Mill River resort’s success is boosting the bottom line of other West Prince attractions
WOODSTOCK — From the Mill River Experience front lobby, general manager Louise Arsenault sees a steady stream of people passing through the front doors.
Some are arriving for a golf tournament, others are checking in or arriving for dinner.
“It’s looking very positive; lots of questions, lots of enquiries about what’s happening in Mill River and what there is to do in the western region,” Arsenault said.
“It’s pacing ahead and looking very strong.”
The winter season was also very strong.
“We were very fortunate to be in the part of the Island that had snow.”
Arsenault said the resort and the region as a whole are benefiting from the year-round business. For instance, until three years ago, the resort’s only wintertime hours were during the March break period.
“I have seen the rejuvenation of Mill River Resort,” said Arsenault who has worked there for over 30 years. “Mill River was always a popular place and holds a lot of memories for families and folks. To see it rejuvenated, people are very excited about it.”
An ambitious renovation project was undertaken at the resort soon after Don MacDougall gained ownership of the sprawling property early in 2017.
When the facility was first constructed and then again years later when it was about to undergo its renovations, Mill River was presented as a catalyst for tourism growth in western P.E.I.
Arsenault refers to the Mill River Resort’s vision: “To develop the Mill River Property to be the Centre of Excellence for tourism, recreation and wellness in West Prince”, and it’s mission, “To provide or be a catalyst for other entrepreneurs or community organizations providing services that improve the lifestyle and economy of West Prince.”
She said the resort is meeting its mission. Kelly Ashley, executive director of the North Cape Coastal Drive Tourism Initiative Partnership, also recognizes Mill River as a catalyst.
“The upgrades, they’re fantastic,” she said. “People are really loving it when they go in.”
Ashley noted the resort utilized several local suppliers during the renovations and features local companies in its gift shop.
For example, every bed in the resort’s 70 renovated guest rooms is decorated with a MacAusland’s Woolen Mill blanket.
Dale MacAusland appreciates the business, noting his woollen mill continues to benefit. The resort carries the company’s blankets in the gift shop and directs interested guests to the mill’s retail shop, just down the road.
“There’s some buzz about it,” said MacAusland.
He noted the resort was a happening spot when it was first built, and suggested MacDougall has helped make it so again.
Products by western P.E.I. manufacturers like Grand Designs and Dan’s Kitchens feature prominently in all the guest rooms. The gift shop features locally-made products from such suppliers as Island Tree, Holiday Island Productions, Poplarline Farms maple syrup and Follow Your Heart Woodworking.
Ashley, who noted her office receives a lot of requests for information about the resort, noted the renovated facility will factor in nicely with the NCCD’s interest in tapping into the bus tour sector of tourism.
The resort also includes a championship golf course, aquaplex and campground. Arsenault said numbers look very strong this year for all three attractions.
Arsenault added the resort is doing a good job of directing its guests to other attractions in the area, whether it is a tour of the West Point Lighthouse, a meal at the Northport Boatshop Restaurant, a Stompin’ Tom Dinner Theatre performance, a visit to North Cape or to one of the businesses featured in its gift shop.
“(Tourism operators) have contacted us, certainly, to make us aware, so that we can promote (their attractions) from this end,” said Arsenault, “because, the more we have to offer our guests who come to western P.E.I., the longer they will stay with us.”
Mill River Experience general manager Louise Arsenault shows products from local suppliers available in the resort’s gift shop.