Holly and John McDonald, owners of Lakeview Motel in Haliburton, have decided to call it a day.

After 18 years of maintaining the popular accommodation, the McDonalds have put the lodgings on the market and plan to retire. “We aren’t as young as we were in 2002 – business is great, real estate is booming but finding enough good staff is tricky – so it’s time,” Holly said.

Lakeview Motel was built in the 1960s and had five owners before the McDonalds.

The motel came up for sale in 2001, the year John was let go from his project management job at Nortel in Brampton. Holly had been a travel agent prior to having four children in five years. She had been providing daycare for many families for the past 20 years.

“It was far too early for us to retire with four kids to put through post-secondary education,” said Holly. “Six months of research and checking out other properties led us to agree to purchase [Lakeview] in November 2001 and we took over May 1, 2002. We liked the area, saw the potential for growth, [and] being close to the village and on sewers was a big plus.”

The McDonalds have devoted themselves to customer service and through that have put their own stamp on much of the motel over the years. Indoors, they converted the garage to two large rooms and a workshop, replaced everything from plumbing to bed linens, and added coffee makers, fridges and microwaves to all the rooms, which now total 14.

Outdoors, the pair kept the pool in shape, landscaped and hardscaped, installed a new well and created a 1.5-kilometre snowmobile trail that connects to the high-traffic B103 run close to Trail 18.

When the pandemic arrived, the McDonalds adapted to that as well.

“Living through the past seven months with COVID has shown us that you have to persevere, push through, and we’ve changed some of our practices,” said Holly.

After the sale, the McDonalds plan to move to their house in the area and relax. Once pandemic-related travel restrictions have lifted, they’ll travel and visit family and friends.

Owning Lakeview has meant hard work and a sense of community, said Holly.

“We’ve met many great customers, some we call friends … We’ve loved our time here and it’s home now.”

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