Luxury travel is no longer only about five star accommodation and Michelin star restaurants, but exclusivity, differentiation, uniqueness, experience, discovery, and authenticity. The places I visited below, although meet the traditional meaning of luxury, more importantly also meet the new definition, which aligns with the new values and trends in the marketplace. These are just a few of the amazing places for luxury holidays (including culinary travel) in New Brunswick, Canada:
The Algonquin Resort
Located in the picturesque and historic seaside town of St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, it is one of Canada’s oldest and most luxurious hotels. The Algonquin Resort was first opened in 1889 and has since hosted many famous guests and government officials, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana, celebrities from Diana Ross to Sylvester Stallone, virtually every President of the United States except Obama, and almost every Prime Minister of Canada since Confederation, including Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet. The hotel is a major landmark in St. Andrews by-the-Sea and is one of the most photographed buildings in New Brunswick.
The five star castle-like hotel has a tudor-style exterior with a red roof and was recently renovated and reopened in 2014 as part of the Autograph Collection Hotels run by Marriott, the first in Canada. The 234 rooms have been restored in the hotel’s original style but mixed with modern day contemporary design, comforts, and conveniences. Several of the rooms have balconies with panoramic views of Passamaquoddy Bay. The resort’s Scottish roots are apparent by the bellmen dressed in kilts.
The vast list of facilities and services include an award winning golf course (was listed as one of the top 10 oceanside golf courses in North America by SCOREGolf in 2010, among numerous other rewards), a full service spa, a helicopter landing pad, convention centre, a private beach, fire pits with guitars and smores, beehives, an indoor pool, a heated outdoor pool, a three storey slide, hot tubs, sauna, fitness studio, tennis courts, complimentary bike rentals, beautiful verandas, a roof top patio, garden/dining patios, an outdoor Pavilion, ballrooms, a boardroom, manicured gardens, concierge services, shuttle services, restaurants, a bar/lounge, a gift and sundry shop, and more.
Events and Packages
The resort is open year round, is pet-friendly, and holds many special events. It is perfect for a family getaway, couple’s retreat, celebration, wedding, or corporate event. A variety of resort packages are offered, from wellness retreats, to concerts, comedy shows, murder mystery dinners, ghost tours, and holiday celebrations.
The Algonquin Resort has received numerous awards; it has been ranked as one of Canada’s top 10 hotels by Condé Nast Traveler in 2014, given a four-diamond award by the CAA two years in a row, and bestowed a certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor in 2015.
However, more than all of this, the Algonquin Resort is about the experience. It gives you the unique opportunity to get in touch with the local culture of the area and explore its history and maritime hospitality, as well as enjoy a relaxing escape from the city and the every-day. When I first arrived at the resort I felt like I was whisked back in time and was awestruck at the hotel’s grandeur, elegance, and majestic presence. This feeling did not leave me throughout my stay and the Algonquin Resort is definitely a place I will remember not just for its beauty, but for its authenticity!
St. Andrews by-the-Sea is a quaint and charming town less than two hours from three different major airports, making it quite accessible. It is approximately 1 hour and 4 minutes from Saint John or 103 km (64 miles), about 1 hour and 41 minutes from Fredericton or 137 km (85.1 miles), and around 29 minutes from the United States border or 34.6 km (21.5 miles).
Braxton’s Restaurant & Bar
Located in the main building of the Algonquin Resort, the restaurant was named after one of the first chef’s at the Algonquin Resort, George F. Braxton, who was head chef in 1896 and one of the first African-American chefs to lead a luxury hotel in Canada.
Chef George F. Braxton’s philosophy in cooking was based on simplicity and fresh regional ingredients, which is still the focus today. Thus, the menu changes seasonally, but still includes fresh local seafood.
The restaurant and bar are intimate with an elegant yet casual atmosphere. They are split into three different areas, a formal dining area, a restaurant/bar area with lower tables, and a more casual/comfortable area resembling a den with a bookcase and a few smaller tables next to a fireplace. However, guests of the hotel do not have to go only to the restaurant to experience its fine cuisine, as both in-room dining and “anyplace dining” are available. This gives guests the option to order meals or drinks in any of the hotel’s public spaces, including at the fireplace in the lobby or by the pool. The personalized food service is a wonderful idea that more hotels should implement! I only wish I had found out about it sooner during my stay.
On the evening of my visit there was a live Acadian band singing and playing music in the foyer which I listened to while waiting for a table at the restaurant. The music was quite enjoyable and I was very happy I got the chance to experience this since this doesn’t occur every night. I chose to eat in the more casual area of the restaurant and bar next to the fireplace as it was warm, cozy, and relaxing. The staff were very friendly and hospitable despite an extremely busy evening. Most importantly, the food was delicious!
The Kingsbrae Garden Café and Savour in the Garden
The Kingsbrae Garden Café is open throughout the day and serves light healthy food, as well as desserts, to Kingsbrae Garden visitors in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. In the evening the café is transformed into a fine dining establishment known as Savour in the Garden. Both restaurants are located within the award winning Kingsbrae Garden and run by Chef Alex Haun, a young local up-and-coming chef with already 12 culinary Gold medals to his name, 5 of which are international wins.
Chef Alex Haun uses fresh local and regional ingredients for his artistically-inspired plates and the menu changes frequently (often bi-weekly) depending on what is available and of good quality at the time. Much of the vegetables, herbs, and fruit produced by Kingsbrae Garden are picked and utilized, the back woods are foraged for fiddle heads, mushrooms, and berries, as well as established suppliers are used around New Brunswick, including sustainable fishermen and small family farms.
Available only for Savour in the Garden; a half tasting menu (consisting of three courses) or a full tasting menu (consisting of six courses) for dinner.
Beer, Wines, and Spirits
The restaurants feature and support local vineyards and breweries and only Canadian wines and spirits are sourced. Locally inspired cocktails are also made with the freshest ingredients and locally grown when possible.
Since Chef Alex Haun started running the restaurants in the spring of 2013, Savour in the Garden has received much national recognition in media as well as received numerous accolades, including being named one of Canada’s best new restaurants in 2013 by Sharp Magazine, given a certificate of excellence in 2014 by TripAdvisor, received the Good Food Innovation Award by Guelph University, and named the 72nd best restaurant in Canada by Vacay.ca.
Building History and Atmosphere
The restaurant is small, well-lit, with large windows and an intimate setting throughout the three separate dining rooms of an elegant, turn-of-the-century country house, designed by Edward Maxwell. Moreover, there is a small art gallery in one of the rooms of the restaurants which guests can view. In the evening the Chef can be found in the dining room offering wine-pairing suggestions, which is encouraged.
During July and August there is an event called Pump Nights on Wednesday nights which the restaurant holds in sponsorship with Pump House Breweries. This gives guests the opportunity to listen to live local music and enjoy Gastro-pub inspired food, along with fun drinks.
I went to the Kingsbrae Garden Café for lunch before I walked around the gardens. I had a chicken pasta dish which was fantastic and smelled heavenly! The server was super friendly and welcoming. I checked out the local art that was on display in the small art gallery in the restaurant while I was waiting for my food, which did not take much time at all. It was quite neat to be able to incorporate that into my visit and the art was quite interesting. We sat in the small semi-private room next to the over-sized windows. Although there was a couple sitting in the room as well, it felt like our own private dining experience. We enjoyed our time there immensely and later came back for shelter due to heavy rain in the gardens, and the server was very hospitable. We felt quite lucky to have been able to enjoy such awesome food when visiting the Kingsbrae Garden, especially since it was quite unexpected. If we had more time in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea we would have definitely gone back for dinner!
The Hilton Saint John Hotel
This 4.5 star full service business and leisure hotel is located directly on the Saint John Harbour Waterfront with a direct link to the Inside Connection Pedway, which allows access to the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre, Market Square and Brunswick Square Shopping Centres, the New Brunswick Museum, the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, City Market, Harbour Station Arena (which has hockey and basketball games) and many other local attractions, all within walking distance and without having to go outside.
Style and Amenities
The hotel is modern with a contemporary design, as well as smoke-free. The 197 rooms and suites in the Hilton Saint John Hotel have over-sized windows which offer stunning harbour or city views, and some have whirlpool tubs. Hotel amenities include a modern health club, business centre, heated indoor saltwater pool, hot tub, sauna, seven meeting rooms, restaurant/bar with harbour front terrace, and more.
There are a variety of hotel packages available including for the spa, Sea Dogs (QMJHL hockey), family fun, weekend getaways, and more.
The Hilton Saint John Hotel has received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for outstanding traveller reviews five years in a row.
I really enjoyed my guest experience at the Hilton Saint John. The staff were kind and helpful, even printing out directions for me when I was leaving the city. What I liked most was the hotel’s location on the water. Not only did I have a great view, but it allowed easy access to check out the many festivals and happenings on the waterfront and lively restaurants/patios and bars. As well, the Hilton Saint John was just steps away from many attractions I wanted to check out during my stay, therefore saving valuable time that would otherwise be spent driving. Instead, I was able to take part in more activities. The Connection Pedway made it quick and easy to find places without having to use a map as signs directed you on where to go for different attractions and in many cases provided shortcuts. In addition, the Hilton Saint John was close to several others points of interest, including Irving Nature Park, the reversing rapids, St. Martins Sea Caves, and Fundy Trail Parkway!
The Cape House Restaurant
Located at Cape Enrage near Moncton as well as Alma, this small restaurant with a patio overlooking the Bay of Fundy has spectacular views across to Nova Scotia plus delicious food, not to be missed when visiting the area! Chef Jeremy Wilbur, a gourmet chef that has worked and trained both nationally and internationally and native to the area, uses fresh local products, including a variety of seafood in his dishes. Lunch and dinner, along with a children’s menu, a selection of beers and wines, in addition to take-out are available.
The Cape House Restaurant is a white building with a red roof, the same colour as the Cape Enrage Lighthouse and most lighthouses in the area. It was originally a duplex built at Cape Enrage in 1952 in order to house the families of the two Coast Guard keepers who ran the station at the time. By the 1980s only one lighthouse keeper manned Cape Enrage. In 1988 the lighthouse became automated and consequently a lighthouse keeper was no longer required. Today, the building is used as both a restaurant and housing for the students on staff at Cape Enrage.
The restaurant inside is quaint with a nautical theme. There are many windows on both sides of the restaurant, one of which is adjacent to the patio with vistas of the Bay of Fundy.
While I was there I tried the lobster roll and split pea soup which were scrumptious! The service was excellent despite being busy at the time, even the Chef came out a couple times to wait on me and check to see if I needed anything! This is not something you often see. Chef Jeremy Wilbur was very friendly and took the time to chat with me even though he had no idea that I was a travel blogger. What’s more, the prices were reasonable.
Be sure to confirm the restaurant’s operating schedule when planning your trip as it opens seasonally from about mid-May to mid-October each year. The Cape House is a unique restaurant in a very unique setting and worth the drive! Be sure to check it out when visiting Cape Enrage!
New Brunswick offers many different unique and authentic luxury tourism experiences, especially luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants for those who enjoy food travel. For those wanting to truly immerse themselves in New Brunswick culture and see the best the province has to offer, these are just some of the unforgettable experiences awaiting you!
Map of the Bay of Fundy
What is your favourite luxury hotel or restaurant and why?
This was a complimentary trip courtesy of New Brunswick Tourism. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.