The following was printed in the Chronicle Herald, May 18, 2013
The first time my daughter and I went to White Point Beach Resort, she was 11, it was early February and the great fire had not happened.
This May, two years later, we went back, and happy to say, the bunnies are there, the pool is good and the new lodge is a wonderful mix of the rustic with the modern.
It is minimal in crisp lines, pale wood, light and space. It is homey and arty with an antler chandelier, metal strip orb lights, a massive wooden bar counter by Jeff Amos, an artisan from Blockhouse, and Nova Scotia folk art. Best of all, it has more views of the sea than ever.
What is wonderful about White Point Beach Resort is its unchangeable main attraction — the sea.
Its roar follows us as we feed the rabbits, walk on the beach or lay back at night with a sigh of comfort in a comfy bed with a goose down duvet. “The pillows are so fluffy!” my daughter exclaims. We have never slept so soundly.
Ironically, White Point’s second defining element is fire. The resort was built as a hunting and fishing lodge in 1928 and the main lodge went up in smoke while a wedding was taking place by the beach in November of 2011. The new $4-million lodge, designed by WHW Architects Inc. of Halifax, opened in November of 2012.
Owner Robert Risley has no fear of fire. It roars and sparks in a beachside firepit at night where kids roast marshmallows at 7 and 9. Logs blaze in the main lodge’s two mammoth, beachstone fireplaces. The neat packet of kindling and newsprint that arrives daily at the cabin door is quickly lit up to roast marshmallows indoors or warm the toes while chatting fireside before bed. The smell of White Point is woodsmoke.
White Point Beach Resort has defined itself as a destination for young families, with programming that on a cold and sunny May weekend included fly tying and casting, crafts, movie time and story time with milk and cookies.
The new lodge’s pool, in the same location as the former one, is ideal for kids, with a shallow entry at one end and a hand-cranked fountain that spits water down like rain. Open from 6.30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 10-11 p.m. for adults only, it’s not ideal for lane swimming. The sea is not visible from the pool but blue sky and pine trees are. For people 16 and up there is also a fitness room.
The new games room is disappointingly not much bigger than the old one and has a pool table, pingpong table, foosball game and shuffleboard. Next door is a new feature, the Kids Zone, a large and sparkling clean craft room with small chairs.
White Point isn’t just for kids; in fact, its mix is what makes it so appealing. There are young lovers mooning over each other while sipping Nova Scotia wine at dinner or embracing on the beach. There are middle-aged women walking dogs on the nature trail. There are wedding parties and a grandfather’s birthday gathering and groups of relaxed-looking women sharing a visit to the Ocean Spa.
There are few activities targeted at teens, but with the boathouse opening this weekend, they — and everyone — can enjoy boating in canoes and paddleboats on a freshwater lake, surfing with rented wetsuits and riding bicycles.
The beach in May is rocky, but ocean currents bring the sand back in by mid-July. White Point has the one-kilometre, white sand beach that gave the area its name.
This part of the province is rich in beaches. Further down the road from White Point is the small, sandy curve of Hunt’s Point Beach by a fishing village that has been operating since 1755, then the grand sweep of Summerville Beach, a provincial park, and further along in Port Mouton the azure water and three crescents of Carter’s Beach.
Another key element at White Point is its quick and friendly staff. Waitresses move swiftly to take orders and get meals delivered without the long wait times that can drive kids crazy and parents even crazier. A waitress from the previous night who was not serving us stopped by to say, “Are you enjoying your stay, ladies?”
White Point has a breakfast buffet where cooks make omelettes to order and dinner buffets which get kids to their food immediately and are fun for all ages. Overall, the food is excellent, though the buffet desserts could benefit from a fruit dessert and lighter selections.
For those who want to go the Nova Scotian route, White Point offers Mersey Point smoked salmon, Indian Point mussels, salmon, catfish and a fisherman’s soup served in a giant white triangular bowl with shrimp, scallops, mussels and half a lobster. Breakfast includes Acadian codfish cakes with baked beans and a thick slice of toast from homemade bread.
The new kitchen has a bread maker, a pizza oven (the margarita pizza with arugula is very good!) and an ice-cream machine responsible for a ginger ice cream, served with a “cast iron” bread pudding with caramel and rum sauce that is to die for.
The cabins, which include a mini-fridge, are also renovated for a lighter, airier look with Zen-like bathroom accessories and flat screen TVs.
Since the lodge reopened in November, it has been so busy it’s running with its full staff of 160. Reservations are ahead of what they were in May 2011, says Donna Hatt, marketing director and product development manager.
As of last week, there has been a new litter of the famous bunnies. They were first brought to White Point as domestic animals but escaped their cage and mated with wild rabbits.
“The night of the fire, God love our local residents, they brought bags of carrots and lettuce and the rabbits gathered all around the playground,” says Hatt. “None were harmed during the build.”
The rabbits, each a different colour and size, are another defining element to a place where you can park the car and forget about the world.
Elissa Barnard is an arts reporter for The Chronicle Herald.