Digby Pines and Liscombe Lodge up for sale again
Nova Scotia tried to sell the 2 resorts last year, but attracted no acceptable bids
Nova Scotia hopes recent momentum in the tourism sector will make the difference as it tries again to unload its two provincial government resorts, the venerable Digby Pines and Liscombe Lodge on the Eastern Shore.
On Friday, the Waterfront Development Corporation — a Crown corporation — issued tenders for the sale of both resorts.
"We've received strong interest lately, unsolicited," said Jennifer Angel, the acting president and CEO of the Waterfront Development Corporation.
The previous sale was handled by realtor Cushman Wakefield Ltd. The process took almost a year and resulted in no bids deemed acceptable by government. One bidder offered $1 for Liscombe Lodge, as long as the province provided an additional 90,000 acres of woodland.
No restrictions on sales
The properties have been managed by New Castle Hotels and Resorts since 2002.
The province has been trying to sell the resorts since 2012.
Angel says the objective is for both resorts to continue to be operated, but government hasn't put any restrictions on the sale.
"We are open to a wide range of business plans at this stage. Bring your proposal and we will evaluate it on the clear criteria," she said.
The tender rates bids on a score of up to 65. It gives 35 points for use of the facility, 25 for experience and five for added value.
Angel says each resort appeals to different types of visitors.
Golfers vs. outdoor adventurers
Digby Pines includes an 18-hole golf course designed by legendary Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson.
The tender says that recent momentum in the Nova Scotia tourism sector, particulary in the province's golf courses, improves the marketplace conditions for the resort.
Liscombe Lodge — located in a wilderness area — appeals to the eco-tourism crowd.
The RFP closes at the end of September and a recommendation to government is to be made by next spring.
"These resorts are each very important local economic hubs in their communities. They are important for tourism. They employ a lot of people. While government doesn't believe it should be in the business of operating resorts, it is not divesting at any cost," said Angel.
A fair market appraisal issued when it tried to sell the resorts last year said the properties were literally worthless as both were valued at $0.
Between 2003 and 2006, the province spent $7.7 million on them on upgrading them, but they are in need of substantial upgrades.