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Yk honeymooners
Aurora a popular attraction for couples heading to the North

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, February 4, 2012

It may not be Niagara Falls, but if Yellowknife is at all a honeymoon destination, it is because of the physical attractiveness of the great outdoors surrounding it.

NNSL photo/graphic

Chateau Nova Hotel & Suites general manager Jenni Bruce shows off one of the rooms offered to honeymooners. When couples come in, they are generally given a room with a suite jacuzzi, a bed with rose petals, incense candles, and fresh-smelling scents. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Those with a close connection to the tourism industry say any honeymoon clientele the city does see is more interested in the physical surroundings than city amenities.

Chateau Nova Hotel & Suites is one of the few hotels in the areas that advertise a "Romantic Getaway" package. General manager Jenni Bruce said was called the "Honeymooner's Package" until recently but it was changed to appeal to more people. Nonetheless, the hotel continually makes an effort to appeal to newlyweds. The package costs $211 and includes a suite with a jacuzzi style bathtub, rose petals laid out on the bed for when the guests arrive, as well as scented candles, incense, and champagne with strawberries in the room.

"I think Yellowknife would be an excellent honeymoon destination if the couples are outdoorsy," she said. "If they are the Sex in the City-type girls, it is probably not for them.

"Anyone with a sense of adventure or love for the outdoors, this is a perfect honeymoon destination."

Bruce says the best time of year for couples to come is during the aurora season, which runs roughly from December to April. She says about 20 honeymooning couples stay at the hotel during that time.

"Believe it or not, the honeymooning packages that we do see are coming from Japan," said Jenni Bruce, adding the Japanese have a special fondness for the aurora.

"A lot of the tourism wholesalers ask us for honeymoon rooms," said Bruce.

"I think there is a lot of romance behind the aurora and they come to see that and have the romance."

Will and Kate bump

Mike Freeland, owner of Blachford Lake Lodge, says marketing of his establishment for couples has changed since Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton stayed there last summer. During their stay, they canoed to what the media dubbed "Royal Honeymoon Island," as it was seen as Will's opportunity to share "peace and quiet" with his bride after the marriage.

"So we now have a package that is called 'Walk in the Footsteps of the Royals but this is encouraging people who have already booked Blachford to do an in-depth trip and follow in their footsteps and see Honeymoon Island," said Freeland. Visitors can then visit the island to either propose or stay for a honeymoon escape. Freeland says his lodge caters to small weddings, big weddings and honeymoons, however, the latter is often tied in with the ceremony. He has a licence to officiate marriages and often will conduct the marriage and provide honeymoon services for those who want to stay for a week after.

"Most of the people that ask about Blachford are very eco-conscious or environmentally-friendly, seeking something different especially if they spend a lot of time in the wilderness themselves."

At the Explorer Hotel, the view is a bit different. Acting general manager Naresh Panchalingam has been with the establishment for about seven years. Before that, he has worked in the hotel industry down south, including at the Marriott Hotel in Toronto, which featured honeymoon packages. In the North, he says it just isn't the same.

"We usually haven't done anything special like that unless they have the wedding here," he said. "Then we give them wine and flowers and stuff. "

Elijah Forget, a senior information counsellor at the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre, says it is hard to get an idea of how many honeymooners are coming to Yellowknife.

"That's one of those things that people don't necessarily tell you when you are interacting with them at the center," he said. "They will ask you questions about what to do and stuff and sometimes it will come out in a conversation that they are out on a honeymoon."

He agrees that Yellowknife is probably more for those honeymooners who are geared to the outdoors.

"As a honeymoon destination it is pretty much the perfect, isolated getaway spot," he said.

"We have got all of this wilderness around us. So it would be right up the alley of people who are naturalists or outdoors types. Anything that involves water and open land as opposed to clubs or art galleries and stuff. Although we do have a lot of art."

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