Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
A resort for nature lovers
Gull Harbour design inspired by Icelandic architecture
After several days of collecting grass and cattail stems, the completed nest is lined with down by the female. She then lays four to seven eggs, which take about a month to hatch.
The goslings are taken for their first swim a day after they are born. In a few weeks, the nest is abandoned and the new family joins the other geese that roam the resort's lush grounds until the fall migration.
"Once the nest is empty, we can set up the bridges that connect the island to the shore of the pond," says Jordon Lanthier, Sales and Marketing Manager for the Gull Harbour Resort, 177 kilometres north of Winnipeg on Hwy. 8.
He says employees at Gull Harbour have a great deal of respect for the wildlife that live in the 38,900 acre Hecla Provincial Park.
Moose, deer, mink, coyotes, wolves, raccoons, beaver, geese, ducks and foxes are just a few of the species that are regularly sighted.
"The foxes are always trying to steal eggs from the geese," Lanthier says. "It's fun to watch them sneak up on a nest only to be rebuffed by big ganders, hissing and flapping their wings."
On another occasion, he says a giant Canada Goose walked into a conference room in the middle of a speech by the CEO of a large Canadian financial institution.
"The audience cracked up," Lanthier says.
The entire island is a birders' paradise and boasts 91 species, including the American bald eagle, white pelican, sandhill crane, great blue heron, yellow warbler and eastern kingbird.
The resort is built in a crescent shape with the main dining room and many of the 93 guest rooms overlooking Lake Winnipeg. Just offshore is Black Island, a source of pure white silica sand used on beaches in Hawaii and in sand traps on many PGA golf courses.
Monir Nasif, the resort's CEO and General Manager, says Icelandic architecture inspired the design of the building.
"It's based on the northern Icelandic farmhouse style in which each room has its own peaked roof. The individual rooms which overlook the farmyard are joined together by passageways," Nasif says.
He says the Gull Harbour Resort is comprised of a series of two-storey gable-roofed buildings, connected by a hallway that runs from one end of the semi-circular resort to the other.
Main floor rooms have sliding glass doors leading to outdoor patios, while second floor rooms have balconies from which the lake and acres of rolling property are visible.
The east-facing wall of the main dining room on the second floor is mostly plate glass, giving diners a panoramic view of the lake, grounds and antics of wild animals on occasion a moose will stride majestically across the manicured lawns.
Lanthier says the hotel's guest rooms (including 10 major suites and three junior), as well as conference and banquet rooms, are designed to accommodate everything from a small meeting to a large conference or a big wedding.
Rooms have Icelandic names
In keeping with the resort's Icelandic theme, the rooms have names such as Sunnuhvolt (sunny knoll), Bakki (land on the lakeshore), Lindur (grove) and Thingbellir (assembly field).
Tamara Osman-Rundle, conference director and administrative assistant, says the resort recently hired a new chef for the Viking Dining Room.
"Harold Lange was trained at Red River College. He has worked in Jamaica, was an apprentice to Chef Czayka at the Carleton Club in Winnipeg, and recently returned to Manitoba from Banff where he cooked for a large hotel," Osman-Rundle says.
Lange was a member of the 1992 Canadian National Culinary Student Team, and has won many gold and silver medals in hors d'oeuvres and restaurant platter categories, she adds.
His menu includes Lake Winnipeg pickerel, as well as B.C. salmon, shrimp and bison. Nightly specials may include Thai chicken and Thai pork tenderloin.
Fast food items such as fish and chips, chicken burgers and clubhouse sandwiches are available in the 19th Hole Lounge on the main floor, as well as the Viking Dining Room, Osman-Rundle says.
Lanthier says the resort has many amenities, most included in the cost of a room, from $99 to $119 double occupancy, plus taxes, with kids under 18 free if they stay in the same room.
"Amenities include an indoor pool, wading pool, hot tub and a newly-renovated sauna. There is an indoor gymnasium, a miniature golf course, tennis courts, rental bikes, groomed nature/hiking trails and a magnificent beach where campfires burn into the night.
"The marina rents kayaks and small motor boats; lake tours can be arranged by contacting the marina owner who has boats to accommodate 15 or 20 people at a time," Lanthier says.
In winter, he says the hiking trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling; skis can be rented from the resort for a small fee. A toboggan hill with a 200 metre run is a short walk from the hotel and, during Christmas and New Year's, a local farmer provides hay rides on a sled pulled by two powerful percherons.
Nasif says in co-operation with the provincial Parks Department, the resort arranges daily activities for kids and adults alike.
"Parks employees will take them hiking or fishing, or teach them how to make crafts from birch bark, pebbles and all kinds of readily available materials," he says, adding that there is satellite T.V. for non-crafty types.
If this isn't enough, Nasif says the resort has one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in Canada. Designed by Manitoba's J. A. Thompson, the course covers nearly 195 acres, with many of the holes providing a view of the lake.
According to Bruce Longhurst, publisher of Canada's Golf Course Ranking Magazine, "the Hecla Golf Course is one of Canada's hidden gems, a must play!"
Longhurst's magazine also ranked the course in the top 25 golf resorts in Canada, as well as one of the top five public courses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Golf Digest Magazine's Places to Play section ranked it a four star course; only a handful of Canadian courses have received this accolade, Nasif says.
He says the 6,678 yard, par 72 course features a driving range, two practice greens, club storage, paved cart paths, golf lessons, a pro shop, on-course licensed refreshment cart, a licensed patio bar and food kiosk at the 9th green, as well as power cart, pull cart and club rentals.
To contact the Gull Harbour Resort and Conference Centre or the Hecla Island Golf Course, call toll free: 1-800-267-6700.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage
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