October 25, 2002

To find the answer to this question, the Norfolk District Business Development Corporation (NDBDC) hired Horwath Consultants, a well respected consultant agency within the hospitality industry, to conduct a study on the feasibility of a "destination accommodation" or four season resort in the Port Rowan area.  The study was the result of a follow-up to the 1988 Haldimand-Norfolk Tourism Study and the NDBDC's "inhouse" tourism review with local tourist operators that identified the lack of tourist accommodation, particularly roofed accommodation.  Port Rowan is located along the north shore of Lake Erie on Long Point Bay in the western part of Norfolk County.  Norfolk County is located southwest of Metro Toronto and within the Windsor-Detroit-Toronto-Niagara corridor.

Why Port Rowan?
The Port Rowan area is in an excellent position to attract more tourist activity with a potential market draw of 9 million persons within a 2 ½ hour drive from such major population centres as Buffalo, Toronto, the Golden Horseshoe, the Niagara Peninsula, London, Windsor and Detroit.

Its strategic location adjacent to Lake Erie, Long Point Bay, the United Nations designated World Biosphere Reserve and its built-in "rural lure" gives this area the potential to develop a unique eco-tourism industry.  This area would appeal to many special interest groups who would be active year round to cover the shoulder seasons (early spring, late fall).  The special interest groups include:  Naturalists, bird-watchers and researchers; Hunters and fishermen (guided or individual); Cottagers and retirees (entertainment - music, theatre, spa, fitness); Conference and corporate retreat market (quality dining, lounge facilities); Specialty European market (international tours of biosphere reserves).

Seasonal activities include:  boating; diving; beach combing; sunning; golfing; cross-country skiing; ice fishing; cycling on good roads with limited traffic.  The scenic countryside of Norfolk offers a very attractive backdrop for golf.  Norfolk has eight golf courses with 108 holes with plans for an additional 18 holes.  Well over 225,000 rounds were played in 1998.

What Does The Area Have To Offer?
The natural features of Norfolk County are its strongest assets and tourist draw.  The County, as one of the southern-most points in Canada, is located in the Carolinian zone, which provides a unique opportunity to see rare flora species and migratory songbirds and waterfowl.  Four provincial parks and twenty-two conservation areas provide easy access to Lake Erie, rivers, wildlife and flora.

In addition to its natural resources, Norfolk County has many festivals, theatres, museums and historic sites as well as educational tours and eco-tours for locals and visitors. Educational opportunities include tours to ginseng farms, peanut farms, tobacco farms, wineries, fish hatcheries and nurseries.

Potential Sites
Various potential site locations have been identified.  Many of the sites have merit from a marketing standpoint.  The ultimate decision should be made by the proponent.

Proposed Facility
Horwath Consultants recommend that the natural beauty and attractions of the Long Point area provide the basis for a natural, eco-tourism the med facility.  A lodge-style property, designed in harmony with the surrounding environment consisting of a central facility and aesthetically pleasing adjacent units, could provide a quality product that is comfortable, yet somewhat rustic.

A small, full-service lodge-type facility with a restaurant, bar/lounge, exercise/spa room, swimming pool and interpretive centre is suggested.  The product would be priced to target the mid-market segment, but given the type of facility, prices would be higher than the better accommodations which exist in the County.  The property should be designed and built to accommodate growth as demand increases.  This design would facilitate a more efficient operation as the property rows with the market, provided a strong, strategic marketing campaign is implemented.  Initially, twenty to thirty rooms would be large enough to accommodate small groups and small enough to enter this underdeveloped market.  The anticipated development cost of a 25 room, 15,000 square foot destination accommodation facility would be around $2.1 million.

It was the opinion of Horwath Consultants that, with aggressive promotion and competent operation, a destination oriented resort facility as described would be successful and could be the catalyst for further development of the County.  To date, no developer with deep enough pockets has stepped forward, but there have been a lot of inquiries.  Not every area strategic CFDC initiative is successful the first time around.  It may take a second or third time.  We are persistent, though.  Stay tuned!

For further information or review of the Destination Accommodation Study, please contact the NDBDC Community Economic Development (CED) Officer, Cliff Shank at tel. 519-428-2324, fax 519-428-0074, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.