By Pam Pardy
Ever want to go back in time and explore Nan’s attic around the bay? Do you dream of hearing the waves crash while chilling inside your very own lighthouse retreat? How does spending the night in a fisherman’s stage strike you, or revisiting a simpler time where vinyl and vintage rule the roost?
All this and so much more is possible for anyone planning a vacation in Newfoundland and Labrador this year. Round Da Bay Inn in Plate Cove West offers uniquely decorated rooms with a theme sure to fit any vacationer’s fantasy - from a fishing lodge feel to a beach hut vibe. Owners Chris and Karen Ricketts say their design goal was, first and foremost, to have fun. The fact they were able to incorporate their passion for collecting things was just a bonus. “We just had these items we’d found that would be perfect in a grandmother’s attic, so we started that themed room first and then it just grew from there,” Karen explains.
“We didn’t plan on standing out. We just wanted to use what we had in storage,” Chris laughingly admits.
Julie Lodge, owner of Lodge’s Landing - a vintage-styled vacation rental located in Port Union - says doing things differently in tourism, while still maintaining the high standards those who visit here expect, helps the industry as a whole. “Not everyone wants to stay in a saltbox that’s been renovated with modern twists,” she said, adding, “The industry benefits from all types of options.”
When Julie first bought her Port Union property, it boasted shag carpet - from the stairs to the kitchen sink - and a chrome table was the centrepiece of the untouched-since-the-1950s kitchen décor. “My plan was to gut it,” she says, “but the more I looked around, the more I understood what I had. My goal then became to just make what it was even more beautiful.”
Kristy Sweet of Catalina was inspired by what didn’t exist - except in her heart. “My dad passed away in 2020, and he had this little piece of land overlooking Green Island that he bought probably like 30 years ago, I guess, and he never put anything on it. After he passed I said, ‘I got to do something with it in his memory,’” she says.
Kristy explained that her dad, Roy Sweet, had always loved lighthouses. “My great-grandmother lived out on Green Island until it was resettled, and her father was a lighthouse keeper there - and later so was her husband - so lighthouses held a special place for our family,” Kristy explains.
Roy’s Lighthouse Retreat has become quite a popular destination, she adds. “Kids seem to really love it; it’s like a fantasy place to stay. But then couples love it, too, for a romantic getaway. The best part is sharing this piece of my dad with everyone. He would have loved this place,” she says.
Brenda and Bob Lee of Mobile understand being inspired by the memory of a loved one. “My mom became ill around Christmas of 2020, and I was planning on building a spot for her with us so she didn’t have to worry about stairs or be by herself all the time,” Brenda begins. Just after they purchased the materials to start the build, her mom, Margaret Penney, died.
“I didn’t want to stop working on Mom’s place, so we built this spot in her memory and then decided to rent it out as an Airbnb.”
The couple says the entire experience of opening up Mom’s Place B&B to strangers has been so healing. “We’ve made so many nice friends, and they come back again and again. Then someone said they wanted to get married here, and I asked when and they said, ‘Thursday?’ This was Sunday. Well, we did it and it was so much fun. Mom would have loved it,” Brenda says with a laugh.
Then she got to thinking. Weddings? Why not? The couple started to work on a plan to launch Mom’s Little White Wedding Chapel. “We know this couple who have been married for 34 years and they love it here, and when we said we wanted to open up a little wedding chapel - almost as a joke at first - they said they’d book it and renew their vows,” Brenda says.
“The overall response is just awesome, but I’m not shocked. This is just the perfect spot for love! I’ve had guests tell me they were on the verge of breaking up, and they came up here for the weekend and then they’re all in love again,” she says proudly.
In preparation for the chapel’s official opening, Brenda got her officiant’s licence so she can conduct the ceremonies. She and Bob hope to have weddings on the property by this summer. While traditional services can be accommodated, of course, the more out there and unique the better. “We are open to anything. I’m the least judgmental person you’re ever going to meet. I can guarantee one thing: if you want to have a time here, you’ll have a time,” she says.
Everything they’ve done together as B&B owners and operators continues to honour Margaret. “Mom was so much fun and everyone loved her. This place is just totally dedicated to her,” Brenda says. It’s made all the easier because Brenda and Bob - who’ve been together for 16 years - are fun-loving love birds themselves.
“Teamwork makes the dream work, baby, and Bob and I make a great team,” Brenda says. “If everyone can be as happy as we are - at least until they hit the end of the road once they leave here - then that makes us happy and that’s all we can ask for.”
Editor's Note: This article was originally incorrectly attributed in the June 2023 magazine and has been corrected online. The editorial team sincerely regrets the error.