Choosing to be a Motelier is not something you hear often, and April Brown didn’t know owning a motel chain could give her the life change she needed. The infamous boutique Motel resides in Prince Edward County. Going on their fourth season, April Brown travel talks and gives us a look at her experience and future plans for the June brand. Monte and Coe: Why the Motel Industry?
April: Definitely did not dream of it. I was working at a marketing agency in the city [Toronto] and I was just burnt out and looking for that next move. Sarah and I had been friends for about 15 years and we were both needing something. Not just a career change buy a lifestyle change as well.
We always traveled out to the county with friends to go wine tasting, and realized there was nowhere to stay. Year after year we just knew there was an opportunity there.One day, we were brainstorming ideas and we came up with an Adult wine camp, but we didn’t know where we were going to have it. Sarah was always up to date on the real estate market and she pointed out that there was a motel for sale. She suggested we could take it over for a weekend. It was at that moment when we knew that this was the idea. I said, or we could just buy the motel. Everything happened really quickly after that. It was the middle of the winter and we were out looking at this motel for built for fishermen and hunters. The only art inside was this sign that says “no gutting fish in room”. It was quite funny.
We took possession right before June 1st. It was already sold out based on the reservations from the previous owner. We never ran a hotel in our life, there was just a pen and paper for the reservations, no computer system. We ran it as is for one summer, made all of our mistakes, and learned from them. That fall we started renovations. There was not a lot of time thinking about if I wanted to be a motelier, more of this is a cool idea, and eager for this lifestyle change.
M: What do you think 10 years look's like for the June Brand?
A: We talked about 5 [locations] being a very reasonable number. We want to keep true to the reason why we did this, for a lifestyle change and not to be an extremely busy entrepreneur. However, we are very big dreamers and love the experience of developing, creating and designing new properties. So who knows!M: Does the June get people from other cities?
A: [PEC is about 2 hours from Toronto]. The county is perfectly situation between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. So it’s a hub for those three. It’s a perfect half-way spot for each of them. Specifically, the majority of our market is Toronto, but it also has a huge Quebecois population come summer.
M: Take me through an insiders weekend in the county! What are the best things to do in Prince Edward County, Ontario?
[PEC consists of smaller towns such as Consecon, Wellington, Bloomfield, and Picton]
A: Friday night you are checking in to the June with our signature can of Rosé from our local winery. For dinner, there are a lot of spots in Picton. Some of our favorite spots are Flame+Smith [oysters, lam burgers, kale salad], and Bloomfield Public Health [a classic BBQ spot]. You definitely could do a full trip around each small town around the June.For the Saturday morning coffee, we usually suggest biking into Picton and going to the BEACON. If you want a drive, the Wellington experience is great [25min]. Since your already in Wellington, the wineries are an amazing day trip as well. One of the favorites is the Grange winery. Parsons is the best for the beer drinkers.
For Sunday morning, breakfast at the Vic Café for eggs and bacon. Then head over to the beach. Sandbanks Park is amazing, but it can get very busy. A lot of people forget that the beach is there, so planning the day can be important.M: Do you have one travel hack or travel tip?
A: I am very much a one bag/carry-on type of person. I am a good planner for what I need. Having stuff in multiple locations also helps out!
For someone who has never been there, it’s a remarkable place to just unwind for a weekend and really feel like you are on vacation – Monte and Coe