There’s nothing like a Manitoban wilderness, according to Paul Conchatre. And the dedicated outdoorsman is passionate about sharing the experience with the world. But guests in search of the best sometimes need to fly in to remote lodges. Conchatre talks about the challenges of managing an isolated tourism outfitter.
What is it like to run a back-country lodge?
It has definitely had its challenges with the economy, but our resources in Manitoba are really strong–they haven’t been exploited and we have a lot of untouched wilderness, so it’s not hard to give the traveler a strong return on what they came to see.
What do you enjoy most about it?
Meeting people from all over the world. I also enjoy the challenges on how to market the place. Owning a business such as this isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Being a lodge owner your job changes all the time and you’re switching hats constantly. I go from marketing and wearing the business hat to entertaining the guests. It’s definitely a rewarding lifestyle.
What do you think people expect when they go to a remote lodge?
It varies depending on the people. Some want to come and see the history of the area, some want to immerse themselves in hunting and fishing and decompress. But the people that come, they are all getting a lifetime memory. A lot of people will get emotional to see the natural resources. I had someone come out to hunt and say, ‘I’ve never seen that before,’ and they didn’t shoot, they just sat down and watched.
What type of audience do these hunting and fishing lodges cater to?
Our guests are more the vitamin water, protein bar type; men who want the physical challenge and to work hard. A lot of them are also extremely wealthy and enjoy leaving their world and coming to ours. This is 110% resource-based and passion.
When are you the most busy?
We’re really busy in the fall, but personally my busiest time is winter, when there are no guests and I’m focused on planning, accounting and marketing. This business is big on having equipment so a lot of decisions are being made right now in terms of making the right investments on everything from boats to shampoos. People are looking for a lot more tailored service since the recession because they’re not only investing in an experience, they’re investing in a memory.
Is there anything specific you want people to know?
Just that I am always worried about someone coming to Manitoba and not receiving what they expected. I admire people who travel and want to experience different places. So if they are willing to do it, then they should get what they’re looking for. It should be an A+ experience.