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

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