Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Deer Lake [International] Airport ???

DEER LAKE — Gerry Byrne says an announcement will soon be made granting the Deer Lake Regional Airport full-time customs services. In a prepared release, the Liberal member of parliament for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte said Tuesday he is confident the decision to offer permanent, government-funded customs services is coming soon.

Byrne said people can also get used to calling the airport Deer Lake International. The Deer Lake Airport Authority has been lobbying the federal government to establish a full-time customs presence to service charter flights from Europe bringing passengers into Humber Valley Resort.

Federal cabinet minister Loyola Hearn, in a speech to the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade a year ago, indicated that an announcement of Deer Lake’s upgraded status as an international port of entry would be coming within weeks. However, no such announcement followed.

The long-time MP said his reasons for increased optimism are vaild, given that June 18 — the day before parliament closed for the summer — the federal government “quietly” reversed itself and established full customs services at the airport servicing the resort town of Mont Tremblant in the province of Quebec.
“It’s time for the Conservative government to understand that they have a responsibility to be fair to all Canadians,” Byrne said. “Two resorts, one in Quebec and one in Newfoundland, both looking for government-funded customs services. The one from Quebec gets it, the one from Newfoundland does not. “The Conservative government needs to answer why? And since there is no reasonable, logical answer, I can only conclude that it is because Deer Lake Regional Airport is days away from receiving its own full-time customs services as well.
“There can be no other explanation. Now we just have to wait and see for a few days.”

We're ... Are you?

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Times: Business big shot: Jayne McGivern

Jayne McGivern thinks big and tends to act quickly. Barely four months have elapsed since the former UK chief executive of Multiplex left the development group — best known for the troubled construction of the £757 million Wembley Stadium — after its takeover.

At an annual general meeting this week Ms McGivern will be taken on formally as chief executive of Newfound, an AIM-listed developer that plans to shake up the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis. Its projects involve 430 acres of undeveloped land on Nevis and a 40 per cent share of Ocean's Edge, a luxury villa project on nearby St Kitts, as well as a partly built golf and luxury chalet resort in the Humber Valley, eastern Canada, valued at about £50 million. The Nevis project, Pinney's estate resort, has approved plans for 300 beachside villas expected to be priced at about £1 million each, set around a luxury hotel.

Starwood, the US operator, is thought to be in line to build and run the hotel, but Ms McGivern may yet stitch a deal together on this and other possible projects with Kerzner, the hotel operator, aided by a long working relationship with Sol Kerzner, the company's founder. That developed from her time running the UK arm of Anschutz Entertainment, the US-owned business involved in the Millennium Dome, which she left before joining Multiplex in late 2005.
Ms McGivern has invested £1 million of her own money in Newfound in return for a long-term incentive scheme that could see her own 12.5 per cent of the company.

She has invested alongside a £15 million cash injection into Newfound by way of convertible loan stock from Agilo, a niche private equity firm founded by Jason Granite, a former Deutsche Bank restructuring expert. Its backers include Steve Norris, the chairman of Jarvis and former Tory candidate for London Mayor.
Related Links: (The Times) Jayne McGivern quits as chief of Multiplex UK - Pipl research on Jayne McGivern
We're ... Are you?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

ARTICLE: "A good walk - with a grand view"

A good walk - with a grand view
Canada’s ‘best new golf course’ a stone’s throw from a fiord, caves and a national park

HUMBER VALLEY, N.L. It appears on the surface to be an almost ludicrous statement. Nevertheless, here it is: to do nothing but play Canada’s best new golf course repeatedly during a week’s vacation would be a huge mistake.

The River Course at the Humber Valley Resort is most deserving of winning Score Golf Magazine’s best new course in Canada award last year. It’s a spectacular design by Doug Carrick, who seems to top himself with every new course. It’s a fun and challenging course with spectacular views, including at least one tee shot that will take your breath away.

You can chase after foxes, as they trot onto the green and nonchalantly steal your ball, then have to wait to tee off the next hole as a moose slowly saunters across your fairway. Why, then, wouldn’t you play this course every day? Simply, it’s because this part of Newfoundland, an area not as well known by visitors from the rest of Canada as St. John’s and the east coast of The Rock, has so much else to offer.

In about an hour from Humber Valley, you can be in Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take a boat ride down the length of Western Brook Pond, Canada’s only fiord, looking straight up at cliffs that tower thousands of feet over your head And only half an hour or so from the resort in the opposite direction, you can try your hand at salmon fishing, kayaking, rappelling, river rafting, hiking and caving.

During a trip to the resort last year with a group of golf writers, I was moved almost to tears by the majesty of Gros Morne and Western Brook Pond. I also surprised myself when two teenage guides for My Newfoundland Adventures helped me overcome a tendency toward claustrophobia and through a caving experience that was way beyond anything I expected
or thought I could accomplish.

But first the golf course. Built on the side of a mountain, the course flows down to the shore of the Humber River and Deer Lake and then back up again . The clubhouse, for example, sits 400 feet above the 18th hole. And from the tee on the par-4 10th hole just outside the pro shop door, your ball will fall 180 feet before it hits the fairway. The 10th will easily become one of the most photographed holes in Canada.

“To me, one of the big things here is that it’s so tranquil,” says Jamie Digby, who moved out from Ontario to become Humber Valley’s head pro and has fallen in love with not only the course but the lifestyle. “You don’t see too many people when you’re out there. You feel like you’re alone on the golf course. And the views are so panoramic.”

The course can be played from four sets of tees — 5,484, 6,441, 6,858 and 7,199 — and it doesn’t really eat you up. Carrick is known for designing courses that are forgiving off the tee and Humber Valley is no exception. The fairways are wide but the changes in elevation — and this course is all about elevation changes — can trick your eye and your judgment of distance. That
makes the shots into the green tricky.

Humber Valley is not your typical golf resort, either. Guests stay in large chalets each located on a one acre, heavily forested lot. That provides a real sense of privacy. The resort has an Aveda spa and restaurants and can provide guests with a myriad of activities on and off the property. “Fundamentally, we’re trying to make sure that we’re not just seen as good golf,” says Mike Clewer, managing director of Humber Valley resort. “We have some class-one salmon rivers here that are a major attraction, and touring and sightseeing are the others, with the main one being Gros Morne.”

The drive up to Gros Morne from the resort is about an hour, taking you up and over tree-covered hills and along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In May and June you may even see icebergs floating by.

To get to Western Brook Pond from the highway, you have to hike three kilometres along a trail through bogs that have peat three metres deep. It’s not uncommon to see moose and caribou grazing along the path. Interpretive boards along the way explain how the Canadian fiord was
created by glacial activity over millions of years and how 11,000 years ago, when the last glacier retreated, the land that you’re crossing actually rose from the ocean bottom, cutting the pond off from the sea. The boat trip, which is heaven for photographers, runs the 16.5 kilometres down the length of the lake with huge cliffs rising almost straight up from both sides. There are also several spectacular waterfalls dropping over the cliffs, including Pissing Mare Falls, which has one of the highest single drops in Canada.

Most of our group chose to take the trip to Gros Morne but there were only a couple of us who picked caving as one of our optional activities. Caving, I thought. I mean, how hard can it be?

I’ve been in big caves in the U.S. before. You pay your fee, go down a flight of stairs onto a platform, look into the well-lit cave and then walk back up the stairs into the gift shop. We got an idea this would be different when our two young guides, Mike Wakeman and Jamie Harnum,
outfitted us with rappelling gear and then drove us into the woods.

This cave, it turns out, was caused by an underground river — which still runs through the caves — eating through the marble and limestone. We entered through something called “the back door” and hiked in. Not surprisingly, it got dark fairly quickly, but that wasn’t a major problem because we hadlights on our helmets. Other than having to bend over a lot, it wasn’t a bad hike — even for someone like myself, who is overweight, has bad knees and is claustrophobic.

When we got to the cavern we had to rappel down. “You have to trust me,” said the young guide. “You have lean back, step out on to the wall and just walk down.” After a brief picnic in the darkness of the grotto, we started to hike back out. That’s where things took an unexpected twist. “Do you want to go back out through the back door, the way we came, or go out the side door?” asked the guide. He chose the latter when we left the call up to him. The side-door exit involved climbing over, under and around a lot of rocks into some spaces that were a lot tighter than I ever thought I could fit into.
After a couple of minor miscues, including one where I was briefly given the lead and headed the
whole group crawling down a dead-end tunnel, we finally popped up through a hole into the light. “You’re never going to forget going into the caves or going to the mouth of a 1.2 billion-year-old fiord. “It’s all part of the intrinsic value of being here,” says Martin Hanzalek, who operates My Newfoundland Adventures. ( caving)

That and the best new golf course in Canada makes a trip to western Newfoundland pretty
Garry McKay - The Hamilton Spectator View PDF
We're ... Are you?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Humber Valley Resort from space!!

Google Maps has updated their satellite images for Western Newfoundland, including Humber Valley. Now Humber Valley Resort can be clearly seen from space ...

View Larger Map
We're - Are you?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Newfound results and re-structuring announcements

Newfound NV released their annual results today, and at the same time announced major changes to the management structure, and corporate financing.

The following is the Humber Valley part of the Chairmans statement:
"At the beginning of the year the sales strategy was altered to attract high net worth purchasers to Humber Valley Resort in Newfoundland, Canada. This strategy has taken longer to deliver results than originally envisaged with new sales of US$ 4.7million which was below expectations, although in addition there were a number of re-sales.

We believe that there is a market for our product at Humber Valley at the US$ 750,000 level as evidenced by the re-sale market and from early 2008 this is where we have been concentrating our marketing efforts.

Since the autumn we have focused on vacation marketing to Humber Valley. This is an important aspect of the business as it gives a momentum throughout the year, increases our operational revenues and some of our vacationers have gone on to purchase property. We have now signed agreements with a number of Tour Operators who can sell vacations to the resort. Most of these Tour Operators are based in Europe and Canada, but due to the time lag in operators publishing their brochures and websites, we expect the main impact to be felt from the 2008/2009 ski season.

Humber Valley Resort's occupancy in 2007 rose by 18% over 2006 resulting in an increase in operational revenues in local currency of 16%. The first three months of 2008 showed further progress. Going forward, we are looking for further suitable agents for the North American markets and focussing on the conversion of vacation leads and enquiries into real bookings as well as enhancing our web based sales and marketing strategy.

Our current owners at Humber Valley are our best marketing avenue and we have been talking with many of them to see how we can improve the operations there. This has resulted in a review of the way the accommodation rental pool is operated to make it more simple and transparent. Priorities have been set for infrastructure capital spending that is required to benefit both owners and vacationers and improve the existing facilities.

As mentioned in my statement last year, we have been addressing the construction issues and although some still remain we did achieve our aim of accelerating the construction program during 2007 and we are making healthy margins on new build. During the year, we carried out significant construction work on over 60 chalets resulting in an increase in revenue in local currency from construction and furnishings of 66% to US$ 21.3 million. We have nearly completed the construction backlog inherited at the time of the Newfound acquisition in 2006 and, subject to suitable funding being in place, it is hoped that all of the remaining outstanding contracts will be started during 2008.

In 2007, the first full year of operation of the 18 hole golf course, we won four prestigious awards including Golf Magazine ( Best New International Course 2007 and ScoreGolf Magazine's Best Canadian New Golf Course 2007. The credit for this must go to our Golf manager and his team.

We have recently signed an agreement with Monarch Airlines to run a weekly Boeing 757 from Gatwick to Deer Lake to cover both the summer and winter seasons, thus supporting the expected increase in vacation traffic. Although the charter at present makes a financial loss until such time as vacation numbers increase, it is an important part of both the operations at Humber Valley Resort and its future development."

In addition todays annoucement included a new CEO, and a future new Chairman with Jeremy White standing down as Chairman when the right replacement is found.

Jayne McGivern, the former chief executive of Multiplex's UK arm, has taken over as head of a Newfound. McGivern, who left Multiplex in February in the wake of its takeover by Canada-based Brookfield last summer, was this morning appointed CEO of a new management team at Newfound.

Read the full statement - ShareCrazy or announcements
We're - Are you?