Last month I wrote a brilliant and potentially award-winning blog called “Luxury Retreats…With Horses”. It was so well received (thank you to my family for responding) that I thought it would be a great idea to expand on that theme. Hence… let’s talk about Luxury Retreats With Fish.
Personally, I am not a Prisoner of the Rod and Reel. I am more of a Slave to the Light (photography) kind of guy, but I have been fishing, like fishing, caught fish, and basically know nothing about it. So, I present the results of my research without prejudice neither for nor against any fishing genre; fresh or salt water, lakes, rivers, streams, oceans, species of fish, whatever. My job here is just to give you some ideas for the next time somebody says… “Hey, let’s have a retreat somewhere and since the company is paying and I get to choose where we go, let’s go fishing.”
My methodology: ask everyone I know what they think are the best luxury lodges or resorts with real Fishing. I said; has to have a real fishing program with guides and equipment that can handle groups from beginners to experts. Can’t be the guy at the front desk saying, yeah, there are fish in the lake over there, I think, and there is a place in town that rents equipment (I think) but they definitely sell bait (I think).
The other criteria for selecting the following to write about… I would have to want to stay there anyway, even if I wasn’t fishing, and they also have to be able to provide top-notch services for meetings (and other stuff). So… some decision-maker says, “Hey, let’s have a retreat somewhere where I can fish”, you can check out…
Waterfall Resort, Alaska (www.waterfallresort.com)
First thing I have to say about Alaska… if you have not been there… it is amazing. You have to go. That’s all there is to it. Second thing I have to say… it’s a long way, but worth it. Third… whether you like fishing or not… it’s amazing. Oh, I already said that.
The all-inclusive 44-room Waterfall Resort occupies 52 acres on Prince of Wales Island near Alaska’s Inside Passage. Accessible only by air and sea, the resort is a century-old salmon cannery turned into a “legendary” (their word) sport-fishing resort. They are just a short seaplane flight away from Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska, or 90 minutes from Seattle, Washington. At Waterfall Resort, guests can fly in in the morning and be on the water, fishing for about 20 different species of fish, in the afternoon. And when it comes to groups, regardless of the level of fishing expertise, they know what they are doing.
And while we are in Alaska… the Steamboat Bay Fishing Club… (www.steamboatbay.com)
Their marketing guy self-describes the Club as the “Cadillac of Fishing”. Not sure if the “next” generation understands what that means, but for me… I get it. Located on secluded Noyes Island near Ketchikan, (also 90 minutes by sea plane from Seattle), The Club accommodates up to 24 guests in spacious, modern Lodge rooms and adjacent manor-style Residences. Expert guides, state-of-the-art boats and equipment, fine Alaska-style cuisine, premium amenities, and all of that jazz… it’s cool. From aboard the Club’s custom-built fleet of North River cabin cruisers, guests may also set pots for Dungeness crabs and spot prawns.
After a day on the water, the Club experience continues with the chef de cuisine’s regionally inspired menus (presumably when they say “chef de cuisine” they mean that the food is good), an open bar, and a wealth of on-property diversions (i.e. cigars and whisky). The Club is staffed 24/7 with a warm and professional crew whose sole aim is to see that life at Steamboat Bay is relaxed and seamless. Did anyone say “Fam Trip”? (Kidding).
Want something a little warmer? How about…
El Otro Lado, Portobelo, Panama (www.elotrolado.com.pa)
Where to begin…, UNESCO named the port and the Portobelo fortifications a World Heritage site (so you have the historical/cultural thing covered too)…
Portobelo National Park is made up of 86,000 acres, protecting both coral reef communities and coastal forest. This coastline includes important stretches of coral reefs, mangrove swamps, coastal lagoons and beautiful beaches, where every year four species of marine turtle, including the threatened hawksbill, come to nest.
El Otro Lado is a private luxury retreat situated on Portobelo Bay, just over an hour from Panama City, The retreat is made of just 5 houses (with a total of eight guest rooms), so your group can do a buy-out. It’s a luxury kind of place.
The definition of the indigenous name “Panamá” is “abundance of fish”. I guess that kind of sums it up. Tuna, snapper and grouper, are all commonly found in the nearby sea, or, if you prefer, you may relax and cast your rod in search of sea bass, snapper and other species in the fresh-water rivers that feed into the estuary and bay. Their fishing guides are all born and raised in Portobelo and know every corner of the Bay (and are on a first-name basis with most of the local fish).
OK… it’s a small place… but if you have senior executive fishing types who want to really get away… it’s private.
And for those of you who want to stay in the Lower 48 and want more options that “just” fishing…
Just 45 minutes from the Spokane, WA airport, the 338-room Coeur d'Alene Resort, is the site of the Orvis Idaho Fly-Fishing School. There are a million other year-round outdoor activities besides fishing, as well as the Resort’s famous golf course (and their Spa).
The fishing school covers everything from fly-casting, choosing the right tackle, leaders, and knots, to fly selection, and how to safely release fish. Choose a one-day or two-day school, and those who are interested can then take day excursions to put their training to use.. or… your guests can hang back and go to the spa or play golf while that crazy decision-maker goes fishing.
It also has 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and has won a million awards for meetings. It’s real.
The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, Edwards, CO (www.cordilleralodge.com)
OK… it’s not what you would think of as a fishing lodge, but The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera is also home to an Orvis Fly-Fishing School (and in general is a very cool place). Perched on a mountaintop overlooking the Vail Valley and western Colorado’s Sawatch Range, the 56-room lodge wins awards for everything and I could have just as easily put it in a blog about Luxury Retreats with Snow, Spa, Food, Service… you get the idea. It’s a year-round thing. So… your boss can fish and everyone else can fish or not fish.
The Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, FL (www.oceanreef.com)
I am not quite sure how to describe the 2500 acre Ocean Reef Club other than to say it’s an upscale Private Membership Club that allows corporate groups to stay in it’s Inn (or rent condos) and use the facilities. Located one hour south of Miami, it sometimes feels like is its own town (and there are definitely very tan year-round residents driving golf carts around). Also has lots of very big private yachts docked in its Marina. Very big.
Besides the 144-room Inn and golf and spa and tennis center, it has its own airport, marina, medical center, fire station, museum and shopping district. But whatever you call it… it has fish. Whether “the destination decider” goes for the excitement of deep-sea sport fishing, reef fishing, bone-fishing (I have no idea) or back-country fishing, they have it.
OK, there are a million more places and I will continue to update you in future blogs, but time and attention span is limited. If you have any spectacular suggestions, contact me, I will check it out, and try and get it in down the road (or the river, depending).
My wife just told me to say that we are having fish for dinner.