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“The worst customer service I have ever experienced.”

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Graham's Pioneer Retreat
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“The worst customer service I have ever experienced.”
Reviewed November 14, 2011

My partner and I were heading to Brier Island this past weekend to do some research for an upcoming project. We needed a place to stay so I did a little searching on the Internet. We have two dogs, a pug and a boarder collie and we needed a place where they would be welcome. I stumbled on Graham's Pioneer Retreat online and decided to give them a call. Linda Graham answered the phone and told me they were open on the coming long weekend and that dogs were allowed. The place sounded great.
When we arrived on the property on Friday afternoon, we immediately felt a bit worried. The main office is in the Graham's house whose yard looks like a junk yard. There was even a dead fish head beside the walkway as we approached the house. The Graham's have two dogs that are loose and intimidating. One is a German Sheppard and the other is a Husky. They barked as we approached. The office is unkept and cluttered. Not a great first impression. Linda made us pre pay for our two nights accommodations, which is not standard practice. She then took us to our cottage. It was cute and clean. After Linda left, I sat on our bed and it made a loud clunking noise and shifted underneath me. I started to worry about the bed, but it seemed solid enough. We quickly realized that there were hardly any candles and the ones that were there were nearly burned down. We also realized that both of the lighters in the cottage were out of lighter fluid. We made do. When we went to bed at 9:45 pm we found ourselves very annoyed when the bed collapsed underneath us. The centre bar on the frame broke completely. I decided to call Linda. I told her the bed broke and she was completely unremorseful. She suggested we sleep on the pull out couch. I told her I did not think I should pay $140 a night to sleep on a couch. I told her we would sleep on the matress on the floor. Because she was so unhelpful, I told her we would be checking out the next morning. I asked her to please refund my Visa the amount for the second night stay and her response was that she would have to think about it. The next morning, we went to the office and spoke with Linda. When I asked her again about a refund, she said it cost her money to have a contract with Visa and it cost her money to open a cottage for us for one night and that she would not normally open a cottage for one night. I asked her if she had turned others away for the second night and she wouldn't answer me. I explained that we understood her cancellation policy and that if she needed to, she could keep her 15% of our second night stay, but that I expected to be refunded the rest. She then said she would need to go look at the bed first, insinuating that we broke it. She suggested that we leave, go to Brier Island and come back later and maybe she would give us money back. This was getting crazy to me and we refused to leave until she reimbursed us. I also explained to her that this was the worst customer experience I had ever experienced. She spoke to her husband, who never showed his face and very bregrudgingly gave us back our money, minus the 15% and despite the fact we slept on the floor Our first night. After all of that, Linda asked me if I would take a box back to the city with me that was full of a past customer's belongings that had been left behind. Gah!!!!! I would never ever ever send anyone there. The hosts ruin the mood of the whole experience. I say that just because you own some oceanfront and can build a cottage, does not mean that you should ever hosts guests on your property.

  • Stayed November 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Jisalarvis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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68 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
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  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
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English first
Stewartstown, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed September 17, 2011

If you are looking for a place that is off the beaten path but not too far away from anything, a place where you wake up to the most amazing sunrises over St. Margaret's Bay and end your day with the moon glowing on the water, a place where you can sit on your private deck and watch porpoises and seals playing in the bay that is your front yard, a place where you can get away from it all and relax and make memories for a lifetime, then this is the place for you. If you must have a TV, internet, lots of people close by, and paved roads, then stay away and go back to town.

Each cottage is private and secluded and has everything you could need for a great getaway. Heading down the dirt road away from the highway really made me feel like I was getting away. After just a short drive you go over a hill and see St. Margaret's Bay. This beautiful bay will be your view during your stay. The cottages are fully equipped with everything you need to eat, sleep, bath, and relax. In fact the beds were more comfortable than my own, and the outdoor grill and picnic tables are great for cook outs overlooking the bay. In my opinion, the generators did not detract from the experience at all. In fact I thought it made it all the more unique and outdoorsy. To quote a friend, it was like "luxoriously roughing it". Plenty of candle and flashlights were provided, with more available from Dave and Linda if needed. To me the candlelight added to the ambience of the experience. Then if we really needed power... say to make popcorn in the microwave... with the flip of a switch from inside the cottage the generator outside came to life and we had all the power we needed. We found that we preferred leaving the generator off and enjoying the feeling of being "Pioneers", even though we had all the modern conveniences at our disposal if desired.

The location is very close to lots of fun things in the area. Digby and the St. John Ferry are less than a 30 minutes drive, and the best whale watching I've ever experienced is about a 15-20 minute drive. Other cool sites nearby are the beautiful Sandy Cove beach and the famous Balancing Rock. And of course all of the Digby Neck area including Long Island and Brier island are a short drive away and worth exploring.

Some of the most fun times we had were at the bonifres on the beach. The bonifre area is a community area where folks from all of the 4 cottages can get together at night. It was fun to meet new people from all over and share your experiences and stories. Your hosts Linda and Dave also come to the bonfire and socialize. Dave even gathers wood and takes care of fire building if needed. Everyone had a great time sharing the beach bonfire and marveling at the nearly full moon over the bay. You can tell that Linda and Dave really enjoy what they do and they genuinely enjoy meeting people. We left there feeling more like friends than customers, We are already planning on going back for another visit!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank cjl8on
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bothwell, Ontario
Level Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed September 5, 2011

We were at Grahams Pioneer Retreat in July/11. We had an amazing time. The cottage was perfect. Very clean and had everthing we needed. We watched seals in the bay from our deck. There is a generator to run the lights and pump the water, but don't let that bother you. The switch for the generator is right at the kitchen sink. \my husband and myself decided to try not to run generator. We turned it on for showers in the morning and for a few minutes here and there. We never used it for lights as we had plenty of candles. There were about ten candles supplied and be went into town and bought some extras. This was our choice, we could have got more from Linda and Dave. It is amazing how much hydro we waste. There was a solar radio which worked great. There is no TV but we knew that going in. We did not miss it at all. It was nice to play cards by candlelight. We had windows open all the time and could only her the neighbours generators once in a while. Even when you did hear the generator it was not loud. The cottages are spaced far enough apart that you don't hear each other. We had a great time here and would highly recomend Grahams Pioneer Retreat. We went whale watching with Mariners Whale Watching, it was fantastic. The owner and crew were very informative. We saw lots of whales. It is supprising how fast such a large creature can move. The hot chocolate and cookies on the way beck in was a nice touch.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Rick_Denise
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santpoort-Noord, The Netherlands
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 4, 2011

Friendly hosts, amazing views towards St Marys Bay. Porpoises, seals and eagles from the deck. Skies great during thunderstorms. And in the evening bonfires with the children.
They loved it, we loved it.

Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank Erik V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Linda3591, Owner at Graham's Pioneer Retreat, responded to this review, January 9, 2012
Aren't the seals wonderful to watch. And the eagles are great. We had 3 eagles put on a show one day. I think we enjoyed the children at the bonfire as much as they enjoyed the bonfire. They were so much fun as they experienced roasting marshmallows and "spider dogs". We hope to see you all again. Fondly Linda
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burlington, Vermont
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 1, 2011

I can not say enough wonderful things about Graham's. My parents have been going there for years. This year I went and spent a week with them. I stayed in Felicity cottage. The cottage is beautiful. It had everything we needed. Graham's is very quiet and peaceful. The veiws are breathtaking. The sunrise and sets spectacular. Linda and Dave are the nicest hosts you could ask for. During the day you can sit out on the deck and just watch St. Mary's Bay, no one is going to bother you. In the evenings we had campfires down on the beach. One evening we had a lobster bake. I plan on going back year after year.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank tclarkvt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamburg, Germany
Level Contributor
57 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
Reviewed August 28, 2011

This review is a hard one. I would probably give 3 and a half points if this was possible. The cabin was nice but we stayed with 4 adults and the second bedroom had only a double bed. So this was uncomfortable. We knew that upfront of course. The maine drawback of the Pioneer cabins are the generators. If you want a quiet retreat - forget it. Of course we knew about the generators and thought we could handle that. But we did not realize we would need the generator even for flushing the toilets. So every time you need water, light or other electricity you need to run the generator. To be honest, I can understand why they did not install power poles for electricity because the cabins are set back 3 km from the street. It would have been very expensive. But then I would have considered to install some solar panels or even not have flush toilets (is that the correct word?) Also they gave us only 2 small flash lights with hand crank to generate power. They were so dim, you could not use them for reading. They gave us tiny "reading lamps" to install at the books but they were also too dim. So no reading for us at all. Also one of the flash lights did not function. There was only one functioning candle in the whole cottage. The generator was VERY noisy, because they did not insolate it at all. Why?? We heard the neighbour´s generator frequently, so no peace and quiet as we thought. At night everybody woke up when my elderly parents needed to use the toilet. Oh well... The best thing was that we had a black bear one night at 2 am making a mess of our garbage deposit only a few feet off our bedroom. We watched him a long time playing with our leftovers and listened to his roaring (quite an experience!) He even was not disturbed by our flash light. Linda told us they never had a bear before on the property. We talked to some other people on Digby neck and they told us that there had been a bear sightings not long ago on the neighboring island. Some positive notes: The cottage is nicely done and clean. The views are lovely.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank KarenE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Middleton
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed August 3, 2011

For the last 5 years a friend and I go to stay at these cabins. We started staying 2 nites and this year stayed 4. Even tho the weather did not co-operate the best., we had a wonderful time! It is so peaceful and quiet. So different at nite with no traffic to listen to. I just love it there. We always take way too much food. Dave and Linda are the greatest! They are there for your every need. It is our escape from the hectic work life. Time to relax and walk on the beach. We saw an eagle, loons, and porpoises. Did a whale watching trip on Briar Island which was awesome! After you have the generator on for a few times, you don't even hear it any more and having the babreque is wonderful. Looking forward to going back again next year. The view is magnificient and this year we had a first class seat for the 14 hour thunder and lightening storm. It was scary but exciting at the same time. I just love the place and would recommend it to all.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank gratefullgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Graham's Pioneer Retreat

Property: Graham's Pioneer Retreat
Address: 8020 Highway 217 | Centreville, Digby Neck, Digby, Nova Scotia B0V 1A0, Canada
Location: Canada > Nova Scotia > Southwest Nova Scotia > Digby
Amenities:
Beach Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Digby
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Do you like your privacy? Peace and quiet? There are 4 secluded self-catering, oceanfront cottages located on 50 acres of Mother Nature's best just waiting for you. Each cottage has a full kitchen and a propane bar-b-q on the deck. You may also have the good fortune to watch porpoise and seals as they swim by, birds fly by, even rabbits come and go while the waves wash ashore. Enjoy board games, a beach bonfire, rock hounding, hiking, star gazing, awesome sunrises, and beachcombing. Go whale watching, birding, to the theme park, golfing. There is a lot to see and do. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Graham's Pioneer Retreat Digby, Nova Scotia

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