With New Brunswick, Canada, just over the border from Maine, I’ve had this destination on my Travel Therapy radar for awhile so when I got the opportunity to get a sneak peek of a legendary historic resort there that’s about to re-open I jumped at the chance.
The iconic Algonquin Resort is in the charming town of St. Andrews by-the-Sea, in New Brunswick. Originally built in 1889, this very special property has been the crown jewel of this community for decades.
Now after undergoing an impressive 30-million dollar renovation the property, the first Autograph Collection hotel in Canada, is set to open later this summer, reclaiming its rightful place as one of the top places to stay in North America.
After touring the property, where I saw the final touches being done on the renovation, I got a true taste of what’s to come when sharing drinks and s ‘mores around a fire with the Algonquin’s General Manager, Tim Ostrem and some of his staff while enjoying the music of guitarist Bob Bowman.
I was charmed to find out scenes like this will be happening all the time on the property as Tim explained they plan to have a guitar for guests to play when enjoying their own fires. I quickly found this is just one of many thoughtful touches the Algonquin is either introducing or bringing back from tradition to help guests here have a magical and memorable stay.
So what’s being renovated? From what I saw, just about everything! Tim likes to say it’s really going to be a brand new hotel in the historic framework of a property people have loved and enjoyed over the decades and that in the renovations they’re respecting the Algonquin’s past while adding the latest technology and modern amenities for guests.
Some of the renovation highlights include a new roof, the addition of air-conditioning and insulation for the winter months, plus all new rooms, new patios, a new restaurant, bar and spa, new meeting rooms ,hot tubs and an indoor pool with a three-story waterslide and the list goes on!
The Algonquin’s award-winning golf course is also getting a new clubhouse just adding to this already spectacular golf experience. The Algonquin Golf Course has been honored as one of the top 10 oceanside golf courses in North America with 14 of the 18 holes right along the water.
I took the sunset photo above from the Algonquin’s signature 12th hole that’s rated as one of the top nine golf holes in all of Canada where the design was inspired by a similar iconic hole at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.
The setting of the Algonquin Golf Course and the Resort is what makes it a truly unique and special vacation experience.
From the resort you can walk into town and it’s easy to fall in love with artistic
St. Andrews by-the-Sea. The people are genuinely warm and friendly and with a population of just around two-thousand people there’s a peaceful, laid back vibe that’s ideal for relaxing.
While visiting I was honored to be a celebrity judge at New Brunswick Community College in St. Andrews where very talented local chefs in the college’s culinary program competed to make the best dishes using three local ingredients, wild blueberries, salmon and chocolate. They did an amazing job whipping up creative and tasty appetizers, main dishes and desserts. Members of the community came out to support the students and you could really feel how much the entire community works together to help each other out.
For my stay, I picked the historic Treadwell Inn, where Paul and Tom will take great care of you, spoiling you with lovely rooms and home-made breakfasts. The Inn is right on the water so you can watch the world famous Bay of Fundy tides come in and out every day.
The Inn is also right in the heart of Water Street, St. Andrews main street, where you can find all kinds of interesting restaurants and shops like Kit & Kaboodle where they sell traditional tartans and hand-made sweaters and art galleries like Serendipin’ Art featuring artwork from 100 different New Brunswick Artists.
Some of my favorite things to do in St. Andrews include hiking or walking on the beach or strolling through the beautiful 27-acre Kingsbrea Gardens. While visiting Kingsbrea Gardens also be sure to enjoy a meal at Chef Alex Haun’s new Savour restaurant where his specialties include the Seafood Chowder with lobster and the smoked local salmon. Also don’t miss trying a New Brunswick favorite dish, Fiddleheads, that comes from a young fern.
For another wonderful dining experience in St. Andrews don’t miss a meal at the Rossmount Inn where chef and owner Chris Aemi spoils you with creative, locally sourced cuisine and an always changing menu with a lot of his ingredients coming fresh from his own garden. His Inn is a historic manor house that sits on an 87-acre estate set between the forest and the sea. With his permission there are trails you can walk up to Chamcook Mountain the highest point in the area.
Another way to burn off some calories is to sign up for an Off-Kilter adventure with Kurt Gumushel where you actually go mountain biking wearing kilts! Kurt will provide the bikes and kilts and some great local history and no matter what your skill level is Kurt can customize a ride just for you. I did a trip biking on the ocean floor that was fantastic.
In the summer in St. Andrews you can also go whale watching with the Bay of Fundy being home to 12 different specifies of whales including Humpback, Finback and Minke. I also had a great time hanging out with Alison Spear from Spear’s Fishing and Charter. Every summer they convert their lobster boat into a tour boat taking you out on special fishing charters where you can also see the whales. Alison’s family has been in the lobster business for generations so be sure to check out her secret tips below on how to serve up the best fresh lobster. I know I learned a lot that I was doing wrong before.
There is so much to see, do and experience in St. Andrews and New Brunswick that no matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, family friendly, romantic escape or an action adventure trip, you can find it in this part of Atlantic, Canada.
One thing I learned from this first trip is that I only scratched the surface of things I want to do so I’ve already booked my trip to come back later this summer when the Algonquin reopens, so stay tuned for that Travel Therapy segment coming up!
For more on the Algonquin Resort: http://www.algonquinresort.ca/
For more on St. Andrews & New Brunswick: http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/
The Algonquin’s Haunted History
When I first started researching the Algonquin Resort I kept finding articles written about how the hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in Canada. Fascinated I researched more and quickly learned about several different ghosts believers say have haunted the property for decades.
One of the most famous ghost stories at the Algonquin is about a bride staying in room 473 in the early 1900’s who was stood up at the altar and apparently was so upset her spirit has never left the hotel. Maybe she’s still waiting for her groom to show up? Either way, believers say she’s still hanging around and some nights you can hear her crying over her lost love.
Another Algonquin ghost story is about an older woman, thought to be an old employee, who at night is often seen in the dining room rearranging the table settings. Apparently she has her own way of doing things and likes to rearrange everything to how she likes it.
And my favorite ghost story is about an older gentleman, a friendly uniformed bellhop at the Algonquin who is apparently very helpful and while taking your bags to your room will tell you about local attractions and the hotel’s amenities. Over the decades guest apparently have loved him so much they’ve sung his praises to hotel management only to find out no such bellhop works at the hotel. Interesting…I’m hoping if I run into any ghosts during my stay it’s the friendly bellhop because who couldn’t use help with their bags.
During my sneak peek and tour of the property I asked General Manager Tim Ostrem about the ghost stories and he said while he’s new to the property, brought in for the re-opening, he has heard staff and some of the locals talk about ghosts but so far he hasn’t had any encounters and doesn’t expect to.
I asked to see the most haunted room I’d read about, room 473, where the jilted bride had stayed. Even while still under renovation I could tell it’s a lovely spacious room with a beautiful view and decided when I come back to visit I’d like to stay in that room but I’ll bring earplugs just in case the heartbroken bride decides to have a cry-fest that night.
Apparently, on the fourth floor, by the bride’s room , a construction says when he was hanging signs there was one that would mysteriously keep going crooked every time he turned around, no matter what he would do.
Some other staffer shared that while downstairs working they would get calls from that room on the fourth floor that would show up as room 473 on the caller-id when no one was in that room.
And the stories go on. I don’t necessarily believe or disbelieve in ghosts but I do find the Algonquin’s ghost stories interesting and I’m not the only one. Over the years, different ghost hunters and journalists have come to investigate claiming they have found ghost activity here so now the question I’m asking is, if there are ghosts did they stick around during the renovation and will they still be here when the resort reopens? I’m planning to come back for the reopening so I’ll be sure to let you know if I run into one!
Travel Therapy Favorite Picks for St. Andrews by-the-Sea
Favorite Places to Stay
Favorites For Shopping
Favorites for Dining
Secret Tips for Preparing Best Fresh Lobsters
Courtesy: Alison Spear-Spear’s Fishing & Charter
Alison Spear was kind enough to share her grandmother’s secret tips with me for how to best prepare fresh lobster. I quickly learned I was doing a lot wrong and after tasting Alsion’s lobster I knew I’d live by her tips from now on!
Carefully take the rubber bands off the lobster claws by holding the claws shut so you’re not nipped by the live lobster. Sounds basic but Alison says you’d be surprised by how many people just dump the lobster into the pot with the rubber bands still on, cooking the rubber as well as the lobster.
Only fill your lobster pot with about two inches of water and make sure it’s very salty, if you’re not using salt water already, use lots of sea salts. The idea is to steam the lobster not boil it. Boiling it takes away all the flavor do don’t fill your pot full of water, something I always did before.
For a pound and a half lobster only steam for about 15 minutes. Don’t overcook. You know when the lobster is done when you tug on the antenna on it’s head and the antenna comes off. If it doesn’t come off, it’s not done yet and you need to keep checking the lobster every 30 seconds because it will cook fast from this point on.
Let the lobster cool before cracking it open and eating it and when cooling or storing keep the lobster on it’s back as that keeps the shell from sticking to the meat.
For more inspiring and empowering Travel Therapy trip ideas check out my website at www.traveltherapytrips.com and please leave a comment below as I’d love to hear about any destinations or resorts you’re interested in hearing more about.