Last Updated on March 22, 2023
By John and Sandra Nowlan
Fox Harb’r resort is Nova Scotia’s only five-star, four-diamond resort. There’s a good reason for that.
The resort was built by Ron Joyce, the co-founder of Canada’s largest restaurant chain. Joyce became a billionaire with profits from the Tim Hortons coffee and donut empire.
In 1987 he fulfilled his dream by acquiring 1,100 acres of pristine waterfront property along Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Strait. The property was also near his birthplace and directly across from Prince Edward Island.
An avid golf and airplane fan, he built a 250-acre championship golf course and a 5,000-foot airplane runway on the property. Ron Joyce’s original idea was to attract the rich and famous to the gated community of Fox Harb’r Resort by adding a few private townhouses.
Wine Spectator’s Top Award of Excellence
That vision has evolved into a five-star, four-diamond resort hosting up to 220 guests in 88 large suites facing the ocean. Fox Harb’r Resort also has a high-end restaurant with fresh produce from the resort’s own greenhouse. It is the recipient of the “Two Goblet” designation from Wine Spectator Magazine, ranking it as “the best of its Award of Excellence.” In addition, Fox Harb’r also has its own vineyard.
The resort eventually added a spa along with a junior Olympic swimming pool. It also has a sheltered marina that can handle two dozen yachts up to 80 feet long, as well as kayaking & paddle boarding, and tennis / pickleball courts.
There’s also a fully stocked trout pond and a rustic Sporting Lodge built with post and beam construction. It includes a floor-to-ceiling fireplace and leather furniture from the former home of Johnny Cash. The lodge also features archery, axe throwing, and skeet shooting.
In 2001 the Par 72 Fox Harb’r Golf Course, planned for the resort by renowned designer Graham Cooke, was named the best new course in Canada by Golf Digest Magazine. To this day, it remains one of Canada’s finest. The course record – a 63 – was shot by Tiger Woods in 2009.
Wonderfully Secluded Fox Harb’r Resort
Fox Harb’r Resort is so secluded that its low-key entrance can be easily missed by drivers along Nova Scotia’s Sunrise Trail and the cutoff to the small community of Fox Harbour. Once you’re through the gates, however, you’re immediately surrounded by beautiful landscaping as you drive along Amazing Grace Boulevard.
Visitors stop at the Joyce Centre, a 37,000-square-foot building overlooking the 9th hole and Northumberland Strait, for check-in. It includes a modern convention centre with a reception area, a ballroom/banquet hall, as well as several boardrooms.
Our comfortable suite was in one of fourteen two-story buildings parallel to the golf course and the saltwater shoreline. Our unit was also extremely generous in size by hotel standards, including a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
There was also a gas fireplace and a door leading to a balcony overlooking the action on the back nine. An added benefit on the balcony was the bracing aroma of fresh sea air.
The room has a large, flat-screen TV, coffee maker, microwave oven, and well-stocked fridge. The separate bedroom has a very comfortable king-size bed with its own TV. The well-lit bathroom features a granite, heated floor, a two-person therapeutic tub, fluffy towels, and high-end toiletries by Molton Brown.
The welcome sparkling wine in the resort rooms comes from the Fox Harb’r Vineyard. Nova Scotia white wines, in particular, are outstanding.
Fox Harb’r Resort takes its cuisine seriously in the main Cape Cliff Dining Room and Willard Gastropub. The menu features produce from its on-site greenhouse, meat from local farmers, and fresh seafood obtained just minutes away.
Special dinners are often planned through the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Fox Harb’r President Kevin Toth told us his goal is to celebrate and elevate the local cuisine.
When we were at dinner, a winemaker from British Columbia was flown in to talk about his award-winning vineyard. He also offered examples of his skill with each of the seven courses Executive Sous Chef Jeff McInnis and his team prepared. Chef McInnis is now Executive Chef for the 2023 season.
Among our favourite dishes were halibut crudo with caviar and fresh herbs, scallops with coconut and green apple, and braised pork shoulder with celeriac, apple, and onions. The BC wines were also a perfect compliment.
The following day, we had breakfast at Fox Harb’r Resort before we left for home. The Lobster Benedict was a culinary delight with lots of fresh lobster, a perfectly toasted English muffin, and a sublime hollandaise sauce. It was an excellent ending to an all-too-short stay at a resort that clearly puts Nova Scotia on the map for high-quality, high-end accommodation and cuisine.
Obviously, it’s not just for golf anymore.
Fox Harb’r Resort
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