When the corporate jet carrying you to Fox Harb’r just outside of Wallace, N.S., touches down, it’s simple enough to forget, even for a little while, the outside world, but it wasn’t so simple for resort owner Ron Joyce.
Joyce came from humble roots in nearby Tatamagouche, N.S., before becoming king of the double-doubles after investing in the first Tim Hortons shop in Hamilton, Ont., and growing the business into the renowned food service chain it is today.
While Fox Harb’r lives up to its high end image on the rocky shores of the Northumberland Strait, there is another side to this playground for the well-heeled.
“I grew up in this area and times were tough then. For many people here, times are still tough. It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction that Fox Harb’r employs so many people from the community and has had a positive economic impact on the region,” said Joyce, whose philanthropy has been often recognized.
The proven good businessman that he is, Joyce got a nice return on investment for his belief in the people who came from similar backgrounds as his own.
Obviously well-trained in their duties, they also bring the charm of the region inside the gate of Fox Harb’r and their good humour and laid-back style may prove to be a key factor as the resort tries to shake off its exclusive private image club and be recognized as a resort where the public can stay.
Have no doubt that Fox Harb’r is high end with its luxurious accommodations, spa and wellness centre, sport shooting (you can read about that here), marina and Graham Cooke-designed golf course. Its dining experiences in The Great Room are memorable, while The Willard offers a more laid-back atmosphere for casual fare.
Yet, the image of corporate jets landing right at the resort is a tough one to shake and, as Joyce did with his decision to build in the area in which he grew up, the resort is opening its gates and trying to shake its image of exclusivity.
That challenging job falls to general manager Jim Miller, a veteran of 30 years in the resort industry who has traveled the world to work in places such as Maui and Los Cabos in Mexico. The Toronto native arrived in March.
“It was a lot of catch-up because the season wasn’t opening too far after that,” said Miller.
“I knew a little bit about Fox Harb’r. I knew a little bit about the history and that’s why it kind of interested me to see all of what we have here with Jetport, the marina, the golf course, the hotel, food and beverage outlets and our sport shooting facility,” he added.
Miller knew upon his arrival that there was one question to answer.
“Is it a private club or is it a public resort? We’ve tried to lean a little bit more to the public resort side. We have a great story to tell here and I don’t think we’ve told it well enough,” said Miller of his mission at Fox Harb’r, but it won’t be easy to lose that private club image.
“I’ve had people tell me it’s the Pebble Beach of the north. When you get those comments and when people compare us to other great resorts around the world, it’s kind of rewarding that you’re thrown into that same category,” he said.
“I think the main thing is that our clientele tends to be a well-heeled clientele. We get to meet many people who are presidents of owners of major corporations. We network with a little higher-end clientele,” said Miller.
If there is a feel of Pebble Beach at Fox Harb’r, it’s because of its seaside location even if it is a different body of water. Nowhere is this more evident than on the back nine of the golf course, which stretches between 5,260 and 7,253 yards with five sets of tees.
The golf course is a stark contrast between the wooded, parkland setting of the front nine and the Scottish feel of the back nine which offers waving fescue and spectacular views of the water and coast. You can read more about the course here.
It is a great place to escape the real world, but if Miller and the resort get their way, you may be seeing more of the real world at Fox Harb’r.
For more information on Fox Harb’r, click here.
- images: Chris Gallow