Tag Archives: travel

Northern Ontario Adventure: 2 tourism consultants, 1 week, lots of KM’s

By Stacey Hunter, BC Hughes Consulting

As tourism Project Development and Research Coordinator I sometimes get the opportunity to step away from my computer and act like a tourist. Recently while working on Ride the North motorcycle product development, my colleague and I had the fortunate opportunity of travelling through Northeastern Ontario to perform site visits on many attractions, accommodations and restaurants to determine whether they were motorcycle friendly. Our mission was to drive as far north as Kapuskasing, 11.5 hours north of our office in Owen Sound, Ontario.  To put this into perspective, and illustrate just how large Ontario really is – we could have driven to New York City in less time.

In this industry it’s very important that we experience first hand what we are promoting to others and if that means living out of a rental car for a week and surviving off greasy food then we’re always up for the challenge.

Our journey started in Little Current on Manitoulin Island, where we met with the rest of our team over a delicious white fish dinner at the Anchor Inn. This quaint town is the gateway to the North Channel and is visited by thousands of boaters every summer (so naturally we spent our night eating ice cream and swooning over boats that cost more then our homes). After seeing the famous swing bridge do its thing we bid farewell to our fellow travellers and wished them safe travels for their site visits along a slightly different route.

Bright and early the next morning we made our way to Timmins with a few site visits along the way. We were impressed at how many businesses were eager to make their location motorcycle friendly. What we weren’t delighted about was to learn that our car was sans breaks in the back left wheel.  Luckily, our rental agency was very accommodating, switching our car quickly and getting us back on the road.

We settled in for the night at Cedar Meadows Resort just outside of Timmins. This resort knows how to provide its guests with a great experience. The food was beyond delicious and every night they offer a wildlife tour that gives you the opportunity to feed moose (the only one we saw the entire trip) and elk.  Experiences like these make trips memorable.

After saying so long to Timmins we drove two more hours through trees and rocks to the most Northern point of our trip, Kapuskasing, and then on to Cochrane, home of Tim Horton and Ganuk the polar bear. Being on the list of site visits, we headed to JR’s BBQ Ranch for lunch. We were told that JR’s had “the best ribs you’ll ever have”. They were amazing (in our eyes good enough to satisfy a hungry motorcyclist), and to top it all off the service was excellent.

We eventually found ourselves at the Elk Lake Cabins.  This quaint resort was one of my favorite stops on the trip. It was set on the water and featured several cabins and plenty of RV and tent sites. An onsite pizza oven means motorcycle guests can easily park their bikes and order in for the night.  They claim to have the best pizza in the North and although it was the only pizza we ate during the trip, in my opinion, it would hold its own in any pizza competition. We enjoyed ours while watching the sunset over Elk Lake.

After our mini cabin vacation, we packed up the rental and made the breathtaking drive around Lake Temiskaming and Quebec. We headed to Duhamel-Ouest to check out one of our designated stops for lunch. La Bannik was upscale, served delicious fresh food at a reasonable rate and had one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen.  Since motorcycle riders are not just young to middle aged males anymore, La Bannik passed our test for the couple and boomer market.

Unfortunately our week long site assessment trip was coming to an end. After finishing up our operator visits in Mattawa and North Bay we made the long drive home and said goodbye to the North.

As a tourism consultant, this trip not only affirmed motorcycle friendly businesses- it also gave me a greater sense of what tourism in Northern Ontario really is about.  Northern Ontario is about wide open roads that span miles and miles, friendly welcoming people who are willing to chat and shy but massive creatures like moose and bear that hide within the trees and rocks that surround them.

KM’s driven, approximately 1,887.

Trip Highlights:

  • AY Jackson lookout (minus the bear encounter)
  • brushing back to back with Andre from the TV show Departures riding his motorcycle in northeastern Ontario
  • Coconut Crème pie at Rolly’s in Ramore
  • Highway 633 to Mattawa (windy and thrilling)

Stacey Hunter is a tourism researcher with BC Hughes Tourism Consulting. She has travelled to 16 countries around the world, with the goal to become enriched through experiencing local cultures.

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Filed under Best Practices, destination development, motorcycle tourism, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized

Can Ecotourism be Mainstream?

By Stacey Hunter, BC Hughes Tourism Consulting

When searching for vacation ideas, type in the word ‘Eco’ and see what Google yields. I, like most travellers had never really looked deep into what exactly “ecotourism” meant and always had my own perceptions. When staying at hotels I always reuse my towels and “recycle” the shampoo and soap containers by bringing them home with me. I had always just assumed that this is what ecotourism was and that I could call myself an eco-tourist.  When I read about resorts being eco-resorts, I always just assumed it meant you slept in the mud, used candlelight and ate organic. Little did I know mainstream ecotourism meant something much more.

After doing some research I found out that ecotourism is a type of travel that:

  • takes place in natural areas where people don’t usually visit,
  • has minimal impact to the area, and
  • builds awareness of the species and locals to that area.

In return your travel to an eco-destination financially assists in the protection of that destination.  By being an eco-tourist you must be ecologically and environmentally aware of the places you visit.

It all sounds prudish, and likely has you thinking “but I’d much rather my 4 star accommodation in Vegas”. Travelling ecotourism style doesn’t mean giving up luxury and pina colada’s by the pool.  There is a relatively new ecotourism philosophy taking hold in the mainstream tourism industry.  Take Misool Eco Resort in Indonesia for example.  Missool is a luxury dive resort that offers enriching experiences that benefit and sustain the landscape and community surrounding them.  Some examples of what Miscol Eco Resort does in order to be an Eco Resort:

  •  Hiring locals as staff
  • Assisting the community with sponsorships or donations
  • Using recycled material to construct the building(s)
  • Educating visitors about the land and species around the destination
  • Minimizing the consumption of fossil fuels the destination uses (for example using wind turbines and solar power)
  • Minimizing waste by composting, recycling, avoiding pesticides and asking guests to pack environmentally responsibly (for example avoiding packing plastic bags, bottles etc.)

Researching eco-tourism made me wonder why we still travel any other way?

Why not take an exciting vacation all while becoming enlightened about your destination and positively impacting the area you are visiting. If I can go on a trip that is not only enjoyable but is socially and environmentally responsible then why wouldn’t I?

You don’t have to take an eco-safari in Africa to become an eco-tourist. Many would be surprised to know even here in Ontario we have eco-resort opportunities.  Elk Lake Eco centre in Elk Lake enlightens guests within the magnificent Boreal Forest, while placing tremendous effort on serving local foods. Cedar Meadow Resort & Spa in Timmins offers a luxurious experience and wildlife tours right from the doorstep of their resort.   Northern Edge Algonquin offers retreats and adventures at their “oasis from this hyperconnected world”, a sustainable and environmentally sound resort.

If resort owners make the effort to make a difference, we at least owe it to them to given them the consideration when planning our next vacation.

Stacey Hunter is a tourism researcher with BC Hughes Tourism Consulting and has traveled to 16 countries around the world, with the goal to become enriched through experiencing local cultures.

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Filed under ontario tourism, tourism, tourism product, Travel

When you gotta go!

When you gotta go……

Blog Poem: By Chris Hughes

Visitors we are,

Travelling on bike, foot and car.

Map in hand,

Zig zagging across the land.

While in transit we like to drink,

Not planning ahead – we just don’t think.

We order large double doubles,

58 minutes later, we’re in trouble.

Drinking water from a stainless steel bottle,

Hurry up you’d better not doddle.

It’s easy peasy if you are a guy,

If kids must wait they begin to cry.

Women panic until one is found,

Only to find it filthy and can’t sit down.

It’s a natural fact of our travelling life,

Why on earth does it cause such strife?

We can put a man or two on the moon,

But try to find a clean washroom and you are doomed.

Clean washrooms make people stop,

They’ll buy lots of stuff – the cash they drop.

Business owners, travel and you will see,

What we all go through when we have to go pee.

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Filed under Best Practices, Rant, Tourism Management