This is part of a year-long ‘Love for Local’ series called NB365: portraits of New Brunswick entrepreneurs, businesses, and organizations. Huddle is a media partner with Love for Local. Today we feature Lalena Mack, Neil Mack, and Summer Bilbrough of Homeport Inn Historic Bed And Breakfast, in Saint John.

There are four of us here running things, all of us relocated from Ontario. In large part, we all really wanted an escape from the weight of the pandemic and a change of pace. So last year when my husband and I sold our house in Ontario, we cast a pretty large net when we started looking at new property listings.

We wanted to get a sense of the market in different places. We came across the listing for Homeport Bed And Breakfast and it was such a stunning property and such a unique opportunity. We also saw that opportunity for growth was not just in the property but in New Brunswick and Saint John in general.

The main thing that makes us unique is the age and cool history of the property. Homeport Inn/ B&B is two large beautiful Victorian houses that were built around 1858 by two shipbuilder brothers (the Roberts) on this lovely hill overlooking the bay and the land below that used to house their shipyards.

The other, perhaps unique piece is the business is not brand new. The couple that turned it into a Bed and Breakfast (Ralph and Karen Holyoke) bought one of the two houses in the late 1990s when they started things–and then bought the second house and did extensive renovations to join both homes with a grand hall/foyer turning it into a pretty expansive, 10 guest room Bed And Breakfast around 2000.

They also put a lot of time and care fixing and maintaining all the wonderful original character of the spaces and decorating and furnishing the place with gorgeous antiques. It’s one of the main things that completely drew us in when we saw the property listing.

Our friend Michael, who’d been living with us for some years, decided he wanted to join us as well. Then, early in the plans, we reached out to my sister, who has her hospitality diploma. Initially, it was just to get her thoughts on the property but she quickly got excited and jumped on board. It’s been great because between us we have all the skill sets needed and for the most part, it’s been a “many hands make light work” situation.

We’ve learned quickly that supporting local is a circle of support. As an accommodation space, we are often the first point of contact for people coming to the city. So we’ve made a point to learn about and recommend to our guests all the great businesses, restaurants, and sites we found and enjoyed and in return, those businesses at times point people our way.

On top of supporting the local economy, it’s also one of the easiest ways we found to connect and meet new people and learn about our new home.

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