Rita's Retreat: A Cape Breton resort that honours the island's first lady of song
There's a new 'staycation' opportunity in Cape Breton where the legacy of the island's most famed songstress is very much in the walls.
Rita MacNeil's former home is now Rita's Retreat. The six-acre property in Coxheath, N.S. isn't just any Airbnb.
Built by MacNeil herself back in 1991, the building still has most of its original features from when she lived here.
There's a huge backyard with a view of the water, three units with access to a personal chef and inside, a 50-foot long saltwater swimming pool.
"To be able to go in and lay your head down in the same room Rita slept in, it's fantastic," says operator Mike Kuba.
Beyond any of the bells and whistles, property manager Victoria Serwatuk says the main attraction is the legacy of MacNeil herself.
"Rita MacNeil is Cape Breton's first lady of song, and so many people in the area are such big fans of her," says Serwatuk.
There are parts of the property where the artist really drew inspiration.
"Right beside the river, that's where she would sit and she would write all of her songs because it was very peaceful back there," says Serwatuk.
"It's almost like a little hideaway, a little secluded area covered by trees and flowers."
The location is a selling point, too. While it has the feel of being in a remote area, it's only minutes away from shopping, and downtown Sydney.
"Wherever you want to get your food and come back, and have that country living on a lake," says Kuba.
Rita's Retreat has been open for just a few days, but it's had a number of bookings already. They're really hoping to capitalize on tourism when restrictions loosen more, and borders start to open.
"Rita's fans are all across this country and I'm sure there's lots of people who would like to come stay here," says Kuba.
The whole idea is to give visitors an authentic experience while keeping MacNeil's memory alive in Cape Breton.
"We're all here just to carry on her legacy and make sure people have a wonderful stay at Rita's Retreat," says Serwatuk.
So if the walls of the new Airbnb could talk, they'd have a few tunes to sing and tales to tell.
On Thursday, the ECMAs will honour Cape Breton's first lady of song with a special tribute for being inducted into Canada's Songwriter's Hall of Fame.