A North Grenville couple is now the proud new owner of Sunny Acres Resort and Marina in Seely’s Bay. Lyn and Warren O’Callaghan have been in the property management business for 24 years. They owned 23 rental units in Brockville, Prescott and Chesterville, and Warren was managing them out of their home base in Kemptville, while Lyn was working at her own fulltime job. Earlier this year, they decided that it would be a good idea to sell their units and consolidate them into one rental property, so they weren’t stretched so thin. “For the last number of years we’ve been saying life is too busy, and we saw an opportunity to still stay busy, but have a more enjoyable lifestyle,” Lyn says.
At first, they were looking at a property in Westport, but Lyn wasn’t sure about it because it wasn’t on the water. Unconvinced, they expanded the search a bit further south and came across a cute little 20-cottage resort in Seely’s Bay. At first, Lyn wasn’t serious about buying Sunny Acres, but after she showed it to Warren, he convinced her that it was a great investment and something they could definitely take on. “Within half an hour of seeing it we had called the real estate agent and booked a viewing for that Saturday,” Lyn says.
When they walked onto the property, they met the owners, Rita and Walter Stoller, who had been running Sunny Acres for the past 20 years. They fell in love with the property immediately and knew they had to have it. They made an offer and it was accepted that day.
Lyn, Warren and their son Connor moved to Sunny Acres on August 1 and worked with Rita and Walter until their closing date so they could learn the ropes and help out during the high season. Lyn says Rita and Walter were great in encouraging them to make Sunny Acres their own. “They were so great to say to us – change everything. You’re going to bring youth and vibrancy and you’re going to take Sunny Acres to the next level,” Lyn says. “They were really excited for us.”
Lyn admits that Sunny Acres needs a bit of TLC; but she and Warren have lots of plans to make it a fun and vibrant place or respite for people of all ages. They currently have five cottages which are available all your round, but they are hoping to winterize all of them so that they can offer accommodation to people in the off season as well. They are also planning on painting and upgrading the décor in the cottages to make them “Canada themed”, with each cottage representing a province, territory, or notable Canadian place. To stay as environmentally friendly as possible, Lyn is sourcing all her decorating material from second-hand shops like Value Village and The Score. “There are some crazy tacky things that I fell in love with at The Score and purchased those for the PEI cottage,” she says. “It’s been a real treasure hunt for me to got out and decorate all of these cottages.”
It may seem a bit crazy to be buying a resort during COVID-19, but Lyn and Warren were not worried about the pandemic affecting their business. When they did some market research online, Lyn noticed how in demand cottages and rental properties were in Ontario. “We knew people could physically distance here. They could have fun, they could go boating, they could go fishing, and they would be able to stay within their bubble,” she says.
With a lot of the resort’s previous guests coming from the United States, Lyn used social media to advertise Sunny Acres as a getaway for people within the province. “We have people who are coming from Montreal, Cornwall, Toronto, Windsor, London, Ottawa, and a few people from the Gatineau area as well,” she says, adding that once many of their guests are at the resort for a few days they are already booking for next season. “People are not even here for a day and they know that they want to come back.”
Lyn and Warren’s future goals for the resort are to have it filled throughout the year with guests, school groups and events. Over the Labour Day weekend, they hosted a COVID-19 friendly wedding which they say was very successful. “There’s lots of potential here,” Lyn says. “[We’re] easily providing something where [guests] can come and set the world aside and be here in the moment and then carry that moment with them until the next time they come back.”
Even though Lyn and Warren have moved out of Kemptville, North Grenville still holds a special place in their hearts. Lyn says they would love to welcome people from their hometown who are up for the short hour and fifteen-minute drive to Sunny Acres. “All they have to do is call me and I will give them the Kemptville contingent discount,” she says.