I am now an official jet setter. I was recently invited to fly from Hamilton, Ont.’s Jetport to Fox Harb’r Resort in Nova Scotia. Our small group boarded the Challenger 605 and sipped mimosas in grand comfort and style until we landed on the resort’s private runway. What a way to go!
We’ve had a grand day on the 7,253-yard links, designed by Canadian architect Graham Cooke. Now we are sitting in the Cliff Dining Room overlooking the fabulous final fairways at Fox Harb’r as the setting sun sinks into Northumberland Strait. We are tucking into butter-poached lobster and panna cotta with fresh berries. Not a Timbit in sight.
Our gracious host is Steven Joyce, the resort’s CEO and son of Fox Harb’r’s visionary, the late Ron Joyce, who co-founded the fabulously successful Tim Hortons franchise and eventually sold it to Wendy’s. Fox Harb’r is a luxury resort and real estate community where the likes of Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Bobby Orr, and Joyce himself zoom in on their private jets.
Located in Wallace on NS’s North Shore, Fox Harb’r is well off the beaten track. But it’s close to Tatamagouche, where Ron Joyce grew up and it’s where he returned to “give back” to the community. As his donut empire grew, Joyce started the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation for underprivileged children in Wallace in 1974. There are now six camps in Canada and one in the US. Nearby, he bought a parcel of land that would become Fox Harb’r.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve created here. Luxury without pretension, in one of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Ron Joyce.
18 new surf & turf fairways
Joyce’s vision began with the championship golf course that was named Best New Golf Course in 2001 and Best Golf Resort in Canada in 2011 by Golf Digest. Known for his masterful use of the lay of the land, Cooke created two unique experiences. The front nine plays around meticulously manicured parkland with sheltered forests, extensive wetlands and lakes.
Head onto the back nine and you are transported to a Scottish links-like landscape with waving fescue and fairways hugging the rugged coast of the Northumberland Strait.
Tiger Woods, who holds the course record of 63, stayed in Edgewood in 2009, one of many homes and townhouses for sale at Fox Harb’r.
No doubt Ron Joyce would be ecstatic to learn that his original 18-hole golf course is about to become a 36-hole facility with 18 parkland-style fairways and 18 links-style fairways with views of the rugged coastline. And he’d be proud of the fact that two of Canada’s most distinguished architects, Doug Carrick and Tom McBroom won the international competition for the project. This is the first time the two architects have collaborated and they have flown into the resort to discuss their vision with our group.
The newly routed Ocean Course should be ready for the 2024 season. McBroom describes it as a “refined links-style” that revolves around the ocean. The 18-hole parkland Vineyard Course that will play around the resort’s own grapevines should be complete by 2025.
Why Carrick and McBroom? “These two Canadian architects are every bit as good as any others,” says Steven Joyce.
Fox Harb’r began with golf as the main attraction, but there’s plenty more to keep you occupied. Now guests and owners can go horseback riding, play tennis, take a hike, or bike ride. At the Sporting Lodge, sharp shooters might take instruction in archery, clay shooting or hammer tossing.
The recently renovated Dol-ás spa offers a full range of treatments, including a signature rejuvenating facial and executive men’s menu. Awarded best spa in Nova Scotia, the popular facility is scheduled to expand.
All this activity and fresh sea air whets the appetite so it’s no surprise that fine cuisine is an important element of the Fox Harb’r experience. The Cape Cliff Dining Room is Atlantic Canada’s first sustainable seafood restaurant certified by Ocean Wise. You might even find trout on the menu that chef Jeff McInnis has caught himself from one of two stocked trout ponds on the property. Fox Harb’r also uses fresh herbs and produce from its own greenhouses under the direction of horticulturist Michael Steward.
The resort’s extensive wine list has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Recently, Fox Harb’r partnered with nearby Jost Winery to grow its own vines. Who knew that Wallace, Nova Scotia, would become Canada’s own Napa North?
The Fox Harb’r story has all the makings of a great Canadian novel or movie. Blue-collar cop, Ron Joyce, from remote Tatamagouche, NS, buys a donut/coffee shop in Hamilton with a Maple Leaf hockey player. Tim Hortons becomes a roaring success with franchises all over Canada and a loyal following eager to “roll up the rim” on their double/doubles. Joyce wants to give back to the Nova Scotia community of his childhood, so he starts his first camp for underprivileged kids near his birthplace. In the process, he buys a parcel of land with a dream to make it a five-star golf resort. He succeeds and his legacy continues to grow.
First published at Travel Industry Today