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Monday, October 23, 2017

Woody Island: A party like no other


Early in September, my husband and I, joined by some close friends, decided to take a romantic getaway to Woody Island. We had never been there before and had said for years we wanted to go. 

We booked on line at http://www.woodyi.com  and headed out on our journey.

It is about a two-hour drive from St. John’s to Garden Cove where you board the Merasheen for a 40-minute cruise to Woody Island. The island was resettled in the early 1970's. Located in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, this quiet outport community, which once boasted a population of 400, is one of hundreds of fishing villages that were relocated under the government resettlement program. Today it is home to mainly summer visitors. The owners of the resort and residents have done an extraordinary job preserving much of its original heritage.

A two day/ one-night accommodation costs $165 plus HST per person. That includes the boat tour, food and lodging. It does not include alcohol. That is bought at the main lodge. Keep in mind, they don’t give refunds so once you book, you must go. They will change the date of your reservation if time permits.
The resort consists of four lodges that can hold up to 60 people based on double occupancy (30 bedrooms with 2 double beds in each room). There are private and shared bathrooms, showers, baths, a dining room/common room with a fireplace. Each of the lodges has a large patio and deck that overlooks beautiful scenery and the ocean.

The accommodations are equal to a cabin not a hotel. The rooms are small and
hold two very basic double beds (no pillow top mattress). The bed was uncomfortable for two full size adults to sleep in.  The rooms are basic: no TV, clocks, phones, anyway to contact the main house or hair dryer. The shower is smaller than a cruise ships. A full-size man would have a hard time getting washed in it. There is a huge common room in each lodge with tables and chairs. Keep that in mind if you’re travelling with kids and want to put them to bed. The walls are paper thin and the party continues into the night until the electricity is turned off around 3 AM. The resort is on a generator so the electricity is turned off around 3 AM and comes back on around 7 AM.

I found the little things to be an unexpected inconvenience. Trip Advisor rated
Woody Island number one out of 92 hotels in Newfoundland and Labrador according to their web site. So, I expected them to be on par with other hotels. I didn’t bring a hair dryer and when I couldn’t find one in the room, hubby went to the front desk to see if we could borrow one. He was told they didn’t have one. Not having a clock in the room was odd. Realizing they couldn’t have digital clocks because they shut the power off, but they could have the battery operated or old-fashioned wind up type that would fit in with their old-fashioned style. It would have been nice to have the option of a queen size bed also. It’s hard to have a romantic get away when you have to sleep in separate beds! The furniture throughout the lodges was old, worn and in some cases, broken. Keep in mind cell phone coverage is also very limited and that’s just to do with the remoteness of the island.

The one thing you won’t complain about is the food and staff! Woody Island Resort gets five stars when it comes to the cooking and service.  It’s better than the home cooked meals your grandmother used to make. After our boat trip to the island, we were served a lunch of thick bowls of pea soup, homemade bread and toutons. They also offer a gluten-free option but you must put the request in with your reservation. That night, our supper was fresh pan fried cod, oven roasted vegetables, more homemade bread, cottage pudding for dessert and a complimentary glass of wine. You can ask for another plate of supper and they are only more than happy to bring it to you. The next morning you could smell breakfast cooking a mile away. We pulled up a chair to a delicious feed of bacon and eggs with homemade toast, juice, tea and coffee. I believe over the two days I ate about two loafs of homemade bread! Guests can take a little snack in between meals too. You are most welcome to go in the kitchen and help yourself or ask the staff to fix you something. You’re not going to go hungry.

Good thing there are lots ways to work this homemade food off. There is a very easy trail that goes around the island and lots of stuff to explore from abandoned grave yards, the “Rock house”, to the sandy and rocky beaches. There are lots of treasures to find. You can take a rowboat out for a spin around the harbour and cast a line to get your own fish. Guided kayaking tours are also available.

After supper the kitchen party starts in the main lodge. The entertainment was excellent. They had one performer with a keyboard but he was as good as a whole band. We danced and sang the whole night. It was one of the best kitchen parties we have ever been to.

 On the second day, after our hardy breakfast, we packed up and headed back to
the boat.  We sailed around the northern areas of Placentia Bay. We watched a bald eagle soar through the tree tops and kept a keen eye out for whales and dolphins. The boat docked at a beach for a boil up where we were fed homemade stew and sandwiches on what else, but of course, homemade bread.  The live music continued as our performer switched to a guitar and kept the party going.
With bellies full we boarded the Merasheen again for the trip back to Garden Cove.

When packing for Woody Island, keep in mind this is “Glam-ping.” Or glamorized camping. Bring jeans, sneakers, hiking boots and a warm jacket for the evening and boat trips. You’ll also need a hair dryer.

It is quite rugged and there’s a steep hill from the boat dock to the main lodge. Then stairs and small hills to the other lodges. So, if you have mobility issues you should keep that in mind.

I loved our stay at Woody Island and would highly recommend it. We were expecting to be the only Newfoundlanders there but the entire resort was filled with Newfoundlanders. There
was neither mainlander to be seen! 

I think they do need to make a few small inexpensive changes; update the furniture with some new items, including queen sized beds, put a clock in each room and for God sakes buy a hair dryer!

To book a Woody Island vacation go to: http://www.woodyi.com

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