Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 18, 2017
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The finest grounds

Tim Horton's coffee magnate adds a new flavour to Nova Scotia's golf offerings

When Tim Horton coffee magnate Ron Joyce sold his java empire for a cool $400 million, he didn't want to just sit around doing nothing. That's why the Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia boy went to work realizing his dream of a world-class golf resort right in his own hometown.

The secluded location of Fox Harb'r Golf Resort & Spa on the Northumberland Strait isn't an impediment for those seeking a luxury retreat. They just fly their private jets onto the resort's runway or moor their yacht in the marina, overlooked by its own decorative lighthouse.

Being of somewhat lesser means, I chose to arrive by car. My wife Krista and I left our house near Halifax International Airport and were soon motoring through the rolling hills of Wentworth Valley. Clad with new May foliage, the terrain reminded me of the Appalachian Hills in springtime. As we reached the coastline 90 minutes later, the landscape flattened, an ideal locale for a golf resort.

We reached Fox Harb'r's main gate which was surrounded by a manicured garden decorated with life-size metal sculptures of, what else, foxes. After identifying ourselves at the intercom, the electric gate slowly opened. We drove past verdant rolling fairways inset with lush greens, reminiscent of monochrome tapestries. Fountains sprayed skyward as we approached the airstrip, its striped windsock a harbinger of a fair southwesterly breeze promising good weather. It soon became obvious why Fox Harb'r is one of Canada's five-star properties.

We parked by the clubhouse in front of which a fountain bubbled, drawing our eye to the fairways and beyond to the blue waters of the strait. In the distance, Prince Edward Island and the huge Confederation Bridge loomed.

Crossing the elegant reception area, we got the keys to our studio suite. I sighed as I flopped onto the mahogany sleigh bed. While Krista took a shower in a bathroom with gold-plated fixtures and a heated ceramic floor, I munched happily on chocolate truffles that had been left on the coffee table and noticed that the kitchenette was supplied with an ample stock of Tim Horton's coffee.

Before dinner, we headed to the lounge just in time to enjoy a spectacular sunset while savouring crisp glasses of Australian Chardonnay. We enjoyed chatting with a group of lawyers who'd chosen to come to Fox Harb'r for their annual partnership meeting. The conversation was an eye opener -- why, exactly, had my practice been having its partnership meetings in our back office?

When the sun had receded into the depths of the Northumberland Strait, Krista and I returned to our suite. The housekeeper had straightened up the room and left two roses and Belgian chocolates on the bed. I was starting to feel ever so slightly spoiled. Whether it was the sea air, the Chardonnay or the comfy bed, I slept wonderfully.

 

The next morning, a guest services rep named Matt offered to take us on a tour of the resort. He pointed out that the Fox Harb'r golf course, opened in August 2000, was designed by noted architect Graham Cooke. The par-72 course is a blend of Scottish links and a traditional parkland championship course. It features bent grass tees, fairways and greens and seaside holes with ocean vistas.

Matt also told us that Mr. Joyce doesn't just devote his time and energy to affluent golfers. The Tim Horton Children's Foundation now operates six camps across North America for underprivileged kids. I had visited the camp just up the coast a few years ago. It bears about the same relationship to your typical campground as Fox Harb'r does to the local nine-hole course. In other words, the youngsters enjoy a whopping good time.

For guests who have had their fill of golf, the resort offers tennis, skeet shooting, mountain biking and ocean kayaking. Matt took us around the airstrip and into a huge hangar. This is where a well-appointed bus and Cessna floatplane reside when not chartered by guests. After the lobster-fishing season, the cabin cruiser and pontoon boat are also available for charter along with a Eurocopter. The hangar also houses Mr. Joyce's red Viper sports car and his son's vintage T-Bird, neither of which is for rent.

Afterwards Matt drove us past Harb'rStone Village, a new residential complex of townhomes and serviced homesites right by the golf course. Guests and residents can also use the resort's Junior Olympic-sized pool, work out in a fully equipped gym or bask in the hot tub or mineral pool. The on-site spa provides massages and the usual pampering. I tried a therapeutic massage, which proved a challenge for masseur Ben, as I have the tightest neck muscles this side of Montreal. I noticed that Bobby Orr had his own private locker in the men's locker room, marked with a gold plaque. My wife chose to "gild the lily" with a facial and a manicure. She told me that Anne Murray had a similarly designated locker.

After the massage, a swim in the pool and a soak in the hot tub nicely bridged the time until dinner in The Destinations restaurant. We dined on succulent Angus steaks, washed down with copious quantities of a perfectly paired, peppery, Australian Shiraz. The after-dinner offering included a selection of Tim Horton's coffee, naturally. It was the first time I'd asked a waitress in a formal restaurant to make mine a "double-double."

After dinner, a lawyer named Kirk took a few minutes away from the duties of his annual meeting to buy me a single-malt scotch. He advised me as to why I should hold our annual meetings in luxurious resorts. His rationale seemed to make a great deal of sense at the time, but another deep night's sleep kept me from pondering it too long.

All too soon our brief respite in paradise was over. As we drove home the next morning, Krista wondered when she'd have another opportunity to come back to "gild the lily" just a wee bit more. As for me, I spent more time thinking about my annual partnership meeting than I ever had before.

 

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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