When you think of Watrous and the resort village of Manitou Beach, a few things may come to mind: the saltwater lake, the Spa, that dance hall with the world renowned horse-hair dance floor, etc., and it’s true; Watrous has all those things. But when all of those things come together with a regional park, a growing town with a lively atmosphere, and some other attractions not to be missed, it makes for a great summer getaway!
Well, it’s Tourism Week in Saskatchewan, and if you didn’t know that before this week, you maybe discovered that as many different communities across the province held events for the occasion. I joined Watrous and Manitou Beach for a double celebration as the Manitou Springs Hotel was also celebrating its 25th anniversary. It all started off with a BBQ in the centre of Watrous. A few representatives from Tourism Saskatchewan were there, with Brendan Manz, who heads up community development in the town.
Many local artists came out to show their various works with the public, and included glass-blown vases by Heather Konschuh (www.konschuh.com), incredible life-like clay figurines by Sandy Christensen, and awesome landscape paintings by Frank Wilson, to name a few.
Brendan and I walked over to the local art gallery, which is actually quite something to have in a town of around 2500 people. Again, seeing the work on display helped me feel an appreciation for the town and the support it obviously gives to local culture.
Next, we headed to this place everybody is raving about: Danceland! I was wondering what all the hype was, but as I walked in it immediately hit me. A huge hardwood dance floor, large lighting and open windows overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is truly something out of the 50’s! Even though we were the only ones in the building I couldn’t help but imagine a full floor of swing dancing, people laughing and having a good time, and the lights and music. Built in 1928, it was and is still one of the few dance halls in the world with with a thick layer of horsehair under the hardwood flooring that gives it an added spring to your step. 80 years of dancing, and still running; rumor has it, the owner Arnold Strueby tells me, that Elvis has even taken to the stage here!
One of the main attractions of Manitou Beach is definitely the Manitou Springs Hotel and Mineral Spa, and I had to check it out for myself. You wouldn’t blame me! It’s not hard to see why people come from all over to experience the great things about the establishment, boasting a heated mineral pool with water coming straight from the lake itself.
It also has a full spa with massage and a great in-house restaurant. Once I had my room key, it didn’t take much convincing to head to the pool, where the water is five times more salty than the ocean! I was eager to see if I too would actually float. I wasn’t disappointed, though, and it really was a bizarre feeling to just lay back on the water and stare at the ceiling, with no effort at all! The water is chalk full of revitalizing minerals, supposedly good for your health, too.
I had made up my mind to take a dip in the lake, too! I’m much more excited about swimming in lakes, for some reason, than pools, and this one’s unique; I couldn’t pass it up! But, it was cold. And windy. In the morning (after a fantastic mochaccino at the local coffee shop, The Village Perk – which had a lovely view of the lake), I decided that it was now or never. I could always jump into a hot shower back in my room, either way! As promised, it was cold, very cold, but refreshing, too!
Golfing – I haven’t done it in years, but my game at Manitou Beach Golf Club was surprisingly not terrible. I did hit a shot that bounced off the highway once (in my defence it was very windy) and lost about 5 or maybe more of my companions’ golf balls, but it was GREAT. The sun came out, and everybody had fun. The course itself was in beautiful shape, was quite challenging, and today as I sit and write, I wish I was back out there.
Oh, and one more thing: the town even has a drive-in movie theatre! So make sure to stop by there if you do make it to Watrous and Manitou Beach. Just another thing that makes this a great summer destination with so much to do!