Nestled between vineyards and the shores of Picton Bay is a pastel paradise that has captured the hearts of laid-back locals and wine-loving travellers alike.
Curious to see what all the hype was about, my Mom and I escaped the city for a summer getaway to Prince Edward County's retro-revived boutique inn: The June Motel.
Pulling into the revamped roadside retreat, the plastic flamingos adorning the green lawn and signature row of pink doors were reminiscent of 1960's Palm Springs, where happy hour was every hour and life was but a breeze. We soon discovered the motto and motif of this reincarnated motel to be just as rose-coloured.
Since opening in May 2017, The June has quickly transformed from hidden gem to cherished treasure. Formerly known as The Sportsman, the motel was run for nearly three decades as a bare bones pit stop for fishermen (when the current owners took possession the only thing on the wall was a sign asking guests not to gut fish in their rooms). When the previous owners decided to retire, April Brown and Sarah Sklash jumped on the opportunity as they recognized the booming trend of those looking to escape the chaos of the city for a calming stay in the country.
With no former hospitality experience, Brown and Sklash (two friends from Toronto with a penchant for PEC's wine country) traded in the corporate grind to become modern-day moteliers – and they haven't looked back.
Self-taught via old episodes of the Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible on the basics of running a 16-room motor lodge, it is their masterful marketing skills and innate design sense that have skyrocketed their success. Brown's public relations background is also an asset as these two clearly know their target demographic and expertly cater to them. From the text message concierge (genius), to "Detox and Retox" Saturday morning yoga, to the Bachelorette/Girls' Weekend Package, their creativity is visible in every rose-gold touch.
Greeted warmly by the dynamic duo upon arrival, we were offered a choice of rosé, sparkling wine, or beer from local favourites Huff Estates, Hinterland Wine Company and Parson's Brewery. Designed by their friend Keri MacLellan of Four Walls Interiors, the indoor-outdoor lobby is an Instagrammer's dream scene. I don't know if it was the "Peace Love Wine" neon sign or soft pink potted planters but the lobby's subliminal messages nudged both of us to opt for the rosé.
In-between sips from our retro cocktail glasses, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Sklash and I were both graduates from the Richard Ivey School of Business and connected over the pursuit of our chosen "off-the-beaten path" careers.
After checking into our "Classic" room, (and swooning over the toiletries from local apothecary Sunday's Company, palm tree wallpaper, and macramé plant hangers) my Mom and I got a start on the incredible itinerary that the owners' tailor-made for us when I inquired about hip spots to check out during our visit. As bonafide experts in up-and-coming and established eateries/wineries in The County, they'll give you honest advice about what to see and what to skip.
Back at The June we raided the (beautifully curated) vintage pop-up by Laundry Club.
Dinner at The Courage was an unforgettable experience. The food is known to reduce patrons to tears, their branding is top-notch, and the customer service is superb – which is probably why by the end of the night the chef, owner (who doubled as our waitress as staffing is minimal in this seasonal community), and chief bartender all felt like old friends.
The entire dining experiences feels like an episode of Chef's Table: from the cocktails, to the slow-cooked octopus (that melts in your mouth), to the smoked eggplant on toasted miso risotto (that the chef pours hot Japanese mother stock over top). For dessert, they surprised my Mom for her birthday with a special campfire s'more cake: chocolate cheesecake covered in a campfire toasted marshmallow, sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs, and topped with real gold flakes.
At the end of the night we retreated back to The June where we roasted s'mores and chatted with the locals that had stopped by the outdoor campfire / conversation pit.
The next day we ate a delicious breakfast in the lobby (although if you prefer to linger longer over a slow morning you can get breakfast-in-bed delivered): Station Cold Brew coffee (my Mom's fav), green juice from Belleville-based Small Town Juicery, and fresh scones from the aptly named, Perfect Lil' Bakeshop – a tiny roadside bakeshop up the road from The June that sells homemade baked goods on an honour system.
Before heading back to the city, I asked Brown and Sklash about their plans for The June. Fully booked every weekend until Thanksgiving, their immediate goals are to get a year under their belts and implement small updates, like a hammock lounge area. For the future, they are brimming with ideas of what to do with the undeveloped acreage behind the building – maybe a tree house or a yoga yurt – and a potential motel road trip through California for inspirational field research. For now, it's simply enough to dwell in the present and enjoy la vie en rose.
Click HERE or the photo below to read my article: "Retro Revival: The Resurgence of the Roadside Motel" in The Huffington Post :