Last August, we were aiming to visit Chaffeys Locks as I had heard so much about it; however, on arrival, something drew my attention away from my task. A colorful resort towered over the lock. It reminded me of my grandparents’s cottage by its color scheme and the way it was set back in the trees and near the water. The overall effect was stunning; but, also charming, inviting and unpretentious.
The Opinicon resort announces itself with humour at the guest reception with a bench reserved for ‘fish stories.’ We were ravenous, so time to sit and tell tales was not an option. The lunch menu at its canteen was pleasing to the eyes and even more to the palate.
In the meantime, one of the managers took me for a tour of the grounds, posing for me at ‘the point’, a high rocky area where you can lounge and enjoy the best views of the lake below.
The hotel changed hands at auction in 2015. The winning bidders, a married couple, Fiona McKean and Tobi Lutke, began its restoration without delay. Lutke is the Founder of Shopify, one of our region’s great success stories, a global, cloud-based, e-commerce platform that champions small business.
McKean is the force behind The Opinicon (despite having three toddlers) while Lutke leads as CEO at Shopify’s Kanata headquarters (he is a legend at our silicon gatherings.) Despite her heavy load, McKean vlogs on the hotel’s Facebook frequently. She keeps the viewing public abreast of the resort’s progress, features and events; there is perhaps no more jovial person to watch.
The staff took me for a full tour and posed for pictures cheerfully. I realize now, it was the ‘Fiona effect’ which surely trickles down to its employees. This is key to succeeding in a world increasingly losing its grip on hospitality and inbred kindness.
The hotel is very active this Fall, serving guests and the public and hosting concerts, weddings and private events. I hope to return soon.
I did finally make it to Chaffeys Locks, just a short walk from The Opinicon, and produced a short video.