Having recently invested in Sandy Lane Resort, new owner Efjay Singh said he’s already feeling at home in Haliburton County.

Singh and his family, recent immigrants from India, purchased the Algonquin Highlands-based resort earlier this year, formally taking over the property Feb. 1. He said it was his first venture into the hospitality industry in Ontario, with the deal coming about completely by chance.

“We had never been to Haliburton County before – we only moved to Canada in December. It was just coincidence that we ended up here. We were scouting for some resort properties in western Ontario, out near Kenora, but the market really pulled us back towards eastern Ontario,” Singh, who prefers to go by Efjay, said. “It’s been a great first few weeks here. We’re very excited.”

One of Efjay’s first moves was to renovate and reopen the in-house restaurant at Sandy Lane Resort. A new eatery, The Buzz, has been operating for several weeks, running dinner service on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a breakfast/brunch buffet on Sundays.

Local chef Michael Wright, who also cooks at Mulligan’s in Minden, has been hired to run the kitchen. Efjay said it’s been a great partnership thus far – while the menu is small, featuring pizzas, burgers, butter chicken and salads, they will be expanding their options, with new features added weekly. He said a bar will be opening next week, with appetizers added to the menu.

Having also upgraded the reception and main lobby area, Efjay said he will be slowly investing in the rest of the property over time. There will be some landscaping work in the spring.

He plans to introduce new programming at the resort, geared towards children and those interested in the arts.

“We want to work to make this more of a family place. I’m putting a calendar together for next year with different offerings – there are a lot of gaps in certain months where we’d like to bring things to the community that people would be interested in doing. For example, in April, we will look to do more with the arts and culture, where we attract writers and artists for different workshops and programs,” Efjay said.

“We also want to have more winter programs for children, so they can come and explore the outdoors. Wellness programs for people looking to detox and get away from the stress in their lives. I’m very much wanting to focus on hospitality and creating new experiences for people,” he added. For more information, visit sandylaneresort. com.