Much like the six-foot saplings and fireweed growing back into the area where old growth trees used to be, longtime family getaway Namushka Lodge is slowly coming back to life at Harding Lake.
The family business, owned by the Chorostkowskis for 30-plus years, is located southeast of Yellowknife. It had become inoperable after suffering damage from a severe fire in the East Arm area of Great Slave Lake in July, 2016. At the time, there were 21 guest who were forced to flee by boat.
As of this summer, however, it will be up and running for many friends and family to return as a rebuild continues.
“It has been hard,” said lodge owner Bryan Chorostkowski. “Since the fire, a lot of our focus has been on the rebuild. But I know that people like my parents who are the primary hosts out there certainly miss not having guests out there.
“This summer we still have a lot of construction and we are out there working and hoping to get a lot done this spring and be able to get guests out there this year.”
The announcement came by way of an online post by the GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment on April 9.
Chorostkowski says he is planning a grand opening for the rebuilt site at an unspecified date this summer, but he aims to ensure that it will allow for the transportation of honoured past guests, officials from NWT Tourism and the Department of Industry Tourism and Investment to showcase improvements made at the new lodge.
“The boats will be in the water, kitchen and main lodge will be done,” he said. “All sleeping cabins and hot tubs are ready to go already. So it is coming.”
Chorostkowski said long-time visitors of the site can expect many of the same services, but there will be additions or upgrades that are slowly being built into the lodge over the next few years.
For instance, he notes that the lodge will still welcome about 12 to 14 guests as per usual and will continue to be scaled toward a market that serves families wanting an affordable remote-style fishing lodge experience.
“The new place will have a great new kitchen and will be bigger than before, with a better layout,” he said. “The main lodge is a similar layout, though a little bit larger.”
The lodge is looking to appeal to businesses by offering conference space and will have amenities such as wifi and internet services as well as television screens and projection services.
“It will still be a secluded place to turn off (electronics),” he said. “But for groups that want to have meetings and all the Internet and amenities it will be available. ”
Chorostkowski said the company is also hoping to increasingly work with private companies to find ways to improve the lodge experience. The lodge has been winterized and he hopes to work with Aurora Viewing in the future to attract more people out to the lodge for a unique winter experience.
He is also improving meal features for visitors by working with Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge to offer families prepared meal choices and have them shipped out to site.
“I’m excited (about the food additions) because I have always kind of felt that held us back marketing-wise,” he said. Having that kind of option will give us a good step in the right direction.”
Ultimately, the family has been trying to use the fire incident as an opportunity, said Chorostkowski.
“It was unfortunate what happened, but we’re trying to make the best of it,” he said.
“We have designed the lodge that we always talked about and we have new amenities and we’ve basically started again with a clean slate.
“We are very excited about where we are at. We realize we have a lot of work yet to do. It will probably be an additional couple of years until we are really satisfied.”