Province sell Digby Pines resort to Halifax-based business group for $1 million

HALIFAX — A provincially owned resort in western Nova Scotia has been handed over to a business group that’s promising to invest millions in fixing it up.

The province announced Wednesday the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa has been sold to a partnership that includes two Halifax businessmen and the Bear River First Nation in Digby County.

The sale price was $1 million, with the government providing a credit of that same amount on closing to go toward making the needed repairs.

Before the deal was completed, the province says engineers discovered the property’s main building needed substantial mechanical, electrical and structural upgrades.

The government says the buyer has committed to invest $6.9 million over five years in the property, which will be managed by a Halifax-based hospitality firm on behalf of the partners.

The province will also be responsible for closing costs and brokerage fees of approximately $500,000.

“Government should not be in the business of running Digby Pines,” Business Minister Geoff MacLellan said in a news release.

“That is why we are pleased to have private sector investors committed to reviving this important asset.”

The resort has been managed by New Castle Hotels and Resorts since 2002, and the province had been funding the annual operating losses with a budget of about $765,000.

A real estate appraisal in 2012 declared the property’s value at $0 because of overdue upgrades and renovations, and an appraisal in 2015 estimated it would cost $4.9-million for basic maintenance and repairs.

In 2016, the province asked the Crown corporation Develop Nova Scotia to find a buyer for Digby Pines and Liscombe Lodge. The province has owned Digby Pines for about 30 years and still owns the Liscombe Lodge resort.

Glenn Squires, partner and CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Caboteer Hospitality and Developments, said Digby Pines would be developed as a year-round resort focused on contemporary cuisine and the creation of opportunities for many local businesses.

“We will manage the resort for our ownership group and are looking forward to growth opportunities for the resort including strong ties to the Chinese market,” Squires said.

Bear River Chief Carol Dee Potter said the new partnership would provide an opportunity to share local First Nations stories.

“We share the commitment to transform Digby Pines into a premiere destination resort that captures the Mi’kmaq culture and the spirit of Nova Scotia,” said Potter. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2019.

The Canadian Press