This summer, our family spent a long weekend in Digby Nova Scotia. After spending one amazing night at Whale Cove Campground in Digby Neck, followed by a day of adventure Whale Watching on Brier Island, we settled into two nights of luxury at The Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa. We didn’t play any golf or go to the spa, but still had a great time at one of Nova Scotia’s grandest old resorts. Here are 8 reasons why we loved it.
1. The Location
Just under 3 hours from Halifax by road, the fishing town of Digby sits on the beautiful Annapolis Basin in the Bay of Fundy, boasting the world’s highest tides and providing a gateway to superb culinary, nature and whale-watching experiences.
Digby is neighbour to St. John, New Brunswick, via the new Fundy Rose ferry, and just over an hour from Yarmouth, which connects Nova Scotia to New England, USA via Nova Star Cruises. We love Digby in the summer for its delicious seafood, friendly people and kayaking and cycling opportunities. We also love the exciting local festivals, like Lobster Bash, Scallop Days and the famous Wharf Rat Rally, Canada’s largest multi-day biker rally, according to Biker TV.
3. The Pool
The heated outdoor swimming pool at the Digby Pines Resort is set within a enclosed wall with Deco-style pillars and glass. The pool deck leads to a shiny new set of changing rooms, good showers, and a modern new fitness room with friendly, attentive staff at hand.
4. The Playground
With two swings, an awesome slide, a wobbly bridge and a slick mini zip-line, this playground was our saving grace every time our toddler started trashing the dining room (“Quick- get him out to the playground while I finish my breakfast!”… “Quick- get him out to the playground before he starts throwing forks again”). You get the picture.
On our second morning, we found this beautiful Lunar moth clinging to the playground structure.
5. The Nature Trail
Behind the Digby Pines is a short but lovely running/walking trail. In one part of the trail, slim, gentle birch trees dominate, creating a peaceful, magical light. I told my six year old that I thought we might be in Narnia. Her eyes widened: “Really?” We had a Mountain Buggy for our toddler, and it handled the trail really well, but the fly net and bug spray came in handy. The woods around Digby are pretty buggy!
6. The Breakfast Buffet
We weren’t surprised to find that the breakfast buffet at the Digby Pines was a first class affair, since we had the same experience at The Digby Pines’ sister hotel, Liscombe Lodge, a couple of years ago. The Digby Pines and Liscombe Lodge employ top chefs, and cream their cooks and kitchen staff from the renowned Culinary Arts program at the local community college, NSCC. My two favourite breakfast menu item were the fishcakes and the Eggs Benedict.
7. Fine Dining
Although kids 6 and under eat free, Churchill’s Restaurant feels like an adult place. So, following a near-disastrous episode on our first night (toddler wrecking-ball syndrome) we decided not to bring our two year-old back. The solution: hubby and toddler stayed at the cottage and enjoyed delicious fish and chips (cottage room service!) while my daughter and I dressed up and went out for a super-fancy date night.
Churchill’s had my favourite wine: Spy Valley, which put me in a great mood right away (sorry, I still prefer New Zealand wines to Nova Scotian ones, but I will keep trying!). Our meals were delicious and we ended with the most exquisite dessert called the Dome Royale: white chocolate mousse inside a dark chocolate bombe, garnished with raspberry coulis and decorated with real gold flakes. I also ordered the substantial local cheese plate (local Nova Scotian cheeses are delicious) and brought half of it back to the cottage for hubby.
8. The People and the History
The staff at the Digby Pines are a credit to Nova Scotia tourism, combining the professionalism of a top hotel with the warmth that you expect from Maritimers. The Digby Pines has a long history and a special place in the hearts of many generations of travelers, from golfers to honeymooners to wealthy Americans who come up every year to experience the seafood and the shores of the Annapolis Region. I will quote a conversation I overheard at the pool: “How long has the Digby Pines been here?” Answer: “I think it has always been here”.
And so, I will end this review of our family’s experience by introducing you to a very special couple I met during our two night stay at The Digby Pines: Marilyn and Gary Harding from Guelph, Ontario, who met at the Digby Pines in 1961, fell in love…and have been together ever since. Marilyn worked as a snack bar attendant in the staff quarters (many of the staff lived on site), and Gary worked in the store room, and also drove a truck. This summer, the Hardings were back in Digby to visit family and dropped into The Pines to see how it had changed. My guess? Not much. Still magnificent, still first class…and still very special.
Helen Earley is a Halifax-based writer. She and her family were guests of the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa.