Posted: Nov 02, 2016
Watching the northern lights from a heated outdoor infinity-style pool while feasting on lemon-filled bannock with marinated dried wild blueberries?
That's what a luxury lodge in development near Yellowknife plans to offer to an elite, and untapped, group of so-called soft adventure travellers.
"Their lodging and accommodation experience will be at a different level than what has been offered in Yellowknife," said Deneen Allen, development project manager of the Skywatch Lodge and Spa.
Vancouver-based Coromandel Properties and Pure North Canada are backing the $25-million project being built along the Dettah Road outside of Yellowknife.
The 36-room lodge is still in the design and pre-construction phase. Once built, guests will have access to a fine dining restaurant that seats 80, a destination spa, a library, and lots of spaces from which to watch the aurora, including an outdoor, heated infinity-style pool.
The starting rate per-night for the all-inclusive experience is $1,100 per person.
"We're not meeting any price resistance right now from our target markets," said Allen.
Fireplaces and skylights
The building was designed by Yellowknife architect Simon Taylor. Made up of roughly 40 per cent glass, the design is described as "simple, elegant, streamlined" with finishes inspired by the local landscape.
Guest rooms will include four-piece baths, gas fireplaces and skylights through which to view the aurora.
Forty staff will work on site; half will be full-time employees.
Allen would not give many details on the other guest experiences and amenities for "proprietary" reasons, but when it comes to adventure and "authentic" Northern experiences, Allen said the lodge's operator, Solstice Destinations, will rely on existing tourism operators to offer dog sledding, ice fishing, hiking and interpretative tours.
The lodge will also source local ingredients, when possible, for its spa and fine dining restaurant, such as berries, mushrooms, local fish, and Inuvik reindeer, Allen said.
"I would call it rustic, elegant cuisine. We're really hoping to collaborate with a lot of the great food producers and foragers who are already here in Yellowknife. We're working with the farmers' market and other local suppliers."
"We're trying as hard as we can to source everything locally."
Verda Law, who manages Yellowknife Tours, said she is excited by the addition of Skywatch Lodge to the N.W.T. tourism sector. (submitted by Verda Law)
Verda Law, who manages Yellowknife Tours, an inbound tourism operation in Yellowknife that works with hotels and other local businesses to create tourism packages in the territory, said she is excited by this new addition to the tourism sector.
"I think this will make my package more diversified and enriched," she said.
"We can show them other activities as well. It makes them have a remarkable experience."
Allen estimates the project will drive up visits to the territory by 10 per cent, potentially adding an estimated $9 million a year into the local and regional economy.
Renovations on the existing building — a former residential addictions treatment centre — will start this spring. Allen said a lot of the construction will be prefabricated and those modules have yet to arrive on site.
The grand opening is expected in the spring of 2018.