Last year seemed like a bad year to pivot into hospitality. But for Joel Greaves and Devon Vaillancourt, the husband and wife founders of the brand new Somewhere Inn Calabogie, the timing couldn’t have been better.
After 12 years in the corporate grind, sweating it out at big telecom companies, Greaves was ready for a radical change. His dream was to be an entrepreneur— to own and operate a hotel.
“Timing is so funny,” says Greaves. “I was looking to leave my job, I had some interested investors, I had a great business plan in place. That was early 2020. Then March rolled around and the hospitality industry was just completely devastated.”
But that was only part of the story. Greaves and Vaillancourt noticed that, while urban luxury hotels couldn’t give rooms away, resorts, and designer rentals outside the city were booked solid.
Greaves and Vaillancourt, who runs the Toronto-based luxury concierge service Zebrano, decided it was the perfect time to make their hotelier dreams a reality. They started the search for old Ontario motels that they could renovate into something special. Initially, they were looking at the usual hotspots for Toronto getaways: Niagara, Muskoka, Prince Edward County. But the real estate in those markets had crested, and they seemed saturated with new, hip places to stay. So they set their sites further afield, all the way to the Ottawa Valley.