Inside the gorgeous June Motel, a boutique roadside inn in Prince Edward County
Just off the coast of Picton Bay in Prince Edward County, a revamped motel that looks like it’s been plucked straight from 1960s Palm Springs is quickly becoming the area’s most Instagrammed attraction. Owners Sarah Sklash and April Brown first came to the county six years ago for a wine tasting at Norman Hardie and 12-kilometre run through the countryside. They fell in love with the area, and Sklash and her boyfriend bought a cottage nearby. When they decided to go into business together, their first idea was a wine-focused summer camp for adults, and during their search to find a venue, they stumbled across an old motel for sale. After contemplating renting it for the camp weekend, Brown said, “Why don’t we just buy it?” Here’s what it looked like then:
In January 2016, Brown and Sklash left their city gigs—in PR and government, respectively—to purchase the place, then a rundown fisherman’s retreat known as the Sportsman Motel. When they bought it, the only decoration was a poster that read, “No gutting fish.” They threw on a fresh coat of paint and temporarily opened their doors for 2016 summer season. Then, over the winter, they closed down for a more serious round of renovations, tearing out the floors, gutting every bathroom, installing funky wallpaper and sourcing an eclectic mix of mod and vintage furniture (including plenty of retro Solair chairs). Aside from bringing in a plumber, electrician and designer to help with the lobby, they did everything themselves (with some help from friends and family). “I had to teach April how to use a drill,” says Sklash with a laugh.
Neither Brown or Sklash has a tourism background, but they’ve travelled extensively and love hunting down unique spots to stay. “We know what the Toronto urbanite is looking for on a weekend getaway, because we’ve been there,” says Brown. One of their main goals was to create a cozy common space where guests could chat and mingle. They hired designer Keri MacLellan of Four Walls Interiors to help with the eye-catching look. “When people come in, they instantly want to take pictures,” says Sklash. The neon sign reads, “Peace, love, wine”:
They replaced the floors with ceramic tile and installed a sleek walnut bar:
When guests arrive, they get a glass of sparkling rosé from Hinterland Winery or a craft beer from Parsons Brewing Company. Brown and Sklash then sit down with them to chat about their weekend plans and offer recommendations. The duo has also just launched a text-message concierge, letting guests text them at any time with questions or requests:
Outside the sliding garage door is a fire pit and grass lawn where they run “Detox/Retox” yoga every Saturday morning (the class is followed by mimosas). All the palm trees and succulents were provided by PEC florist Parlour Studio:
The motel has 16 rooms. One of Brown and Sklash’s biggest travel pet peeves was visiting wine country, spending $30 on a nice bottle and only having plastic cups to drink out of in the room. “It was important to us the rooms were well-equipped for people to fully enjoy the county,” says Brown. That’s why each space comes with its own fancy wine bar:
This one also has a full dining room table. When guests book online, they can choose from a number of add-ons, including detox juices from Small Town Juicery for breakfast, room-service charcuterie boards, or a bachelorette package with cute decorations and bottles of bubbly:
This room’s bunkbeds provide a playful sleepover vibe. All toiletries are from local apothecary Sunday’s Company:
From $119 per night. 12351 Loyalist Pkwy., Picton, 613-476-2424, thejunemotel.com.