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Archive for the ‘Yarmouth Ferry Service’ Category

Starting May, 2014, a luxurious sea-to-forest vacation experience awaits travelers as Nova Star Cruises will commence daily service from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, with a brand new cruise ferry offering a variety of accommodation, seating, and dining options, including stunning ocean-view cabins and a casino. 5-star Trout Point Lodge lies about 50 km from the Yarmouth International Ferry Terminal, and will offer select packages including transportation from the dock to the shores of the pristine Tusket River.

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Nova Star Cruises estimates that more than 100,000 passengers will step aboard the brand new, 161-meter cruise ferry, Nova Star, in the first year of operation. The cruise ship will offer superbly appointed cabins, including:

OWNER’S SUITE:
These premier, spacious corner suites feature two large portholes, one facing forward, one to the side. They have a comfortable sitting area, plus a work desk and chair. In-room bathroom with shower. Sleeping for 4 adults; 1 double bed, 2 fold-down single bunks. Dimensions: 15 ft 9 in x 15 ft 9 in (4.8 m x 4.8 m).

DELUXE OCEAN VIEW CABIN:
These spacious cabins are located across the bow and feature a large porthole facing forward. They have a comfortable sitting area, plus a work desk and chair. In-room bathroom with shower. Sleeping for 4 adults; 1 double bed, 2 fold-down single bunks. Dimensions: 13 ft x 15 ft 9 in (4 m x 4.8 m).

Nova Star will leave Portland each evening at 9 p.m. EST and arrive in Yarmouth at 9 a.m. AST the next morning. The ship will depart two hours later and arrive back in Portland at 6 p.m. local time. The service is expected to start in May, 2014, and conclude on November 2, returning in May, 2015.

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Trout Point and Nova Star will join forces to benefit Boston public broadcaster WGBH during its Spring, 2014 benefit auction, with the Lodge offering a 5 night all-inclusive stay, and Nova Star providing round-trip passage, including a vehicle, and an ocean-view cabin.

Trout Point Lodge is a member of both Small Luxury Hotels of the World and  Select Registry: Distinguished Inns of North America. Both prestigious accommodation organizations have  numerous member properties in New England and their web sites provide for easy vacation planning. Travelers can now easily experience charming New England inns, a fantastic cruise across the Gulf of Maine, and the haute rustic charms of Trout Point Lodge, one of Canada’s premiere wilderness resorts.

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Since early February, Trout Point Lodge has focused efforts on bringing Nature Air to the area, engaging local, regional, provincial, and federal players to confront the current crisis caused by the absence of ferry service to the region.

Nature Air flies Twin Otter Vistaliners

At the February 3-5, 2010 Geotourism Summit at the National Geographic Society Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Trout Point Lodge owners Vaughn Perret and Charles Leary got to know fellow honouree Alex Khajavi, CEO & Chairman of Costa Rican airline Nature Air. Perret, Leary, and Khavjavi were all there as delegates and finalists in the 2009 Geotourism Challenge, “Power of Place: Sustaining the Future of Destinations.” Nature Air was one of three winners in the worldwide competition, and when Perret & Leary mentioned the collapse of the ferry service and possibility for implementing a new air tour & link between Maine and Nova Scotia, Khajavi jumped on the idea.

Costa Rica has a tourism season opposite that of Atlantic Canada, and the airline has slack demand for its Canadian-built Twin Otter Vistaliner aircraft during the summer months. Nature Air operates more than 70 flights a day in Costa Rica and Panama, and is the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.  Leary & Perret had personal experience with Nature Air, having flown between Costa Rica and Panama while operating former Trout Point sister property, the Inn at Coyote Mountain.

“We knew it would be perfect for flights between Maine and Yarmouth,” commented Perret. “Flying in a Twin Otter is an experience in and of itself, and given the scenery of Maine, the Bay of Fundy, and around Yarmouth, this kind of service would draw lots of tourists in addition to those simply filling a transportation need.”

While still in Washington, Leary & Perret contacted David Rankin, Manager of the Yarmouth Airport for assistance. In the weeks since, the 2 owners of Trout Point Lodge have also pro-actively encouraged involvement from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism Culture & Heritage, the Municipality of the District of Argyle, Minister Percy Paris’ office, the Southwest Shore Development Authority, and MP Greg Kerr’s office.

On Friday, they also contacted the Manager of the Hancock County – Bar Harbor Airport in Maine, and received an enthusiastic response. Bar Harbor receives 3 US Airways flights a day from Boston. Bar Harbor and Yarmouth have historic transportation links for decades. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the area, including Acadia National Park, each summer.

“Bob Book from the tourism department has been particularly helpful in pushing things forward,” said Leary. “However, in the wake of the loss of the Cat Ferry service, moving decisively on to new options to face the crisis seems to have fallen overboard.”

“We were glad to read the press release from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Friday, promising a Team Southwest Nova approach to solving the issues facing us,” said Perret, “However, we have an award-winning entrepreneur in Alex Khajavi, someone willing to come up to Nova Scotia and start a new, sustainably-oriented service of benefit to everyone, and over the past few weeks it’s been very challenging trying to bring all the necessary players together.”

Perret & Leary’s idea is for an experiential air service, eco-friendly, that will showcase the geotourism potential of the region and bring new visitation to Nova Scotia.

Flights (ideally with some sort of on-board guide to what is being flown over) from Bar Harbor up the Maine Coast around the Bay of Fundy, concluding at Yarmouth would be a popular tourist experience. From the Twin Otter, passenger views are excellent because of the unusually large windows and relatively low-altitude flight of the aircraft.

The experience would be as much about the ride as the practical aspect of transportation. The added pluses for American visitors include an international experience in Canada. These air passengers will spend vacation time in the Yarmouth & Acadian Shores area as well. Opportunities for packaging abound, and at least one local tour business operator in Yarmouth has voiced support for the idea.

The Yarmouth area would experience a disproportionate amount of benefits because passengers will  fly in without cars. Although some would rent cars, this Bar Harbor service would create demand for local hotel rooms, tours and attractions lost with the Scotia Prince and Cat ferry services.

Short-term subsidies might be required, but ultimately this service would be a viable addition to the region’s tourist offerings and transportation infrastructure.

Perret, Leary, and others hope to have a conference call with Mr. Khajavi this coming week.

www.natureair.com

www.troutpoint.com

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The Yarmouth Vanguard newspaper has published a story on Trout Point Lodge being a delegate to the National Geographic Society’s 2010 Geotourism Summit.

“Unique experiences and educational components are important ingredients for the successful operation of an eco-wilderness resort,” reads the caption. The article also observations from former guests:

A couple from New Jersey described a highlight of their stay as soothing their muscles in the cedar hot tub by the river with a perfect glass of red wine after a demanding mountain bike ride in the wilderness with the staff naturalist.

A couple from Florence, Italy commented on the stunning beauty and “the extraordinarily warm and friendly atmosphere that the young staff–both European and local Nova Scotian–conveyed to the guests.

The article continued to note that the Lodge’s public presentation included mentioning the Nova Scotia government’s decision to stop subsidizing the Cat ferry service in the name of “sustainability.”

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We are excited to announce Twin Cities Air Service will provide new Cessna 402C service conecting Portland, ME and Yarmouth, N.S.  This replaces the service lost when StarLink Airlines stopped running in December, 2009.

You will find the schedule at http://www.flycharter.com/PWM-CYQI%20Schedule.html

Fly with Twin Cities Air direct from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth.

Outside the scheduled service, Twin Cities will also provide charter service from any point the United States to Yarmouth–perfect for groups of 4-8 persons!

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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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We have watched recent events affecting the transportation routes into the Yarmouth & Acadian Shores region with great interest. Like most everyone, we were shocked by both the suspension of the Starlink Aviation service, and much more so by the complete cancellation of The Cat service. The loss of both links severely impacts our business and our marketing strategy.
 
In our view–as investors and business people who first came to the area on the Scotia Prince and the Bluenose ferries in 1996–the ferry links–not only with Maine but also New Brunswick–must be viewed as highways, that is as critical transportation infrastructure. This is not simply a question of The Cat being about tourism. At Trout Point, our reliance on business connected to The Cat has dwindled substantially over the past several years, as we have diversified our markets and as the general pattern of tourism visitation in Nova Scotia has also changed. Fortunately, we learned quite awhile ago not to be dependant on Bay Ferries for business. Bay Ferries was never a cooperative partner with a small hotel like Trout Point, preferring to interact with much larger and more generic hotels and tour companies. Our belief was that this strategy was not good for tourism, for the Maritime region, or for Bay Ferries, but that’s the way Bay Ferries planned their business strategy. As time went on, the Scotia Prince was lost and The Cat schedule also changed so that it provided no particular benefit to local accommodation or foodservice operators in the Yarmouth region–timing was such that tourists left the area with much greater rapidity and predictability than 5 or 10 years ago.
 
We are thus not tied in any way to any particular operator–be it Bay Ferries or Starlink Aviation–but absolutely believe that a solution to carry on traditional links between southwest Nova and the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. must be found, quickly and rationally. Government must take a more active role. In fact, these links or their absence should not be viewed as a local problem, but as something that affects all of Nova Scotia, tourism as well as other businesses, as well as neighboring provinces.
 
These are links that have existed for decades and centuries. Obviously The Cat ferry model of service was not sustainable–given the millions of dollars the provincial and federal governments doled out over the past 3-4 years in combination with the high ticket prices charged–but that does not mean that other appropriate solutions cannot be found. Part of the problem was with the ship’s technology and configuration itself–high fuel costs, instability in the water, inability to transport freight trucks, seasonality, servicing 2 U.S. ports, shifting schedules, sudden cancellations of service, etc.
 
In our opinion, all stakeholders–business, community, federal, and provincial–must take a look at international and inter-provincial links, including the Digby-St. John service and the links between the northeastern U.S. (be it Boston, Portland, or Bar Harbor) and southern Nova Scotia. Seeking sustainable solutions is a necessity. Perhaps rather than doling out millions of dollars, government should take an active management role in providing these critical transportation services to Canadian citizens and foreign visitors.
 
A reasonable solution to us seems to be a modern, conventional vessel, single-hulled, that could accommodate 18-wheelers as well as tour buses and cars, that could connect Massachusetts or Maine with Yarmouth (or Shelburne), that would operate year-round and offer the kind of vacation experience once provided by the Scotia Prince or its numerous predecessors on the Boston-Yarmouth route in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, i.e. attractive, diversified and scalable. Someone working in marketing for Bay Ferries once told us that the strategy with the Cat was to provide a generic, packaged, limited-choice service oriented to tourists–to be the “McDonald’s” of ferry services–obviously this was not the appropriate strategy and the high-speed catamaran was not the right vessel.

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