05 JUL 2017: Back in the 1800s, long before antihistamines, the advertising slogan for St. Andrews by-the-Sea, Canada’s first summertime seaside resort town, proclaimed, “No hayfever and a railroad.” Something about the salt water and briny air in this New Brunswick hamlet, plus the laid-back pace and the rhythm of the powerful tides, enticed people to return summer after summer. They still do. In fact. St. Andrews by-the-Sea was recently named “Best Destination in Canada” by USA TODAY 2017 Readers’ Choice awards.

St. Andrews by-the-Sea is the ideal starting place for a New Brunswick golf getaway. Both the iconic Algonquin Resort and the venerable golf course have been extensively renovated.

The Algonquin Golf Course has a storied history. First opened in 1894 with design input by legendary Donald Ross (of Pinehurst No. 2 fame), it is currently being renovated by top Canadian golf course architect, Rod Whitman (renowned for his Cape Breton masterpiece, Cabot Links).

Last week, I was part of a group of golf writers invited to come and see the changes, meet Whitman and the management team and enjoy the Algonquin’s hospitality. Whitman told me his goal is to have golfers say “wow.” Mission accomplished.

Whitman’s redesign accentuates the natural beauty of the region with re-sculpted holes, tee boxes, bunkers and greens to optimize the golfing experience. By removing tons of trees and pushing several fairways on the back nine closer to the shoreline, sightlines and views emphasize the Bay of Fundy location and the historic town of St. Andrews. On the back nine you can now see the ocean from every fairway.

The world’s highest tides stir up a bounty of food in the local waters, thus attracting several species of whales. During August and September, you might be distracted by Humpbacks and Right Whales, the rarest in the world.

The seaside tract will officially re-open in August 2017. The par-72 layout meanders around Passamaquoddy Bay with a dynamic sequence of oceanfront holes (11, 12 and 13) known as Joe’s Corner. The signature number 12 is a par-three with elevated tees playing down to a well-bunkered green jutting into the Bay. A club member who resides in Maine is probably the only golfer in the world who can brag that he scored a hole-in-one on a fairway from which he can see his house that’s located in another country.

Behind the 17th green, stands the oldest clubhouse in Canada still on its original foundation. From the patio of the new clubhouse enjoy some outstanding fish and chips and a cold brew while admiring marvellous views of Passamaquoddy Bay, Navy Island and the State of Maine.

Whitman’s approach to golf design is to make the course easier for the high handicapper and more challenging for the low handicapper. Indeed, with five tee blocks there’s opportunity for everyone to enjoy the 7,102-yard track and even brag about a few pars and birdies.

No visit to St. Andrews would be complete without a stay at the neighbouring Algonquin Resort, a fixture in town since 1889, when guests paid about $3 per night and yearly golf membership was $5. Inflation has taken its toll but the wraparound veranda of this red-roofed Tudor landmark is still an ideal spot to pull up a rocking chair and relax.

In 2014, after a $30 million renovation, the resort re-opened as the first Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in Canada. The renovation managed to keep the gracious Victorian Tudor style while updating rooms and public spaces with modern amenities. Already it has been ranked among Canada’s Top ten hotels by Conde Nast Traveler and awarded CAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond designation. Now in its second century of service, The Algonquin was awarded Marriott International's Best Renovation award for 2014. It is managed by New Castle Hotels & Resorts.

I must commend the folks who hire and train the staff at the Algonquin. From the kilted bellman who greeted me and helped with my luggage to the enthusiastic chap who shuttled me to the golf course to the maid who carefully folded my clothes, I was impressed with way the staff conveyed both professionalism and genuine eagerness to help.

Nice touches include loaner guitars, bicycles and outdoor fire pits. The property has both indoor and outdoor pools and a thrilling waterslide. Nearby, those who want to swim in the Bay of Fundy can take a dip at Katy’s Cove. A free shuttle service takes guests into town and the golf course. The Algonquin is pet-friendly so Fido is welcomed with his own walking map, bed and bowl. Sydney, a docile black lab, is the Algonquin’s own canine ambassador.

At the Algonquin’s Spa you might indulge in a massage after your golf game or try the Lavender Honey Facial using organic honey from the resort’s own hives and Aveda products.

I like the fact that the management of The Algonquin respects and honours the resort’s historic past. For example, Braxton’s Restaurant and Bar is named after the George Braxton who was head chef at the resort in the late 1800s. He was one of the first African-American chefs to works in a luxury hotel in Canada. Ron Kneabone, who is now the executive chef, pays homage to Braxton by cleverly incorporating Johnny cake into a salmon Florentine dish. The cuisine alone is reason enough to check into The Algonquin, especially if you like fresh seafood. I must confess that one day I ate lobster for all three meals: with eggs Benedict for breakfast, in a roll for lunch and butter-poached for dinner.

As with many historic properties, The Algonquin claims to have some spooks that still haunt certain nooks and crannies. Perhaps you’d like to join one of the bellmen on a nightly ghost walk. Many guests request room 473 where a bride is said to have died of heartbreak when her fisherman groom stood her up at the altar.

www.algonquinresort.com

 

 

Algonquin Golf Club
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author

Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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