Inside the June Motel in Prince Edward County

A once-dingy Picton motel gets a candy-coloured retro makeover


The June Motel is a little slice of Palm Springs in the heart of wine country. Capitalizing on the tourist boom in Prince Edward County – and welcoming would-be visitors shut out by the perpetually-booked-up Drake Devonshire – the hotel is a girly oasis that puts the area’s wine culture front and centre.

Guests are greeted with a smile and a glass of rosé in the “wine lobby,” where a neon sign reading “Peace Love Wine” casts a watermelon-hued glow. Open a salmon-painted door to your lodgings – you could be in the Wine Suite or Rosé Suite – and you’ll find plenty of glassware and charcuterie boards for you to enjoy your spoils from the day’s tours.

On Saturday mornings, you can take part in a “detox and retox” yoga session capped off with a mimosa. And a text message concierge (clearly, these folks know their demo) is always on call and happy to direct guests to tastings, tours and bottle shops.

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Natalia Manzocco

As it turns out, the local wine industry figures prominently in the motel’s origin story. Not long ago, longtime besties April Brown and Sarah Sklash decided to go into business together. One of the first ideas they floated was a “wine camp” weekend retreat bringing wine lovers from spot to spot for tastings.

“Sarah says, ‘There’s this motel we could rent out for the weekend – we could fix it up and make it more suitable for our target market,'” Brown recalls. “And I just looked at her, like, ‘Or we could buy that motel.'” They got the ball rolling right away and took possession on June 1 of last year. The motel’s name is a nod to that day they also liked the name for its summery vibe.

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Natalia Manzocco

Believe it or not, the June wasn’t always this cute. Its previous incarnation was The Sportsman, a decidedly function-over-form motel catering mostly to the fishing crowd. A favourite story: When Sklash and Brown took possession of the place, the only art on any of the walls was a poster requesting that guests not gut fish in the rooms.

To helm the redesign, they tapped a friend, Keri MacLellan of Four Walls Interiors, who lent the hotel a Muskoka-by-way-of-Miami feel with floral wallpaper and Solair chairs. The process involved a fair bit of DIY – Sklash taught Brown to use a drill, and the pair learned to macramé. They also scoured Kijiji and local markets for decor items like vintage rattan chairs.

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Natalia Manzocco

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Natalia Manzocco

Spaces range from The Classic, which features a double bed and pull-out couch, up to the Deluxe Wine Suite, which comes outfitted with its own dining area and kitchenette.

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Natalia Manzocco

The Rosé Suite, a bachelorette-weekend-ready spot that sleeps four or five guests, even packs in a bunk bed.

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Rooms come furnished with plenty of vintage touches, as well as toiletries from local outfit Sunday’s Company. You can buy some to take home at the front desk, along with cute souvenirs like cookbooks and monstera leaf necklaces.

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Natalia Manzocco

Brown and Sklash called on a number of other local vendors to add finishing touches to the space: The charcuterie boards (available at the front bar or as room service) feature local meats and cheeses, and the cold pressed juices offered on the breakfast menu are by local husband-and-wife team Small Town Juicery. The grab-and-go breakfast pastries are from Perfect Lil’ Bake Shop, who make some of the best scones you’ll find in the County (or on Planet Earth).

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“The biggest thing I realized moving to the county was how strong this community is – it’s really incredible, it lifts you up. It didn’t feel like we had to choose the local option – the local option is just really cool,” Brown says. “I feel like people come to the June to discover local things, right? We’re part of that discovery.”

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Natalia Manzocco

Another feature on the property is a fire pit and conversation area where guests can chat by the fire, play lawn games or even partake in the occasional BBQ. Even bigger outdoor features might be on the way: Brown shares that the hotel’s property includes two acres of undeveloped land behind the building.

“We’ve got so many ideas – everything from a treehouse to tiny houses to putting a yoga yurt back there, saunas, making it very Zen garden-like,” Brown says. “It’s about being smart and taking a look at what our customers are looking for. We need another year under our belt to see how people use the June, see what the demand is for.”

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Natalia Manzocco

Weeknight rates at the June start at $119 weekend rooms start at $199.

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Natalia Manzocco

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Natalia Manzocco

12351 Loyalist Parkway (Picton), 613-476-2424, thejunemotel.com.

nataliam@nowtoronto.com | @nataliamanzocco

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