Two innovative moteliers are spreading the good 1970s vibes across Ontario.
By Waheeda Harris | June 23, 2021
As the days grow longer and warmer, jonesing for a weekend escape is a common affliction. Two moteliers have the solution: a memorable vacay at The June Motel.
Besties April Brown and Sarah Sklash pooled skills, resources and passions to buy their first motel in Prince Edward County in 2016. They reimagined 1970s style and paired it with 21st-century modernities to give city dwellers a pretty-in-pink vision with a glass of rosé and laid-back hospitality.
“We focused on creating an environment with a sense of place, showcasing the county,” April says. “We wanted to work with local companies and find people who wanted to work with us and who understand our vision.” It’s a formula that has worked well: The June Motel can brag about their 60,000 fans on IG waiting for a daily dose of style inspo and a reservation calendar sold out before their doors have reopened for the upcoming season.
Three years of successes and new inspirations fuelled April and Sarah for a new challenge—reinventing a second motel. The Knight’s Inn Motel in Sauble Beach was exactly what they wanted: a 24-room motel with restaurant and pool, 10 minutes from Lake Huron’s shoreline and close to the town’s assortment of takeout joints and souvenir shops. Tired ’80s style didn't distract from good bones, and the duo could envision their brand with a beachy vibe. But no one predicted the ultimate disruptor: coronavirus.
“I’m thankful we worked with a local contractor and crew,” says April, “but we didn’t anticipate weekly challenges trying to source building materials and décor once we could restart construction.” April and Sarah contemplated not opening, but they persevered, working through ever-changing timelines, sourcing vintage items like leather and rope furniture and macramé, paired with a new turntable spinning ’70s albums for the reception.
Previous partnerships helped source wallpaper, linens and bath amenities for the rooms, where the retro décor is inspired by sunset shades of pink and yellow. Guests are greeted with a Good Vibes Only neon sign. A surprise from their contractor is another throwback eye-catcher—a vintage turquoise VW Beetle parked at the entrance.
The Knight’s Inn opened officially on Labour Day weekend 2020, the ladies welcoming people desperate for an out-of-town refuge after months of pandemic life. Old-school architecture made all the difference: no interior hallways, a balcony or patio space for each room (complete with a hammock) and Heydays Restaurant offering coastal cuisine on an expansive patio for outdoor dining in the sunshine or under the stars. Romantic bonus: There were four wedding engagements during opening week.
Fast forward to 2021, and the duo have learned from the past year. Both hotels opened in late spring. For those who can’t click through to an elusive reservation for a dose of June life, a new online store is stocked with their Core Collection, must-haves like Sunday’s Company bath amenities and This Might Be Wine mugs.