Travel & Culture

Find Out What It’s Like To Open Your Own Hotel

February 13, 2024

Ever wonder what it would be like to start and run your own hotel? Joel Greaves is the co-founder and CEO of Somewhere Inn, a nature-inspired hospitality brand and Inn located in Calabogie and Collingwood in Ontario. Over the years, Joel has worked towards building his portfolio acquiring Toronto-based luxury property maintenance company Zebrano Concierge, embarking on a first-hand redesigning experience with his own Muskoka cottage before leaping into full-time entrepreneurship with the opening of his boutique inns. We chatted with Joel to learn more. —Noa Nichol

Hi Joel! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.

After earning my BComm undergraduate degree from Queen’s University, I began my career in the Telecom industry assuming different roles within product and marketing teams. Driven by my passion for nature and a family full of entrepreneurs, my wife and I took a leap and purchased a Muskoka cottage. With a little TLC, the cottage was brought back to life. We started renting it out and thought why not do this on a larger scale? From that, Somewhere Inn was born.

When and why did you co-found Somewhere Inn? What niche were/are you aiming to fill?

Our first Somewhere Inn location opened in 2021. We really tried to create a place where anyone could kick back, discover the beauty of Ontario and spend time with the people they loved. We were looking to create a place for community building and comfort where each touch point with our guests is memorable for them.

What products/services do you currently offer, and what makes them unique?

We are happy to offer a stay that is dog-friendly, so patrons can bring their furry friends along for the adventure. Each room offers a lounge area with bespoke furniture, a kitchenette with a Nespresso, kettle, mini fridge and glassware for all your aprés adventures, a walk-in shower, and black-out blinds to really embrace those lazy mornings. If you’re looking to enjoy a little pre-dinner beverage, the Somewhere Inn lobby bar offers a variety of snacks, craft beer and organic wines. Once we finally get some warmer weather and the ground thaws in Collingwood, we will start work on our wellness offerings including a sauna and a cold plunge, providing guests a unique opportunity to enjoy thermotherapy treatments at their own leisure. 

What was some of the inspiration, for you, behind the dream, design and development of Somewhere Inn?

We love to breathe life into old abandoned properties. We revitalize their design, utilizing original materials with a modern twist, partnering with local artists from Toronto to tie the old with the new, bringing the vision of our talented designer Keri Maclellan from Westgrove Design LTD. to life. 

When you say “nature-inspired hospitality brand,” what do you mean?

Nature is at the heart of our purpose. We believe that nature has the power to restore and reset and it’s our mission to inspire guests to escape the city and do just that! Our purpose extends beyond our guests. Stays with us do good for our people, community and planet. From being a board member of our local tourism association to our nature-based staff socials to our commitment to reducing our climate footprint – nature is at the heart of all that we do. 

What makes a boutique inn different (dare we say, superior to) a large/chain brand?

We have that one-on-one touch point with our guests every step of the way. We try to personalize their stay so that they remember it for years to come. We have established relationships with other businesses within the communities we operate, enhancing those experiences with local restaurants and leisure activities like skiing, wellness, winery tours, etc.

At Somewhere Inn, how/in what ways do you facilitate guests’ taking a break, reconnecting with nature and embracing the local community? Why are doing these things important in this day and age?

We really leaned into disconnection and relaxation and carried that through the property with no TVs in the guest rooms. It forces people to reconnect with themselves, others and the community around them. We have thoughtfully curated spaces to gather amongst the inns like bars, gardens and fire pits, but the grounds are located in the heart of Ontario communities in both Calabogie and Collingwood with buzzing local breweries, mountains for skiing, or trails for hiking. 

What are your personal top tips (as an entrepreneur and business owner) for disconnecting and recharging?

It’s really easy to convince yourself that you need to stay “plugged-in” to the business when taking a day (or multiple days) off. The key is developing a team that you trust and feels empowered to continue running the day to day without you there. Our team members look to us to set the tone and so if we are disconnecting on our days off, they equally will recognize it’s okay to do the same when they take time off. If that’s too hard – go some place where phones aren’t allowed like the Scandinave Spa. Force yourself away from your phone and relax.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


get social


get more out of


Want the best, curated headlines and trends on the fly?

get more out of vita

Sign up for one, or sign up for all!