DIGBY — As you drive onto the property the sign at the entrance reads ‘Closed for the season,’ but even so there is activity surrounding the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa.
After years of trying to sell the resort, the province of Nova Scotia is now working with a potential buyer to finalize a deal for its sale — the province first acquired the property in 1965.
The latest request for proposals went out in June last year.
The property overlooks the Bay of Fundy and features an 18-hole golf course, a spa, a heated outdoor pool and wooded hiking trails. According to its website, the Norman-style Chateau has 85 guest rooms, including six luxury suites; a restaurant; and also has one-two-and three-bedroom cottages. It also has meeting and conference spaces and in recent years the Pines has also been promoting itself as a premiere wedding venue.
“We are currently negotiating the purchase and sale agreement, following which we will enter into the due diligence process with our preferred proponent,” Deborah Page of Develop Nova Scotia said in an email Friday. “We hope to be in a position to finalize this deal soon, however, we can’t anticipate exactly when that will be.”
Page said the province received multiple proposals for the purchase of the Digby Pines as a result of the most recent brokerage listing. She said they had selected their “preferred proponent” and entered into negotiations in December.
“Once the negotiations and due diligence process is complete and the sale is finalized we will be happy to share details about the buyer, their plans and the purchase price,” said Page. “We can share at this point that our preferred proponent does plan to continue to operate the Digby Pines as a resort and it will continue to be an important employer in the area.”
Page called this “good news” for the long-term viability of the property, and the fact that it is an important contributor to Nova Scotia’s tourism sector.
Many years ago the province opted to sell its two provincial government resorts — the Digby Pines and the Liscombe Lodge on the Eastern Shore. (A deal to sell Liscombe Lodge has not yet occurred.)
The government felt it should not be in the business of operating resorts. Not successful in a first round of trying to sell the properties, they were put up for sale again in 2016.
The province then went out seeking a buyer for the Digby Pines a third time in 2018 — hoping, as the saying goes, the third time’s the charm. It was felt market conditions in the tourism sector had improved, which might make a sale more successful.
The tender for RFPs said the seasonal operation employs eight full-time and 146 seasonal employees and referred to the resort as “an important employer, as well as a tourism destination for the community of Digby.”
“The proposed divestiture was driven by the belief that the private sector is better positioned to develop and market this property successfully,” the tender document read.
Between 2003 and 2006, $7.7 million was invested by the province in golf course improvements, air conditioning, and new spa and meeting facilities. In 2012 the province invested a further $1.3 million at Digby Pines for refurbishments and upgrades that included furniture, fixtures and equipment.