Jul. 12, 2015
Guests often tell us how exciting that moment is when the float plane lifts off from the water to begin the flight to Aikens Lake. Anticipation is high––incredible food, fishing and service awaits––but in the meantime, a bird’s eye view of the woods and waters of Atikaki Provincial Park provides a highlight in itself.
For us, the planes serve dual purposes. Everything we need and use at the lodge comes in on a plane. In 2014, we flew in 157 Otters and 43 Cessnas from Silver Falls, and 70 Otters and five Cessnas from Bissett.
“Of our 275 flights last year, 58 were staff and volunteer flights in the spring and fall with building materials, fuel and other supplies,” said Pit. “The other 217 were guest flights, most of which had a combination of guests and supplies. Julie does a great job organizing it all.”
“I create a flight schedule in the early spring and maintain it several weeks out to keep track of what’s coming in when,” Julie said. “We can receive food on Mondays and Thursdays, so I look at the flight schedule and if we’ve got two weeks coming up with planes that are completely full (nine guests each way), I know that I’m not going to get much supplies on those plans so before those two weeks get here I need to beef up the food orders.”
During the first several weeks of the season, three Otters full of food come in with some 2,400 pounds of food to re-stock the lodge. “There’s at least one Otter full of booze,” explains Julie, who makes notes of special drinks certain guests prefer so she can have those flown into the lodge in advance of their visit. “Then the kegs are a couple hundred pounds each. I like to have 60 cases of beer locked up at all times––that’s my emergency stock.”
We partner with Bluewater Aviation to give guests a top-notch flying experience. Because of our location and fly-in logistics, anyone in North America can wake up in their own bed in the morning and be catching fish at Aikens that same night. That’s a pretty unique deal, and is extra important for the various corporate groups who have a set number of days available for the trip.
“We always get the flight numbers for people who fly commercially into Winnipeg, so our ground transportation is ready for them and is aware if their flight is delayed,” Julie explains. “If there’s a situation where half their group is delayed, we’ll take the people who made it on time out to breakfast or lunch so they’re not just waiting at their airport for the rest of their group.”
“For us it’s like having people come visit your home,” Julie said. “You want to make every aspect of their visit as comfortable for them as possible.”
In our case, every aspect involves that float plane in one way or another. When you don’t have the convenience of zipping to the nearby store to pick up that one item you forgot or ran out of, it forces you to prepare and plan ahead. It’s not always easy, but we certainly realize how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful and remote setting.
And what better way than a float plane to reach that dock?
“People may not always realize how much goes into everything behind the scenes,” Julie said. “We listen to everything our guests say about their preferences, even if they just mention it casually, and we try our hardest to make it happen. I hope I’m successful in that. We want their trip to surpass what even they thought it could be.”