Dennis Vardy has only golfed twice in his entire life, but that didn’t stop him from purchasing Terra Nova Resort hotel and golf course this spring, after the business went into receivership.
The owner of Clarenville’s Vardy Villa Ltd., which has provided busing contracts for local schools for almost 40 years, Vardy’s company has grown over the years to include waste disposal contracts in the area.
Now, Vardy is continuing to add to the business with the operation of the 80-room hotel in Port Blandford, which includes, a restaurant and bar, nine-hole golf course, in addition to an 18-hole course on land leased from Terra Nova National Park.
“It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to be into the tourism thing,” said Vardy in an interview with The Packet.
After the business went into receivership last fall, the many employees, in addition to golfers in the area, were fearful of the resort closing for good.
“I never thought I was going to get it, to be honest with you.”
Vardy jokes he’s had many avid golfers approach him to thank him since the purchase.
“I’ve been thanked so many times, it’s been unreal!”
And he says he’s glad to be able to continue to provide a job for those who need it in the Port Blandford area. Nearly all the employees who previously worked at Terra Nova are back for this season.
“It’s very important for the area, and it’s important for me to have the right staff,” said Vardy. “We’ve got an excellent staff.
“If someone hadn’t have bought (the resort), in this economy, for 50 to 60 employees, it would’ve been devastation.”
Vardy said the resort is being run the same way his company has been for many years – as a family business. His wife, daughter and son are now spending most days in Port Blandford, while he’s in his office in Clarenville. He says his other son, based out of St. John’s, is a part owner too. He knows through their work, and the expertise of the many employees they’ve retained, the resort can be a success again.
“It’s a family-run thing. I’ve put my faith in them,” he laughs.
He jokes, but it’s certainly the way he’s run his business for nearly 40 years already.
Vardy is also incorporating existing aspects of his business into Terra Nova to help it grow. He is providing RV rentals on site, and will even provide coach shuttles back and forth to St. John’s for people who want to come, stay and play.
Now open, the resort will be going through a busy season of re-establishing itself, as well as beginning some much-needed renovations in the fall, says Vardy. Membership is up and the restaurant prices are down with a new menu.
“The course is coming along good. We were a little late getting in there … If somebody never bought that golf course and it was left alone, in one summer it would be mothballed.”
In fact, as the course gets back on track this summer, those who frequent the fairways in the area are sure to be glad he did.
“(So far), it seems like it’s working … Right now, we’ve got to get through the summer.
“It’s a development year … We’ve got big plans.”