Located on over a mile of sandy beach along the picturesque shores of Inverness, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Cabot Links boasts 36 holes of exquisite golf at Canada’s first and only authentic links golf resort. In addition to offering a wealth of services and amenities, Cabot Links is sure to leave guests in awe, making them want to come back time and time again.
Cabot Links offers so much more than golf (though the golf is exceptional). It is a destination, an experience, and a memory not soon to be forgotten all wrapped up in a thoughtful, well-designed golf resort. Cabot Links has been built by dreamers, for dreamers, and has exceeded expectations in bringing this vision to life.
Cabot Links is the product of collaboration, and has had a significant impact on the wellbeing and vibrancy of the community. Cabot Links pays homage to the area’s first settlers, bringing Scotland’s tradition of golf to Nova Scotia, ‘New Scotland’, where the first Highland Scots settled in the early 1800s.
Marie-Helene Parenteau, Director of Marketing and Communication at Cabot Links explained, “This site is a former coal mining site. The mine closed in the 1960s and although a few businesses established themselves in the town, most of the mining site remained vacant for years to come and an economic decline ensued.”
She continued, “Many of the town elders and community members thought it would be a great spot for a golf course and they started chasing that dream.” Since opening, Cabot Links has filled a void in the local economy and has once again provided a beacon of hope for the community.
Several development opportunities came and went throughout the years but nothing materialized until a decade ago when current owner, Ben Cowan-Dewar, stepped on the scene and saw the true potential in the coastal setting. “He came in the middle of winter and he still saw the potential of the site,” said Parenteau. “He decided this would be the perfect site to fulfill his dream of opening a links golf resort on the east coast of Canada, and he began to search for partners. He first thought of Mike Keiser, the founder of a similar golf resort called Bandon Dunes located in Bandon, Oregon.”
Parenteau added, “Bandon Dunes was the first resort of its kind, being a links golf resort outside of Europe, and in a small town which seemed to many to be the middle of nowhere! Cowan-Dewar convinced Keiser to visit the site and he, too, saw the value and the potential for it to be a leading links-style golf resort in Canada.
The economic crisis of 2008 posed a bit of a challenge for the development of Cabot Links, slowing progress slightly, but in 2011, Cabot Links opened to the public and has continued to grow ever since. Today, Cabot Links is a mainstay in the community that has spurred economic vitality, growth, and development in the process.
“We’ve been growing ever since,” said Parenteau. “Our second golf course officially opened in June of this year, and every year we are increasing our capacity.” Cabot Links has not only added its second golf course, Cabot Cliffs; it continues to add rooms and lodging options to its accommodations, growing with demand and continuing to have a positive impact on Inverness and its residents.
“For the community, there has certainly been an economic upturn since our opening. We employ more than 300 people and in addition to that, we also employ caddies. They are independent contractors but we have 200 of them.”
In a town of 2000 people, the addition of 500 jobs is extraordinary. With the addition of Cabot Cliffs this year, located along the same coastline, Cabot Links has certainly established itself as a permanent fixture in Cape Breton while developing an international reputation for excellence.
“Since we’ve had our second course open, we are seeing a more of a 50/50 divide between Americans and Canadians, and also a much broader reach of where they come from,” Parenteau explained. “People don’t mind doing the longer flight now since we have two golf courses; it’s a more complete resort.”
She also described the proximity of Highland Links golf course and Cabot Links’ willingness to arrange shuttle transportation to and from for its guests. Not only are guests coming from further distances, Parenteau also finds that they are staying for longer periods of time.
The Nova Scotia shoreline pays natural complement to the links style of play that is adopted at Cabot Links. As Cabot Links’ website states, “Nowhere is the dynamic relationship between golfer and environment more closely knit than on a true links course.” In fact, less than one percent of the world’s more than 30 000 golf courses boast links-style play.
Cabot Links was designed by Rod Whitman and ranked 42nd of the World’s 100 Great Golf Courses by Golf Digest in 2014. Cabot Cliffs was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and was recently ranked 19th by Golf Digest. Both Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs offer an exhilarating golf experience with dramatic vistas and views that can take your breath away.
And it’s no wonder the Cabot Links experience has been described as both enticing and empowering. “Such a pure golf experience goes back to the roots. We’re a walking only facility, though we do have a few carts for people who have medical conditions, but everyone else is walking on the courses,” said Parenteau.
The design and links style is intentional and purposeful. “You are part of nature, part of the environment. You are on the ocean, you can feel the breeze.” Guests particularly like the closeness they feel to their friends and families when visiting.
After the rounds of golf are complete, guests can enjoy one of Cabot Links’ dining offerings. Panorama is the resort’s premier restaurant and offers guests a culinary treat and picturesque panoramas, as the name suggests. Using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, the menu is sure to please. For lighter fare, Cabot Bar offers a diverse menu. Likewise, Cabot Public House offers casual ambiance and lighter pub fare, which includes wood-fired pizza. Cabot Public House also offers a variety of local craft beer and a lively music scene for all to enjoy.
Rounding out its culinary offerings, Downstreet Coffee Company is a local café that is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. Open for breakfast and lunch, Downstreet Coffee Company has become a well-loved café in the heart of Inverness. Both Downstreet Coffee Company and Cabot Public House are open year-round.
Additional services and amenities include a pro shop at each golf course, a retail outlet, as well as a departure lounge for those who plan to play a round after checking out, complete with showers and change rooms.
When it comes to accommodations at Cabot Links, guests can enjoy both the Cabot Links Lodge and Golf Villas. The Cabot Links Lodge offers 72 rooms, as well as two-bedroom and four-bedroom villas. Every room boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning views of the ocean and courses.
The Cabot Links Lodge was awarded the Best Overall Architecture by EnRoute Magazine, as part of its Hotel Design Awards. The lodge incorporates local materials which are reflective of its surroundings, inspired by the amazing landscape, and offer a timeless, modern aesthetic. There are plans at Cabot Links to add to its accommodations to ensure it can keep up with ever-growing demand. “We have new villas under construction so we’ll have about 20 total, bringing our capacity to close to 110 rooms if we include the villas,” Parenteau noted.
Cabot Links’ villas represent its first foray into real estate. “All of them have sold out and most of them will enter into our management program which means that we rent them out and take care of the marketing, housekeeping, gardening, landscaping that comes with renting a property.”
This offers owners a great advantage, peace of mind and a sound investment with proven return. “Since the villas all sold, we launched our second real estate product, the beach cottages. There will only be nine. They are close to the beach and they are bigger in size,” Parenteau described.
“People come here and disconnect completely,” she shared. “Everything is right here. You can walk to all of the restaurants, you can walk to your tee times, so it’s a very immersive experience.” Not to mention the beach, the proximity to the Cabot Trail, fishing, and multiple arts and culture events, such as live Celtic music. There is plenty to do, see and explore.
In addition to offering golf and vistas beyond expectation, Cabot Links is a very inclusive environment. “We love when groups of kids want to play. We have lots of groups of women who come to play for a weekend with their girlfriends. We welcome that very much,” Parenteau said. Cabot Links offers beginner’s tees and a practice range for players of varying expertise.
Certainly, growth is strategic and Cabot Links will continue to expand the resort in accordance with the overall design and aesthetic of the property, which includes a commitment to two-storey maximum building heights, so as not to obscure the picturesque views of the Nova Scotia coastline.
All these things combined make for a positive experience that guests want to relive year after year. There has been great interest in spa services at the resort and Cabot Links is working to make this a reality – to be sure, a massage is a fitting way to end a long day of links-style golf play.
Cabot Links continues to offer guests premier golf, accommodations, and culinary pleasures. Moving forward, the resort will continue to invest in its infrastructure, adding a clubhouse at Cabot Cliffs and perhaps additional restaurants and additional retail outlets. Though the exact plans may change, one thing remains certain: Cabot Links is Canada’s true links golf course and will exceed all expectations.