Make a splash in St. Andrews By-the-Sea

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Posted July 16, 2013 by Katie Marti in Best Places to Travel in Canada
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The Whale Store is pretty small to be selling cetaceans, don’t you think? The real whales are right outside in the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy. (Katie Marti/Vacay.ca)

“Great Canadian Weekends” feature customized itineraries of the nation’s finest destinations prepared by Vacay.ca, the Concierge to Canada. Travellers looking to get the most out of their stay will want to follow these tips and ideas from our travel experts. The series continues with a visit to New Brunswick’s favourite upscale seaside town.

Story by Katie Marti
Vacay.ca Writer

SAINT ANDREWS, NEW BRUNSWICK — It’s beautiful, it’s charming, it’s friendly. It’s oh-so Maritimes. But St. Andrews By-the-Sea will also challenge your stereotypes of Atlantic Canada. It’s home to the nation’s most outstanding garden (sorry, Butchart) and one of its most celebrated young culinary talents. In fact, the destination earned its spot at No. 9 in the Vacay.ca Top 20 Places to Visit in Canada in 2013 because of groundbreaking initiatives, which you will find out more about on your first stop on this itinerary designed to give you a perfectly splendid weekend in one of Canada’s most enchanted seaside villages.

DAY 1 IN ST. ANDREWS

FRIDAY, 4 PM, CHECK-IN, KINGSBRAE ARMS RELAIS & CHATEAUX HOTEL

Address: 219 King Street
Driving distance from Saint John Airport: 126 kilometres (1 hour, 21 minutes)
What you should know: This is Saint Andrews (or St. Andrews By-the-Sea or St. Andrews) at its most regal. Rooms are uniquely and individually appointed with antique furnishings and fine linens. There are no telephones in the rooms, in an effort to encourage guests to unplug and unwind, but rest assured, the property does have unlimited wireless access throughout, “if you must.” Available are a range of suites to accommodate parties of various compositions, including the Stable and Carriage House, perfect for family vacations or groups of up to 10 people. While nothing is very far from the heart of Saint Andrews and the water, Kingsbrae is situated in a quiet corner of town atop a hill, offering serene sunset views away from the typical tourist traffic, and creating a tranquil space in which to be pampered.
Curated Culinary Tours: This year, Kingsbrae debuted two eco-tourism initiatives designed to tantalize culinary travellers. The “Focus at the Sea Lobster Course” (starting at $1,299 for a three-night stay) takes visitors on a boat-to-table journey that includes a ride on a lobster-fishing expedition and a tour of a processing plant. The “Earth Powered Kitchen Farm & Garden Field Trips” (starting at $1,099 for a three-night stay) brings guests on outings to farms and organic food purveyors, showcasing the bounty of produce available in the province while also providing an education on food sourcing. Both culinary tours have September dates available — giving you a second option for an extended stay in town, this one being a Great Canadian Culinary Weekend.
Cost: Rooms start at $449 per night for a Standard King, however there are discounted rates for two or more nights. Breakfast is included, and guests are invited to enjoy significant savings on the regular dinner rate in the dining room at Kingsbrae Arms.
Bonus feature: The inn is pet-friendly. Hooray for furry family and friends!

FRIDAY, 5 PM, KINGSBRAE GARDEN

Savour in the Garden-Saint-Andrews-New-Brunswick

Enjoy the Savour in the Garden patio that is within the award-winning Kingsbrae Garden. (Katie Marti/Vacay.ca)

Address: 220 King Street
Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms: Less than two blocks
What you should know: Despite sharing a name, the Garden and the Arms at Kingsbrae are completely separate business entities. What they do have in common, however, is an eye for natural, classic elegance. As you wander the 27-acre gardens, you will come upon designs from the annual Kingsbrae Canadian Sculpture Competition, an old-growth Acadian forest and countless flora, including the country’s only Wollemi Pine Tree — one of the oldest and rarest species of tree in the world. It’s no wonder Kingsbrae was named one of the Top 5 North American Gardens at the Garden Tourism Conference in Toronto earlier this year and 2013 Garden of the Year at the Canadian Garden Tourism Awards.
Cost: Regular all-day admission to the gardens is $16 per adult, $12 for students and seniors, $18 per family and children under 6 years of age can enter for free. The gardens are open from 9 am to 8 pm daily, including holidays, through October 12, 2013.

FRIDAY, 7 PM, DINNER, SAVOUR IN THE GARDEN 

Address: 220 King Street
Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms and Kingsbrae Garden: Less than two blocks
What you should know: Chef Alex Haun has opened a new fine-dining restaurant in the café at Kingsbrae Garden and is quickly making a name for himself as one of the country’s top culinary magicians. With a passion for local and sustainable cuisine, Haun places enormous emphasis on home-grown produce and seafood, making his seven-course tasting menu a regional reconnaissance mission as you get to know Saint Andrews one delicious dish at a time. While his menu is always subject to change with the growing season and availability of fresh ingredients, keep an eye out for lobster, oysters, and wild boar — three of his favourites.
Cost: The half-tasting menu is $45 per person and seats at 6 pm, while the full tasting menu is $65 per person and seats at 7 pm, Thursday-Saturday. Reservations are recommended (telephone 1-506-529-4055).

DAY 2 IN ST. ANDREWS

SATURDAY, 9 AM, BREAKFAST, KINGSBRAE ARMS RELAIS & CHATEAUX HOTEL

What you should know: What could be better than rolling out of bed and into a dining room filled with the smells and flavours of the most important meal of the day? Renowned chef Guillaume Delaune will be more than pleased to start you off right with a breakfast of freshly baked treats and savoury delights straight from the kitchen at Kingsbrae Arms. Wander the garden or mingle with other guests as you set the day’s course, starting with the difficult choice between eggs benedict or the chef’s signature buttermilk pancakes with grits.
Cost: Included with each night’s stay at the hotel.

SATURDAY, 10:30 AM, WANDER WATER STREET

water-street-saint-andrews-new-brunswick

Wherever you walk in St. Andrews By-the-Sea, you’ll be reminded of the community’s maritime heritage. (Katie Marti/Vacay.ca)

Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms Hotel: Two blocks
What you should know: Like most quintessential small towns, the heart of Saint Andrews consists of one main street where you can find everything from a hardware store to an ice cream parlour. Spend the morning getting to know this destination in all its slow-paced, easy-going glory. Wander Water Street, poking your head into art galleries and gift shops filled with gems from the region’s talented craftspeople. (The General Store and Serendipinart are must stops.) Grab a mid-morning coffee at Honey Beans and take a stroll down to the Blockhouse, a Canadian National Historic Site dating to the War of 1812. Be sure to grab lunch on Water Street as well. Sit on a patio overlooking the Passamaquoddy Bay at any of the cafés and restaurants lining the street, and treat yourself to fish and chips or seafood chowder fresh off the boat.

SATURDAY, 1 PM, SEA KAYAK TOUR WITH EASTERN OUTDOORS

 Address: 165 Water Street
Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms Hotel: Three blocks
What you should know: The Bay of Fundy is world famous for its tidal activity and marine wildlife, and there is really no better way to appreciate this natural wonder than to put yourself out there, floating and bobbing amid the puffins and harbour seals. Eastern Outdoors has been exploring the bays and waterways of Atlantic Canada for almost 20 years, and this three-hour tour of Navy Island has been tweaked to perfection. As you weave your way between smaller islands and fishing weirs, your guides will share their passion for paddling and first-hand knowledge of the area’s coolest features.
Cost: $59 per person
Pro tip: Bring your camera. It is next to impossible to take a bad photo out there.

SATURDAY, 6 PM, DINNER AT ROSSMOUNT INN

Address: 4599 Route 127
Driving distance from Kingsbrae Arms Hotel: 10 minutes
What you should know: Owners Chris and Graziella Aerni bought the Rossmount Inn in 2001 and have certainly kept with the hotel’s long-standing tradition of excellence in hospitality and cuisine. Expect fresh, seasonal dishes in a tasteful, yet casual, atmosphere that highlights the rich history of the region dating to the turn of the century when the original house was erected by wealthy investors in the shipbuilding industry.
Cost: Dinner entrees range from $20-$36, appetizers range from $9-$15.
Pro tip: Reservations are highly recommended, particularly during the height of summer (telephone 1-506-529-3351).

DAY 3 IN ST. ANDREWS

SUNDAY, 11 AM, BRUNCH AT THE ALGONQUIN RESORT

Address: 184 Adolphus Street
Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms Hotel: Two blocks
What you should know: The Algonquin, previously a Fairmont property and now under new ownership and management by Newcastle Hotels and Resorts, is iconic in Saint Andrews. The tudor-style hotel overlooks the Passamaquoddy Bay and, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the coast of Maine. The resort inspires images of playing croquet in the yard and sipping mint juleps or mimosas in the sun. Growing up, my family spent many a special occasion on the grounds of the Algonquin and it holds a sweet spot in my memory. Here’s the catch: The resort is still in the throes of extensive renovations and has yet to open for the summer. They are scheduled to open this month, so keep your fingers crossed and check the website for news and updated menus. It will be cause for celebration if you arrive early on in its new incarnation.

SUNDAY, 1 PM, WHALE WATCHING WITH FUNDY TIDE RUNNERS

Address: 16 King Street on the wharf
Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms Hotel: Three blocks
What you should know: Spending an afternoon zooming around looking for whales aboard a zodiac is exactly the kind of high note you’ll want to hit as your weekend draws to a close. ‘Tis the season for minke and finback whales, not to mention nesting eagles, harbour seals, and porpoises. Tours last for two hours and, while sightings are not guaranteed, good times definitely are.
Cost: $58 per person

SUNDAY, 6 PM, DINNER AT EUROPA INN

Address: 48 King Street
Walking distance from Kingsbrae Arms Hotel: Two blocks
What you should know: Red Seal master chef and proprietor Markus Ritter is passionate about delivering high-quality food that he classifies as a fusion of European and Atlantic favourites: weiner schnitzel meets lobster bisque. Since moving to Saint Andrews from Germany in 2000, Ritter and his family have learned to appreciate the simple, slow pace of the seaside retreat. “When you look at today’s world, everything is hectic. Everyone’s always running around doing this and that. Once people get to Saint Andrews, the clock starts ticking a little bit slower,” Ritter says. “We’re all about rest and relaxation here.” And great food, apparently.

More About St Andrews By-the-Sea

Flights: Air Canada is the only major airline that services the Saint John Airport, offering flights daily from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Tourism website: www.standrewsbythesea.ca/visit/
When to go: June to September are the best months for weather, whale watching, and generally enjoying everything the Bay of Fundy has to offer.
And about the name …: It’s officially Saint Andrews, while marketers like to call it by the more romantic St. Andrews By-the-Sea, and still others shorten it to St. Andrews. In this case, no matter the name, the tastes and smells are just as sweet.

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About the Author

Katie Marti
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