Just a short piece about the club, the lifestyle and our upcoming events were published in Friday's financial post.
Karen Mazurkewich, Carrie Tait, Nicholas Van Praet and Karen Burshtein, Financial Post · Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010
Polo and poker run boating regattas. In Canada? Our monied class can relax with the best of them. Never mind the disappointing job figures, which indicate an economy still in rehab, when it comes to chilling in the heat of the summer, Canada's financial elite always manage to find new pursuits and events to amuse themselves. Think surfing the rapids of the St. Lawrence River or supping on gourmet game in polar bear country. And if they can't sneak away from the office, they can at least frequent one of the hottest watering holes on Bay Street after the markets close. Financial Post has compiled a list of hot places frequented by those with cool cash.
Black Diamond is not a town where you would expect to find Calgary's wealthy whipping out billfolds and dropping hundreds of dollars in pursuit of leisure. After all, the town's traffic is managed by one single four-way stop with the largest stop signs you'll ever see and servers at Marv's Classic Soda Shop wear '50sera pink-and-black uniforms while delivering malts. A quarter will buy you a song in the jukebox.
But Black Diamond, about 60 kilometres outside of Calgary in the foothills of the Rockies, plays host to one of the world's snobbiest rich-kid games: polo. The Black Diamond Polo Club, which is actually closer to Millarville than Black Diamond, makes its home on the ranch belonging to Rob and Ruth Peters -- a surname that rings beyond familiar in Calgary, owing to the success of Peters & Co., a boutique investment bank. Roughly 15 to 20 players pay $1,000 per year for a membership, and while many take care of their own horses, an animal can be boarded for $200 a month.
"People who don't know about polo tend to look at it and think it is a snooty expensive sport because Prince Charles plays it," says Stephen Cobb, the club's president. But membership in the club ranges from local ranchers and acreage-owners to, yes, rich oil and gas types who made their fortunes in downtown Calgary. "It is no more expensive than a reasonable golf membership." But that's just his club. You have to shell out more to play at the more serious Calgary Polo Club, he notes.
Roughing it in style is the vacation trend du jour. At the Seal River Heritage eco-lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast, Manitoba's happy few explore the depths of nature by day in one of the planet's most rugged environments. Then it's nice nights with gourmet fare and proper drinks in a chic wilderness outpost.
It takes time -- and money -- to get there. After a flight to Churchill, it's a 30-minute transfer by Turbo beaver float plane to the 12-room, hand-made lodge completely lost in the tundra. Remote yes, but animal-wise, this is where the action is. Stalk polar bears near the Seal River estuary or swim or snorkel with the belugas, then come back to the lodge to embark on a culinary adventure. The gourmet fare prepared by Helen Webber, matriarch of the foodie family who own the lodge, makes the 100-mile diet seem so south of the 49th parallel. Almondcrusted lake trout, slow-roasted barbecue caribou sandwiches and cranberry cake with warm butter sauce are examples of her dinners sourced from within walking distance. Guests have been so impressed with the food that they insisted Ms. Webber do a cookbook. Her Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbook was the first of what would become a series and a Canadian best-seller. ( www.churchillwild.com;next excursions are Aug. 10-17 and Aug. 16-23; $7,295 per person, including return airfare from Winnipeg to Churchill and float plane transfer). ONTARIO
The rich love to boat and they love to gamble. For wealthy entrepreneurs, these two pursuits can be enjoyed simultaneously. For 22 years, the Rice Lake poker run has been a fixture on the performance boating circuit. Five years ago, the Performance Boat Club took over the event and renamed it the Nicolle Memorial Poker Run, after the event's founder, Bruce Nicolle. Over the years, the poker run on Rice Lake has been simplified -- boaters now run the course and then play poker back at port, rather than being dealt cards at the various checkpoints. Carl McBride, the organizer behind this poker run, has 30 years of experience in the high-performance marine industry. The Florida native's beginnings in the pursuit date back to the 1980s, when he was hired to look after apparel king Garry Hurvitz's "toy collection" of $1-million boats. Back then, offshore speedboats in Ontario -- dubbed cigarette boats for the fast boats used to run illegal smokes across international waters -- were few and far between. Not any more. Last year, 46 boats, ranging from 18-foot ski boats to 50-foot turbine catamarans that can hit 240 kilometres an hour, took up the poker run challenge. But remember, this regatta is not a race -- it's a lifestyle. The charity event, which runs Sept. 11-12, costs $375 per boat to enter. The cost to run these monster boats is another matter entirely. The club also organizes the Magneto Electric Muskoka Lakes Charity Regatta (August 14) and the Priestly Demolition Running for Rescue Regatta (Aug. 28-29).
Who says the rich only play golf? In Montreal, a growing number of wealthy visitors to the city are making a bee line not to the club house, but to the banks of the St. Lawrence River. To surf. For years, it's been a badly kept secret that the city's thrill-seekers have been surfing the rapids behind Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 site. Now the monied classes want in on the action. What's required: A surfboard, booties and solid swimming skills to navigate the fast water. "It's gaining a lot of popularity," says Anna Roma, a concierge who caters to the rich and famous at the city's Buonanotte restaurant. According to Surf Montreal, a website dedicated to the sport, wetsuits are optional for the river water, which can vary wildly in temperature. A neoprene suit four millimetres thick in the body and legs is enough for most people when combined with gloves and booties once the ice melts, the website says. Once it is too hot for the suit, you can go in board shorts.
For the Bay Street financiers and lawyers who can't make the cottage getaway, South of Temperance beckons. The bar and restaurant is located in the heart of Toronto's financial district -- the spillover of patrons onto the enormous outdoor patio can be seen from the glass tower offices. Securing a spot on the patio requires leverage or time in line. On a sultry mid-week evening in August, all tables were gone by 4:15 p.m. The South of Temperance menu, which consists of pub fare, isn't the main attraction. This six-week-old hotspot is all about trading tips and contacts -- the kind of real-world networking that only occurs over a pint of beer or glass of Shiraz. South of Temperance has already attracted the who's who of Bay Street. The large owners group includes John Young, formerly a managing director at OMERS, Peter Brauti of Brauti Thorning Zibarra and Neil Sheehy of Goodmans. Judging by the turnout, these financiers-turned-restaurateurs have found a winning trade.
Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/their+leisure/3371521/story.html#ixzz0vvjBZ2bV
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