Just after a summer months of no travellers, for a lodge that is dependent on visitors, the proprietors of Peterson’s Stage Lake Lodge glance back again at the time without having blinking, even though they look to the foreseeable future with eyes on Northern tourists.
“(It was) just yet another challenge,” reported operator Margaret Peterson, with a shrug.
Margaret and her daughter Amanda explained that in the around 40 yrs they’ve been functioning the remote lodge, it has confronted troubles similar to the full loss of tourism induced by Covid-19.
When Margaret and her late spouse Jim opened the fly-in lodge in the early 1980s on Place Lake, about 320 km north of Yellowknife, it begun out as an outfitting camp for caribou hunters.
The lodge did effectively. It experienced a tough stretch pursuing the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but that didn’t review to 2009, when declines in the Bathurst herd triggered the GNWT to ban caribou hunting that year.
“I would say we lost 90 for every cent of our revenue,” mentioned Amanda. “We had been like, ‘How are we going to diversify? What are we going to do?’”
That identical yr they pivoted their tourism product and made the highly-successful Arctic images software, the place company be a part of week-extended photography workshops on the tundra that surrounds the lodge.
But Covid presented a “more extreme” problem, Amanda explained, because visitors are required to make any new program probable.
“I assume there are some other requires out there. We presently have our constructions in area, and a considerable expense in position, so it is a subject of establishing matters that’ll function with what we have now proven, fairly than creating anything absolutely new,” she explained.
This past summer season differed from the downturn of 2009 in that the Petersons could accessibility Covid-connected help packages, without having which a even worse end result may well have befallen the lodge.
They managed to acquire assistance from the federal Northern Enterprise Relief Fund and the Progress and Recovery by Investing in Tourism (GRIT) Fund, which is provided jointly by the Office of Market, Tourism and Expenditure and the Canadian Northern Financial Growth Agency.
While their July-September tourism year created no travelers and no earnings, the lodge was nearly anything but peaceful above the summer season.
The Peterson spouse and children expended their time constructing a new cabin at the lodge website, renovating the main lodge and flying up some new boats.
“(And) it was the initial time we have been all at the lodge together… because we started the camp in the 1980s,” explained Margaret.
In a regular summer season, relatives users and guides are split involving the lodge and Yellowknife. Some stay in the town to tackle the logistics of selecting up friends at the airport and building sure they get on their flights up to Issue Lake.
“It was entertaining carrying out items out there with each other. We produced the ideal of issues, so 1 of us did not have to hold in town to do the function,” Margaret explained with a chortle.
The summertime also gave them time to fortify their web site by mastering about research motor optimization, ideal on the internet techniques, and working with the GNWT’s Tourism Small business Mentorship Program, which is provided by way of the Canadian Govt Support Business. Their mentor can help them with social media engagement, photo optimization and general communications strategies.
They hope to leverage their increasing on line existence into a new pivot toward the “staycation” industry of NWT travelers, considering that most of their visitors have traditionally come from outside the house of the territory.
The design they have in mind consists of shorter stays at the lodge below a basic package with insert-on features like climbing, fishing and boating, with or without the need of a guide.
“People can derive unique concepts when they see the term ‘guide,” explained Amanda. “(The guides) would be content to go with them and then be there for wildlife checking, looking at out for wildlife, pointing out wildlife. Watching out for (grizzly) bears so they can securely delight in their experience.”
The Petersons are seeking to make the unguided “self-discovery staycation package” as affordable as possible to make it enchantment to community travellers, although Amanda acknowledged that there’s a value threshold they cannot go below looking at the charges associated for a lodge positioned quite far from the providers of the city.
Amanda is assured that the site’s remoteness out in the undeveloped barren lands is the attract for many people and the pandemic has spurred the Petersons to consider and make visits there additional accessible for Northerners.
“I’m hoping we get some Yellowknifers who want to arrive out to the lodge,” said Margaret, “or individuals from Fort Smith or Hay River or any other NWT people. We want to display off our backyard.”