will stay open year-round, including dining, through with a leaner staff in low season months.

The Lodge has become known as a destination that reflects unique Nova Scotia experiences. It was among 10 finalists worldwide chosen by the National Geographic Society for its Geotourism Challenge, Power of Place: Sustaining the Future of Destinations. It has been a member of the prestigious, Paris-based Relais & Chateaux Association since 2009. Late last year the Association asked Trout Point to be one of 18 model member properties for experiential tourism for its World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Trout Point Lodge has entered the Geotourism Challenge 2010: Places on the Edge, Saving Coastal & Freshwater Destinations. You can see the entry here. The Challenge is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, Ashoka’s Changemakers, and the InterAmerican Development Bank.

Trout Point was among 10 worldwide finalist in the 2009 Geotourism Challenge and a delegate to the 2010 Geotourism Summit.

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Take a look at selected clips from the series Fenetre sur la monde, broadcast on the French Escales travel network in late 2009. The narration is in French.

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Trout Point Lodge has embodied eco-friendliness since it first opened its doors, including the very design of the main lodge building. A few years ago, we redoubled efforts to reduce outside inputs and harmful outputs from operations. Trout Point expanded its on-site gardens, installed bulk amenities dispensers (with BVLGARI products in them), converted all paper resources to 100% recycled content, and started using 100% natural cleaning agents, among other practices.

Such commitment resulted in recognition from the Hotel Association of Canada ECOmmodation program with a rating of 5 Green Keys, and from organizations like Eco Hotels of the World with 5 stars.

However sustainable tourism practices just begin the process of really having a meaningful impact on the environment and the reality of climate change. One story that resonates with Trout Point is that of the Aspen ski resort in Colorado. Here’s an interview with Aspen’s Auden Schendler from Fast Company magazine:

AS: The old enviro movement would ask us to put solar panels on the roof of the Little Nell. And we just did that. But that five kilowatt array is meaningless. It is absolutely a tiny amount of the hotel’s energy use. However, what we did was we tied those panels to one room in the hotel. And that room is where the most powerful and influential people stay, including, among others, George Soros. We put the energy generated by the array onto the home page of the computer in the room, and also show the energy use in that room.

FC: Then what?

AS: Okay. Now you’ve taken the old-school enviro measure that is sexy but doesn’t do anything and tied it to this tremendous lever that only you have access to. If you get lucky and that person decides that this is a crucial issue that they want to take action on, you’ve done more with that one connection than you’ve done with 20 years of trying change light bulbs [to compact fluorescents] and retrofit boilers at the ski resort. That’s just one attempt we’re trying to make at pulling the biggest possible lever.

FC: Another one being the infamous tussle with Kleenex

AS: We get a call one day from Forest Ethics, and they say, will you ban Kleenex because their forestry practices are lame, there’s no post-consumer waste at all in Kleenex, and they’re not engaging with the environmental community. I say I’ll check into it. We use $25,000 worth of Kleenex a year. For me to switch it out is not difficult, and we do (for a somewhat less bad product from another company).

We get eviscerated in the papers. One: Who are you to criticize another company, you use tons of energy and move people up and down the hill for no reason–it’s totally wasteful. Two: This is flagrant greenwashing. It was so bad that I went to my boss and said I screwed up. Two weeks later we got a phone call from the CEO of [Kleenex parent] Kimberly-Clark, a $32 billion company. They’re bigger than most countries. If you can change them, then you can change entire industries, the whole way forests are managed—that’s a big lever. They sent a team down to meet with us and we started exerting disproportionate influence on a big corporation.

FC: What was the upshot?

AS: We sat down and expressed our interests, and we said, “You guys have to get in the room with the non-profits, including the Natural Resources Defense Council.” We brokered a meeting and got Greenpeace and NRDC in the room with Kimberly-Clark.

The point is that small businesses like Trout Point–which is a lot smaller than Aspen–can have more of an impact by making something out of its practices in a way that influences those who come into contact with us: guests, employees, vendors, the press, etc.

Finally, Trout Point is all about expressing the “power of place,” which can truly only be done if the business follows green practices. That’s the foundational level of being a geotourism enterprise, but a true expression of place goes well beyond just using recycled paper products, sustainably-caught seafood, or organic gardening. The impact the Lodge can have is much greater than a single household, but just as Mr. Schendler said, it’s like putting up that 5 kw solar panel–the real world impact is negligible. What’s not negligible is how a business like Aspen or Trout Point translates and magnifies its green efforts into wider, consciousness-changing impacts on stakeholders, large & small.

In a similar way, only by embracing the meaning of the place we’re in–Nova Scotia, Yarmouth County, the Tobeatic Wilderness–can green practices really gain meaning that will encourage people to pause, think, and experience the world anew. Mr. Schendler’s arguments are about scale and leverage–and he is correct–but the leverage itself depends on geotourism values.

Geotourism means practices that enhances a place’s geographical character in its widest sense–not just its environmental well-being–including such factors as culture, aesthetics, and the makeup of its inhabitants.

More about this later . . .

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Trout Point Lodge creates a destination tourism experience in a way that supports and promotes the under-appreciated natural, social, and cultural riches of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and the Southern Nova Scotia Biosphere Reserve. By not promoting solely coastal tourism –which is the mantra of official tourism policies– and being a “eco-lodge” in a northern, developed country, Trout Point challenges some common preconceptions about what an eco-destination is or can be. Trout Point currently consists of an 8-room Great Lodge including restaurant, 8 stone fireplaces, teaching/working kitchen, and public areas, 3-room villa, 2 cottages, & 100 acres of Acadian Forest  with extensive river frontage, the nearest human habitation being at least 15 km away to the south and hundreds of km to the north; facilities include: nature guides, canoes, kayaks, wood-fired hot tub, boardwalks, on-site trails, adjacent hiking trails, mountain bikes, small spa, fire pit, GPS units for self-guided excursions, cooking classes & culinary vacations, as well as  on-site organic vegetable, herb, and flower gardens fed by gray water system.

Visiting the Yarmouth area of Nova Scotia, ourselves as tourists from Louisiana in 1996, we found a land rich with natural beauty, diverse cultures, a wealth of local food possibilities, and an intriguing history.  We ourselves had come to the province following the Acadian French cultural connection with our home state.

As we investigated Yarmouth County’s history, we discovered that a well-developed tradition of nature camps, lodges, and guides had existed starting in the 19th century, which had all but petered out by the 1950s, when the wave of roadside motels and seaside cottages took over. Checking into accommodations in Yarmouth was like stepping into a time machine, taking you back to 1970. Our stays at the “El Rancho Motel” in 1996 & 97 were emblematic of this state of affairs.

But, scattered here and there physical remnants of the previous tourism tradition survived, which very much appealed to geotourism values. Most of the old camps and lodges had burned or literally deteriorated, one—tellingly– became a retirement home, others were in private hands.

After 2 years of searching for a forest parcel that would not be affected by neighbouring timber holdings and the threat of clear cuts–a goal not so easily attainable in southern Nova Scotia, we happened upon acreage at the confluence of 2 rivers, perfect for a wilderness lodge. Just 3 days after the purchase, the provincial legislature declared the Tobeatic as a protected area, ensuring that the lands across the river and to our north would never be open to commercial development or cutting.

Facing early scepticism that a destination property in the woods of economically-challenged Yarmouth County could survive, Trout Point now enters its 11th season of operation. Despite its earlier heritage, recently the Yarmouth area was not known as a destination, but rather as the southern “gateway” for foreign tourists arriving via ferry. Nova Scotians themselves viewed the area as remote, undeveloped, and uninteresting, and in our experience, few had heard of the Tobeatic, despite the fact that it’s the largest protected area in all of Atlantic Canada.

Now, the Lodge serves as a springboard for guests to learn about the Acadian Forest ecosystem and always has naturalists on staff to provide meaningful interpretive experiences that emphasize place.

Trout Point has: (1) implemented energy monitoring, recycling, composting, and on-site gardening programs that expand each season; (2) more than tripled revenues since first opening, allowing us to improve our impact on the local economy, create new employment, invest in new practices such as converting 90% of lighting to energy-efficient bulbs, all paper to 100% recycled, all cleaning products to natural, new employee apprenticeship & training programs, and the expansion of marketing reach; (3) gone from hiring 2 locals per season in 2000 to hiring over 15 (mostly local) in 2009; (4) increased its primary season from early July  to early October in 2000  to 1st of May to the end of October in 2010, with some facilities now open year round; (5) and has successfully diversified its visitation from 90% U.S.-origin in 2000-2004 to the current state where local guests represent the single most important geographic category & overall Canadian/international numbers are up.

Over the past 10 years, Trout Point has innovated by re-vitalizing backwoods & nature tourism, culinary tourism, and Acadian French cultural tourism in Nova Scotia. While a regional tourism crisis developed for local accommodations in the mid to late 2000s, Trout Point has advanced based on geotourism principles. These include: low-cost marketing using the Internet as a primary vehicle and restricting the use of print/paper resources; encouraging local memory of the area’s “great camp” and Acadian-cultural heritage; constantly striving to enhance & expand eco-friendly practices, and publicizing & formalizing these extensively; making Trout Point one with the local place, promoting the concept of destination rather than gateway; fully engaging with local tourism partners and encouraging guest use of tourism infrastructure located within .1 to 50 km range from the Lodge; pioneering a perspective on the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and the Southern Nova Biosphere as having geotourism potential.

Trout Point’s offerings include experiences that make guests one with the place: 1. The Lodge counts as the only accommodation/destination giving travelers immediate access to the wilderness via hiking trails, canoe, kayak, and guided excursions with staff naturalists. 2. We have offered the Nova Scotia Seafood Cooking School since 2000, teaching participants about local, sustainable seafood choices, food origins, and cooking techniques, including Acadian styles. 3. The accommodations blend seamlessly with the local Forest environment, built from Atlantic Canadian white spruce logs & Nova Scotia granite, with wildwood furniture handcrafted from branches and saplings cut from the property. 4. Trout Point is a true nature retreat, with no cell phone reception, no TVs in the rooms, and an emphasis on eco-friendly practices.

Staff naturalists provide guests with the natural history of the Tobeatic Wilderness and the Acadian Forest Ecosystem. Location, identification, & reporting of species at risk is encouraged. Reading materials in each guest room provide a description of the area, including not just the forest as a natural phenomenon but also the indigenous, Acadian French, and later English settlements impact on the use of the backwoods. Cooking classes provide an ingredients-based history of Acadian-Cajun culture and inculcate an understanding of local fisheries, sustainable seafoods, and current environmental questions. By emphasizing how Trout Point is re-invigorating a once-lost local tourism tradition of backwoods camps and guides, the Lodge also encourages local involvement and pride. We are happy to announce that in 2010 someone from the local village of Kemptville—center of the previous camp & guide tradition that had all but disappeared—will be the primary guide at Trout Point, but breaking with tradition, she is a woman.

Our hope is that Trout Point will develop practices and strategies of management translatable to other tourism enterprises in other situations. From a sheer effort at financial survival particularly with the loss transport links in the last 5 years, the Lodge has had to develop itself into a destination property, rather than one receiving guests for 1 night on their way elsewhere. The goals of Trout Point as a destination coincide wholeheartedly with the promotion and sustainable use of the Tobeatic Wilderness and the Southern Nova Scotia Biosphere, and only through stewardship of this destination and its local society will the Lodge prosper. Our geo-tourism management approach has been enhanced through experiences in Costa Rica and Spain, where we have developed very small-scale accommodations that also speak of place, and our future project is the creation of a destination property and agri-tourism enterprise in the historic urban quarter of Granada, Spain.

Before I end I just wanted to briefly mention that just before Christmas, 2009, Nova Scotia’s Tourism Minister announced the end of all subsidies for the ferry service that has for well over 110 years linked southern Nova Scotia to the north eastern United States in the name of “sustainability,” for us at Trout Point and for the local community, an ironic situation that will create hardship and that poses real questions about exactly what destination tourism means and requires.

Vaughn Perret & Charles Leary at the 2010 Geotourism Summit

Vaughn Perret & Charles Leary at the 2010 Geotourism Summit. Photo copyright Charles L. Leary; All Rights Reserved.

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Trout Point Lodge of Nova Scotia is pleased to announce its participation as a delegate to the 2010 Geotourism Summit hosted by the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. The Summit will take place February 2, 2010 at the Society’s headquarters.

This past July, Trout Point Lodge was among 10 finalists in the 2009 Geotourism Challenge selected from more than 600 entries from 81 countries. It was the sole accommodation chosen. A distinguished panel of judges — Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement; Keith Bellows, editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine; Erika Harms, executive director of Sustainable Development, United Nations Foundation; Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet; Ben Keene, founder of Tribewanted; and Dr. Yang Yuming, vice president of Southwest Forestry University, China —reviewed the entries and selected Trout Point Lodge for revitalizing backwoods area of Acadian Forest through place-based immersion experiences and the Nova Scotia Seafood Cooking School.

In a press release, the National Geographic Society called the finalists “ten of the most innovative, sustainable travel programs around the world.”

Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism—that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations—while allowing for ways to protect a place’s character. Geotourism also takes a principle from its ecotourism cousin,—that tourism revenue should promote conservation—and extends it to culture and history as well, that is, all distinctive assets of a place.

Highlights of the summit include sessions on finding project funding and gaining government support as well as a presentation of the Geotourism Challenge Competition 2010. The keynote speaker is James H. Gilmore, co-author of The Experience Economy and Authenticity.

The Lodge’s Managing Directors Vaughn Perret and Charles Leary will be attending the summit as guests of the Society, and will also make a brief presentation about their innovations.

Trout Point Lodge of Nova Scotia is the only member of the Relais & Chateaux in the province. National Geographic Traveler put the Lodge on its inaugural Stay List, and Trout Point has also won the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award and more recently the Green Restaurant Award.

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Geotourism Summit 2010

Join Trout Point Lodge in Washington, D.C.

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