Somewhere Inn Calabogie has a unique concept: The owners took an older, outdated motel and gave it new life, creating a minimalist and Zen-like retreat in the heart of Calabogie. While the inn itself may not be new, its proof of concept provides untold possibilities for aging motels across Canada.

It was in January of 2021 that the owners of Somewhere Inn Calabogie purchased the old Jocko Resort Motel. With large rooms, a prime location in a region famous for outdoor adventure, they set to work undertaking more than $800,000 in renovations on the property, completely remodelling and rebuilding the existing rooms to create a sleek, modern accommodation.

The extensive renovations included new flooring, bathrooms, furniture, fireplaces and décor, but didn’t stop there. Efforts to create a new vision for the destination continued into the outdoors where a new bottle shop was built, along with fire pits, a hammock area and outdoor seating areas

“We redid the bathroom cabinets and had custom made cabinets, custom benches and daybeds and updated all the décor, mirrors and shelves,” said Meghan James, General Manager. “We redesigned the grounds to include fire pits and hammock sections. New this year will be a sauna that’s going to go beside the inn.”

The Regional Tourism Relief Fund – Ontario’s Highlands (RTRF) allowed funding for retroactive expenses, which made a big difference for the renovations. James explained that the funding not only supported custom design upgrades to the inn’s fixtures, it also put the business in a better position for the year and allowed the owners to move forward with more improvements and updates.

“It was amazing they offered the retroactive option; it was perfect for us and made the most sense,” said James. “We used the funds for all of our upgraded lighting, which is all LED and energy efficient, and on all the décor, daybeds and cabinets. It made a big difference.”

The RTRF funding supports tourism entities with contributions of up to $100,000 for up to 50 percent of eligible costs for for-profit businesses (and 100 percent of eligible costs for not-for-profits), to support product development or enhancement of tourism experiences. The RTRF is supported by a Government of Canada investment of more than $3.6 million through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Eight months after renovations began, Somewhere Inn Calabogie welcomed its first guests and almost immediately the inn became a sought-after destination for visitors to the area. Up next for the business is to further its commitment as a sustainable destination and expand the experience available for guests at the inn.

“Thanks in part to the funding, we created a brand that resonates with people and they want to experience,” said James.