St. Eugene Resort
CRANBROOK, British Columbia (Gord Montgomery/iG) — As of right now, St. Eugene Golf Resort is seen by many as a two-dimensional recreational area, a golf course, and a casino. That’s about to change though, thanks to the vision of the property’s new CEO, Barry Zwueste.
The new head honcho wants to take this area — set amongst some of nicest backdrops anywhere in B.C. — to hew heights by expanding on the services offered and by partnering with other facilities in the area to grow the interest of travellers by building off a great golf course and the popular casino.
"In addition to those, we want to expand to more activities by bringing together local businesses," he began in explaining where he wants to take this entire recreation-rich area. "We want to make those opportunities available to our guests so we have more of a family inclusive resort for a broader demographic."
One of the most intriguing ideas proposed in this interview by Zwueste was to incorporate the rich history of the St. Eugene property. Initially constructed as a residential school, the main building houses a wealth of back stories that until now hasn’t been made use of. The new boss though wants to change that by using local First Nation knowledge to inform and educate visitors about the traditions that are still alive but which may have been buried by time passing.
"We want to incorporate more First Nations programming, more hands-on activities to bring more people to the area to educate people on the culture and the school itself, no pun intended."
Of course the No. 1 draw for people to head to this area of southern B.C. is the wonderful golf assignment. The 18-hole test is set up to be a fun challenge for anyone thanks to four tee boxes and provides great affordability with some wonderful Stay and Play packages.
Noting the abundance of courses in the area, St. Eugene’s head golf pro, Max Sherwood stated, "When you want to stay on a golf property it all adds up that St. Eugene is a great place to come and stay ... and it’s nice to just have to walk 80 yards from the hotel to the first tee box."
Over the years, his track has received rave reviews because of its playabiity.
There Are Plenty of Camera-Worthy Photos To Be Taken At St. Eugene Resort But This Was One That Captures The True Beauty Of The Area With the Mountains As The Backdrop For A Wonderful Golf Course. (Photo/Gord Montgomery)
"I have a conversation over and again about that," said Sherwood. "I had one yesterday with a gentleman who said that the course is so playable for his handicap level. He was your 20-plus handicapper and he said to me it was an appropriate challenge for his level of ability. If you want more of a challenge, well, just change up your tee box. And we’ve got our green speed at an appropriate level that mid-handicap, higher handicap players won’t struggle. We don’t need to make the game any more challenging than it already is."
One interesting note presented by Sherwood is that they are "seeing more and more groups of women, eight, 12, 16 on a getaway, coming here because of the entire resort, including a golf course with forward tees and bathrooms every three holes. We’ve tried to make ourselves accessible to everyone."
One other interesting tidbit Sherwood teed up during this interview was the fact that St. Eugene is willing and ready to work with other golf venues and help guests set up times to play them if they so choose.
"We have seven golf courses, five of which are public in the Kimberley/ Cranbrook area, Seven or eight years ago there were only a couple of golf courses down here. Now, once you get down here, people realize the value, the selection of courses, the different layouts have made this a destination," and to add to that, the course will set up tee times for you at any of the neighbouring courses.
One of the great features at St. Eugene is the food - and this comes from a non-foodie writer. The fare offered in the two restaurants in the main building of the resort is outstanding and local produce is used as much as possible in satisfying the desires of hungry guests.
"We gave an incredible, dedicated culinary team here," the CEO proudly proclaimed of chefs that have come from across the country, and the world, for that matter. "They’ve made a lifestyle choice to settle here and they’ve brought their skills with them. They’ve seen what we have to offer locally in terms of protein, produce, fruits," in putting together a 100 Mile Menu.
"We do all our own smoking here and we are the only ones in the valley that provide in-house smoking. There is nothing that Chef Lonnie or Chef Doug won’t smoke. We smoke our own cheese, we smoke our own tomatoes, we smoke our own protein products and it’s all down in-house. We have very unique flavours and signature approach preparation," that must be sampled to truly appreciate.
CHANGING THINGS UP
Over the years this resort has been primarily seen as a three-season area starting in spring and ending in fall. Yes, it’s a great spot in the spring for early season golf and the fall offers play until late in the season but Zwueste wants to take the seasons here one step further.
"It should be," he commented in relation to being a four-season destination. "We don’t have an issue with 150 days of summer," and because of that, he wants to being offering more for resort guests who may not be into golf, or gambling, 24 hours per day, every day.
"There is fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, a trail that connects Cranbrook to Kimberley for cycling. This area has always been known as a good place for skiing, but there is also snowshoeing, ice climbing," and the hopes to open up the trail system to snow biking and this coming winter cross country ski trails will be cut into the golf course in order to add "the 150 days of winter," to the resort’s recreational menu.
Also on tap is a new spa opening in the resort which will be the perfect way to end a tough day on the greens, on the slopes, or on the water in this wonderful area. On July 3 of this year, a full-service spa will swing open for business, marking the first of many new steps in the future life of St. Eugene.
"We’ll offer the typical array of spa activities - massages, manicures, pedicures, but it’s owned by two physicians out of Vancouver and they area also doing rejuvenation practices as well, so it is actually beyond a full-service spa. We are hoping to develop some really unique getaways and retreats for people."
In other words, Zwueste wants to make St. Eugene, and its neighbours, into a place where you can get away from it all, all year.
"This will all help our 150 days of winter (grow) and our summer business as well," Zwueste ended.
For more information on the St. Eugene Resort, go to their website at steugene.ca.
About the Writer
Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his eighth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf.