When the Drake Devonshire opened last year in the rural oasis of Prince Edward County (P.E.C.), Ont., the anticipation was palpable both in the county and in TO, where the company’s flagship hotel, the Drake, has established a loyal following for more than a decade.
For Chris Loane, operations manager at the Drake Devonshire, having the opportunity to lead the team in P.E.C. was a natural progression. “I’ve been with the Drake Toronto for six years and on the Devonshire project for half of that time,” he says. “The inn is a spectacular place with a spectacular view. Its location and design make it one of the most unique places in Canada.”
In only a year, the 11-room (plus two suites) boutique hotel, located in a foundry building built in the late 1800s, has achieved solid occupancy with rates starting from $229 to $279/ night. The hotel’s inventive and playful design, with a cheeky nod to “rustic Canadiana,” was created by Toronto’s +Tongtong.
The staff’s obsessive focus on guest satisfaction has instantly made it a fan fave with a range of guests — from urban couples and young families to businesses hosting retreats. “We love that so many diverse people have had equally great, yet different, experiences at our property,” says the 39-year-old hotelier. “We’ve been fully booked on weekends throughout the year, and we’re anticipating running at close to 100-per-cent occupancy for the high season.”
To drive guest satisfaction, the Halifax native calls upon a team of 30 to 40 associates, a number which doubles in the busy summer and fall seasons. Their biggest challenge, says Loane, is to “make sure that, in this crazy tech-driven world, guests experience a very organic and personal stay.”
It’s not hard to understand why the hotel stands out from the crowd. “We’re always striving to improve and offer guests something they can’t get anywhere else — whether it’s an interesting art exhibit in the hotel, small touches like offering house-made popcorn in the room instead of a traditional chocolate on the pillow, or going above and beyond to fulfill special requests.”
The hotel also provides guests with a sense of place achieved through its community focus and its creative farm- and lake-to-table menu complemented by local wines. “We truly love the area and want to celebrate that with guests as much as possible, so anything we do is genuine,” states Loane. Of course, the hotel’s unique location means guests have access to more than 30 wineries, beaches and walking trails.
As the hotelier gears up for a busy summer, workers are putting the finishing touches on the installation of the property’s first outdoor sculpture exhibit. “Our art curator has put together an incredible collection of pieces,” says Loane. The focus on art has always been a key tenet of the Drake’s raison d’être. It’s important to “be special and unique, in an authentic way,” says Loane. “Don’t imitate; do you.”
Volume 27, Number 3