What do boat fuel and ice cream have in common? A whole lot according to Michael Shaw, founder of The Cove Marina and Recreation Centre.
And it starts with who picks where to stop for fuel when on the water.
“When our kids were little, I remember going out boating and we would choose where to get fuel based on where the kids wanted to go for ice cream and treats,” says Michael, a lifelong avid boater. “And often, the sweet shop was a bit of a trek up stairs and away from the fuel dock.”
The visionary behind The Cove Marina and Shaw’s Ice Cream Shop, located at Foots Bay on Lake Joseph, Michael wanted to build a place where avid boaters and their families could satisfy their sweet tooth and fill their tank.
The result is a marina with a resort-like atmosphere that is welcoming to all ages.
At the Foots Bay location, the ice cream shop is right next to the dock. It offers stylish patio seating for families to have a break from the day. Michael’s wife Krista did the interior design of the sweet shop (where other cottage essentials can also be found) and she made sure that main feeling was “fun.”
“When people come in, they are wowed by the bright colours and fun layout,” says Michael, who co-owns The Cove with his brother David. “It’s definitely the vibe we envisioned.”
The Cove’s main location for recreational sales and service is on Lake Joseph Road, about five minutes’ drive from the Foots Bay marina. It has been in operation since 1991.
Ten years ago, the Shaws purchased the Foots Bay property to expand their operations and establish a full-service marina. Their idea was that almost everything you need for your cottage adventures should be available in one place.
In addition to the fuel docks and ice cream shop, the marina has seasonal slips, a service bay, an accessories store, valet service, storage and more. They have also managed to create a family feeling among their staff, leading to low turnover and increased continuity of service for their customers.
“Our goal is to make sure all of our customers feel their boating and recreational needs are well cared for by our team,” says Michael. “We put customer service first, which has helped us build a loyal clientele that grows a little bit each year.”
Storage, sales and more
The Cove’s winter storage and sales centres include properties facing each other on both sides of Lake Joseph Road, where they can care for all their clients’ needs.
Experts at custom, high-end boat sales for over 32 years, they feature exceptional models from Formula, Hewescraft, Crownline, Bennington, and many more. These are some of the best boats in the world, giving clients plenty of fantastic options no matter what kind of boating they want to enjoy.
“These companies fit perfectly with our commitment to providing the best possible products to our clients,” says Michael. “Our clientele appreciates the selection we provide them.”
They also offer indoor winter storage in a facility that can house up to 600 boats comfortably.
“We can store and care for your valuable investment all winter long in our fully enclosed building,” says Michael. “Winterization often means shrink wrapped watercraft stored outside, but we offer improved protection from the environment in our facility.”
Expansion in the works
The Cove has seen several structural improvements and additions – as well as added services – over the years at both their main and marina locations. The next expansion is well underway. Two complete dock systems are being built, allowing easier access to fuel docks for convenience and increased service.
“We’ll have several more boat slips added and the ability to meet the growing needs of the families on the lakes,” says Michael. “Half of the project will be completed this year, with the full project being finished in 2023. It’s going to be amazing when it’s done.”
It’s all part of The Cove’s mission to help families make their time in Muskoka the most memorable experience it can be.
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN