“Did you hear the whales singing during the night?” asked a smiling, fellow guest as I headed downstairs for breakfast at the Doctor’s House Inn and Spa at Green’s Harbour in Newfoundland and Labrador.
I hadn’t. Despite leaving my windows open, I’d slept soundly. Clearly though, the woman was thrilled about hearing the whales in Trinity Bay.
“Did you see the whales swimming just off the shore. I was watching them from my balcony,” said another as she entered the restaurant.
I shook my head and tucked into the granola I’d ordered. How come I hadn’t managed to see the humpbacks that everyone else had taken pleasure from? I felt like I’d missed out.
I suppose I’d been catching up with my sleep? Yet the journey to the Doctor’s House Inn and Spa had not been that long. St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, is just five hours 35 minutes’ flight from London Heathrow and three-and-a-half hours behind UK time. The drive up to Green’s Harbour lasted barely an hour.
A look at the property
The Doctor’s House Inn and Spa is a Tudor-style building with a tower set within 100 acres of rolling land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The quiet, scenic location means the rural property is a popular wedding venue. For travellers such as myself it proved a cosy base for exploring the small towns and coastline on the peninsula north of Conception Bay.
The main building, which has ten guestrooms, was constructed by a psychologist with a practice in St John’s. Locals knew the property as the doctor’s house, hence the name of the inn and spa.
More recently, a spacious, rustic-chic guest house with four additional rooms has been constructed a minute’s walk from the main house, with views over Hopeall Point.
Weddings and corporate events
After breakfast I joined Jerry Byrne, who has been running the Doctor’s House with his wife since the summer of 2014, for a tour of the expansive property.
Like many Newfoundlanders, Jerry speaks with a brogue whose lilting intonations owe much to his Irish ancestry.
We wandered through the gardens, where seven British couples plus one from Ireland married over the summer of 2016, and into the arched wooden hall, which is used for receptions and corporate events. It has a bridal dressing room and, out the back, there’s a fire pit for grilling food.
Animals and Crout’s Way Trail
“Did you see the ponies, goats and sheep already?” asked Jerry before suggesting we wander up to the paddock to feed them.
He mentioned how one of the Newfoundland ponies changes colour with the season. “It’s the one black legs…I didn’t believe it myself until I saw it,” he added, seeing my scepticism about a pony changing colour.
Crout’s Way Trail, which runs between Hopeall and Drogheda, skirts past the property. It was cut by John Guy’s colonists in the early 17th century, to make contact with the Beothuk Indians. Like the much shorter Witch Hazel Trail, following it provides guests with opportunities to get out into nature.
The Doctor House’s guestrooms
I stayed in Limonene, one of the Doctor’s House, Superior Queen rooms.
With a carved, four-poster bed, dark wood flooring and framed pictures of plant species, along with the taxonomical names, it made a positive impression on me.
Like all of the rooms, it is individually furnished and has a tea and coffee maker in the room.
I grabbed a book, about the photography of Yousuf Karsh, from the bookshelves in the hallway and spent time reading on the sofa on the decking by my room.
Dining at the Doctor’s House
The food served at the Doctor’s House was one of the highlights of staying. Chef Dwayne Davis has developed a three-course dinner menu that draws largely on local ingredients.
I selected the maple ginger carrot soup for my starter followed by Cod Napoleon, one of Dwayne’s creations. The dish features locally landed cod, mussels plus shrimps. For dessert I went for bananas foster bread pudding, primarily because it was a way of tasting the screech rum that Newfoundlanders had mentioned a handful of times since my arrival.
There’s a tradition of “screeching in” visitors to the island and making them honourary Newfoundlanders. The lighthearted ceremony involves knocking back a shot of rum, long a drink favoured by the province’s fishermen.
Due to a busy programme of sightseeing in the area, I didn’t get a chance to take a spa treatment or unwind in the hot tub.
On departing Jerry reminded me that if I was thinking of marrying any time soon he’d be happy to see me return to the Doctor’s House Inn and Spa for the reception. We’ll see…
For information about prices and availability see the website of the Doctor’s House Inn and Spa (21 Old Hopeall Road, Green’s Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador; tel. +1 709-582-2754).
The Doctor’s House is about an hour’s drive from St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, on the scenic Baccalieu Trail driving route. Free Wi-Fi is available to guests.
For ideas about travel in Newfoundland and Labrador take a look at the province’s tourist information website, www.newfoundlandlabrador.com. For more about the country as a whole see www.canada.travel.