TravelThe Resort that Timmy’s Built

The Resort that Timmy’s Built

The Resort that Timmy’s Built

Guest accommodation overlooking the golf course and sea at Fox Harb’r Resort glows at sunset. Photo by Tracy Hanes.

Fox Harb’r Resort, on Nova Scotia’s north shore about 20 kilometres east of Pugwash, isn’t your average luxury vacation spot – if there is such a thing.

The guest accommodations offer amenities you would expect when in-season prices start at $350 a night for a studio:  deep whirlpool tub, heated granite bathroom floors, luxurious linens, the English line of Molton Brown toiletries and beautiful views of the rolling golf course and sea.

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Custom detached homes and townhouses, with upscale finishes, are now being offered for sale at Fox Harb’r. Lots can also be purchased. Photo by Tracy Hanes.

But Tim Hortons coffee at the mini-bar? Absolutely. At Fox Harb’r, Timmy’s is the brand of choice.

This is, after all, a resort built and sustained by proceeds from the iconic coffee and doughnut chain, and it represents the vision of co-founder Ron Joyce, a Maritimer, born and bred in nearby Tatamagouche.

Fifty years ago, while working as a cop in Hamilton, Joyce got to know NHL hockey star and doughnut-shop owner Tim Horton. In 1967, they signed a franchise agreement, and the legendary business relationship began.

Horton provided the personality and the promotion; his partner, the business acumen, according to Kevin Toth, Fox Harb’r’s enthusiastic president: “Ron Joyce’s real skill was picking locations.”

And what a spot he’s picked for this 1,150-acre (465-hectare) spread with its four kilometres of shoreline in a part of Nova Scotia that boasts warm waters, spectacular sunsets and views across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island. The region, with unspoiled countryside and a growing number of wineries and craft breweries, is called the Sunrise Trail.

With this prime bit of real estate, the 85-year-old billionaire, who sold out his fast food interests, is not looking for financial gain, Toth says. In fact, Fox Harb’r, which opened in 2000, is debt free and backed by a trust fund that covers operating losses.

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Fox Harb’r Chef Shane Robilliard knows how to please guests with his lobster boils and his specialty, lobster ravioli. The resort prides itself on the fact that seafood on its menu is sustainably sourced and organic greens and vegetables come from its greenhouses and gardens. Photo by Tracy Hanes.

So what motivated Joyce?

“He wanted to give back to the north shore community,” Toth explains to a group of visitors, “… and he wanted a place to enjoy and to come home to.”

Given back he has. Fox Harb’r is the largest employer on Nova Scotia’s north shore, with almost 200 full-time and seasonal staff. And, no question, the resort reflects Joyce’s interests:

-He took up flying to speed his travels during rapid expansion at Tim Hortons. The resort has a 1,500-metre airstrip.

-At 65, he became an avid golfer:  The resort offers an 18-hole course, a nine-hole Par 3 and a golf academy staffed by three experts.

-And, for a Nova Scotian, it’s only natural to offer hunting and fishing – stocked trout ponds, clay shooting and fall pheasant hunts.

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The clubhouse is one of Fox Harb’r’s impressive amenities. The resort opened in 2000, the vision of Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce. Photo by Tracy Hanes.

While deep pockets support the resort, plans are afoot to make it more financially sustainable. A 10-year plan calls for 225 dwellings, in addition to the 31 existing homes, some occupied year round, and accommodations for guests.

Now on the market are luxury townhouses from $525,000, two detached models ringing in at $1 million and $1.6 million, and building lots from $195,000.

For a part-time getaway, starting at $169,000, Fox Harb’r proposes a quarter interest in three and four-bedroom townhouses through fractional ownership representing 12 weeks’ occupancy.

Fox Harb’r is unusual, and not just for its trust fund.

“It’s very rare when all the amenities and everything are already built,” says residential sales manager Eric Lum.

In addition to golf, trout ponds, sport shooting, a jetport and marina, the resort has an impressive clubhouse, spa and indoor pool; mature landscaping and gardens, punctuated with statuary; and restaurant facilities, with one of the largest wine cellars in Eastern Canada. Home-grown salad greens and vegetables come from the greenhouses and gardens, and seafood is sustainably sourced.

There’s more to come: riding horses arrive this summer, a 25-acre (10-hectare) vineyard is being planted and a conference centre planned.

Even without that last amenity, big names have visited, including Tiger Woods, who set a course record of 63, and Bill Clinton, who attended former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna’s annual networking session.  That’s just one of Fox Harb’r’s many events.

You can find out more about the resort and all that it offers at foxharbr.com.

Article by Ellen Moorhouse.

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