By Chantal Cooke
Keltic Lodge in the Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia offers luxury accommodations, superb dining, and incredible ocean views
Before you stay at the Keltic Lodge in the Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia – stop! Specifically, stop at Ingonish Beach and look across the water to the Middle Head Peninsula. Here you will get the best view of the Lodge, and it will give you a genuine sense of the beauty of the place you are about to stay in. For me, I was sold before I even arrived.
Cape Breton is one of those places that oscillates between pretty and very pretty – and the location of the Keltic Lodge puts it firmly in the latter category. As we drove onto the peninsula and through the private gates, there was the distinct sound of ‘ooohhh’ from within the car as each of our party soaked up the charm of the Lodge’s location.
The Keltic Lodge started life in the late 1930s as the ‘mountains and ocean’ golf course designed by Stanley Thompson. Fast-forward 75 years later, and an ambitious plan upgraded, renovated, and created a variety of accommodations and other facilities, including the existing golf course. The result is a series of attractive lodgings in a spectacular setting.
I stayed in one of the rooms within The Taigh Corson House. It was large, comfy, with a veranda and wonderful views of the ocean. At night, I left the windows open and let the water lull me to sleep.
Keltic Lodge Offers a Great Dining Experience
Dinner is taken in the Main Lodge, which follows the Scottish theme with tartan, thistles, shields and pale wood colours. The place feels open and airy. Warm colours, and soft lighting give you a sense of a hunting lodge – without the dark wood and heavy furniture.
When I visited dinner was a buffet. Unfortunately, it offered nothing for a vegetarian, which was very disappointing (and more than a little surprising). However, I had a chat with the chef, who offered to make me a vegan meal (even more to my liking) and he delivered a delicious dish of spicy chickpeas that every meat-eater at my table wanted to try.
And having tried it – then wanted to swap their dish for mine. Quite why it wasn’t on the menu originally, I can’t fathom! But you are now in the know – so be sure to ask for the vegan chickpeas. (And don’t be afraid to request something different if your tastes and dietary preferences require.)
Plenty of Room to Relax
After dinner, relax in the lounge, sit outside your room, and drink in the view (with the help of a Scotch), or take a leisurely stroll along the peninsula and watch the sun go down from one the handily positioned benches.
What can you do during the day? Well, there is the golf course, and a luxury spa. Or my favourite option: the Middle Head hike. Come out of the Main Lodge and turn left, past the cottages and you’ll see a marked trail that starts with some wooden steps. Take the steps and head right into the trees, then follow the path. It’s a fairly easy hike, but you’ll need sturdy shoes, and be willing to navigate a few steep inclines.
Look out for moose tooth marks on the trees, and the large holes made my Pileated Woodpeckers. Take a moment to admire the view when the trees part, and once you reach the end of the trail where the cliffs fall away in front of you – stop. And this time, look back towards Ingonish Beach.
A stay at the Keltic Lodge in the Cape Breton Highlands is a chance to relax and recuperate – and you don’t need to be a golfer to appreciate this lovely destination.
Contributor Chantal Cooke is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with a passion for the planet. In 2002 she co-founded the award-winning radio station PASSION for the PLANET and in 2009 was awarded London Leader in Sustainability status. Chantal also runs a successful communications agency: Panpathic Communications