Sarah Sklash and April Brown are two best friends living the millennial dream. In 2016, they left their busy city life in Toronto to open up a motel in Prince Edward County. And this isn’t your standard roadside motel. The June Motel’s hip, pastel–hued design has caught the attention of over 75,000 followers on Instagram. Now they’ve opened a second location in Sauble Beach – the focus of the new TV series Motel Makeover. We chatted with Sarah and April about their new show, the “Schitt’s Creek effect,” what they miss most about Toronto and where they want to travel next.
We talked to Sarah Sklash and April Brown, the owners of Ontario’s hip, pastel–hued June Motel properties in Prince Edward County and Sauble Beach, about their new Netflix series and how Schitt’s Creek has impacted their business.
enRoute Your six–episode Netflix series, Motel Makeover, premieres August 25. What’s it all about?
April Brown The show follows Sarah and I – besties turned business partners – as we renovate our motel in Sauble Beach, which opened last summer. We’re not professional designers and we’re still young entrepreneurs, so we don’t always have all the answers. The show is a reminder to follow your dreams and believe in your vision, even when things get tough – like global pandemic kind of tough.
eR How was the process of making over a motel different the second time?
AB Prince Edward County had 16 rooms, a really tiny lobby that we converted into a common space, and we added a patio. Sauble Beach was 24 rooms with a pool and a full indoor–outdoor restaurant that hadn't operated in 15 years.
Sarah Sklash I would add that with making a TV show and operating another property at the same time, there was a lot more on our plate. Also, the first time around, we were working with a really limited budget. Everything you see in Prince Edward County, April and I, or our friends or family, did: we installed the wallpaper, laid the flooring, assembled every piece of furniture. With Sauble Beach, we were able to work with a professional contractor and his team for the renovation. We would never have finished it without that support.
eR What was it like to film a show while you were renovating?
AB It was an amazing experience, but also a very stressful one. We were already feeling the pressure with the Sauble Beach outpost as The June was an established brand, and we had followers who had certain expectations of us. Would it be as good as our first motel? Would we get it right? With the TV show, we felt even more that we needed to get this right – after all, millions of people will be watching. We wanted every space that we revealed to be absolutely perfect.
eR How is the vibe different at your two properties?
SS We like to personify June. When you come to Sauble Beach, you’re at June’s 1970s beach house. And then Prince Edward County is June’s 1960s mid–century, Palm Springs–inspired spot – your home base as you explore wine country.
eR Has the popularity of Schitt’s Creek, which stars the Rosebud Motel, affected your business?
AB We’re calling it the “Schitt’s Creek effect.” It has definitely popularized motels; I think it’s popularized the idea of buying and renovating a motel, too. We got into Schitt's Creek during our first motel renovation. We watched it and thought: “This is our lives.”
SS Two city girls moving to small towns, living in motels. The show is so relatable for us.
eR Now that you live in Prince Edward County and Sauble Beach, what do you miss most about Toronto?
AB We both probably just miss the Thai food, to be honest.
SS I'm partial to Sukhothai. If Nuit Regular [Sukhothai’s chef and co–owner] is reading this: Come open spots in Prince Edward County and Sauble.
eR What’s the first trip you want to take now that travel is picking up again?
SS Mine is France to see my husband's family.
AB And I'm going to meet them in Paris and we’ll shop, go to great bars and restaurants and just live life.