There’s nothing quite like the Ontario cottage experience: sipping your coffee as you watch the morning mist float above a perfectly still lake, spotting wildlife from the trail or your canoe, swapping stories and songs with friends around a bonfire. But what if you don’t have a cottage, or, like thousands of other urbanites, have been stymied by skyrocketing demand for rentals since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Fortunately, there’s another option: Somewhere Inn Calabogie, a new 11-room motel with a distinctly cottage-y vibe, located in a picturesque and relatively uncrowded corner of the Ottawa Valley, just an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital.
Joel Greaves and Devon Vaillancourt, the husband-and-wife duo behind Somewhere Inn, were well aware of the massive demand for cottages, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area, even before COVID; their Muskoka property, which they’ve listed on AirBnB since 2017, was so popular it was difficult to find time to enjoy it themselves. So, says Greaves, they decided to take their side venture to the next level. Their plans to purchase and make-over a motel were temporarily halted by the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020, but the subsequent surge in local travel bookings only bolstered their confidence. One year later, Greaves left a 12-year career in telecommunications in Toronto and moved to Calabogie to oversee the reinvention of their chosen property, a classic 1970s roadside inn formerly called Jocko’s Beach Motel.
“We wanted to take the experience we love about the cottage and realize it in a hotel,” he says. “That’s what this place is about: escaping the city, unplugging, and being in the restorative power of nature.”