The owners of a new “destination retreat experience” on Maple Lake say they expect their facility to open by July 1.
Dimensions Algonquin Highlands will welcome people looking to reconnect their mind, body and spirit, according to the company’s CEO, Christopher Dawson. Speaking with The Highlander, Dawson said the retreat would be a first of its kind in Canada, bringing a wealth of specialized health and wellness services together to create a “unique, five-star experience” for guests.
“We’re really passionate about what we’re doing in Algonquin Highlands,” Dawson said. “We would describe ourselves as a luxurious wellness retreat… The majority of our guests will be people looking for self-betterment, but we’re also trying to target different communities, some of whom might be diagnosable [with mental disorders].
“If you’re coming to Dimensions Algonquin Highlands, you’re there for a wellness experience, you’re there to reflect on things. You are looking to work on yourself, and looking to take some strides as a person,” he added.
Dawson clarified they will not be doing drug and alcohol rehabilitation. When news broke last summer that Dimensions had taken ownership of the North Shore Road property, there was concern the site would be transformed into a rehab clinic.
An initial press release referred to them as a “psychedelic treatment company” that would be offering specific customized retreats designed for clinical benefit in a range of areas.
Prior to launching Dimensions in 2020, Dawson was CEO of the Edgewood Health Network, which specializes in offering addiction supports and treatments.
“That’s probably where the confusion came from, my history,” Dawson said. “We should have done a better job clarifying what we are and what we aren’t. For the record, we absolutely are not and will never be a drug rehabilitation centre.”
The 40-acre site has 17 cabins and two multi-room communal lodges. Renovations on the main lodge are underway, to be complete by 2023. Dawson said his son, Eric, has taken lead on restoring approximately two kilometres of trails.
Guests will have the option of participating in activities such as yoga, meditation and both sound and light therapy. Dawson said there would be a lot of spa-like elements incorporated into the company’s programming.
Total investment will eclipse $20 million
Details surrounding stay packages and pricing will be finalized in the coming weeks. The facility is to be a four-season operation once open.
The company is working with the township of Algonquin Highlands on a rezoning application that Dawson hopes will allow Dimensions to incorporate a medical component to their services in future. This would open the door for the firm to expand into psychotherapy and, possibly down the road, psychedelics.
“There’s a therapeutic reason for that… There is a real scientific movement behind understanding the role of the central nervous system in our overall physical and mental health. Many psychedelic substances have reset aspects to them as they connect to our brain… When you combine that with therapists walking you through that process, that can lead to really significant recoveries for people,” Dawson said.
“These hallucinogenics are not re-emerging because people want to get high, they’re re-emerging because neuroscience has demanded that they be brought to the table,” he added.
He referenced the substance psilocybin, otherwise known as magic mushrooms, which are illegal in Canada. Dawson said there is a movement amongst the medical community to legalize the substance. A study examining the effects of microdoses of the drug in people with low-grade anxiety and depression was approved by Health Canada in December, with results expected later this year.
Regardless, Dawson said he’s committed to making Dimensions Algonquin Highlands one of the premiere getaway destinations in the country. Once renovations are complete, Dawson estimates total investment in the site will eclipse $20 million.
“We want to be here for the long haul. We want to be a big part of this community. This is our first location, and Haliburton County is perfect for what Dimensions is all about,” Dawson said. “I have fantastic memories of coming here with my family on 12 Mile Lake, and we hope to give our guests the best experiences and memories possible. We’re so excited.”