The Evolution of the TWG Guest House in Rosseau with AirBnb!

Doing My Own Thing!

The smell of my  “Vin-a-bon” cinnamon rolls and chelsea buns baking in the oven, combined with fresh espresso coffee brewing on top of the stove, filled the crisp morning air. Nick and Lynn, a young couple from Belgium, were in the front sunroom sluggishly rearranging their backpacks, preparing for their first canoe adventure into Algonquin Park.  Dinner of homemade pasta and mussels, eggplant parmigiana and foccacia from the evening before, still filled their bellies with content. However, it did not stop them from enjoying my morning spread of hot lattes and tastey treats.

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Homemade Chelsea Buns, Bagels & Granola

As I stood back and watched, recalling my own backpacking adventures when I was in my youth, I suddenly realized what I had created with the TWG GUEST HOUSE was a combination of all the things  I loved most when travelling.

  1. A place where the host was the owner. They were local, or at least well informed about the area.
  2. You felt like you were stepping into a person’s home and so you got a glimpse of their personality and home life.
  3. The food was their own. Freshly made and again reflective of their personality.
  4. The atmosphere was casual, where you got to meet the owner’s friends, family & even pets.
  5. The rooms were clean, comfortable and not pretentious.
  6. It wasn’t expensive.
  7. It was a gathering place, where people from many walks of life and from a variety of origins met, ate together, laughed and exchanged stories.
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Iago & Willow

This is exactly what the TWG Guest House has become, a gathering place that is affordable, comfortable and personable, with good food to boot!

For years I have been hosting friends, visitors and many actors from my theatre company, all without charging them, because, well, I love doing it. But last fall when the actors returned to the city and suddenly I had an empty house, my cousin Lisa suggested that I list on AirBnB. Quite frankly I wasn’t even familiar with what is now the largest hotel in the world, a combination of all sorts of accommodations from urban condos to luxury recreational homes to campers vans parked on the street of  Brooklyn, New York.

So, after photographing my home, I joined Airbnb and within days I started getting bookings. At first I simply rented rooms and people would use my kitchen to prepare meals or go out for dinner and breakfast. To be honest I wasn’t really comfortable with this arrangement. However, during the fall, when there are fewer dining options in the village, I found myself offering to prepare food. Soon that developed from preparing coffee and toast in the morning to making full-scale dinners.

When I opened in fall ’15, my visitors were primarily Europeans here to see the cavalcade of autumn colours or to experience a final canoe trip to Algonquin Park. During the winter I had only a few visitors but as spring approached I decided to take on this adventure with more of a commitment. In addition to rearranging my rooms, I also added a full continental breakfast that includes homemade bagels, muffins of sorts, chelsea buns, cinnamon buns, granola, smoothies, crepes and a selection of coffees and teas. Of course, dinners too became a favourite and guests started requesting my  Italian specialties.

This year, what I found very popular, were young couples going to weddings at the JW Marriott, just a short ride down the highway and who didn’t want to, nor were able to afford the expense of a room at the resort. Also, I have had several parents staying who were dropping off, visiting or picking up kids at summer camp. Then there were the urbanites looking for a weekend getaway, and others; families, who were looking for an affordable way to experience Muskoka. My reviews, for the most part, have been excellent, except from those who were not comfortable with the cozy atmosphere and having to interact  with other guests. I suspect they have not travelled much.  I’m the first one to admit, the TWG GUEST HOUSE isn’t for everyone, especially the anti-social.

From my perspective the venture has been truly successful and beneficial. It has provided me with security while I write my next project. It’s given me the opportunity to test out new cooking and baking skills. But most of all, in a region of the province where the majority are longtime, permanent residents of several generations, it has assured me that Canada is still a nation that celebrates complex, wonderful and versatile individuals. This year I have welcomed members from every community; visitors from the likes of Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Italy, Spain, Australia and  several African and South American nations not to mention all parts of Canada and the U.S.

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A marriage proposal  while staying the TWG GUEST HOUSE 

As one guest commented “It’s not the Four Seasons!”, nor have I ever claimed to be anything close to it or any other hotel.  I used to describe the TWG GUEST HOUSE as a “BnB”, which in fact, I am not.  I am my own invention; a hybrid of a traditional North American BnB, an Italian penzione and a hostel found anywhere in the world. It’s a place where strangers gather, become instant best friends then leave feeling they have had the opportunity to experience the local culture, and maybe, a bit of Muskoka magic. It’s a place that has turned out better than I had ever imagined. #keepingMuskokaAffordable

Visit www.TwgGuestHouse.com

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STAY WITH THE PLAYWRIGHT & CHECK OUT THE TWG FALL THEATRE SPECIAL 

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AFFORDABLE SENIOR HOUSING PROPOSED FOR THE VILLAGE OF ROSSEAU.

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      If you think the most common answer to the question “What is your biggest fear about aging?” was death, then you are wrong. One of the biggest fears is living longer than one’s money. And that is exactly what is happening all over the western world. In Canada. In Ontario. Right here in Parry Sound/ Muskoka.
Why is this all happening?   CLICK HERE FOR THE REASON
      Now, a second question. You sell your home to live off the equity. What happens if you are living in one of those privately owned, swanky retirement homes and  your needs increase. Physical and mental.  Suddenly you are paying $8,000 and upwards for rent, food and SPECIAL CARE a month! (This is not an exaggeration! Remember they are PROFIT DRIVEN.) By 80 you find yourself broke. What do you think happens next?  You get kicked out onto the street. They are not a charity. They are profit driven. 
      You are now your family’s problem, if they can afford or want to care for you. Or, you become the government’s problem. Often you would be sent to a long-term care facility even if you are not sick…that is, if there’s space available.
BUT THIS DOOM AND GLOOM SCENARIO DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN!
There is a solution where;
  1. You  can still live in a house and have equity that remains part of your estate and is passed on to whomever you choose.
  2. You are living with people who share common interests.
  3. You won’t be lonely or depressed.
  4. You can still have a garden, have a hobby, entertain friends and family etc.
  5. You can still travel. Go to Florida for the winter if you want.
  6. Have a job if you want or need.
  7. You can still live with your spouse.
  8. You have control of your life and have a say in what happens around you.
  9. Most of all, can cost up to 85% less than living in a corporately owned “old folks home”.
      I am working with Shelley Raymond of Solterra Co-Housing.  As the executive director of the non-profit R’CAP  (Rosseau Culture and Arts Project), we are creating Rosseau Gardens. The plan is to begin with two, separate  residential dwelling units, or as you may know them, single family homes. We already have the land, two 1/2 acre lots in the middle of the Village of Rosseau, directly behind TWG Guest House . Working with architects Brad Culver and Cynthia Henderson, each home will not only include the owner’s needs but also capture the quaint charm of the village.
      At this time we are proposing that one home will have 4 units and the other 6 units. (This may change based on initial response and need.) Each unit will consist of a bedroom (or two bedrooms for couples), a sitting area and a fully equipped and safe bathroom. The units will share a gorgeous up to date kitchen, professionally decorated living room, laundry facilities, hobby/guest room  and screened in porch. (A necessity here in Northern Ontario). Each unit will also have a garage for storage or to park the car.  You control, with your own furniture, how your unit is decorated.
THE BASIC QUESTIONS ANSWERED
  1. Each unit will represent  approximately 25% shared ownership, depending on the square footage.
  2. Each deed of ownership is tenants-in-common which means it can be sold, transferred and become part of a person’s estate, NOT passed on to the other owners as in joint ownership.
  3. When a person (or persons) purchases a unit they agree to the “house rules” which includes everything from pet ownership to who can buy your unit when time comes to sell. Each unit, not person, has a single vote. This is a democratic household after all! 
  4. As we are still in the preliminary stages, each house may or may not be themed. In other words, if interest is there, it can be a house that accepts residents of Rosseau area, or artists,  all females, or ex-circus performers!
  5. Initially we’ll be looking for buyers at a similar stage in their life with similar needs. It may be four healthy, independent individuals. It could also be four individuals and a couple who need some assistance with maintenance, cleaning or meal preparations. Interest from the public will guide the initial setup. 
  6. Here’s a simple example as to why this is cheaper.  We all know that one of our biggest expenses here in Ontario is Hydro! So, you will only pay a fraction of the bill. Same goes for heat. Or, if a gardener or cleaning person is needed, instead of paying $20 dollars upwards an hour, you are paying $5. Snow shovelling? Only a percentage. As the needs and expenses of the household increases, they are shared by the users. If only two people need special care then the costs are 1/2.  But again, it’s a democratic household. You vote on what’s needed. Shopping, cooking, cleaning or personal care.
  7. Who decides who buys into the house? At the beginning, the first person to buy in decides who the second person is. Then they agree upon the third and the three decide on the fourth. Remember, there are house rules that are legally binding. But as a group, you can vote to change the rules. YOU AND YOUR HOUSEMATES ARE ALWAYS IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE, NOT A CORPORATION.  (NOTE: Four friends may want to buy the four units initially. This is the best possible way of knowing who you are living with!) 
  8. There are three possible ways of becoming a tenant. First, if you have the funds, you buy your unit outright.  Second, if you have only a down payment, we may be able to arrange  financing. Third, you rent your unit. Again, the house rules  will say whether rentals are possible and to whom. YOU ARE IN CONTROL of your life.
  9. Yes, a third party, an investor can buy a share, but they too must abide by the house rules. This is an ideal, controlled and inexpensive way for children to purchase a unit and have their parents live in it.
  10. Will value of the unit increase? Yes. Supply and demand will control the future price, but remember the purchaser must always comply with the house rules. Plus, you don’t buy this to make money, it’s to save money and not outlive it!
  11. What is the non-profit R’CAP’s future role? R’CAP’s role is only  the initiator. Our goal is to ensure that the units, when initially sold, are AFFORDABLE. We are applying to Canada Housing and Mortgage for funds to help with the initial setup costs. Governments on all levels are fully aware of  the challenges that an aging population presents. Shelley and Solterra Co-Housing has been working on the format for several years and the government sees this as one solution to the challenge. We also have access to care providers willing to work with our project when and if the need arises.
  12. What is the cost of a unit? The final price is yet to be decided. It will be affordable based on the final design, square footage etc.
  13. When? ASAP! 

What’s next?

Each unit or share will eventually  be offered on MLS.ca if needed. As we are still at the design stage, initially we are looking for interested parties who can share their needs, wants and desires. This is not a commitment to buy. We will ask you to fill out a confidential, online information form. Once our final designs are completed, those who initially show interest will have the first chance to buy. A refundable deposit will be required that is put into a trust account. ALL PURCHASES WILL BE GOVERNED BY THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE BBB, REAL ESTATE COUNCIL OF ONTARIO, and TARION (Ontario New Homes Act). 

If you are interested you can contact me personally at  vince@rosseaucultureandarts.com  or 705-774-4487, or through the  Solterra Co-Housing Contact Form 

Live long and prosper! 

The Weekend Guy’s Guest House…Quaint Sells!

cottage simpleThis past September I finally did what I have been doing for years, but now I am charging. I opened a “pop up” B&B. Actually it’s more of a cross between a tourist house and a small inn. I call it The Weekend Guy’s Guest House, of course.

It wasn’t a big leap for me. I just finished hosting a house full of actors and filmmakers for nearly two months. The difference is I’m charging, and now most people only stay a few days, not weeks.

It’s actually a good way of testing a long time dream to open up a small inn, kinda like Bob Newhart did on TV.  I would get to play host and also have the time in my office to sit and write during the day. It wasn’t hard either as my house is set up for such a venture. I have my space at the rear of the house and my guests stay in one of three rooms up on the second floor and share a bathroom.

Of course the internet has made it easy. I literally set up on AirBnB one day and within 24 hours I had my first booking! Since then I have entertained travellers from Germany, Israel, Netherlands, United States and Canada. There’s a learning curve involved. As AirBnB allows you to list anything from an entire house, to a single room, to a yurt in the backyard, you also have a choice as to what amenities you offer. At first I chose to simply provide a room with clean sheets and towels, plus the use of my kitchen. TwinAlthough I didn’t provide breakfast I did make morning coffee. This bare bones service was really all people wanted at first. However, I quickly learned that, yes there were guest who were simply looking for a place to crash for the night, there were also travellers who saw the opportunity for an inside look in the local culture. Naturally, being part of that culture, I switched to local tour guide and  cook as I would invite those staying for a few nights to dinner without charging. Hmmm.

It’s been truly an experience and an opportunity to meet really nice people from all over the planet. But I will admit, whether it was done consciously or not, I used these first few weeks to ask questions regarding my price and what services I was missing. I quickly learned my price was two low and some people prefered locks on their doors. I also learned that I can’t rely on the local restaurants to always be open for my guests, plus, most listings charge a cleaning service…And boy do I know why!

Now with twenty-six paying guests under my belt since Sept 6, having worked up a routine for laundry and cleaning duty, plus staying on top my dog Iago’s early barking routine, I’m beginning to get the hang of it. I’ve increased my prices, (just a few bucks to make it worth my time and effort), plus, I’ve added a cleaning charge. (You won’t believe how many times I’ve washed the sheets in the last few weeks!) I’m now offering dinner and breakfast packages. But what I am really  looking forward to are my group packages. Inviting  cyclists, snowmobilers, snowshoers or hikers up for a two-day all-inclusive. I’m even looking at hooking up with the local spa and offering “girls weekend getaways”.

Sometimes living in Rosseau gets so boring…but to outsiders we are a quaint little village. Last week two delightful girls who are big fans of “Gilmore Girls” compared Rosseau to Stars Hollow! Not quite. Stars Hollow is a metropolis compared to this place…Still, people are willing to pay for quaint….so, line up! I’m open for business!

For details on The Weekend Guy’s Guest House vist http://weekendguy.com/Weekendguys_Guest_House.html

MUSICAL THEATRE, STAND UP COMEDY & A FILM FESTIVAL… Another exciting summer in Cottage Country

Driving the family "Up North" to the cottage.
Driving the family “Up North” to the cottage.

SCENES FROM MY DOCK” RETURNS…STILL AS FUNNY AND POIGNANT!”

The Rosseau Culture and Arts Project (R’CAP) is presenting  another exciting summer season of entertainment here in Rosseau and now in Parry Sound. We opened “Scenes From My Dock 2.0” in Rosseau and have moved our hit summer show to our new venue in Parry Sound, the Upper Brunswick Playhouse in downtown Parry Sound. NOW PLAYING UNTIL AUG 14. This is an updated version of the original and is as much of a pleaser as all our shows! And what a great cast. It stars Toronto based jazz singer Christine Aziz, Mary Kreder, Brittany Cope and Oscar Moreno. 

THE NEW BRUNSWICK GRILL AND SPORTS BAR
        THE NEW BRUNSWICK GRILL  AND SPORTS BAR
"Guests From Hell!"
                       “Guests From Hell!”
Contractor's Lament....WE CAN ALL RELATE!
Contractor’s Lament….WE CAN ALL RELATE!

We have teamed up with the newly renovated Brunswick Grill and Sports Bar , 72 James St. on the main floor (formerly Don Cherry’s) . It’s worth just going into the place to see the renovations. And the food…simply the best. Great value too. We are offering a dinner/theatre package for $60 all inclusive (tax and gratuity)

AND THIS WEEK ONLY until Aug 1, when you purchase your tickets in advance online we are giving $10 off the theatre ticket. WHAT A DEAL! That’s $50 for dinner and a PROFESSIONAL show ALL IN! Or twenty for Show Only. 

All tickets must be purchased IN ADVANCE online at www.ParrySoundILoveYou.com 

COMEDY IN COTTAGE COUNTRY

Mike Paterson and Tim Rabnett entertain at this year's "Up Against The Wall Comedy Bash" July 31 -Aug 2Part of this year’s “Destination Rosseau/P.S. I Love You”. R’CAP is presenting the return of our “UP AGAINST THE WALL” standup comedy night. This year we are expanding to two night’s in Parry Sound at the Upper Brunswick Playhouse Friday, July 31 and Sunday, Aug 2 plus Saturday, Aug 1 in Rosseauat the Memorial Hall.  Dinner/Theatre Packages are available in both venues at $65 or show only $35.

Featured this summer are two very funny guys Mike Paterson and Tim Rabnett. Both have extensive bios that include appearances at “Just For Laughs”, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and appearances on CBC’s “The Debaters”.  These performances are sure to be a memorable experience. WARNING: Last year we sold out so get your tickets ASAP www.DestinationRosseau.com 

2nd MUSKOKA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL AUG 27-30

The films have been submitted and once again we have received entries from around the world, from comedies to dramas to animation. We are presently putting together the final programme and it will be available online at www.DestinationRosseau.com 

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ROSSEAU CULTURE AND ARTS PRESENTS A TOE-TAPPING, EXCITING AND EDUCATIONAL SUMMER OF FUN!

To celebrate our second year of “Destination Rosseau” we are expanding with “Parry Sound I Love You” (P.S. I Love comboYou) and introducing great new activities in both locations.

SUMMER CAMP – Humphrey & Parry Sound

Once again we return with week-long summer camp workshops. First, during the last week in July  (27-31) at the Humphrey Rec Centre we’re running “Get In The Act Theatre Crafts Camp”. This is a real hands-on session and kids get to experiment and make a whole bunch of cool theatre props, play with special effects and learn about other nifty backstage craft. It’s like performance science!

IMG_0442Then for that last two weeks of August we are holding “Caught In The Act Theatre Camps” at St. James United Church in Downtown Parry Sound. We have two separate camps scheduled Aug 17-21 and Aug 24-28. Lead by experienced instructors and professional actors this is a week of encouragement, development and experimentation in various stage crafts. Designed for kids 8 – 16 it’s an opportunity to find one’s inner talent. A great way to bring shy kids out of their shell and an exciting vehicle for experienced kids to show us what they’ve got.  Join in the fun.

Both camps are limited. For more information click SEND MY KID TO CAMP!

After seven years on the shelf we are bringing back our musical salute to summer and cottage life “Scenes From My Dock!”. SCENES LOGOThis year we are running the show for 4 nights only in Rosseau (JULY 15-18) at the community hall then moving it to our new space in the above renovated Brunswick Bar & Grill (Formerly Don Cherry’s) in beautiful Downtown Parry Sound. 72 James St. (JULY 21-AUG 15).  Even if you have seen the show I promise you a few surprises.  HOWEVER…the biggest change is that we are offering DINNER THEATRE in both locations. In Rosseau, the spread will be catered by our wonderful new cafe “Cottage Law”.  In Parry Sound, the new Brunswick Sports Bar and Grill will be providing the dinner upstairs in the theatre. Tickets for just the show are also available.  For both locations tickets are only $60 (everything but booze included)  or $30 show only.  FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION CLICK  SCENES FROM MY DOCK!  

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And of course we couldn’t forget the success for last year’s comedy night! This year will be even more insane as we present “UP AGAINST THE WALL! COMEDY BASH”  July 31 -Aug 2 , in Parry Sound and Rosseau, featuring comics Mike Paterson and Tim Rabnett. HIGH-LAR-I-US! But you should come if you are a prude.  We are also presenting this in a dinner setting. Tickets are $65 dinner/show and $35 for the show only.  FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION CLICK GET ME COMEDY TICKETS! 

Then what a great way to top of the summer than by attending the second annual MUSKOKA INDEPENDENT FILM e small posterFESTIVAL.  Our featured genre this year is HUMOUR from around the planet. The weekend of flicks begins with a GALA DINNER/FILMS on Aug 27 with Dini Petty who once again returns as our guest host.  Then on Friday Night, Aug 28, we take a special look at humour and horror. All day Saturday and Sunday it’s more films and lectures! One special event is “He Shoots! He Scores!” a workshop on the importance of music to a film. FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION CLICK MOVIES! MOVIES! MOVIES!

To find out our full summer schedule visit www.DestinationRosseau.com or www.ParrySoundILoveYou.com