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Owner optimistic Mill River Resort can reach its potential

Mill River Resort owner, Don McDougall, center, is accompanied by, from left, Pat Murphy, Minister of Rural and Reginal Development; Premier Wade MacLauchlan, hotel operations manager Louise Arsenault and Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer in cutting the ribbon during official opening ceremonies for the renovated resort.
Mill River Resort owner, Don McDougall, center, is accompanied by, from left, Pat Murphy, Minister of Rural and Reginal Development; Premier Wade MacLauchlan, hotel operations manager Louise Arsenault and Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer in cutting the ribbon during official opening ceremonies for the renovated resort. - Eric McCarthy

Premier predicts investment will pay off 10-fold

Art pieces were still going up in the hallways Thursday morning as guests started to arrive for official opening ceremonies of the renovated Mill River Resort.
Don McDougall, who took ownership of the resort and former provincial golf course and campground at Mill River a year and a half ago, said the renovations are just about complete. There is work still underway in some of the 81 guestrooms, but McDougall said that work will wrap up before the end of the month.

Mill River Resort
Mill River Resort

“We are proud to say that this project is a year ahead of schedule and essentially on budget,” McDougall told a large crowd gathered in the facility’s Hogan Conference Centre for the noontime ceremonies.

He expressed his indebtedness to contractors and trades people who made it happen, and to Premier Wade MacLauchlan for the confidence his company would deliver.

“Putting together this transaction was a leap of faith by the MacLauchlan government that we would attain our stated goals and live up to their expectations,” he acknowledged, and stated his company’s commitment to earning that confidence.

McDougall said the $8.5 million renovation was funded 70 percent by the provincial government and 30 per cent by his company.

Key changes include renovations to all three levels, complete overhaul of the restaurant, main bar, foyer and reception area, new and enlarged deck, a new conference centre, a new and relocated golf pro shop which is now open year-round, and elevator access to all three levels. The parking lot has been resurfaced and realigned and changes have been made to the campground including new entrance and front desk registration.

Don McDougall, owner of the newly renovated Mill River Resort, listens during remarks by Premier Wade MacLauchlan doing official opening ceremonies.
Don McDougall, owner of the newly renovated Mill River Resort, listens during remarks by Premier Wade MacLauchlan doing official opening ceremonies.

MacLauchlan, the only other speaker during the official opening, referred to the renovated property as “this new resort.” and described it as not only a magnet, but also a springboard to future development.

“This was more than a restoration; this was a realization of the potential that this property has had for several decades and is now fully achieving,” assessed the premier.

He expressed confidence in the potential the renovated resort has for the region, predicting the investment will have a 10-fold economic impact on the region within its first decade. “Today is a step, a stride, on a path that isn’t going to stop here.”

With renovations wrapping up early, McDougall explained in an interview that “the next step is to cause what we have to be a successful business.

“We’re always going to have to look at opportunities: is the campground the right size or not? Should we have cottages or not? There are all these issues. Should other people have cottages in the area that can utilize these facilities?”

He acknowledged he embraces the challenge the MacLauchlan government has given him, to make the Mill River resort an economic engine for the region.

Asked what his message would be for visitors, McDougall replied, “We’re open, come and enjoy. And we think you will get good value for your money.”

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