Sandy Lane owners look to collaborate
By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 14, 2019
The husband-and-wife team of Rob Berthelot and Janette Lemmings are all about a collaborative approach to tourism in the Haliburton Highlands.
The couple purchased Sandy Lake Resort and Conference Centre on Halls Lake last August, and are quickly becoming engrained in their new community.
“We’re more about the area, than just ourselves,” says Berthelot, who is already a member of the Haliburton Highlands tourism stakeholders group and sits on the Haliburton County tourism advisory committee.
“I want people to come and enjoy our cabins, but I want them to come and experience stuff,” says Lemmings, making reference to the multitude of sites and activities that can be found within the county.
The couple moved to the area from Durham Region.
“We were both in the nuclear industry until June of last year,” says Berthelot, who was previously employed in the military, and before that in the hospitality industry in Toronto. Originally from Elliot Lake, he says Haliburton County reminds him of his hometown, with its plentiful lakes and rocky terrain.
“It’s been a lifetime of building towards this,” he says of buying Sandy Lane. The couple purchased the 16-cabin resort from Joachim Matysek, who owned it for 30 years, and they can tell that Matysek built up a list of faithful visitors over the years.
“Most of them are repeat guests,” Lemmings says. There are the snowmobilers that constitute some of the resort’s winter clientele, as well as those looking for a weekend getaway.
“We get a lot of couples that just come up,” Lemmings says. They are already about half booked for the peak summer season, and with a number of weddings booked as well, some into 2020.
The couple are working on some renovations, gradually updating the cabins with new flooring, energy-efficient appliances, new windows and furnishings, which they’ve purchased from local businesses. Berthelot says he plans to eventually purchase smart TVs, so guests can hook their smartphones up to them.
“I’d like to update the wi-fi at some point,” he adds.
They’d like to make greater use of the resort’s conference space, which is licensed for more than 170 people, and houses a commercial kitchen.
“We’re really trying to build a conference centre base as well,” Berthelot says. The couple are also in search of a staff member – someone who can clean, but also work in an administrative capacity in the office.
They have a Yuks Yuks night planned for April, and are offering ready-made meals from local caterer AM PM Outdoor Gourmet.
“The single biggest thing I’m a proponent of is that collaboration,” Berthelot says.