The quaint village of Elora has been revitalized by the revitalization of the Elora Mill & Spa.
Pearle Hospitality rescued the Mill from bankruptcy in 2010 and restored the 175 year old iconic building and added a spa, all at a cost of roughly $27 million.
The Elora Mill Hotel & Spa officially reopened its doors to the public last July.
Newly appointed general manager Geoffrey Wild, who hails from South Africa and whose resumé includes management of large world class hotels, was engaging, professional and had a good sense of humour when he spoke about his role at the inn.
Chatting with Wild over freshly brewed cappuccinos in the Penstock Lounge was enlightening as he shared the history of the site, along with future plans.
The view was utterly breathtaking of the river with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Sitting in the cozy corner of the lounge, it felt like one could almost touch the legendary historic Tooth of Time Island which stands tall in the flowing Grand River below.
Wild spoke about the lengthy history of the Mill, which was first opened for hospitality in 1975 with owners Andrew Panchik and David Silverman.
Paul Ariss, a long time County resident and retired contractor from Guelph, remembers purchasing lumber from the Drimmie and Sons Lumber Mill when the building was still a mill.
Visitors to the inn can expect to see an assortment of wildlife such as eagles nesting near the inn, along with blue herons and other local wildlife. All preservation of the river and natural habitat during the construction phase created a strong working partnership with the, Grand River Conservation Authority.
While on tour of the facility, Wild spoke of the fine craftsmanship along with attention to detail required in the restoration process of the building designed by architect Bill Hicks and team. The stone work was lovingly restored by stonemasons whose work shows the before and after stone restoration detail on the exterior Mill building.
The project included restoration of five buildings: the original mill, with a stable; the granary; a commercial warehouse structure; a mill cottage; and finally a brick home in a state of disrepair.
Locally sourced materials and craftsman were used, including a mix of limestone, stone and wood.
The full service Stable Spa offers a rooftop outdoor pool and hot tub including treatments such as massage, aesthetics and has a private yoga studio space.
New projects slated for 2019 will be breaking ground for a new residential condominium development and construction of a glass enclosed walkway for guests to utilize as a pedestrian crossway over the river to the main building.
Many of the rooms include stunning views of the gorge, such as the terrace suites which have private balconies, fire pits and a wood burning fireplace.
When asked why people come to the mill, Wild said “50 per cent of the clients come to celebrate, such as a birthday, anniversary or the many other celebratory occasions. The Mill has been host to NHL players, ambassadors and other VIP persons”.
Wild encourages locals from the Guelph and surrounding areas to come and visit the Mill.
They have a restaurant which can be booked on the Open Table reservation system. It offers a popular four-course dinner which is $85 per person or choose from a la carte menu.
They are open to the public and guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner and reservations are highly recommended.
Executive chef John Bakker, originally from Guelph, is happy to be back to his roots after working in the culinary industry worldwide and has created popular seasonal menus utilizing locally sourced ingredients.
Wes Worsfold, a Waterloo entrepreneur and self-proclaimed foodie, recently visited family in Fergus and decided to try the new dining room.
“The crème brule was exceptional, it had the ideal crisp crust with beautiful caramelized golden hues to complement the smooth creamy sweet custard,” Worsfold said.
Live entertainment, including renowned Pianist Tim Lewis, will be performing Thursday, Friday and Saturday with an assortment of new activities planned for the lounge.
Set amongst the stone walls in the bar is certainly a central focal point, an old penstock pipe tucked amongst the natural stone walls and custom crafted winding staircase made of granite and iron.
Weddings are a cornerstone of the business and Wild said the hope of the Inn in Elora to be known as a premier wedding destination.
Wild said during the high season the inn employed over 170 people, many of them locals.