The early morning Atlantic Ocean shimmers like a trillion tiny diamonds as I push our stroller toward the magnificent main lodge at White Point Beach Resort on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. The air is cold, the sun is bright. Pure, beautiful winter magic.
My gaze is drawn to what looks like a big white rock, sitting in the middle of some sea grass. Then I notice an ear twitch. A bunny!
During the summer, White Point Beach Resort is “the cottage” to thousands of White-Pointers: couples and families from all over the world who come back year after year. Lovers who honeymooned at White Point in the 1960’s return to play with their grandchildren on the beach, or have fun on the freshwater lake which sits opposite the ocean, furnished with kayaks, paddle boards and boats. Some stay for weeks, using White Point as a base from which to explore the beaches and National parks of the South Shore. There are several big-name celebrities who vacation here too…but of course, I can’t say who!
On this cold November weekend, my family has come here to reconnect. I have a massage booked later in the day at the White Point Beach Spa. I can’t wait. In the meantime, I am taking both children (six and one years old) to breakfast, while hubby enjoys a run along the trails in the surrounding woods.
My six year-old, who is busy connecting with her new sense of independence, is now running across the beach ahead of me, soon to disappear around the corner into the main lodge all by herself. This is the first time we have “let her go” on vacation, and it feels great.
Gradually, we unwind.
When I catch up with my daughter she will either be chatting enthusiastically to the front desk staff (possibly showing them her loose tooth for the sixth time) or sitting ready at our breakfast table, waiting for me to help her fill her plate with eggs and bacon at the scrumptious buffet.
Kids six and under eat free at White Point. And for parents, did you know that anything consumed within 100 metres of the ocean is calorie-free? This is worth remembering, since the the food at White Point is superb, specially Elliot’s lunchtime menu (I recommend the pear and prosciutto pizza). The Saturday night buffet is also to be recommended. Rarely do you see such a variety of dishes- from Thai soup to roast beef to sticky toffee pudding- all good.
Deeply, I exhale into the cool November air and reflect on how much I love the relative peace of low season family travel… and how madly I have fallen in love with White Point.
I don’t think anyone ever comes here just once. Like magic, it draws you back.
Part of the magic of White Point is that it feels completely safe. There is no need to be a helicopter here. In fact, parenting at White Point is definitely more of a gliding experience, due to the ever-attentive recreation staff – friendly local teenagers who are experts in customer service. There are supervised children’s activities all day, every day of the week. Babysitting can be arranged too. Nothing is too much trouble.
White Point has always been a special place for families, – the resort’s reputation is strong- but since the complete rebuild of the 84-year old main lodge two years ago, the facilities for kids are outstanding.
On the lower level of the lodge there is a games room complete with table tennis, shuffleboard, 8-ball, and a fussball table. Large windows look out to the sea, creating a kind of trompe de l’oeil: sometimes when you are downstairs you feel like you are actually submerged in the sea, or at least level with it. There is the same effect from some of the windows in the hotel dining room during the day. It feels amazing: one connection I didn’t expect.
Next to the games room is the kids zone, brightly decorated with local folk art, a comfy sofa and beanbags. Board games and DVDs are available in the recreation office to take back to your cottage. Every evening, there is a beach bonfire with marshmallows, followed by story time, a family movie and then milk and cookies by the fire.
On our first night at White Point it was S’mores by the fire. Half the “kids” were over 40 years old, happily sitting in front of the stone fireplace, licking marshmallows off their fingers like children. Magic indeed!
Also on the lower level, there is a large indoor swimming pool, cleaner than any hotel pool I have visited. The changing rooms are ample, and unlike some chain hotels, there are no swipe keys to lock you out.
The two-bedroom cottage we are staying in is magical too: both rustic – and completely luxurious. Humble furniture and dated light fittings are contrasted by modern bath fixtures, comfortable new beds and fresh white linens. The living room has a wood-burning fireplace complete with bone-dry wood, kindling and dry newspaper provided by the resort. Everything else is exactly as you would expect from a four-star hotel: a decent-sized bar fridge, kettle, coffee-maker, nice toiletries, an in-house phone and that little sign inviting you to re-use your towels. It’s all really very nice.
The other nice touch in our cottage was a pack n’play travel crib, set up with a special sheet for the baby. I know I requested this, but I have stayed at hotels where an unpacked crib has been plonked unceremoniously in the corner of the room, ready for me to set up. That kind of thing would never happen here at White Point. Even the housekeeping service is nothing short of first class.
It’s hard to say much more about the cottage since we spend so little time there. Even in November, the majority of our time is spent outside: at the beach, on the trails, in the playground…or feeding the bunnies.
The bunnies are a major attraction at White Point. There are hundreds of them, dotted around the grounds of the resort. Guests are encouraged to feed them, and to this end, there is a stockpile of beautifully presented bunny food at the main entrance to the lodge free for anyone to take! In the gift shop, the theme is bunnies. At cookie-time there are gingerbread bunnies. There is even a mascot, Harvey, a larger than life bunny who comes out once in a while to greet the kids. Yup, White Point Beach is completely crazy about bunnies.
The history of the bunnies is very simple, but not well-known. As the story goes, some local children, about 20 years ago, kept a few 4H bunnies as domestic pets, and left them in the care of the person who looked after the boathouse at White Point. While living at the boathouse, the bunnies escaped and began mating with the local rabbit population. Over the years, the bunnies, well, -ahem- they did what bunnies do best, and now there are hundreds and hundreds of them: winter-hardy, fluffy, tame -and constantly growing in population.
Even our little toddler is taken with the bunnies, shrieking each time he sees one. Miraculously, he manages to touch the fur of one particularly tame rabbit. He screams in delight and the bunny scampers. What an amazing experience for a 14 month-old, and for his big sister who stands by laughing in the cool, fresh air.
As we say goodbye to our cottage, the wonderful main lodge, the thumping ocean, the superbly professional staff, and of course the bunnies, I feel like I am saying goodbye to a second home.
Now we too are White Pointers, and we are counting the days until we return.
White Point Beach Resort Details:
Address: White Point Beach, Queens County, Nova Scotia, B0T 1G0
Phone: Toll-Free in North America: 1.800.565.5068
Helen Earley is a Halifax-based travel writer. She and her family were guests of White Point Beach Resort.