Greg Elmhirst is truly using local collaboration and partnership to get creative with Elmhirst’s Resort’s offerings through this pandemic.
Greg is the General Manager of Elmhirt’s, which is a fifth generation, all season, cottage resort and conference facility. The resort offers a spa, dining and a range of activities on a 240-acre property along Rice Lake.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry doesn’t need to rehashed at this stage, but what does need to be celebrated was Greg and his team’s ability to adapt and offer updated experiences at their go-to tourism destination.
“We basically moved all of our recreation events outside to maintain physical distancing,” he explains. “Christine Painter, one of our marketing colleagues, suggested that we look at doing an Escape Maze experience here because there’s a lot of interesting family and local history through this area to draw from.”
“We have Jake and Fred from Escape Maze in Stewart Hall who could give us a turnkey experience. I then got my dad involved, who is the elder statesman and keeper of family history. So between this committee on the resort side and the team at Escape Maze, we went about bringing this escape maze to life,” Greg said.
There are seven locations for their escape maze game. The show-stopper location is definitely the cabin in the woods, Greg explains.
“We have a very talented craftsman on our crew here and he built a post-and-beam cabin, which is all held together with wooden pegs, specifically for this escape maze game,” he said. “We milled all the material ourselves from trees off of our site.”
The A-mazing Lunch Escape includes:
The Escape Maze at Elmhirst’s Outdoor Adventure Game for 4 people Lunch for 4 on our outdoor patio or in the Hearthside Dining Room (your choice!) A delicious entree and dessert for each player Service charge
$129 plus HST Additional players $20 each plus HST
There’s another incredible collaboration that Elmhirt’s released this season.
The Peterborough Axe Club, owned and operated by Carlo Raponi, have set up several lanes at Elmhirst’s Resort. They offer axe throwing competitions for Elmhirst’s guests.
“Carlo comes out to help with all the events personally, and they’re a lot of fun,” Greg said.
It’s another example of two experience providers in the Peterborough & the Kawarthas teaming up to provide a creative recreation experience.
“This is one the things we tried to do through this COVID-19 situation. We didn’t try the same things that we were doing before, we tried to break it down and turn it into a whole new experience,” he said.
Greg said Elmhirst did a lot of re-framing of experiences.
“We’ve been open for a few months now and with some of the changes we made, we can still offer a lot of the same experiences that we did pre-COVID-19,” he explains. “Instead of just being able to walk up and get things whenever you feel like it, you would need to make an appointment to grab our kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, etc.”
“I think a lot of guests showed up willing to make some accommodations in order to have a more normal experience but still keep themselves safe.”
Both the guests and the Elmhirst’s staff have adapted to those required changes, Greg said.
The resort still offers non-motorized waterfront toys (canoes, paddleboards and kayaks) at no extra charge. The same goes for bicycle rentals.
They’re also still operating their indoor and outdoor swimming pools, guests just have to reserve an appointment. Indoor and outdoor dining is still on as usual, with reservations needing to be made prior.
Elmhirst’s has had to come up with new dining experiences to creatively maneuver through COVID-19 limitations.
“We used to have a Sunday brunch buffet that was a bit of an institution in the area but of course buffets are still not viable in the current health circumstances. But we came up with a very nice, high end, 3-course plated luncheon called ‘Sunday Best’,” Greg explains.
Elmhirst’s spa is able to offer their full slate of services. Full COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place, and every guest will have their temperature taken and needs to wear a mask during the appointment.
“It’s a much more normal atmosphere at the spa than I would have anticipated,” Greg says encouragingly.
“Every tourism operator that reopened was in the position of having to reinvent a lot of the elements of their experience,” he said. “You’re never really sure exactly what the experience is going to be like until you reopen.”