Lewis Hills Lodge – Backcountry Beauty
Running a Backcountry Snowmobile Lodge
“A Q&A with Lewis Hills Lodge Owner, Gerard Brake.”
Newfoundland and Labrador has no shortage of great wilderness destinations, but the west coast of the island is a true Shangri-la for adventure seekers. The Lewis Hills are part of the Bay of Islands Ophiolite, a rare geological feature that makes this area so spectacular and unique. Featuring the highest point in the province (Island), The Cabox, The Lewis Hills are a mecca for adventure seekers throughout the year.
Lewis Hills Lodge was established in 2013 and caters to Snowmobilers, UTV/ATV riders, dual-sport motorcycle riders, and hikers. Sledworthy caught up with owner Gerard Brake to ask a few questions about the lodge, and what people can expect when they visit the Lewis Hills.
SW: How Long has Lewis Hills Lodge been in business and what is it like to run a backcountry lodge?
GB: The lodge was constructed in 2013 and has been accepting guests for a couple of seasons now. There is a lot of work involved whenever we have a group visit the lodge. In addition to cleaning and preparing everything for the guests such as food, fuel and firewood, the remote location makes operations more challenging. Despite the challenges, when our guests are settled in and having a good time, there is a great sense of satisfaction that makes all of the extra work and preparation worth it.
SW: What are some of the challenges you’ve had along the way?
GB: Deciding on the best location for the lodge was a major challenge and a difficult decision. Choosing the final floor plan was also a big hurdle to get over. As with all new businesses, there are always unexpected challenges, but we were able to overcome them.
SW: What are some of the positive experiences you’ve had?
GB: My passion is for motorsports and for being out in the backcountry. Operating a business in the adventure tourism industry allows me to spend much more time in the backcountry than I normally would. The lodge has become my favorite place to be in the fall and in the winter particularly, and it is a beautiful spot to spend time with family and friends. Operating the lodge puts me in a unique position. It’s great to meet new people with common interests and I enjoy showing them around the beautiful landscapes and the great seasonal conditions that we have in this area. At the end of the day, it is great to hear visitors sit down for supper and talk about their day and their experiences. What I enjoy the most is when a guest makes a repeat booking. This tells us that the Lewis Hills Lodge operation has something special to offer and things are working out the way we had planned.
SW: What makes Lewis Hills Lodge unique?
GB: Lewis Hills and the surrounding area is a geological wonder. We have some of the best snowmobiling on the island mainly due to the variety of terrain, an abundance of groomed trails, consistent annual snow levels and a long spring riding season. The specific lodge location is unique because of the location on a hillside that provides a great 180-degree view of the Lewis Hills and the Blue Hills. In addition, you can see the ocean and the highest elevation on the island from the great room of the lodge.
SW: Who would be your ideal client? What type of people visit Lewis Hills Lodge?
GB: Our clients are generally outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure, or to relax in an all-inclusive wilderness lodge. They enjoy the privacy of the location, as well as the close interaction of the group. They are the type of people who enjoy their morning coffee looking at the mountains or relaxing near the fireplace more than a downtown hotel or night-club. The lodge is about ensuring the guest have great food, comfortable accommodations and awesome memories.
SW: Why do you think they choose Lewis Hills Lodge?
GB: We offer very comfortable remote accommodations and our guests feel welcome and relaxed. The area features excellent scenery and seasonal conditions. We pride ourselves on great hospitality and service and our meals are prepared to be top-notch. We’ll meet our guest at the staging area at the Bay St. George Snowmobile club house (Cold Brook Road parking lot – Stephenville, NL) and guide them and their gear to the lodge.
SW: What experiences do you offer?
GB: Lewis Hills Lodge is an all-inclusive Backcountry lodge that offers guided snowmobile, ATV/UTV, Dual Sport Bikes and hiking tours. We offer traditional NL meals, trailside boil-ups and we visit local cabins for warm-ups, lunches and storytelling.
SW: When is your busiest season?
GB: Snowmobiling is our most popular activity and our highest demand is usually for March and April when conditions are best for riding. Early season is definitely ideal for deep pow and we normally ride well into May.
SW: What are some of the best highlights for your guests?
GB: The lodge great room with the rock fireplace and the 180-degree view of the Hills. Sunset over the mountains. A traditional NL Screech In. Great food such as Jiggs Dinners and moose meat. Visiting the summit (The Cabox), the highest point in NL. Viewing Moose during tours.
Thank you very much to Gerard Brake for taking the time to answer our questions about Lewis Hills Lodge. Make sure to follow Gerard’s team at Cain’s Quest this year.
For more information about Lewis Hills Lodge visit: www.lewishillslodge.com
Ryan Young for Sledworthy