Pictou Lodge, which reopened in 2013 after being placed in receivership when debt made the business no longer financially viable, is now bursting at the brim with bookings.
Lodge manager Wes Surrett said it has booking for weddings for every weekend until September and every Saturday in June, June and August in 2018 is already booked for nuptials.
“It has been insane,” he said. “I think it is the perfect storm this year. We always had weddings, but this year it is off the hook.”
It is a popular overnight stop for tourists either coming from or going to Prince Edward Island as well as locals who want an evening out with the Lodge’s Thursday night pub event.
“Thursday night is the local crowd,” he said. “Last year, we started it and we had a mix of some bigger name entertainers and regulars, but what really worked well is bringing in the local guys.”
Thursday night entertainment takes place around the fireside pub were visitors can enjoy drinks and food while listening to the musicians.
“It has almost been too good,” he said. “We have had so many guests on the resort and locals visiting that it has been everything for our kitchen to keep up with it.”
Surrett said every year the goal is to increase its visitor intake over the last and this year July’s numbers are already better than August 2016 which is usually its peak month.
“We have been running about on full capacity for about three weeks,” he said. “During the last week of August, things start to open up again.”
Weddings in particular have picked up this year with some being held mid-week and different days on the weekend in order to get them all in.
In fact, there are ones scheduled for Thursday, Friday, Saturday this weekend but the Lodge has also had them on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays.
He believes that couples like the all-inclusive wedding package that it offers, but weather has been perfect lately for couples to take advantage of the opportunity to host an outdoor event on the beachfront property.
“Everything is on site,” he said. “The ceremony is here, people can eat, drink and party here and everyone stays here.”
The next day, the wedding guests usually grab breakfast before heading out so this is a good way for the lodge to catch some extra revenue. It can accommodate wedding parties of up to 150 people but the average crowd is around 100 to 120. The lodge currently employs 90 full and part-time employees.
In fact, the Lodge has been so busy with weddings this summer, it has opted to do away with regular Sunday brunch.
He said staff are working both Friday and Saturday nights for weddings and sometimes Sundays, which left little room for brunch preparation and serving time.
“We were getting maxed out,” he said, adding that weddings do bring in more revenue than brunches so it was decided to put the latter on hold this summer. He said the brunch is very popular with local people, but from an operations point of view, it is something it has been considering doing for the past few years.
Surrett credits a large part of the Lodge’s successful business turnaround to its owner, Brad Langille, who has been investing in the business since 2013.
He said a lot of work as been done to the shoreline to protect it from erosion and an underground wastewater treatment plant has been upgraded.
This is work that the lodge guest don’t see, but needs to be done to make it a better facility in the long term.