By Jenn Watt
L ook back at the cover of the June 3 1997 Haliburton Echo and you’ll find a familiar headline: “Pinestone sold to group with hotel background.”
RHK Capital Inc. a corporation based in Toronto bought Pinestone (then PineStone) and ran it as a resort and golf course.
Other changes came along the way including Delta taking over management in 2000 which then shifted to Vrancor several years later.
This week our front-page story is another example of Pinestone changing hands.
When the Echo posted a short update on the sale of the resort on Facebook last week one commenter summed it up this way: “Again.”
Assumedly all of these changes over the years come from the unique challenge that the county’s largest accommodator faces. It has a golf course. It has conference rooms. It’s a hotel but also has cabins. And it has a whopping 100 staff (full- and part-time) in the summer making it one of the Highlands’ top employers.
Subject to the changing winds of the accommodations and tourism industries the road hasn’t always been smooth. At times the future of the resort wasn’t always assured.
In 1996 the Echo wrote a story cataloguing the ups and downs of the resort which was in receivership. Stories at the time suggest Pinestone took on major expansion in the ’80s which was followed by a deep economic recession.
But it survived then and today general manager John Teljeur is celebrating the new ownership by Aurora Hospitality Group for their energy and drive to improve the resort and conference centre.
In its nearly four decades of business the resort has established itself as a pillar of the community. When the county pitches to host large events – Winter Games Pan Am come to mind – the Pinestone’s ability to house and feed large groups is crucial to those bids. Large-scale events are made possible because of the ballroom and meeting rooms the Pinestone provides. Fundraisers are held at its golf course. Mushers descend on its grounds for dogsled races in winter.
Simply Pinestone is a cornerstone of the Highlands. And its success is symbolically and literally a driver for the rest of our economy.
Those of us not in the accommodations industry can only speculate as to how to make a resort a winner but it is fair to say we are all rooting for the new owners of Pinestone.
No pressure though.