Aug
20
2018
Volume
6-5

Northern Hospitality with the Dene-Cree Inn

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Located in Canada’s oldest European settlement, Fort Chipewyan, at the western tip of Lake Athabasca, you will find a gem called The Dene-Cree Inn. They offer rest, refreshment, and are situated in a land full of natural beauty. Fort Chipewyan is located in Wood Buffalo, approximately 225 KM north of Fort McMurray. The hamlet is rich with scenery, adventure, folklore and a history which goes back centuries. Stories from the Chipewyan (Dene), Cree First Nations, and Métis people enrich the atmosphere, and the community welcomes you with arms open.

The sparsely inhabited landscape is entirely natural with an abundance of vegetation and wildlife.  The isolation of the area and surrounding wildlife reserves have preserved Fort Chipewyan. Visiting this Northern community is a trip back in time.  In the North West, it offers visitors a breathtaking experience regardless of the purpose of their visit. From the bright Northern lights to crisp, clean air, the Dene-Cree Inn in Fort Chipewyan is the ultimate escape for those looking for experience and beauty.

In the summer, travel to Fort Chipewyan can be through the air or by boat from Fort McMurray. Being only a 40-minute flight from Fort McMurray, a truly unique getaway is possible where you can enjoy beauty, culture and history.

Winter travel to Fort Chipewyan can also include travel by ice road. The roads freeze up to link Fort Chipewyan to Fort McMurray in the south and Fort Smith in the NWT. The ice roads offer a unique experience; the Winter Road Hotline (1-866-743-6111) is available to give you current road conditions before you start your journey. You can also call The Dene-Cree Inn (780-697-6000) for more resources to effectively plan your travel.

Travellers visiting the area for work or who seek a secluded getaway will both find everything they are looking for at Dene-Cree Inn. Dene-Cree Inn has a total of 12 rooms with your choice of a kitchenette, executive, or standard suites. They also have a handicap suite available.

Their rooms are modern and will make you feel right at home. Each room’s options cater to you and your party’s personal needs. These are three room types: Standard, Deluxe and Suite. The Suite rooms are the largest and include a sofa lounge area and minibar, but all rooms, whatever the size, include coffee machines, air conditioning, fridge, microwave, and the much appreciated free Wi-Fi. Beds are faultlessly snug and the bathrooms are spacious and clean.

Centrally located, you can walk to the majority of historical sites and take in breathtaking views of Lake Athabasca from the Dene-Cree Inn. Benefitting from their unique location on the Canadian Shield, the Dene-Cree Inn’s surrounding area offers the comfort and views you won’t find outside of the Maritimes.  The community is warm and inviting, and they love to share stories about the area if you are interested. Rest easy in their humble abode or enjoy yourself in the new restaurant. Their menu features fresh salads, delicious desserts, and of course local family favourites. There are no formalities here and the hotel’s location is an ideal base for exploring one of Canada’s most historically significant communities, established in 1788.

From the outside you can see the Chip’s Diner, and as you enter the Dene-Cree Inn, you get a real sense of culture with beautiful features of birch and local Indigenous art. A comfortable and peaceful outdoor seating area is located at the back of the hotel, where at night the sky provides a backdrop of twinkling stars and, if you’re lucky, the green shimmer of the Northern Lights.

One of the perks of staying in this remote hotel is absolutely its customer service; they ensure that every guest has the best experience possible. Starting with late check out, for those who travel to see the stunning Northern Lights that are enjoyed best at 2 a.m., this is a much appreciated feature. Management make the effort to personally greet every guest.  Service in the attached restaurant is cheerful, yet professional. Personable characters such as Moe, make the restaurant extra-special. Stop in for a coffee or just a chat, and learn about the wonderful community of Fort Chipewyan.  

This well-kept secret is also your ticket to visiting one of the most naturally preserved areas in Northern Alberta, located at the southern tip of Wood Buffalo National Park. Wood Buffalo National Park is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is home to the world’s largest free roaming herd of buffalo and over 200 species of migratory birds including the famous and rarest – the Whooping Crane.

For northern Alberta, retaining a vibrant tourism industry is directly tied with the protection of natural habitats, access management, land use planning, and infrastructure development. The Indigenous leadership groups of Fort Chipewyan are central to environmental stewardship in Canada, leading the way for many other Indigenous communities to consider solar power, honey bee farming, and the retention of Indigenous values and language. Investment in infrastructure is one way that the community of Fort Chipewyan has proven their commitment to economic sustainability, the other is their investment in their youth.

The Inn was named after the two partners, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation.  These two business-savvy First Nations have successful Oil Sands companies, ACDEN and Mikisew Group of Companies, amongst other ventures both on their own as well as jointly. Their rich Indigenous culture is woven through every tapestry and thoughtful décor at the Dene-Cree Inn.

The Dene-Cree Inn is a wonderful example of a successful business in the Aboriginal tourism sector in the North, providing convenient access to globally significant wilderness, heritage and provincial park water systems, historic settlements and artifacts, internationally significant wildlife, and fisheries resources. The ability to offer both traditional hunting and fishing opportunities, packaged together with cultural/interpretive and heritage activities, may give the Dene-Cree Inn some edge over competitors in similar northern locations such as Yellowknife or Churchill.

Jennifer Voyageur, Manager the Dene-Cree Inn, grew up in Fort Chipewyan and showed her aptitude for business and tourism early on following a long line of entrepreneurs. When looking for the perfect person to hire, with an eye for style, impeccable customer service and management skill for eigh staff, they couldn’t have found a better candidate. They have not only constructed a modern facility with all the amenities one could require while visiting Fort Chipewyan, but they created a family, a home away from home for visitors from near and far. If you are interested in staying at this wonderful and cozy Inn, please call 780-697-6000 for details or to book a room today.

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