Happy Holidays & Looking back at 2023
Happy 2024 everyone!
Its hard to believe that we are entering 2024 and have now owned Springwood for nearly 3-years. This is the time of year that we like to take a pause and reflect upon how the year unfolded. All-in-all I have to say its been a pretty good year, we’ve continued to make improvements at the resort, I think we’ve had a positive impact in our community and developed some good relationships both within the local community and with many of our regular guests, we’ve gotten a pretty good grasp of the business cycles and have a good understanding of where Ed and I need to focus our time.
This year we saw the last of our first-year summer students graduate high school and move onto full time jobs. Ed and I are so proud of our student staff members who we’ve seen grow and develop into this communities’ future leaders and we really look forward to continuing to work with youth in the Central Frontenac area and hopefully provide many of them with a positive first work experience.
This past spring we hosted the 2nd annual Kennebec Lake Association Community “Garage” sale, where we donated the space and our proceeds to the Kennebec Lake Association as well as the local United Church. This event has been a wonderful way for the community to come back together after a long winter. We also once again donated back the funds we collected from our guests “empties”, which amounted to $1,000 which went towards the local food bank and the Kennebec Trails. Ed and I believe very strongly that we have a responsibility to be good stewards in our area and these give backs are our way of helping keep this community strong and thriving.
This past summer we made a couple of tweaks to our summer programming for guests, including adding a collaborative “Wine Camp” experience with @winesbybrent and formalizing a Fairy/Gnome Door Hunt, which involved a self-guided Scavenger hunt on our property for nearly 20 Fairy/Gnome doors with an ice cream treat reward for successfully finding them all. We particularly loved seeing how involved our guests (young and old alike) got in finding the Fairy doors and working with others to share tips.
Based upon feedback received from local cottagers and guests alike, we added Nespresso Coffee beverages to our regular general store offering. My personal favourite is our Affogato – which is a scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso, whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce. Trust me if you like coffee and ice cream – you have to try this Italian treat.
Our summer guests also noticed that we added 8 new beach loungers with tables to our beach, which has been a big hit. I expect that we will add a few more in 2024.
2023 was also the year that we invested in upgrading our internet. Our guests can now enjoy high speed, stable internet throughout the resort even while at the beach or docks for peace of mind if a work issue suddenly crops up or if someone in your family needs to grab their code for Taylor Swift tickets or catch the newest Marvel streaming drop while at the resort.
Finally, we significantly added to our boardgame collection, which is now at over 600 unique boardgames – rivalling many of the more successful board game cafes. Selecting and organizing these has been a personal pet project of mine as board gaming is a favourite hobby within our family. Some of the reasons I love boardgames is that it brings people together, teaches many life-skills, keeps your mind active and staves off boredom, can be done pretty much anywhere and is a great activity when Mother Nature decides to not cooperate. Its also an extremely approachable activity, in that there is something for everyone – young or old, able bodied or not, with so many options ranging from simplistic to highly complex, cooperative in nature to highly competitive, solo games to those that can accommodate large groups of people and themes to match all interests. We hope this collection brings as much joy to our guests as it does us, and just ask that they take care with them so that we can continue to share them for years to come.
In 2023 we also continued to do some repairs and enhancements in the cottages, most notably, we replaced the cookware in all of our cottages with good quality Lagostino pots and pans, as well as a set of wine glasses and a good quality Paderno knife block (with knives). We also added a kitchen shareables library with items like instant pots, rice cookers, air fryers, juicers, griddles, coffee grinders etc. so that guests may borrow specialty cookware when needed.
We saw the end of an era by finishing the replacement all of the pedestal sinks in the cottage bathrooms with vanities to give guests more storage space for their belongings and replacing the last of the red sofa beds in the cottages. We also started replacing several of the older bunk beds with new locally made, solid wood bunk beds that are durable, esthetically pleasing with a cottage vibe and are quite easy to make, since the rails pull off.
Our big renovation project for 2023 was an overhaul of Cottage 5. This has always been a super cute cottage but needed some work. We fixed the roof, updated the electrical panel, replaced the flooring throughout the cottage and completely renovated both the bathroom and kitchen. I’m particularly pleased with how the kitchen turned out since we were able to completely transform that space by removing an obtrusive beam and reconfiguring the layout making it highly functional and beautiful to boot!
Two other big projects we took on, had more of an impact for our staff than for our guests – we spent a good chunk of the winter organizing our maintenance building and adding a custom-built workbench with storage for tools etc. and we built what we lovingly refer to as our “Yak-Shack” – an outbuilding for our paddles, life vests and water safety kits. This made it so much easier for our staff to help guests get out on the water quicker with their safety equipment, since this equipment was previously spread about the area and not easily accessible. Lastly, we’ve started painting out some of the outbuildings in grey and some of the cottage doors/trim in our signature navy blue to help refresh the grounds.
2023 was also the year that we cut our teeth on hosting large scale events at the resort, including a few weddings and the annual LIONS Club BAIT (Blind Anglers International Tournament). In preparation for these events, we obtained white tables and chairs to allow us to comfortably accommodate up to 120 people on our outdoor covered leisure deck and set up wedding ceremonies at our beach or marina. The dock replacement work that we did over our couple of years also had a big impact for the BAIT event as it ensured suitable docking space for the professional fishing boats to park for the weekend’s festivities. These events went off without a hitch and have given us a great roadmap for future events – both big and small.
Looking ahead to 2024, our focus will be less on big renovations and more on marketing initiatives especially for our “off-season”, developing and fine tuning our Standard Operating Procedures and working closely with onsite staff, so that Ed and I can start to spend a bit more time together offsite as well as continued emphasis on repairs and maintenance.
One of the big projects we’ve been working on is providing some linens to guests. Starting this January, the winterized cottages will be supplied with new, good quality, down alternative duvets between Labour Day and Canada Day (so year-round except in July and August). We believe this will make it easier for our weekend guests to pack for their shorter get-aways, without putting too much strain on our septic system or short cottage turn-around times in the summer months.
We’ve also collaborated with one of our neighbours who has generously given our guests permission to use their walking trail, so we’ve created a year-round locally inspired nature scavenger hunt along the trail, which gives another nearby option for a short hike.
This spring we are expecting to add new signage at the resort – notably a whimsical directional sign near Cottage 6 and an overheard archway sign at our fishing dock. We are also planning on continuing with our exterior painting, yard cleanup and landscaping, general fixes and finishing the maintenance building organization and renovation.
Lastly, Ed and I would like to thank each and every one of you who have continued to support our resort and join us in this journey. We hope you and your loved ones enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and we wish you all the best for 2024 and look forward to hosting you! (here’s a little collage of our some of our holiday decor at the resort)