I was a little uncomfortable with having to drive up to the resort and trying to find my sister. Would I look suspicious? Would security stop and question me? It was, after all, a grand resort where the rich and famous took their vacations and I didn't want to look like some crazed paparazzi. I was reassured that there would be nothing to worry about and that those things I heard about the rich and famous were just fairy tales fueled by local children trying to impress us city slickers who camped in Ingonish on summer weekends. Was she serious? Just fairy tales? Or was she sworn to secrecy?
I arrived one evening in the early summer of that year and parked in the main parking area in front of the Balmoral residence. I already had the back seats of my parent's mini van taken out and a sleeping bag set up in the back as I wasn't able to stay in my sister's room. Because this post is supposed to be about the grand reopening of The Keltic Lodge, I'll sum up my time spent there that summer like this:
I learned that The Keltic Lodge is not some untouchable place where only the rich and famous stay. It is not a stuffy, snobby resort with gold-plated railings, crystal chandeliers and bowtied garcons. It is, however, a beautiful, magical place that caters to people from all walks of life. That summer was one of the best summers of my life. Through my sister and my time spent around the lodge while visiting with her, I met lots of people from all over the world, I sampled ice cream from the Atlantic Restaurant, I embarked on a tour of the inside of some areas, I enjoyed some wonderful evenings in the Sitting Room while Cyril MacPhee performed, I was introduced to the Thirsty Hiker Pub at the nearby Glenghorm Resort and even took my turn as the designated driver back to base and, most importantly, I fell in love with that iconic white building with the red trim that I'd admired from afar for so long.
Although I never had the opportunity to actually stay at the Keltic (besides sleeping in a van in the residence parking lot), I've visited the grounds many times and often park in the big parking lot near the restaurant during lightning storms (best place in the area to watch lightning, hands down!) when it's too stormy to stay in my tent at nearby Broad Cove. I've always wanted the resort to succeed partially because my sister worked there, partially because it employs so many local people but mostly because it belongs on the Middle Head Peninsula. It's the heart of The Highlands and without it, the area just wouldn't be the same. A few years ago, rumors started to spread. The beautiful resort needed some major repairs and that it was for sale and that perhaps it would even have to close. Those are just some of the things I heard. That's why when I recently learned that some major renovations were done and there would be a grand reopening to show the public that the Keltic was, in fact, still alive and not going anywhere, I clicked on that "attending" button on the Facebook event page and made plans to attend it back on June 25th, 2016. I wanted to be there and show my support for the new initiatives being taken to revive Cape Breton's premiere vacation destination.
A number of people were already roaming the grounds when I arrived but I was still able to find a parking space close to the building before it got too crowded. I entered my name in the draw to win one of several great prizes (one of which was for a stay at the resort) and walked around the newly-renovated area. I started to explore the Inn area on my own when a very friendly, well-mannered young man offered to give me the grand tour. I was very impressed with what had been done with the suites and especially loved the ones with the glass doors overlooking the bay. The spa was also very impressive and I especially loved the hot tub on the outside deck looking toward majestic Cape Smokey Mountain. As I wandered around admiring the spectacular work that had been done to an already spectacular place, I heard the faint sound of a lone piper. And than I heard another.
I returned to the Keltic just in time for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and speeches. Everyone involved in the resort's present and future success were so full of energy and promise for a bright future. There was even mention of making the Keltic a year-round resort which I think would be fantastic! Unfortunately, I didn't win any of those door prizes but I felt privileged to be in attendance at such a wonderful event in honor of the resort and to be among the first people to learn more about what is coming from Cape Breton's premiere destination...which may sooner than later become Nova Scotia's premiere destination or even Canada's premiere destination. And why not? It has everything - The world-class golf course, beautiful scenery, sandy beaches, fun activities, warm hospitality and scrumptious food and drink.