Newcomers are living the dream of owning a signature destination tourism business in rural PEI
by Stella Shepard
Special treatment is waiting at the end of a dead-end red clay road at the luxury 45 Steps Culinary Beachside Inn, open year-round at 29 Old Queens Road, Goose River in Eastern Kings County.
The five-star boutique hotel boasts amazing ocean views from every room and is steps away from an isolated beach that stretches for miles in both directions.
Barbara Hansenbohler, Owner, and life partner, Thomas Range, are newcomers to PEI who lived their dream when they opened the luxurious and elegant tourist destination in July of 2022.
Barbara and Thomas both have Master’s degrees in business administration and international hospitality management and have years of experience working in various jobs at hotels, restaurants, and related businesses.
As well, they have numerous professional experiences outside the hospitality industry.
“I was employed with a telecommunications company in Europe,” says Barbara. “But there is a time in your life when you say, is what I am doing now what I want to do in 20 years, or do I want a change? We realized that if we want a change, the time is now.”
The couple risked leaving the security of high-paying employment, sold everything, and moved across the globe from Switzerland to PEI.
“We first visited and explored PEI in 2015 on one of our many trips to Canada,” says Barbara. “Although PEI has no Swiss mountains, it has similarities to Switzerland. Like Islanders, the Swiss are proud of their food and milk products, agriculture and tourism are important industries, and both are tiny.
“I fell in love with PEI. It is a quiet and tranquil place. You can travel, but you can find everything you need on the Island.”
They wrote a business plan detailing what they wanted in terms of property for a tourism business, contacted a realtor, and their dream eventually became a reality.
45 Steps Culinary Beachside Inn survived COVID-19 restrictions and hurricane Fiona, and is going strong with year-round bookings from Islanders and international visitors.
“I have hired someone to help Thomas with housekeeping and groundskeeping duties,” says Barbara.
“We are looking to hire a Chef to work in a stress-free kitchen with an ocean view. I am willing to train the person in cooking European-style food served to guests only.”
The traditional lending institutions rejected applications for a second mortgage to complete the renovations necessary to open the business.
New to Canada, the couple was unsure where to turn for financial assistance. One of their Island friends suggested Barbara contact CBDC East for assistance.
Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC), located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague, assists in creating small businesses and in expanding and modernizing existing businesses.
CBDC East is staffed by Martina MacDonald, Director, Helen Antle, CBDC Officer, and Terri Taylor, Accounts Officer.
“A staff member from CBDC East visited us and saw the product and the potential, and we were able to access funding through CBDC East to complete the renovations,” says Barbara.
Also, the staff at CBDC East suggested Barbara contact the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and she was able to secure further funding.
ACOA works to create opportunities for economic growth in the region by helping businesses become more competitive, innovative, and productive, by working with diverse communities to develop and diversify local economies, and by championing the strengths of Atlantic Canada.
“It’s not just about having a new business, it’s also about being new to Canada,” says Barbara. “We were unaware of the community supports that are available and we needed assistance to navigate the system.”
CBDC East also connected Barbara and Thomas with community service providers. The couple joined a host of organizations including the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce, Points East Coastal Drive, Tourism PEI, and PEI Connectors, an initiative of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.
Advice to people considering self-employment
“It is important to have knowledge about the product, plus a certain financial stability and cash flow,” says Barbara. “Don’t be shy to ask for help. There are many people and organizations to reach out to for assistance.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about 45 Steps Culinary Beachside Inn, call 902-961-3410 or email email@example.com
Search 45 Steps Culinary Beachside Inn on Instagram and Facebook.
For more about CBDC East, visit www.cbdc.ca
For more about Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, visit www.canada.ca/en/atlantic-canada-opportunities.html