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Sault-area lodge offers pristine getaway

Following major renovations, Stokely Creek Lodge is being promoted as an ideal conference and convention facility
Stokely Creek Lodge in Goulais River is an idyllic spot for meetings and conferences.

During the cold season, Stokely Creek Lodge is a winter wonderland of pristine cross-country ski territory.

But following a major renovation two years ago, it’s now being promoted as a site for conferences, conventions and workshops.

Located 30 minutes outside of Sault Ste. Marie in Goulais River, the lodge hosts 110 kilometres of cross-country ski trails at the base of King Mountain, the area’s highest peak. It offers visitors the quiet seclusion needed to get down to business.

“One of the big advantages we have, other than our nice remote setting — you’re only half an hour out of a major city — is the fact that when you (host a conference) here, there’s nobody else here,” said Jamie Martin, the lodge’s manager.

“It’s private. So you’re kind of away from it all.”

The lodge, which was established as a cross-country ski destination by American Chuck Peterson nearly 40 years ago, boasts the main lodge, chalets and cabins, as well as a clubhouse and on-site catering done by chefs on staff.

In 2007, the lodge was purchased by Gaylen and Susan Byker, and Ian and Tanya Byker Phair. The two families committed to overhauling the rustic lodge, putting $650,000 into renovations throughout the facility.

Main target markets Martin is considering include conferences and workshops, as well as weddings.

“In order to make this place really go, we need to develop an off-season business, and that’s really what we were targeting with the large expansion,” Martin said.

Renovations included an improved and increased office space, an expansion of the dining room, which went from hosting 55 people to 110 people, and upgrades to the kitchen.

“We needed a kitchen facility to deal with that many people if we got 100 people in here for a conference,” Martin said.

“It needed to be expanded, we needed new equipment and new space for freezers, and so we put an addition onto the kitchen, as well a basement section underneath that for that additional space.”

New guest rooms were added to slightly increase capacity, and the rec room area was expanded.

“What this really did was give us one good-sized meeting room, other than our dining room, where you could hold a conference with up to 80 or 90 people,” Martin said.

Work was completed in the fall of 2011, and just this spring Martin learned the lodge had been approved for $282,502 in funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp.

There is now space for workshops and conferences of various sizes, with areas that can be utilized for breakout meetings and brainstorming sessions for five to 25 people.

“One of the things the lodge lends itself to very nicely, with respect to workshops and that kind of thing, is that if you’re having a major conference and you want to break up into work groups, we’ve got a number of smaller areas and lounges where you can do that,” he said.

While there’s cell phone and satellite Internet access at the lodge, none of the guest rooms have televisions or phones in them — something that was done by design.

Martin acknowledges “it may not be for everybody,” but may appeal to businesses who really are seeking to take their employees or clients away from the constant interruption of technology.