Nova Scotia

Cape Breton golf resort undergoes multimillion-dollar reno, changes name

A Cape Breton golf resort that underwent $4.5 million in renovations is now operating under a new name.

The Lakes golf club recently became The Lakes Golf Club and Resort at Ben Eoin

The price tag for the renovation of The Lakes Golf Club and Resort at Ben Eoin was $4.5 million. (Sherri Poirier)

A Cape Breton golf resort that underwent millions in renovations is now operating under a new name.

Ben Eoin Development Group purchased the financially troubled Lakes Golf Course in Ben Eoin earlier this year, as well as the neighbouring Birches at Ben Eoin Country Inn last year.

Under the deal, the new owners assumed almost $5 million in debts. Since then, Ben Eoin Development has invested $4.5 million into renovating and rebranding the property.

Work began last October and The Lakes Golf Club and Resort at Ben Eoin opened under its new name on July 1.

Rodney Colbourne, president of Ben Eoin Development, said the additions and renovations are the beginning of a planned expansion into a four-season resort.

Rodney Colbourne, president of Ben Eoin Development Group, stands in front of the newly renovated clubhouse. (Emily Latimer/CBC)

"We felt that considering the calibre of the course, it was something that was missing. The amenities weren't to the level that the course was, and we felt there was a demand there for that," he said.

Colbourne said construction is almost complete and the group will focus on "an aggressive marketing plan" in Canada, the U.S. and abroad.

Colbourne said Ben Eoin Development wants to add more accommodations to the resort, possibly on land they own at the nearby Ben Eoin Marina or on the residential subdivision they also own on the other side of the golf course.

'Bright future' for ski hill neighbours, says Colbourne

The golf course sits on land leased from the nearby Cape Breton Ski Club. The development group bought the golf course, despite a last-minute attempt to block the sale by the ski club.

Colbourne said they plan to work with the ski club next door. 

"We think the future is bright for the ski hill, and a bright future for the ski hill bodes well for our real estate development," he said. "So, what's good for them is good for us, and vice versa."

Colbourne said the $4.5-million investment was more than the group originally anticipated, but he's happy with the end product.

"Once we got started, we realized the importance of finishing it with quality materials and making sure it was cleaned up along the highway," he said.

12-month operation

Lindsey MacIntosh is the general manager of the Lakes Golf Club and Resort at Ben Eoin.

She said she hopes to work with the ski hill to promote the resort as a 12-month operation. Part of that involves providing accommodations to those travelling to visit the ski hill.

Lindsey MacIntosh is the general manager at the Lakes Golf Club and Resort at Ben Eoin. (Emily Latimer/CBC)

"We really see ourselves as being the best neighbours that we can," MacIntosh said.

"You know we'd like to work with them to promote the ski hill as a destination … We're trying to be a 12-month operation and we couldn't do it without a ski hill next door."

'Hopefully, both of us can be very successful,' says ski club official

John Ling, vice-president of Ben Eoin Ski Club, said the club had concerns about lost revenue due to the Lakes relocating its clubhouse, which was previously shared with the ski hill.

"With the move by the development group to the purchase location, we had concerns about the lost revenues and we still do," Ling said. "But we're willing to co-operate with the Ben Eoin Development Group in our operation and hopefully, both of us can be very successful."

Ling said the ski club intends to abide by the lease and make improvements that will be beneficial to both groups.

"It's a new venture and it's different people, and they have different ideas," Ling said. 

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