In Nova Scotia, ever-expanding coastline and forested mountains dot the unspoiled landscape, reaching as far as the eye can marvel, and rustic traditions remain the true essence of the maritime province’s captivating allure. It’s the perfect backdrop for a hassle-free spa destination escape, as an immediate calm easily embraces visitors upon arrival. It’s also the site experience spectacular golf opportunities, which I recently discovered on my travels with the Golf Nova Scotia organization.
Teeing Off in Halifax
My Nova Scotia adventure begins in the provincial capital of Halifax, an urban sprawl that blends classic with contemporary, hosting the likes of a naval base, a port, heritage centers and universities. The AAA Four Diamond-Awarded Westin Nova Scotian sits in a prime spot near the historic Halifax Harbour, echoing an attitude of nonchalance yet refined sophistication that appeals to business and leisure travelers alike. The hotel’s intimate Sykea Salon and Spa adds an attractive touch, with its modern interiors offset by stained-glass windows, as does Elements on Hollis restaurant, which was awarded the Wine Spectator 2011 Award of Excellence.
Venturing outside the Westin leads to such entertainment as the Casino Nova Scotia, the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, cafés, boutiques and restaurants housed in restored 19th-century buildings, galleries and plenty of pubs and clubs. A must-do in this seaside city is a jaunt on the Halifax Ferry, which takes you to the city’s sister town of Dartmouth. A short distance from Halifax, the Graham Cooke-designed Glen Arbour Golf Course is an 18-hole, par-72 course carved out of perfect Nova Scotian landscape.
On the Course to Digby
About a two-hour countryside drive from Halifax is the picturesque fishing town of Digby. Along the shores of the Annapolis Basin of the Bay of Fundy, the maritime town is dubbed “the scallop capital of the world” and is the site for plenty of activity, including championship golf.
Here, visitors will find the four-star Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa; originating in 1929, the classic Norman-style chateau preserves its quaint charm and quiet grace, complete with soothing views of the Bay of Fundy. The resort features 85 rooms and suites in the main chateau, and 31 one-, two- and three-bedroom maritime cottages throughout the property; accommodation accoutrements are minimal but comfortable. Resort amenities include a freestanding spa, heated outdoor pool and an observation deck that provide a relaxed vibe, along with places to run and play such as the wooded hiking trails, tennis courts and croquet lawn.
The resort’s elegant Churchill’s Restaurant and Lounge features a vast breakfast buffet spread and such delectable, eclectic courses as sandy cove lobster and wild mushroom risotto, whale cove crab cakes, and of course, pan-seared “world famous” Digby scallops.
Hit the Links, Head to the Spa
A standout of the Digby Pines Resort is its award-winning golf – a par-71, 18-hole championship course designed by Stanley Thompson – where I learned how to golf for the first time (the verdict? I should probably stick to spas, though I did appreciate learning the correct technique, how to perfect my swing and the proper etiquette – par for the course!)
Created in 1931, the classic course, against the backdrop of a lush evergreen forest setting, comprises a circular layout, and its par-5, #7 hole is rated as one of the most difficult holes in Canada.
Following a day on the course, the Spa at Digby Pines, an AVEDA-concept spa, provides a seamless transition for some post-sun skincare therapy. My AVEDA Elemental Nature™ Facial, using products customized to my complexion’s needs, balances my skin after a lengthy day outdoors (The steam showers and sauna weren’t so bad, either!)
Other treatments to try include the AVEDA Hydrotherm™ Massage, taken on warm, water-filled cushions, and the signature specialties, which celebrate the region’s rich apple harvest and orchards.
Having a Ball on the Green and Off
Aside from golfing and spa-ing, Digby is a starting off point for some of the province’s major attractions, from its lush parks to fantastic whale watching. Wanting to soak in the area’s beauty and beyond, a trip along the coast from Digby to the town of Yarmouth is essential, as it winds through regional discoveries like Acadian French country, festivals, fishing towns, the 18-hole, par-71 Clare Golf & Country Club and the majestic Cape Forchu lighthouse – and can be taken within a couple hours’ scenic drive. There are also plenty of wineries to toast the trip.
Learn more about Golf Nova Scotia. Plus, discover the Digby Pines Resort’s sister property in Cape Breton, the Keltic Lodge and its own AVEDA Spa.
*Images courtesy of the editor and Nova Scotia Signature Resorts, Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa.