The Best Vacations Start Right Here in Essex County and Pelee Island . . .

Essex County and Pelee Island
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The Best Vacations Start Right Here in Essex County and Pelee Island . . .

From Inns, B&Bs, Campgrounds and RV Parks to Hotels, Motels, Cottages and Beach Retreats, Where To Rest Your Head For The Night

Now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted in virtually every segment of society, it’s well past time to start enjoying what the towns of Essex County and Pelee Island have to offer.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) recently launched a new campaign, My Happy Place. They want you to share your happy place and favourite places in Windsor Essex, and discover new places you may not have heard about or visited in the past.

The website, MyHappyPlace.ca, features event information and trip inspiration ideas. You can also WIN cash to spend at some of your Happy Places. Register for the Find Your Happy Place passport for free, then check in at participating locations as you explore Windsor Essex this summer. The more places you check in the more you can win — 15 check ins will let you pick a $25 gift card of your choice, and 25 check ins will let you select a $50 gift card of your choice from their online store, all for free! (campaign runs through October 2022).

And there is so much to discover in the region!

From challenging golf courses to award-winning wineries, and from family festivals to special events, there’s something for every age and taste.

In order to encourage Ontario residents to spend their vacation time closer to home this year, the provincial government has instituted a staycation tax credit allowing individuals to claim 20% of eligible accommodation expenses on next year’s income tax return.

Expenses include those claimed for accommodation at hotels, motels, resorts, lodges, bed-and-breakfast establishments, cottages, campgrounds, and vacation rental properties.

“The credit encourages people to travel locally and encourages overnight stays, which is the best way to see what our region has to offer,” explains Gordon Orr, Executive Director of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island. “Gatherings are slowly returning and there’s no better way to see this region than to stay in one of our many hotels, motels and B&Bs, all of which have something unique to offer.”

Orr adds that many people have been saving their money or spending it on their homes and gardens, so he feels people are now ready to start spending it on themselves.

“There’s a pent-up demand and I think we’re going to have a great summer season in Windsor Essex,” Orr believes.

The tax credit applies to short-term stays between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. You can claim up to 20% of your overnight accommodation stays or eligible expenses, of up to $1,000, as an individual, or $2,000 per family to get back up to $200 (individual) or $400 (family).

It’s expected the credit will provide an estimated $270 million in support to about 1.85 million Ontario families. (NOTE: For more information on the eligibility requirements, visit online).

Over the years in the July/August issue of Biz X, our cover stories have highlighted where to go and what to do. With the new staycation tax incentive, what better time to focus on where to stay? And, as the saying goes, there’s no place like home!

There are any number of accommodation options throughout the county, and Biz X magazine has put together a short list of possible suggestions.

Many are members of the Windsor Region of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), which represents more than 2,000 businesses across the province.

“In Essex County, we had a busy year last year because our members provided quarantine accommodations for many people,” reports Dharmesh Patel, Chair of the Windsor Region ORHMA branch, as well as General Manager of Leamington’s Quality Inn, 279 Erie Street South.

“Now we’re hoping that many local residents take advantage of the shopping, dining and accommodation options throughout our region,” he adds. “It’s time to taste what we have to offer once more.”

Absolutely! Let’s meet the individuals running some of the area accommodations where everyone is welcome to stay this summer!

Seacliffe Inn, 388 Erie Street South, Leamington

This Seacliff Inn dates back to before the turn of the 20th century, when an inn named the Erie House was built on a piece of property previously known as Seacliff Farm, according to a comprehensive history on the hotel’s website.

Over the years, the property has been known successively as the Dew Drop Inn, Bay View Hotel and finally the Seacliff Hotel, although nobody seems to know why or when the second “e” was added.

It was purchased by the Towle Group in 1986.

“It’s a great setting, right on the water,” states General Manager Dominique Yssennagger. “We’ve become a very popular spot because there is so much to do in the area.”

She feels that because the inn is across from the ferry dock to Pelee Island, it is an attractive option for day-trippers to the island, using the hotel as their base.

The inn has 23 single and double rooms each with computer access and fireplaces. Guests can choose either a lake view or garden view room.

The hotel also boasts Thirteen At The Inn, a first-class restaurant run as a separate business by the Harris family, formerly proprietors of Leamington’s iconic 13 Russell Street. It is fully accessible to hotel guests and boasts a menu ranging from seafood to steaks to pasta.

Yssennagger says that guests are pointed towards a number of area attractions to help fill their time in Leamington.

“We suggest Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens, Hillman Marsh Conservation Area, or Thiessen’s Orchards later in the summer,” says Yssennagger. “There are dozens of wineries close by, the Leamington Marina offers live music on weekends and there are also concerts in Seacliff Park on weekends as well.”

The Seacliffe Inn is also not far from golf courses such as Erie Shores Golf & Country Club in Leamington and Kingsville Golf and Country Club, as well as numerous award-winning wineries, Point Pelee National Park, and the Leamington Raceway.

Adams Golden Acres Motel, 438 Main Street West, Kingsville

This family-owned motel opened in 1956 and caters to visitors, business travellers and local residents looking for a quick and convenient getaway in the middle of the county.

“We were lucky and remained busy throughout COVID and we expect to be even busier during the current summer now that people are anxious to get out and do something for themselves,” says Heather Adams, who owns the motel along with husband Robert and father-in-law Bernard.

Adams Golden Acres Motel is close to wineries, craft breweries, great restaurants, fishing, golf courses and walking/hiking trails along the Chrysler Canada Greenway (view: EssexRegionConservation.ca to see a list of outdoor recreation sites).

Adams adds that since the ferry to Pelee Island runs out of nearby Kingsville certain times in the season, it is an easy and convenient getaway for their guests to the small island paradise.

The motel has 27 rooms including one bedroom units and kitchenettes.

The Walnut Grove Bed & Breakfast, 4000 McCormick Road, Harrow

Talents and experience as a sommelier/chef and as a chartered accountant would seem to be just what Leslie and Bob Meloche need to run a successful gourmet B&B.

Nestled in 10 peace filled acres of woods, meadows and groomed paths in the heart of Essex County, The Walnut Grove Bed & Breakfast is quickly making a name for itself in accommodation circles.

Winner of the 2022 Best Bed & Breakfast category in the Best of Windsor Essex Awards from Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, Walnut Grove offers something for everyone, whether they’re local residents or travellers.

“We’re more like a spa or a retreat with all of the amenities one would expect,” describes Leslie who also works at North 42 Degrees Estate Winery as an assistant to winery owner Martin Gorski.

With three themed rooms, including one with a Jacuzzi, the B&B offers gourmet breakfasts, charcuterie boards, candlelit dinners for two in an on-property chalet, a heated in-ground pool and hot tub, an entrance-way pergola with a large koi pond along with a variety of fire pits for al fresco dining and relaxing.

“Bob and I have always wanted to own a bed and breakfast,” says Leslie of the business that opened in December 2019. “And this is the perfect location for what we envisioned.”

The property also includes beehives, allowing for the production of its own honey, as well as nature trails and natural plant areas. Home-made pork and turkey sausages are also features of the menu, along with produce grown in an adjacent vegetable garden.

Utilizing her talents as a sommelier and chef, Leslie also creates wine pairings with farm-to-fork meals from many of the surrounding wineries such as Cooper’s Hawk Vineyard, CREW Winery, Paglione Estate Winery, Viewpointe Estate Winery, Muscedere Vineyards, Oxley Estate Winery and of course, North 42 Degrees Estate Winery.

“Everything you could want is right here,” Leslie indicates. “There’s no need to travel to another wine region when it’s all at our fingertips.”

The couple also recommend activities such as cycling along the region’s many trails, bird watching at nearby Point Pelee, visits to John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area, Cedar Beach, and Koparegon Woods, along with small town shopping along County Road 20. And you can also cycle around the region on a self-propelled bicycle or a motor assisted bike rented from The Grove Bike Co.

The business is located in a 120-year-old farmhouse (a true farm to table experience).

Cover Story Continues on Page 18

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Dave Hall is a former reporter for The Windsor Star who contributes monthly features to Biz X magazine. Dave spent almost 40 years at the paper, covering sports, general news, municipal politics and business. Prior to that, Dave worked for The Brampton Times where he covered general news and sports.