Monday, May 28, 2007

Image Gallery (using Picasa)

Click the image to open Picasa, and view the gallery. You can get the FREE software by downloading Googles excellent "Google Pack". I suggest when prompted, you only take "Picasa" & "Google Desktop Search" ... but you can choose. Click here to see the options...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wilderness -- with a four-star dinner

Wilderness -- with a four-star dinner By JONATHAN JENKINS - Sun Media 20th May 07

The west coast of Newfoundland may be late to the tourist game but it's beginning to put together an impressive lineup of attractions.

There's obviously no shortage of the fundamental Newfoundland virtues -- friendly people, good food and starkly beautiful scenery. To this the west coast can also add an international airport at Deer Lake, the majesty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Gros Morne National Park and now, the supremely well-appointed Humber Valley Resort.

Starting its fourth year of operation and nowhere near finished, the resort has some lofty aspirations and has pretty much revolutionized the tourist industry in the area, pulling it from a seasonal affair to a year-round venture.

Since late 2003, investors have been putting down six figures and more to purchase comfortable chalets in the woods above Deer Lake. When the new owners aren't in them, the units go into a rental pool. The first 300 chalets were snapped up in short order and several hundred more are being built, to go along with a second 18-hole golf course, spa, tennis courts and various other amenities.

It may not sound that wilderness-y to the average North American but to nature-starved Europeans, it's proving to be a pretty easy sell. Just 15 minutes from Deer Lake International Airport, the area gets a weekly charter from England's Gatwick airport (just 5 hours) once a week in the summer and there's high hopes more flights will be coming soon.

Golf is obviously a major draw in the summer but there's also excellent salmon fishing, hiking and boating. In the winter, there's downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

But what most of the patrons -- especially the Europeans -- really want is nature, even if it comes with hot and cold running hottubs not far away. It makes Humber Valley very sensitive to its ecological footprint and even clearing wandering moose off the 18th green can become a controversial practice.

But if you like your wilderness to come with four-star meal, this is definitely the place to visit.
FULL STORY - Canoe Travel

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Golfing the rock

Travel Web article - By JONATHAN JENKINS - Sun Media

It's a crime how little it costs to golf in Newfoundland!

Respectable courses can be played on all year for about $800 and the most expensive round in the province is only $100, a price most GTA golfers would barely think twice about.

Now golf is hardly the first thing that springs to mind when the average Canadian thinks of Newfoundland, which is no doubt why Golf Newfoundland invited the cream of Toronto travel journalism on this fact-finding adventure. They couldn't make it, which is why I found myself sipping pints of 1892 and sending my slice further east than it's ever been before.

First stop, and a real focus of the trip was the Humber Valley Resort, a vastly ambitious project on the still sparsely populated west coast of Newfoundland. The multi-million dollar venture started up in 2003 and has already lured scores of high rollers -- many Europeans -- to plunk down big bucks for roomy chalets sprinkled around a very, very nice golf course.

Crafted by Canadian golf design guru Doug Carrick, it's 7,000-plus yards of classy playability for both expert golfers and hackers alike. It is $100 a round but well worth every penny.

Set in the hills above Deer Lake, the first four holes trickle down gently to the shoreline before the par three 5th, which curls around the beach. It's quite a dramatic opening, especially if the sloping ground is wet underneath your golf cart and you slowly fishtail out of control down the second fairway, giving you a 360-degree panorama of the hills, the trees, the water, your life flashing before you.

That was certainly breathtaking but no more so than the view from the 10th, with its waterfall tumbling a good 125 metres into the valley below, the Humber River laid out before you and the Long Range Mountains drifting off to the north.

Hazards abound -- there are 107 bunkers on the course, some of them mirroring the geography -- but none more frustrating to hit into than the local foxes. One patrols the 10th fairway and snaps up any golf ball he comes across, with scant regard for the quality of the drive that sent it in his direction. We came across another of the bold reynards on the idyllic 14th and had trouble chasing it off, so indifferent was it to our presence.

It's quite a climb back to the clubhouse and the occasional cart has been known to peter out before the top, but the views are well worth it.

Just about 20 minutes south of the resort is Corner Brook, home to about 30,000 people and the only other 18-hole course on the west coast of Newfoundland, the Blomidon Golf and Country Club.

This is a bit more mac and cheese compared to the gourmet meal up at Humber Valley but it's still satisfying -- a nice homey course, 5,700 yards of tight fairways and small greens inside a bowl of mountains looking out onto the Bay of Islands.

The 10th and 14th holes are particularly pretty, although you do have to contend with some views of a paper mill and the wind off the bay can be a little more than brisk. It's a private course but the public can get on for $43 a pop, or you can bulk buy 10 rounds for $390.
That's pretty much it for 18-hole courses on the west coast, at least until Humber Valley gets a planned second course up and running, but since you're in Atlantic Canada, you can drive for less than three hours and get most of the way across the province, if you want.

It's a great drive along the Trans-Canada -- especially when the sun comes out. The rocky hills drenched in pine with an occasional red flash of maple slowly give way to the boggy interior, a green wall of conifers hiding sloughs, salmon rivers and thousands of moose.

Good golfing can be found in the northeast in Gander, which has a lovely track overlooking Lake Gander. Lake Gander feeds the Gander River, which flows all the way to Gander Bay, so it comes as no surprise the course is called the Gander Golf Club.

The ubiquitous Doug Carrick had a hand in the course's 2001 redesign and it makes great use of its height -- the holes stacked up one on top of each other to afford multiple views of the glistening lake below. There's a lot of up and down to the holes as they ride the edge of the hill and a couple of rocky creeks cutting across the narrow fairways.

There's a beautiful A-frame clubhouse overlooking three holes and if you smoke your wedge on the 18th, you just might get a lucky bounce off it back onto the green. Actually, that's not recommended as most of the A-frame is plate glass window but it can be done. The 6,137-yard course can be played for $38-$43 a round but it's the only game in town.
Full Story - On

NEWS:Tourism group disappointed with lack of summer grants

The Western Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) is disappointed with the lack of student summer grants awarded to tourism-related businesses and organizations in the province.
Maria Matthews, chair of the DMO, said the program is intended to provide meaningful career-related summer employment for students. She said successful applicants were notified recently and an overwhelming number of organizations which normally receive funding were notably absent from the list.

Matthews said tourism-related businesses and organizations should fit within the program’s objectives, which include creating positions for youth in rural areas and creating positions which would otherwise not be possible.

As an organization dedicated to marketing western Newfoundland and southern Labrador as a premiere tourism destination, the DMO recognizes that summer student employment is an integral part of the tourism industry in the region. “The west coast is a remarkable place to visit with its mixture of culture, heritage and scenic beauty,” said Matthews. “I fear that the lack of student employment will result in the closure of a number of key attractions throughout our region, particularly in rural areas. “This will translate into lost revenue for operators, decreased visitation numbers and will leave tourists feeling frustrated and extremely disappointed with their tourism experience.”
FULL STORY - Western Star

NEWS: Woodlands manager paints grim picture of mill future

Woodlands manager paints grim picture of mill future CBPP mill being put in precarious position says Tompkins

If Corner Brook Pulp and Paper keeps losing land to environmental and tourism concerns, it’s going to end up like the ill-fated Stephenville mill.That was the main message delivered by CBPP woodlands manager Pat Tompkins at Thursday’s Deer Lake Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting.

Tompkins said the mill is having a hard enough time struggling with the increased value of the Canadian dollar and the shrinking demands for newsprint in its major export zones. To make matters worse, the cost of its woodlands operations have skyrocketed in recent years. Tompkins said that puts the mill in a precarious position.“Over the past five years, we’ve seen a 27 per cent decline in newsprint demand from the United States,” Tompkins said.“It looks like 2007, from industry projections, is going to be the worst on record ...To cope with the recent decline in demand, the Canadian newsprint industry has shut down 20 per cent of its operations, and now, it will have to shut down one million tonnes of operations to deal with the declines in 2007.“Somebody else is going to go down this year and we’re just hoping it isn’t us.”To put it in perspective, Tompkins said industry figures link 250 direct jobs are lost for every 100,000 tonne decline in newsprint demand. A further 625 spinoff and indirect jobs are lost as well.He said CBPP is always looking for ways to cut costs.

However, the company is being hurt by its collective agreement, which Tompkins pointed out is the most costly in the Atlantic region, and the rising costs of harvesting wood. The company saw the cost of its woods operations jump 25 percent between 1998 and 2004.Tompkins attributes much of that to the restrictions being placed on the operation by tourism operations and environmental restrictions.

Tompkins said the company has had to refuse all remote cabin requests that have come across its desk in recent years because it can’t afford to lose any more land. With projects like the Humber Valley Resort and the Humber Valley view shed cutting restrictions cramping the company’s plans, the future looks bleak according to Tompkins. “We can’t have every tourism operation that springs up shutting down more of our land.
FULL STORY - Western Star

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More organizations feel brunt of funding cuts

CORNER BROOK - With the importance of tourism to this area’s economy, the lack of funding for students has organizations scrambling to find alternative sources. With the changes to the federal student summer employment program this year, more and more organizations are learning they have been denied this funding.

(more pictures on the Corner Brook Museum & Archives website)
Along with the pending closure of the Railway Society of Newfoundland’s museum on Station Road in Corner Brook, another major tourist attraction is contemplating closing its doors. The Corner Brook Museum and Archives was denied funding for four students this summer. Kathy Elliott, the volunteer curator, said she has been receiving e-mails from museum correspondents across the country who are facing the same predicament.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Daily Telegraph - Don't forget your ski poles... and golf clubs

Daily Telegraph 15th May 07
If you want a ski chalet, why not buy one that will offer lots to do in the summer? Nicola Venning investigates the dual-season holiday home

Winter skiing enthusiasts needn't allow their cosy chalets or alpine apartments to gather dust over the summer months. Nor should they miss out on valuable rent returns on a holiday property once the snow has melted. Smart property purchasers are thinking "dual season" and are opting for overseas resorts which offer year-round activities - from ice-fishing and snow-mobiling in winter to kayaking and golf in summer.

If moose burgers appeal more than Michelin stars, you'll love wild eastern Canada. The Humber Valley Resort in Newfoundland, a five-and-a-half-hour direct flight from London Gatwick, offers elegant, spacious (between 2,200 and 7,126 sq ft) homes on roughly one-acre plots along the wide Humber (a class A salmon river), Deer Lake or 18-hole golf course. Average winter temperatures are -5C during the day and there is plenty of snow.

Nearby, Marble Mountain's intermediate ski resort has a 1,700ft drop and 34 long runs; and the snow-shoeing, ice-fishing and snow-mobiling are more than matched when the resort metamorphoses into a summer playground (average temperature 20C): kayaking, iceberg watching, hiking in the national park, golf and fishing are just a few of the possibilities. "You have a significant asset in your holiday home and to get two bites at it (winter and summer)," says William Thompson, director of Newfound Property International (

Humber Valley resort, which only has 160 homes, has seen prices double in the last four years, but they are now stabilising. Three- to five-bedroom, clapboard-style houses with wrap-around decking are built to order from approximately £284,000 to £742,000. Around 80 more houses are planned this year. Of the original 24 apartments built only six remain unsold.

Pros: Canada currently has 9·5 per cent capital growth per annum; local government is encouraging investment in the area and similar resorts are planned, for example Timberland Golf Resort via Assetz (0845 4300020,; the houses in Humber Valley Resort are sensational; Newfoundlanders are very welcoming.

Cons: The running costs of these large homes, particularly with hot-tubs, are high (£6,000-plus per annum); the rental market is slow, though the resort is now marketing itself more aggressively; culturally and gastronomically limited.

Full story - click here

Monday, May 14, 2007

Free software - to help you

This website has a lot of pictures, many of which have received quite a reaction. We have been asked what software we used to prepare the photos, and to create albums.

We used Picasa to handle the photos, and Gmail email services. We recommend the FREE Google pack which is easy to load and contains several very clever Google products.

Click here to get your free pack.