Twelve short months – that’s all since last Christmas – but what a far place we’re in! There has been such a change in our society in that time, in how people think, spend, and travel...
Weather wise, winter of 2009 was messy. Lots of early snow fell, but so wet and heavy it collapsed trees and tore down power lines.
The cold weather in January was broken by a very mushy thaw. Skiers, snowshoers and outdoor enthusiasts could keep going, but the snowmobilers really had to wait for February and March. Both those months provided lovely weather – March was spectacular. You could skate almost the whole bay. Dave and Brian broke out the golf clubs and coloured balls for their ‘Golf the Bay’ extravaganza (we think this year it should become a larger, more open event). March break celebrated every season, with guests skating, skiing, sunbathing – and some of the kids pulling off their boots to play in the sandpile and paddle along the shore in the shallows!
In late March, Brian, Carol and David took an excursion to Bermuda. Last time they were there was 20 years ago, and while the island is still wonderful the traffic and congestion was bad – much worse than back then. Dave thought the mopeds were fabulous – except when he found huge transport trucks looming large behind him. Jellyfish on the beach limited swimming opportunities, but they had a great time all the same, and played a lot of beach Frisbee.
May and June were lovely months. Algonquin was over-run with moose and the hiking is unparalleled at that time. At the end of June Nancy reported on the Resort Blog the lake was 80 degrees F. Then the rains came, and while there was always enough sun to provide suntans and swimming, July certainly had more than its share of rain. August to mid-September was dry – in fact we were just about to lament the lack of rain, when back it came. One of the best months of the year from a sunshine perspective turned out to be November. We don’t get many guests then, which is a shame – it was lovely up here!
Mike and Shahira were both back with us this summer, and what a joy they are as staff! The BMD (Bondi Maintenance Dept., Local 4) was in full swing, with the boys painting, raking, moving wood, clearing trails, building chairs and more. Sue, our long-time housekeeper, and Shahira helped Carol keep her sanity through the busiest of the housekeeping seasons. Carol as always never stops upgrading the furnishings, appliances and decor of all our cottages. But it should never be all work: the boys ‘destroyed the competition’ at the local paintball range, and in August survived a wild ride on the Niagara Jet boats. Mike pointed out, as they dove into yet another monster wave, “That windshield is useless.” Those cute waves you see from the gorge look a lot different from the inside!
We enjoyed having Sarah, Carol’s grand-daughter here for two weeks early in the summer. She spent lots of time at the stable, learning to ride the little pony and big Bailey, then picked up Nancy’s camera and took some amazing photos for the Blog. Nancy took out lots of groups for star gazing, but fewer for wolf howls this year – our pack had moved back closer to the Craft Cabin, and were out of range for much of the summer, although we did find wolf tracks on the beaches, and had several successful howls towards the summer’s end.
In late October, while the rains continued to fall here, Brian, Carol, Dave and his girlfriend Megan went to Longboat Key, Florida for a week. They phoned home to complain the weather was “too hot” but generally it was great. Nancy, holding the fort in the cold rains, was unimpressed.
David, in his second year at Georgian College’s Architectural Technology course, has made the Dean’s list throughout. We’re pretty darn proud of that. His first work term was spent here at Bondi – and as part of that he designed one bedroom cottages we’re hoping to build in the near future, as well as working on a kitchen reno plan for his mother. Other experiences ranged from shingling roofs, crafting lawn chairs and designing and assembling a small log cabin to go up on the hill. Dave reports it now begins to resemble a building, and not a heap of logs. His favourite project however was with Mike, bringing to completion the celebrated BBQ Barge. There was great disbelief that the boys would get this project afloat, so to speak, with all its scavenged parts, but they stuffed the leaky pontoons with empty bottles, got creative with construction, and by summer’s end were serving waffles and whipped cream to participants on the Marathon Swim. He is currently seeking a work placement for the winter term, and while he’s got lots of applications in, if you know any architects willing to hire, please let us know.
Nancy endured a year of farewells. Her beloved 17 year old wonder poodle, Holly, passed away in mid-July. Call Me Madam, Kate’s mare who has been working with Nancy for 20 years, left for heaven’s pastures in October... and was followed in November by Bacon. At the age of 31, he had been her constant partner for 28 years. She reduced the number of students she trains as well, opening up time for her to work with Abby, now four and ready to play, and she continues to enjoy judging at as many shows as she can manage. The rest of the horses, and the cats, are well. The chickens continue to delight our guests. Nancy is still on local Council – and that has not been an easy task the past few years. She’s taking a week’s vacation in Florida this December, with a friend, hoping to recharge her own batteries.
Our Bondi Resort Blog has been very popular. In fact, we were nominated for both an e-tourism and a Canadian Blog Award. It is wonderful to receive feedback on this, and it’s proving to be a good way for people to stay in touch with Bondi all year long. All the same, blogging can’t replace reality, so we hope you’ll still come and visit us!
Carol’s days are crammed with the practical side of resort operations and providing spiritual guidance to her family. Her gardens, despite the deer, continue to thrive, thanks to the hard work she invests in them. We recently awarded her a hat that reads “Plant Manager” to honour this. Following a long illness, her mother Jean passed on to be with her Lord this autumn – a joyous event for her, for which Carol maintains there can be no sadness, but only a celebration of a life.
Brian’s health has continued well, for which we are all grateful. He’s never at a loss for projects – in fact sometimes we are left gasping for breath at the amount of jobs he’s contemplating. We are taking Bondi Green in 2010, with plans underway for both a solar water heating system and a series of solar panels to sell electricity back to the grid. Brian cleared a new ski trail loop this year, and he’s working on a new trail groomer, so our ski system will be better than ever. Winter is wonderful here – we get the kind of snow you can play with!
We are bracing for the G8 in 2010, scheduled to roll into Deerhurst and the area June 25 – 27. This event is tying up essentially all accommodation in the area, and forcing us to struggle with the Reservation Board. Security measures extend on both sides of the function itself, meaning we must shift guests who usually come at that time – with everyone’s schedules so busy these days, that’s proving difficult, so we’re hoping folks will be understanding and willing to work with us this year! Expect a lot of road closures and commotion, along with an enormous influx of people that may somewhat reduce the quiet relaxed atmosphere that normally attracts guests! All should be ‘back to normal’ before the July 1st weekend – we hope!
The late arrival of snow has held down the number of phone calls for people thinking of winter getaways, so we have vacancies. Mind, the lagging economy certainly impacted tourism this year. For the first time in a long time we had vacancies throughout the summer. We do need to fill those, so please tell your friends about us!
There’s nothing like a Global Economic Crisis to bring people back to the basics of what is really important. We’ve come through a period of a lot of greed and overspending, living too much on credit. Now perhaps we can get back to the true values of family and faith. Amidst all the commotion, Bondi continues to provide a bubble in which our friends and guests heal from the stresses of their struggles and hectic schedules. A place to recover their centre, find their families again, and gain strength for whatever the future holds. The tourism industry is a tough one – hospitality magazines often run humour articles on the sanity of those of us in the business – “Inn-sanity”, they call it. Despite often being hampered by government policies, and battered by the economy, there are great rewards when we witness families and groups strengthening their bonds and relationships. We’re delighted to be part of that, and to count all of you among our extended “Bondi Family”.
It began with a star shining brightly in the East, this season, so while we take this opportunity to reconnect with our friends at this Blessed time of the year, we wish for you strong, healthy families and friends, and hope that we will have the opportunity to welcome you home to Bondi. It’s been a little dark out there in the world this past year... but be of good cheer, and remember two great truths: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105).
You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 4: 14, 16)
It’s true – we are the light of the world, if we can just stay lit. We wish for you a year in which you shine.