Here at Sea and be Scene we celebrate the Atlantic Provinces - and nothing pleases us more than hearing from folks who are getting in on the celebration. Jennifer Swinimer Silvester hails from Ontario, but her roots in Nova Scotia run deep. She wrote to us with a report of sorts on 'How she and her family spent their Christmas vacation' and we wanted to share it with you - for a few reasons really. One - it's a happy holiday story at a wonderful venue in Western Shore, two - it relates great things to see and do while you're in the area, and three (in the spirit of full disclosure)... we were there for the PARTY!!! SABS
Five Star Family Reunion at Atlantica
by Jennifer Swinimer Silvester
My family is spread out from coast to coast in Canada and so this year we had a reunion of sorts between Christmas and New Year's at the Atlantica Hotel & Marina Oak Island (formerly the Oak Island Inn & Resort) in Western Shore, Nova Scotia and this was definitely a wonderful place to do it!
My siblings and I have children ranging from 3 years to 11 years old and there was something for everyone to do. The food was great and the ocean views from the restaurant were amazing. We enjoyed casual get-togethers and singsongs by the fireplace in the lounge, where people took turns playing the grand piano and visiting, lots of the group took advantage of the workout room and the wonderful spa, and the kids had a ball in the pool and hot tub. The pool even has a small bricked off kids wading pool at one end so the young ones could play for hours and the adults could watch from poolside if they wanted to. Just sitting in front of the wonderful wall of windows looking out to the ocean views was relaxing.
After a truly tasty dinner we sang songs and had a chance for more visiting. The staff did so much to make the night one to remember.
The accommodations in Atlantica were perfect for us as well. My parents, siblings and all of our spouses and children stayed in one wing, each set of parents having an adjoining room with their children so that at night when the little ones were sleeping the adults could go to each other's rooms to visit. Because there was one entrance to our hall and a dead end at the other end, we could allow ourselves the freedom to leave the rooms when the kids were sleeping - not something you can do very many places
Western Shore is a perfect spot for day trips too. We visited the famous lighthouse at Peggy's Cove (bring your running shoes or hiking boots to take full advantage of climbing over the rocks), enjoyed a wonderful lunch of homemade fish and chips, fish hash, baked beans and chow and were sad but too full to get the Blueberry Grunt. It is only an hour drive to this popular spot, and only 15 minutes north to the shops in Chester (and the Tim Horton's), or 10 minutes south to scenic Mahone Bay's boutiques, famous three churches and art galleries. Lunenburg is about 20 minutes south of Atlantica and a very beautiful drive from Mahone Bay. Lunenburg has many shops, whale and seal watching trips, wonderful restaurants (try Big Red's down by the wharf) and the Fisheries Museum as well as the Bluenose II when it is in harbour. There are so many places to visit that are so close by. Some things are closed in the winter, but there was still so much to see and do
I have stayed at Atlantica a number of times since I became a mom and I believe it is the perfect spot for a family vacation. You can choose to stay in a hotel room, a condo or a cottage and have breathtaking views from all, swim in the indoor or outdoor pool, play mini golf, kayak, paddleboat, barbeque on your deck or choose to skip cooking and dishes altogether for your entire stay. Mom can work out while Dad gets a facial or Mom can get a massage while Dad takes the kids to lunch. You can stay at the resort or go on day trips depending on your mood and everyone will have a fantastic time. The Atlantica gang is extremely pleasant and helpful, the food is fantastic and the location will take your breath away. This family vacation gets 5 stars from the extended Swinimer clan! JSS
ps - This is my oldest daughter Madeleine in front of the sign for Madeline Road near my Aunt Rae's house - we've taken a pic of her there every single time she's been to Nova Scotia - kind of a fun tradition!